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    Need a date, Buster?

    Can two Buster Keaton silent classics find happiness with four surreal-yet-neurotic musicians this Valentine's Day?


    One of the great paradoxes about Buster Keaton is that, while he was called the Great Stone Face, he could dramatize romantic longing better than a thousand limpid-eyed Valentinos.

    Includes individual films: "One Week"; "Sherlock Jr."
    Music by: Neill Furio, Brian Dewan, Will Holshauser and David Sher.
    Although singer/bassist Neill Furio flashes an angelic smile rivaling that of another of cinema's most dangerous innocents — Malcolm McDowell in "O Lucky Man," he shares Keaton's beatific eyes. Combined with his surreal-yet-neurotic pop tunes, they give the impression of one who, like Keaton, is forever trying to find the middle distance.

    Furio, whom pop fans may know from his playing with such local luminaries as Bubble and Lianne Smith, calls the Valentine's Day show he is putting on at Tonic Valentitis, "as in laryngitis." The reference to silence is apt, as the evening will include two of Keaton's greatest silents, "One Week" (1920) and "Sherlock Jr." (1924), accompanied by a combo that includes electric zitherist (and favorite of WFMU) Brian Dewan, accordionist Will Holshauser, and "Wild West windman" David Sher.

    "One Week," in which Keaton and his new wife attempt to assemble their portable house, is a one-reeler that contains some of his most daring stunts. The observations offered in "Sherlock Jr." on how cinema can invade viewers' fantasy lives have influenced many writers and directors since, notably Woody Allen, whose "Play It Again, Sam" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo" both echo this classic film.

    Furio will supplement the films with a set of songs and stories with an appropriately romantic theme, his (mostly) guileless sophistication making him something of a cross between Linus Van Pelt and Van Dyke Parks. However, if he has a real live security blanket, he's leaving it home in honor of the occasion. "I'll be everyone's date," he promises.

    FEBRUARY 11, 2000

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