Cultural Shorts

Discussions about the artistic impulse and creative drive, these interviews and features bring a local focus on the global art community of artists, authors and musicians.

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The 2008 documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil is firmly etched in the minds of many hard-rock enthusiasts.

Directed by Sacha Gervasi, the film opens with the veteran heavy metal band at a low ebb in its career: Guitarist and vocalist Steve "Lips" Kudlow has taken a job delivering food to schools in the Toronto area; drummer and co-founder Robb Reiner works in construction. Though the band remains beloved by a core fan base, it seems to have lost sight of its initial promise. Over the course of the film, the group finds its footing again and returns with a remarkable new album, This Is Thirteen (2007). There are fights, canceled gigs and frustrations along the way, but in the end, Anvil triumphs.

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The Wichita Symphony Orchestra presents a program of musical and visual virtuosity on Saturday, March 16 and Sunday, March 17 via an evening of film and music.

In collaboration with astronomer and visual artist Dr. José Francisco Salgado, the WSO will perform Maurice Ravel's Daphnis & Chloe while the audience takes in the spectacular film Moonrise, which Salgado has prepared.

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T.S. Eliot once wrote, "We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring. Will be to arrive where we started. And know the place for the first time."

That's a statement that applies to musician Austin Lucas and his latest album, Immortal Americans. It's a collection of songs that reflect changes in perspective, how the familiar becomes the strange and how the strange can be a great source of comfort.

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Wichita-based singer-songwriter Dusty Grant issues his debut EP, Trapped Here, Saturday at The Elbow Room.

The former heavy metal growler is self-releasing the disc, which he views as a calling card for the extensive tours he does each year.

Grant recently visited the KMUW studios to discuss the project.

What did you learn in the process of making this EP?

I learned a lot about the administrative side of things, making sure that you've got everything uploaded and formatted for digital distribution.

Jaclyn Cage

Cartwheel, led by guitarist and vocalist Kristyn Chapman, will celebrate the release of its debut recording, Best Days, on Friday, Feb. 15, at Wave on a bill with Old News, Mess and Pigments. It is an all-ages event.

Joining Chapman on the release are drummer Will Erickson and bassist Riley Day. Chapman recently visited the KMUW studios to discuss the origins of both her band and Best Days.

You've got this new record, which is something you've been working on for quite a while. Where did this whole thing start?

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Corb Lund arrives in Wichita on Thursday, Feb. 14 for a performance at Wave. The Canadian musician has been releasing quality Western-based music since the mid-1990s. Along the way, he has earned acclaim for his deep-reaching narratives and humorous wordplay. Albums such as Five Dollar Bill, Cabin Fever and Things That Can't Be Undone remain among his most popular.

What were the origins of the No Rest For The West tour?

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Singer/songwriter and guitarist Raul Midon has made a big splash in the music industry.

The artist, who has been blind since shortly after birth, composes most of his own music, and produces and engineers all of his own albums in the studio he had built in his home.

"I'm a control freak," he says with a laugh. "I readily admit that."

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Having made his mark on both America's Got Talent and America's Got Talent: Champions, Piff The Magic Dragon has become one of the hottest acts in Las Vegas, with a residency at the Flamingo Casino at the newly renamed Piff The Magic Dragon Theatre. The run has recently been extended due to popular demand.

That hasn't slowed the dragon down. Boasting a show that is "50 percent magic, 50 percent comedy and 100 percent dragon," Piff is now embarking on a tour of the U.S. and Canada, dubbed The Lucky Dragon.

Carla Eckels / KMUW

Four young orchestra students, hand-picked by Wichita's North High School, are tuning up their classical instruments to play in one of the last places you'd expect to see a violin: Beatles vs. Stones, A Musical Showdown. The touring "battle of the bands" concert on Tuesday in downtown Wichita will feature familiar songs from two mega-star English rock bands.

"It's kind of like the concert that never was," says North High band and orchestra director Stephanie Byers, who has been teaching students for nearly 30 years. "We never ever saw the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in the same venue."

Max Crace

Released in 1990, Ah Via Musicom served as Texas guitarist Eric Johnson's breakthrough album, spawning four singles, three of which became inescapable on rock radio in subsequent years. The tune "Cliffs of Dover" earned Johnson a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1992. Johnson toured incessantly behind the recording and landed a coveted spot opening for legendary Canadian band Rush during the touring cycle.