If KKFI 90.1 personality Connie Crash had included the over-the-top 1956 recording of “I Put a Spell on You” by Screaming Jay Hawkins on a radio play list when the song was originally released, it might have cost her a job. Columbia Records’ Arnold Maxin wanted Hawkins to play up the scary side of the song, so he got Hawkins and the band superdrunk in the recording studio before they made any music. Hawkins screamed and made all kinds of freaked-out noises as he threatened to put a spell on a woman who’d been “running around.” It was a hit, even though it scared the crap out of listeners all over the country. From then on, Hawkins played up his scary-blues-guy notoriety, adding a crazed performance style to his act, jumping out of coffins onstage, dropping fake worms on queasy audiences and making fire appear to leap from his fingertips.Crash, joined in the studio by local mystery author Larry Rochelle, plays the song as part of her 4 p.m. Soul Fixin’ Blues Show, for which she spins records that capture the spookiness of the season. The duo also promises to play “Schoolteacher Blues” by Saffire and an early ’60s fearfest called “The Devastating Bombs” by Eddie “Big Blues” Carson.
— Gina Kaufmann
A design guru lectures at the KCAI.
In addition to being designer in residence and head of the graduate program in graphic design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit, Elliott Earls has credits as a filmmaker, including an interactive documentary on architect Frank Gehry, and as a performance artist, for which he was named an “emerging artist” with New York’s acclaimed Wooster Group. Fresh out of school, he founded the Apollo Program, which experimented with “nonlinear digital video, spoken-word poetry, music and design.” As if his résumé weren’t fat enough, he has collaborated globally with Benetton, Elektra Records, and the U.K.’s Cartoon Network. “I have a lot of interests, and the point of the lecture is to tell students to stop being so discipline-oriented,” he says. “[You don’t have to] fit nicely into a specific genre.”Earls’ free lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Epperson Auditorium at the Kansas City Art Institute (4415 Warwick) promises to be a testament to the art of multitasking. For more information, call 816-802-3426.— Steve Walker
The symphony looks to impress.
Keeping up with the Lyric Opera’s Bohemians, a new group in town is calling itself the Young Friends of the Symphony. Its inaugural event Friday at the Blue Gallery (7 West 19th Street) is called “The Blue & the Bard.”Vice president Toby Truog says the group’s intent is to corral young professionals with at least a passing interest in classical music. “People around my age have said they’d like to go to the symphony but feel they can’t afford it or it’s so stuffy, it’s achingly boring,” he says. “But one of our goals is to demystify what you think of when you think of the symphony.” Following the event, the group takes in the symphony’s “Supremely Shakespeare” concert at the Lyric Theatre. For details, call 816-218-2607.— Walker
Get Your Kicks
Save gas money and vacation time this week by touring Route 66 from inside the Main Library at 311 East 12th Street. Photographer Shellee Graham already did all the driving, so all you have to do is take in her collection of color and black-and-white photographs of Americana-rich locations between Illinois and California. Graham appears at the free opening reception at 2 p.m Sunday. For details, call 816-701-3726. — Michael Vennard