In what promises to be the theatrical event of the holiday season, Tennessee Repertory Theatre unveils a sleek, special-effects-laced production of Charles Dickens’ classic fable. David Grapes will star as Ebenezer Scrooge in a new adaptation by Todd Olson, who will also handle the directorial chores. The cast is a veritable who’s-who of familiar Nashville talent, including Matt Carlton, Henry Haggard, Cecil Jones, Matt Chiorini, Glory Kissel, Julie Rowe, Jeremy Childs and Brian Webb Russell. An alternating cast of local youth will portray the Cratchit children. Other important creative contributions can be expected from highly regarded set designer Gary C. Hoff, costume designer Jim Alford and lighting designer Rudi Aldridge. A preview on Wednesday, Dec. 11, kicks off a run that continues through Dec. 22 in TPAC’s Polk Theater. Tickets are available at www.tpac.org, the TPAC box office, Davis-Kidd Booksellers and all Ticketmaster outlets.
This weeks picks by Todd Anderson, Martin Brady, Doug Brumley, Steve Erickson, Bill Friskics-Warren, Paul Griffith, Heather Johnson, Jonathan Marx, Noel Murray, Jim Ridley, Angela Wibking and Ron Wynn.
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead This Austin quartet, who released their major-label debut earlier this year, have become one of the few thinking person’s hard rock bands left. Without exactly sounding like the late, lamented At the Drive-In, they combine a similar set of influencesSonic Youth, Fugazi, old-school punkwith enough energy to power all of Texas. They’re infamous for pummeling their instruments and equipment live, so watch out for flying guitar necks when they play Slow Bar with Forget Cassettes.
Kate Campbell Campbell’s a compelling vocalist and a fine writer whose last album, Wandering Strange, featured renditions of Southern gospel tunes and spirituals. Her latest, Monuments, is more in keeping with her usual style, a stirring blend of country, folk and Southern soul elements. She appears 9 p.m. at the Bluebird Cafe.
The Features The recent work of this adventurous Murfreesboro pop group finds them mutating once again, leaving aside the crystalline power pop of their 1997 EP and the roughhewn basement psychedelia of their 2001 EP and striking out in a direction informed by both of their previous incarnations. New tunes like “Blow It Out” and “Bring on the Night” display plenty of bash, but they’re warmed by a buzzing organ and fuller arrangementslike Matthew Sweet backed by The Attractions. Then there’s “Someway, Somehow,” a romantic anthem with a spirit torn between the AOR of 1979 and the college rock of 1999. Witness the struggle at 12th & Porter.
RR Magazine Release Party A beast as elusive as the centaur or free beer night, Jeff Meltesen’s zine RR publishes only on Friday the 13th and never in the same format. A collage of song lyrics, flotsam and stray Music City arcana, it may take shape as a booklet or a bound set of inch-wide paper ribbons. If you want the latest edition, turn up for this show with Meltesen’s alt-country alter ego D. Striker, Nancy Seiters and the atmospheric, hauntingly spare lo-fi folk of Ole Mossy Face, featuring Mason Vickery’s plaintive steel and Casey Sanders’ quavery vocals. As special incentive, rock around the locker room with the awesome Turtleneck & The Sweats, whose riotous sports-themed stage shows make them the 21st-century Dictators. And what’s this about Cheetah Chrome appearing as their motivational coach? Suit up and give 110 percent at The Sutler.
Martina McBride’s The Joy of Christmas Concert Through the use of special effects, the Gaylord Entertainment Center will transform into Victorian London, Bethlehem, Santa’s Workshop and other magical locales during McBride’s inaugural holiday concert. Gigantic projection screens, brilliant lighting and set designs, and a troupe of 10 actors work together to create scenes that will leave children saucer-eyed, while McBride performs songs from her 1998 album White Christmas. There are reportedly opportunities for the audience, especially children, to participate, so leave the camera at home (they’re not allowed), but don’t forget to bring the kids.
Tokyo Sauna The latest dance happening from the Electric Lounge is sure to be a bacchanalian blowout and a fine alternative to the current glut of holiday parties. Headliner is DJ Jimmy Van M, colleague and frequent collaborator of electronica stars Sasha and John Digweed. He’ll be finishing out the evening with a progressive house music set, but before then, there’s a full lineup of local and regional DJs, including Trevor Lamont and Chip B from Lexington, Ky.’s Soulbrothaz crew; Mindub and Jolby from WRVU-91 Rock and Audity Central; and Terry Grant and Scott Nelsen. Nashville’s Nelsen has had a great year, having recently shared the DJ booth with Paul Oakenfold at Ibizaan experience he’s written about for the current issue of Mixer magazine. Tokyo Sauna will also include a fashion show of clothes from local retailers, complete with models, lights, visuals and other bells and whistles. It all takes place at the revived Exit/In, and advance tickets can be had for $10 by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, show up at the door with $12 and a donation to Second Harvest Food Bank.
Baby Stout/the Communist Baby Stout will be the big draw for this show at the Slow Bar, but it’s the enigmatic The Communist who deserve attention for their tight arrangements and melodramatic, Queen-sized songs played at high volume. There’s also an after-hours show featuring Good People, whose rude combination of Southern rock and rap should have made them the most popular band around these parts years ago.
Kings Of Leon While papa Leon Followill preached the Pentecostal gospel in the rural Southeast, brothers Caleb, Nathan and Jaredand first cousin Matthewlearned how to raise the roof as Dad’s house band. Now based in Mt. Juliet, the foursome combine hip-shakin’ rhythms, meaty guitar tricks and a reckless, punk ethos with their blues-gospel roots. With a five-song EP for RCA already in the can, the group played their first Nashville gig this week at the Slow Bar; they follow it up by opening for singer-songwriter Josh Rouse during his all-ages set at 12th & Porter. (Rouse will play another set for the drinking crowd later in the evening.)
Working Stiffs’ Jamboree Christmas Party Nothing sums up the holiday season in Nashville like the dingy, drafty back room at Springwater illuminated by Christmas lights glinting off tinsela glow that can make the most clenched yuletide heart unfold like a paper flower in water. Now in its 17th year, this wonderful night of guitar-pulled carols and impromptu performances never fails to get the holiday spirit(s) flowing, as some of the city’s finest alt-folk artists and underground rockers stave off the winter chill. The unannounced lineup could feature anyone from Tom House and the Cherry Blossoms to Dave Cloud, but the music is almost beside the point; it’s worth going just to bask in the night’s saloon-style seasonal warmth.
Richard Ferreira Ferreira is a veteran musician who’s had his puppy run over enough times by his chosen profession that it’s easy to understand why he might want to hide his light under a bushel. That’s kind of hard to do, however, when you make records as good as the self-effacing singer-songwriter’s debut, Somewhereville. Vocally, the record lands somewhere between Elvis Costello and Richard Manuel, and its backing tracks recall the Caledonia soul of Van Morrison. But the greatest strength of Somewhereville is the songwritingseven of the nine tracks are co-written with some of Nashville’s best, including Gwil Owen, Greg Trooper and Angelo. Ferreira performs at Douglas Corner.
Laurie Wheeler & Nash de Ville Wheeler may not be the highest-profile jazz singer in town, but she’s certainly been noticed nationally. She just cracked the Top 10 vocalists in this year’s Down Beat Readers’ Poll and will be celebrating that coup with a special show at Cafe 123. Among those joining her will be guitarist Larry Carlton, known for his own albums and his contributions to numerous other sessions, particularly his days with The Crusaders.
DJ Icey DJ Icey established his reputation as “King of the Funky Breaks” during his residency at The Edge, the legendary Orlando dance club that hosted The Chemical Brothers’ first U.S. performance. His DJ sets are known for funky breaks and for the range of styles (hip-hop, acid house, Miami bass) and influences (from Cabaret Voltaire to Run-D.M.C.) he brings to the mix. DJ Icey spins at The Tunnel (formerly The Spot).
Michael McCandless Benefit The Sutler hosts a benefit to help defray the medical costs of irreverent Hank III fiddle virtuoso McCandless, who was recently diagnosed with advanced cancer. Friends in the shambling Goose Creek Symphony, along with Nelly Wilson, the elusive Gespacho Jones and Kenny Mullins, assemble for an evening of good wishes for McCandless’ speedy recovery.
Saturday, 14th-Sunday, 15th
Beegie Adair Trio/Teren Bose and Benita Hill It’s double-header concerts all month at Jazz on White Bridge Road, with this weekend’s lineup a noteworthy one. Saturday afternoon is the always inventive pianist Adair, whose recent boxed set devoted to America’s premier pre-rock composers has gotten widespread raves. She’ll be performing with her trio, while on Sunday Teren Bose and Benita Hill will demonstrate their skills with jazz, blues, pop and a bit of everything else. In addition, the store continues its Kids Fighting AIDS Inc. Benefit, with donations being accepted throughout December. The music begins 1 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Agnus DeiA Christmas Concert featuring the songs of Michael W. Smith In Christian worship, Agnus Dei is the figure of the lamb as symbolic of Jesus’ sacrifice for the sins of humankind. It’s a beautiful image, though a little hard to come to terms with theologically, as the endless splintering of Christian denominations attests. Brentwood Baptist Church will smooth it all out at this concert, which includes some of gospel superstar Smith’s hits as arranged by sacred music legend David Hamilton and sung by the congregation’s choir. The show is at the church, and tickets are available through Ticketmaster.
The Mighty Rime Bookending a 10-day Midwest tour with two hometown shows (the first being last week’s Springwater performance), Nashville transplant Kerry McDonald brings his up-and-coming rock band back to play The End. The Mighty Rime’s self-titled CD features a lo-fi melting pot of influences, the distinctiveness of which is matched only by McDonald’s high-pitched, double-tracked vocals. Balancing power and beauty, the material is straightforward enough to grab listeners at a gut level, yet varied enough to remain stimulating and fresh. The group will be hitting the road again in January, but it would be worth your while to catch them on this bill, which they share with Character and Pacific UV.
SANKOFA There was some confusion about this concert two weeks back, so here’s the correct information. The Blair School of Music’s outstanding African performing ensemble, under the direction of Kwame Ahima, will be performing 7 p.m. this Sunday at Ingram Hall. Here’s a chance to hear the genuine article: traditional African vocal music in gorgeous multipart harmonies and rhythms. For more information, call 322-7651.
Larry O. Dean/R.D. Roth Dean is a prolific poet, journalist and songwriter who fronts Chicago-based band The Me Decade and records as a solo act. His tuneful, soulful, song-based recordings suggest a cross between Big Star-era Alex Chilton and latter-day Stephen Malkmus. Opening for Dean 8 p.m. at Guido’s New York Pizzeria is R.D. Roth, a smart, evocative troubadour who wraps his musings in lush, crepuscular soundscapes.
Midtown Fellowship presents Andrew PetersonA Christmas Concert Local singer-songwriter Peterson gathers a host of names from the contemporary Christian music community and beyondPhil Keaggy, Derek Webb, Steve Hindalong, Nickel Creek’s Sean Watkins and othersfor the third annual performance of his original musical, Behold the Lamb of God. Each of the two shows (3 and 7 p.m. at the Belcourt Theatre) begins with the artists in an in-the-round setting, followed by a presentation of Peterson’s lyrical retelling of the story of Jesus.
Tandy Living in Music City, it’s easy to take certain kinds of live performances for granted. Fans of idiosyncratic roots writers ranging from Gordon Lightfoot to Townes Van Zandt to Steve Earle should avoid that mistake and see the New York City-based Tandy when they perform at The Sutler.
Ellis Hooks A 28-year-old Alabama native who’s been described as Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and John Fogerty rolled into one, Hooks ranks as one of the week’s must-see performers strictly on the strength of reviews for his CD Undeniable. It hasn’t been released stateside yet, but advance word heralds a gritty R&B powerhouse in the making. It’s a good sign that Undeniable was produced by new Nashvillian Jon Tiven, whose noteworthy new wave-to-blues credentials include records by Wilson Pickett and B.B. King, fine all-star tributes to R&B legends Arthur Alexander and Otis Blackwell, and the upcoming pairing of Steve Cropper and Felix Cavaliere. Hooks makes his first Nashville appearance at the Western Beat Roots Revival, now in its new (old) home at the Exit/In.
Denison Witmer A pensive, unassuming singer-songwriter whose journaling germinated into a critically acclaimed musical career, Witmer couches his reflective lyrics in laid-back, acoustic-based folk laced with intriguing elements of plugged-in rock. (Think of the depth and style of Red House Painters with vocals reminiscent of Duncan Sheik, and you’ll be in the ballpark.) The electric embellishments are sure to be present when Witmer plays Springwater, since he’s bringing a full band in support of his third LP, Philadelphia Songs. Opening the show are Jacksonville, Fla., singer-songwriter Tracy Sheddwho weaves a similarly compelling, yet slightly more upbeat blend of folk and rockand local band The Falling. Witmer also plays a 5 p.m. in-store at CD Warehouse on 21st Ave. S.
Cole Slivka It’s been almost three years since singer-songwriter Slivka released Neurotica, a record that’s the audio equivalent of her lush, well-tended East Nashville garden. Word is that there’s a follow-up record and tour in the works, but until then, we’ll have to be content with her Monday-night songwriter sets at Bean Central and occasional live shows like this one at Family Wash.
Slack/Verde Two of Nashville’s most accomplished alternative acts give a little back in the form of a free concert at the Exit/In. Dubbed “Christmas Beatings,” you can expect some tough love from Slack’s Nirvana-influenced rock and some unconditional sweetness from Andrea Dewese’s indie pop act Verde. When I Was a Teenager round out the bill.
Metropolis If you’ve never seen a silent film with live accompaniment, it’s a fabulous thing: a combination of cinematic effects and precision with the energy and spontaneity of live performance. For one night only, at 7 p.m. this Friday, the Belcourt screens the restored version of Fritz Lang’s 1927 science-fiction masterpiece Metropolis with “of the moment” music by Spacecraft, the electronic ensemble of Tony Gerber, Giles Reaves, John Rose and Diane Timmons. If nothing else, it should be a vast improvement over that bizarre Giorgio Moroder version in the ’80s. Tickets will be available at the box office.
It’s a Wonderful Life Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls! A bomb when first released, Frank Capra’s 1946 holiday favorite is a heartwarming slice of Americana about the effect one man’s life can have on countless others. That uplift, however, sandwiches a harrowing middle section as dark and unsettling as the era’s film noir classics, with James Stewart in a transitional role between his prewar male-ingenue persona and the obsessive neurotics he’d play in the 1950s for Hitchcock and Anthony Mann. The Belcourt gives the film a limited Christmas engagement for six days starting Saturdaywith Monday, as always, the theater’s Baby Night for harried parents wanting a night out with their infants.
Drumline A Harlem street drummer (Nick Cannon) puts some pep in the step of a sleepy Southern school’s drumline in this musical comedy by director Charles Stone III, who made the underrated drug drama Paid in Full. If the movie has as much energy as its roof-rocking trailer, this could be as much fun as the cheerleading saga Bring It On a few years back. It starts Friday, along with Jennifer Lopez as the Maid in Manhattan, Rob Schneider as The Hot Chick and Star Trek: Nemesis.
Quitting Jia Hongshen, who rose to fame a decade ago playing tough guys in Chinese B-movies and TV shows, stars as himself in this biopic about his struggles with addiction and the burdens of his notoriety. Jia’s parents also play themselves. The film, opening Friday at Green Hills, was directed by Zhang Yang (Shower), who worked with the star on a stage version of Kiss of the Spider Woman.
Nashville Independents 1 Nashville actor Tommy Barnes presents an anthology of short subjects featuring local performers, producers, writers and filmmakers. Moviegoers will recognize some of the titles from recent film festivals, such as the homecoming drama “Homeward” (with Kenny Bernstein and Danny Proctor) and the silent-movie spoof “Silent Affair” (with Re Mattei and director Alan McKenna). Look for it in the local filmmakers section at Tower Video.
Nutcracker Appropriately enough, there’s a family-oriented aura surrounding the 2002 Nashville Ballet performance of this holiday favorite. The principal dancers, for example, are themselves offspring of performing artists. Dancing the famous Act 2 pas de deux will be Veronica Lynn, whose father, Nashville Symphony maestro Kenneth Schermerhorn, will be conducting from the orchestra pit. In addition, her partner, Nilas Martins, is the son of Peter Martins, director of the New York City Ballet. Add to that 198 student dancers who’ve been selected for the Youth Cast, and you have a production with an especially kid-friendly ambience and high local interest. Nutcracker will be presented 10 times, Dec. 12-22, at TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall. For tickets, call Ticketmaster at 255-9600. M.B.
Holiday Cabaret ACT I, one of the Nashville area’s more adventuresome community theaters, is holding a holiday-themed fundraiser featuring local actor-singers performing classic seasonal music. Festive food and drink will be available at intermission. It all takes place at the Darkhorse Theater, Dec. 13-15. For information and reservations, phone 726-2281.
A Southern Christmas Sampler The Robertson County Players bring this Actors Equity-affiliated production into Nashville, presenting it at the festively decorated Belmont Mansion through Dec. 23. In recent years, the Sampler has been a staple of holiday programming at Mockingbird Theatre, featuring stories, poems and songs that evoke heartfelt audience response. This formula is essentially in place, but there is also some new material based on Ann Harwell Wells’ Always in My Heart, a book that offers an intimate glimpse at a Nashville family at Christmastime during World War II. Cast members include Lynn Rothrock, Erin Whited and Sam Whited. For reservations and information, phone 545-1724.
TAG Art Gallery Works by South Carolina’s William Thomas Thompson, Seattle artist Anne Grgich and Wisconsin’s Norbert Kox are featured in TAG’s latest show. Both Grgich and Thompson have been featured on the cover of Raw Vision, a magazine devoted to outsider, folk and visionary art. Thompson falls squarely into the visionary category, having picked up a paint brush at age 53 in response to a vision of Jesus Christ proclaiming the end of this world. Typical of his work is “Howard Finster Going to Heaven #6,” a tribute to the late father of visionary folk art both in subject and style. Grgich falls more into the “contemporary outsider” realm of self-taught artists working in a naive manner. Her works are dense, multilayered mixtures of collage and painting, most of them focusing on faces, each one carefully named. Norbert Kox is a prominent visionary artist whose self-described “apocalyptic visual parables” utilize powerful metaphors to “awaken modern man from his spiritual malaise and counter centuries’ worth of biblical mistranslations.” Works by all three artists are currently at the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, including “Idolatry: The Drugging of the Nations,” a collaborative mural by Thompson and Kox. A life-size print of that piece is featured in the TAG show. Join the artists for the opening reception, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 14.
Untitled More than 120 local artists unite to give Nashville “More,” as Untitled’s second show of the year is dubbed. The group is comprised of art faculty and students from Watkins College of Art and Design, Belmont University, Vanderbilt University and MTSU, as well as artists from Zeitgeist, American Artisan, Rule of Thirds, Plowhaus and Cumberland Gallery, plus several independent local artists. Expect an outstanding selection of paintings, photography, sculpture and mixed-media pieces displayed for sale 6-10 p.m. Dec. 13 at Cummins Station in the former Goten II space. Slip upstairs for an after-party at Johny Jackson’s Fridays with DJ Chris Coolout, where Untitled patrons receive discounted admission to the popular Friday-night dance party.
Zeitgeist Gallery Memphis comes to Nashville in the form of a terrific new show at this Hillsboro Village gallery. Don’t expect ribs or Elvis, though. The “Memphis” saluted here is the Italian consortium of artists, designers and architects who chose the city’s name as their moniker in 1981 and achieved overnight success with an exhibition in Milan of crazy, colorful furniture and objects. The designers were inspired to take the name after listening to Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Outside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again,” and they decided that an allusion to both the ancient capital of Egypt and the home of Elvis Presley was perfect for a movement whose chief characteristic is a juxtaposition of high and low culture. Get lost in furniture with a “playfulness that negates a rational response to function, yet engenders an emotional response to form.” The opening reception is 6-9 p.m. Dec. 12. See the story on p. 31.
Tennessee State Museum See Marilyn Monroe’s bra, Princess Di’s evening gowns and Queen Victoria’s wedding veil in “Royalty and Elegance,” a fascinating clothing and antique textile exhibition drawn from the private collection of Memphis-based fashion designer Pat Kerr. Explore the show in depth 2-4 p.m. Dec. 15 during a special afternoon of musical entertainment, weaving and lace-making demonstrations. Admission to the show is also reduced for the day: $5 for adults and free for kids of high school age and younger.
Plowhaus Join costume designer/local arts cheerleader Franne Lee for a Christmas party at her East Nashville gallery, complete with eggnog, cookies and original art for sale, 1-5 p.m. Dec 15.
Reading & Writing
Scotty Moore, D.J. Fontana and Ronnie McDowell There was a story making the rounds a few years back about Scotty Moore walking into Arnold’s meat-and-three for lunch one day and being greeted by a standing ovation. To the world at large, however, Elvis’ first guitarist and manager remains one of the unsung heroes of rock ’n’ roll. He and early Elvis sideman D.J. Fontanawho for all intents and purposes invented rock ’n’ roll drummingwill be on hand at Ernest Tubb Record Shop from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13 to sign copies of their memoirs, titled respectively That’s Alright Elvis and The Beat Behind the King. Recording artist, painter and ardent Elvis admirer Ronnie McDowell will join the pair to sign prints of his work “The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band,” which pays tribute to The King’s first combo. After that, at 7 p.m., Dennis Shuler Sr. and Larry J. Delp will be signing Mel Street: A Legend Gone but Not Forgotten, a biography of the talented ’70s country singer whose career was tragically cut short by suicide. For more information, call 255-7503.
Hillsboro Village Holiday Open House Merchants are open until 9 p.m. Dec. 12 and 13 so that shoppers can hunt for the perfect gift and enjoy free holiday entertainment in Hillsboro Village. The Belmont Carolers will be strolling along 21st Avenue South, dispensing seasonal musical cheer. Hot cider, cocoa and other treats will be served at participating shops. You can also drop off an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots at TAG Art Gallery, Fido and Mail Boxes Etc. Other festivities include a do-it-yourself stocking-decorating table at Fido, an art opening Thursday evening at Zeitgeist (see above) and a book-signing at BookMan/BookWoman. Oh, and there’s a coffee tasting at Davis Cookware and live piano music at Antics, which features vintage holiday ornaments along with other collectible gift ideas.
Caldwell Collection Local artisan Ben Caldwell showcases his copper and silver serving pieces while Nashville importer Jo Anne Rosenblum introduces a new line of mango wood and rattan vessels and celadon boxes from Thailand at this holiday open house, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Dec. 14.
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