Bettye LaVette performing in Leuven, Belgium in 2006
By Florangela Davila, Nicole Capozziello and Joseph Sutton-Holcomb
* Denotes items that are $15 or less
ShortsFest at SIFF *
Looking at the SIFF schedule can be overwhelming but ShortsFest is always a good bet. These short films, spanning cultures and genres, are collected into one weekend of fast-paced, original programming that provides an excellent snapshot of the entire 25-day festival. I always love the choice of themes: "Saved by the Bell" (how a life can be changed by a single moment); "Animation4Adults"; "Shoot to Thrill" (films driven by tension). This year, there’s also a sampling of films about the unique history and evolution of Yesler Terrace. Discover a new artist and a new appreciation for the short film art form.
If you go: ShortsFest at SIFF, Check schedule for venues, May 21 through May 25 ($13) — N.C.
Black Box 2.0 *
Ok, so here’s another festival if SIFF, Folklife and/or Sasquatch don’t already have you booked solid — and if the words “digital culture” send you to your secret happy place. The nice thing about the Black Box 2.0 festival is that it’s not limited to Memorial Day weekend. It started on May 6 and continues through June 7.
So what’s Black Box? It’s a showcase for experimental film, video and new media art by a group of international artists. Seattle-based Aktionart is the organizer; the festival debuted last year. The videos are screened in somewhat alternative Seattle venues like a shipping container in Ballard. If you’re a traditionalist, how about a screening of "Waves" at Cornish’s Raisbeck Performance Hall. The 19-minute video is about geology and meteorology and Virginia Woolf and invisible jellyfish and a painting by Courbet and, well, just go see it.
If you go: Black Box 2.0, Seven venues throughout Seattle; check schedule for details. Through June 7 (free) — F.D.
She's the Joe Cocker of soul music: a woman who has mastered the art of the cover in a way few artists can. Honestly, that comparison might be unfair because unlike Cocker, LaVette has scads of original material. LaVette, now 69, has made music for decades, but she was a bit of a late bloomer on the commercial scene. She didn't achieve widespread recognition until she hit her 50s. Her 2012 album, “Thankful N’ Thoughtful” showcases her talent for interpreting the work of other artists, including covers Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” Bob Dylan’s “I’m Not There” and The Black Keys’ “I’m Not The One.”
About that Black Keys’ cover: “I find it interesting," she said, "and thoroughly entertaining to add age and experience to young writers’ songs and inhabit them myself ... I’m not sure what he (The Keys’ Dan Auerbach) was talking about, but I’m saying ‘Don’t fuck with me.’ ” LaVette's voice, like other contemporary greats Sharon Jones and Mavis Staples, has a smokiness and gravely quality that easily lends itself to soul, blues and rock. She’s doing a four-day stint at Jazz Alley this week, so there are ample opportunities to catch her live.