Tip of the Week

Allen Ginsberg Tribute

In dying, Allen Ginsberg literally stole the show from Jack Kerouac. Last May, a tribute to Kerouac at the Metro had to be cancelled due to headliner Ginsberg's rapidly deteriorating health. When the author of "Howl" died, just a few days after the scheduled date for the Kerouac show, the organizers, including Grammy nominated jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, turned their energy toward a Ginsberg tribute. "I want to tell a story about Ginsberg," says Elling, who conceived the event in collaboration with Irving Zucker. "I'm trying to create an evening of reading and performance that leaves holes for the right performers to present themselves." Those performers include artist Ed Paschke reading Ginsberg's "Howl," pianist Laurence Hobgood, percussionist Kahil El'Zabar, Steppenwolf ensemble members and the recorded voices of Beat writers and critics. But don't expect a "rah rah Ginsberg thing," Elling cautions. "The Beat agenda was a political agenda that was brought into the fabric of American culture. Ginsberg helped create a more open society, experimenting with drugs, for example. But people's lives have been destroyed by addiction. We should be proud of Ginsberg's accomplishments as a humanist but he also brought in factors that should bring some ambivalence."

The Allen Ginsberg Tribute runs January 12 as part of the "Traffic" series at the Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 North Halsted, 312.335.1650. 7:30pm. $30. (Sam Jemielity)


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