Nicole Mitchell Trio & Reptile Palace perform Feb. 27-28

Charlotte’s Web presents two performances to entertain this weekend. Come and check them out!

The Nicole Mitchell Trio

On Friday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m., the Nicole Mitchell Trio comes to Mendelssohn Club, 415 N. Church St. Creative instrumentalist, composer and band leader, Nicole Mitchell’s life is dedicated to sharing the spiritual power of music in an effort to create visionary words and to bring healing. Mitchell leads her own group, Black Earth Ensemble, which plays classical and jazz flute for the New Black Repertory Ensemble at Columbia College. She is a professor of flute at Chicago State University, a part-time professor of music for Northeastern Illinois University at the Center for Inner City Studies, and a teaching artist for Ravinia’s Integrational Arts program.

Active in the Chicago creative music scene for more than a decade, Mitchell’s first redognition came as a co-founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians’ (AACM) first alla-women ensemble, Samana. Last fall, Mitchell placed second in Downbeat’s 2003 Critic’s Poll as a Rising Star Jazz Flutist. As a composer, Mitchell recently was awarded the Illinois Arts Council (IAC) fellowship for music composition (2002).

Mitchell has participated at various festivals and art venues throughout the United States, and in the past few years, has performed in the European cities of Milan, Bologna, Verona, Rome, Paris, Munich, Yuroslavl and Moscow. She had her debut in the Middle East in January 2004 in Beirut, Lebanon.

In November 2003, Mitchell unveiled her biggest project yet—a multi-media community play sponsored by the Jazz Institute of Chicago and the Illinois Arts Council. Vision Quest: Hope, Future and Destiny in cluded a cast of more than 50 people involved in dance, video, acting and music. Mitchell composed the script, oversaw the acting, dance and video process, and directed a 12-piece Black Earth Ensemble through 12 new compositions.

As a music educator, Mitchell teaches flute at Chicago State University and is an adjunct professor of music at Northeastern Illinois University.

Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. In addition to locations listed below, tickets can also be purchased from Mendelssohn Club, 415 N. Church St., 964-9713.

Reptile Palace Orchestra

This group started almost as a lark in the 1990s when a Madison radio station asked Bill Feeny to put together a Halloween special. He got a couple friends to join in, Seth Blair and Doug Code, and they came up with a show themed on the song “Werewolf.” Later on, he got Biff Blumfumgagnge to join the group. Together, they recorded several diverse songs and decided to make an album.

A local promoter heard about the project and asked if they could open for a band called Killbilly. They needed a singer or two, and that’s how they gained Anna Purnell, and later Cathy Moore. Eventually, they released their first CD, Early Reptile.

A few months later, they played with Boiled in Lead, who offered the band the chance to play the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis with them. The group expanded its instruments and put on a second album called On the Wings of a Skink. Over the years, there were a few changes in lineup. One high point for Feeny was playing the Folkball, where there are hundreds of folkdancers on the floor. They also play the Madison Folk Ball at the end of January.

“These guys are a breed all unto themselves,” said Tom Schulte. “Part Bulgarian, part Colombian, part swing, part Balkan, part guy-with-an-iguana-head-riding-in-a-boat-with-three-kids, the Reptile Palace Orchestra certainly can’t have any rivals for whatever the heck it is they do. For one thing, I don’t know if the world’s big enough to support more than one of them!”

They’ll be holding a “funky, Balkan, lounge, rock, gypsy dance party” at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 28, at Memorial Hall, 211 N. Main St. Tickets are $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Tickets are available at Rockford Area Arts Council, 713 E. State St., 963-6765; The Postal Shoppe, Edgebrook Center, 397-7301; and Tin Whistle, N. Main & Auburn, 963-0270; or by mail with check and SASE, 10928 N. Main, Rockton, IL 61072. For Web information, call 964-2238.

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