Hawaiian sounds and 70s America

There are still some seats available for the performance by Hawaii’s Kings of Swing Kahulanui tomorrow evening at the Oats Park Art Center.

The nine-member ensemble, plus a Hawaiian dancer, will offer up a rousing mix of traditional Hawaiian sounds with a horn section similar to those found in the Big Bands of groups like Count Basie and Glen Miller.

The group will hold a free conversation on Hawaiian musical styles at 3 p.m. in the Center’s Art Bar. Doors to the evening performance will open at 7:00 p.m. and the show will begin at p.m. Tickets are $17 for CAC members, $20 for nonmembers, so if you’d like to grab one of then remaining seats you can call Churchill Arts at 775-423-1440.

READINGS: Joan Didion is one of our most intelligent AND perceptive authors and among her many books are the the novel “Play It As It Lays” as well as several collections of diverse essays including “The Year of Magical Thinking” and “The White Album,” perhaps the definitive collection of pieces on the 1960s and ‘70s.

Her latest offering is “South and West: From a Notebook” (Knopf). The slim volume is comprised of two excerpts from her notebooks. “Notes on the South” retraces a trip she took in 1970 with her husband, John Gregory Dunne, through the deep South region of the U.S.

The other piece, “California Notes” began as an assignment to write a piece for Rolling Stone on the 1976 trial of Patty Hearst. She never did write the piece on Hearst, but it did become a meditation on her thoughts about the American West and her own childhood growing up in Sacramento. As in all her books, the prose crackles with eclectic insight.

In the piece on the American South, Didion notes that “the idea was to start in New Orleans and from there we had no plan.” She suggests that she thought if she could actually understand the South, then she might be able know more about California as a lot of recent settlers came from the south to California.

The South, probably more than any other region in our country, is awash in notions of the past that no one can, or is willing to, forget. The West, in particular California, couldn’t be more different, a state of mind she characterizes as thinking that “the future always looks good,” even if it was patently untrue.

Using these two “states of mind” as counterintuitive poles of the American experience, Didion conjures a divided nation which — one side longing for California dreaming, the other group yearning for, clinging to the old ways, days when things were supposedly better. It’s a situation that eerily mirrors much more recent events in our political history including the 2016 election.

Kirk Robertson covers the arts and may be reached at news@lahontanvalleynews.com


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