Krannert Center and a New York public-relations firm have over the past few weeks released, bit by bit, the lineup for the Ellnora Guitar Festival that will open the Krannert season in early September.
But by now most people in the know already know who will be performing, as a couple of websites that aggregate festival news posted the lineup a few weeks ago.
The websites had a few errors and later removed the Ellnora pages, upon the request of Krannert. The performing arts center will officially announce the entire festival lineup on June 17. The festival happens on Sept. 8, 9 and 10. Krannert has issued three of five releases so far on Ellnora, once called the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival. It's shaping up as one of the most beloved and anticipated A&E events in Chambana, right up there with or right after Roger Ebert's Film Festival.
The latest release on Ellnora came today: Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo will perform a solo suspended guitar score for Buster Keaton’s 1922 silent film "Cops," on Sept. 9.
"Ranaldo’s score for Krannert Center will feature the suspended guitar phenomena of this American musician/record producer/visual artist who’s best known as a co-founder of Sonic Youth. Rolling Stone ranked Ranaldo as No. 33 of its 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, describing his music as ‘his own language of strange and blissful guitar noise.’
"Style-morphing icon Marc Ribot, who has lent his mercurial guitar sounds to collaborations with Robert Plant, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and John Zorn, will share the bill, performing his score to Charlie Chaplin’s "The Kid," which was commissioned by the New York Guitar Festival. The opening titles to Chaplin’s 1921 masterpiece describe the story as ‘a picture with a smile, and perhaps a tear,’ and the film is notable for its bittersweet combination of comedy and drama. Ribot returns to the festival later that evening for a set featuring his band Los Cubanos Postizos."
Other artists appearing at Ellnora — a bow to major Krannert patron, the late Ellnora Krannert _ include Calexico, My Brightest Diamond, Richard Thompson, Daniel Lanois’ Black Dub, Sharon Isbin, Taj Mahal, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Adrian Belew, Robert Randolph, The Tony Rice Unit and Cindy Cashdollar.
Some of my friends are very excited about the British songwriter-guitarist Richard Thompson, who will perform Sept. 10. He’s better known in Great Britain, where he received the BBC’s Lifetime Achievement Award and last year was appointed artistic director of London’s Meltdown Festival at South Bank Centre and was named to the Queen’s 2011 New Year Honours List as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Does that make him a knight?
He’s one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, and many major artists have covered his songs.
I’m also psyched about seeing and hearing Ellnora repeat performer and Grammy-winning guitarist-composer Bill Frisell, who with experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison will present on Sept. 10 their collaboration, "The Great Flood," a 75-minute multimedia work of original music and film that will have its world premiere at Ellnora.
This from Krannert:
"Inspired by the 1927 Mississippi River floods — the most destructive floods in American history — Morrison and Frisell have created a stirring, contemporary perspective on this natural disaster and the ensuing transformation of American society and music. In the spring of 1927, the Mississippi River broke out of its banks in 145 places and inundated 27,000 square miles to a depth of up to 30 feet.
"Part of its enduring legacy was the mass exodus of displaced sharecroppers. Musically, the Great Migration of rural southern blacks to Northern cities saw the Delta Blues electrified and reinterpreted as the Chicago blues, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. Frisell’s wide-ranging musical palette, heard in his more than 30 recordings, will draw on American roots music but, as always, will be refracted through his own highly personal musical vision."
Krannert director Mike Ross told me a couple of weeks ago that Frisell and Morrison filmed the recent flooding along the Mississippi to include in "The Great Flood," which was co-commissioned by Krannert Center.
One of my most memorable journalistic experiences was traveling, by National Guard helicopter, above the Misssissippi when it overflowed its banks in Illinois, in 1993. Our 'copter at one point was close to that carrying then President Bill Clinton and VP Al Gore. I didn't see either, but I was impressed with the work by the Guard and others to build up the levee in one hot spot. Alas, it broke the next day.