Critics' Picks 

THURS/2.4

[JUST THE TWO OF US]

JOHN & JEN

Small musicals can be fun. Even smaller, two-person musicals can also work well, but they require absolutely solid contributions from its players. The odds look pretty good, then, for this two-hander featuring Martha Wilkinson and Patrick Waller, gifted locals who have proved that both singing and acting at a high level are on their résumés. Andrew Lippa and Tom Greenwald's piece shuffles the deck on male/female relationships of all types, and Waller/Wilkinson do all the role playing (brother/sister, mother/father, parent/child, etc.). This one-off departure from Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre's regular schedule is being independently produced by Johnny Peppers. Musical direction is by Tim Fudge. Through Feb. 20 at Chaffin's Barn's Backstage MARTIN BRADY 

[BIG KENNY V1.0]

KENNY ROGERS

Bill Hicks loved music nearly as much as he loved cigarettes, skewering the government and the idea of space travel. "We live in a world where John Lennon was murdered, yet Barry Manilow continues to put out fucking albums," said Hicks in one of most famous routines. "But goddamnit! If you're gonna kill somebody, have some fucking taste. I'll drive you to Kenny Rogers' house." Bill, like the armed forces he so liked to criticize, occasional fired at some innocent bystanders. Sure, Rogers has had some obvious plastic surgery. Sure, he's something of the Bob Seger of the country-pop world. But he was in the New Christy Minstrels (sang and played stand-up bass), moved on to the hippie-fied First Edition and then effortlessly morphed into his MOR-is-less "Cowboy Kenny" period, which produced more than 60 Top 40 hit singles on the country and pop charts. What's more, he more or less forged the duet power-ballad craze of the 1980s (you can thank him later, James Ingram) with songs like "Islands in the Stream" with Dolly Parton and "We've Got Tonight" with Sheena Easton. Is he the hippest fellow in the world? Probably not, and that's likely why people wear thrift-store "The Gambler" T-shirts and croon the shit out of his back catalog down at the local karaoke dive. Still, if only he could still smile, here's betting he'd get a kick out of that. Rogers will appear with the Nashville Symphony. 7 p.m. Feb 4-5 at Schermerhorn Symphony Center TIMOTHY C. DAVIS

[ANTI-STARVING ARTISTS]

THE FOOD SHOW: ART FEEDS PEOPLE

From community-supported agriculture to record-breaking food stamp enrollment, we've got our attention these days on all things nutritive and gustatory. The Cumberland Gallery brings a huge variety of artistic perspectives to the topic of food with its Art Feeds People fundraiser, running through Feb. 27. Andy Saftel, Ron Porter, Marilyn Murphy, Bill Renkl and Barry Buxkamper are among the many exhibitors. At this month's Art After Hours, the gallery hosts readings by editor/publisher Paulette Licitra and others from the literary magazine Alimentum. The journal's contents range from ode to essay, all orbiting around the subject of food. Speaking of which, caterer Monica Holme's Clean Plate Club will provide appetizers. A second reception takes place 6-8 p.m. Saturday, with Whole Food dishing up the comestibles. Fifteen percent of the show's proceeds will go to the Second Harvest Food Bank, and donations of money or nonperishable food are also requested from visitors. 5-8 p.m. at Cumberland Gallery, part of Art After Hours. Second reception 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 RUSSELL JOHNSTON

[GIANT AMONG US]

SIGNS OF A NEW DAY: THE Z. ALEXANDER LOOBY STORY

There's a library and theater named in his honor on Rosa Parks Boulevard, but for those who have always wondered about Z. Alexander Looby's importance to the city of Nashville, those questions are asked and answered in Signs of a New Day. A lawyer, teacher and political activist, Looby was a groundbreaker in representative city government, leading the way for other African-Americans to serve as council members. He also made key contributions to the work of the NAACP. But Looby's best-known role was probably serving as lead defense counsel for the group of black college students arrested during the Nashville lunch-counter sit-ins 50 years ago this month in the tempestuous, civil-rights-conscious days of 1960. Veteran writer-director Carolyn German is responsible for both script and staging, and her cast includes Joel Diggs in the title role along with Alicia Haymer. (P.S. The "Z" is for Zephaniah.) Through Feb. 6 at (where else?) Looby Theater MARTIN BRADY

[PRESIDENTIAL OUTLAW]

LOU OUTLAW & STEVEN WALKER

Obama may never have expected to usher in a post-partisan era of harmony, but the bare fact of an African-American winning the White House still gets some of us choked up. Photographer Lou Outlaw made the trek to D.C. for last year's historic inauguration, where he directed his lens more toward the emotions of the crowd than the official ceremony. Outlaw, a Vanderbilt associate provost who has taught philosophy and African-American studies, will be on hand Feb. 4 to discuss his inauguration photos and his portraits of the recently reconvened Nashville Freedom Riders. Also at The Arts Company this month is Steven Walker's Nashville Town and Country, a new series of Hopper-influenced oil paintings depicting urban and rural landscapes in and around Music City. Walker's work has been shown in museums including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Conversation with Outlaw 5-7 p.m. at The Arts Company as part of Art After Hours. Opening reception for both shows 6-9 p.m. Feb. 6 RUSSELL JOHNSTON

FRI/2.5

[THE REAL BLUES BROTHERS]

NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS

The late pianist, producer and world-class raconteur Jim Dickinson explained that he'd relocated his family from Memphis to Mississippi's hill country in the '80s to complete his sons' musical education. Smart move. Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson — who, along with towering bassist Chris Chew, comprise the North Mississippi Allstars — are a guitar-and-drums tag team who can wrangle just about anything stinking of red dust and kudzu, from juke-joint stomp and post-Allmans harmonies to wiry improv and dirty, grinding swamp funk. Since late 2007, six-string wielder Luther has been playing with the Black Crowes, and he's just recorded a tribute to his dad, the new Onward and Upward. Cody's jumped from behind the drums to flog guitar with his own Hill Country Revue, who released their debut Make a Move last year. But now they've reunited for the Allstars' first large-scale tour since 2008's Hernando, reaffirming their family ties and their muddy roots. 9 p.m. at Cannery Ballroom TED DROZDOWSKI

[WHITE MEN CAN TALK]

WHITE MEN ON RACE LECTURE FEAT. DR. JOE FEAGIN

Typically, if you want to know if, say, racism is dead or not, you ask the victims of the oppression and not the perpetrators. African-Americans tend to have a better idea of whether they're still getting screwed by the man on a daily basis than the white folks doing the screwing. But it's nice to hear the dominant power structure give props, and tonight's lecture sounds like wish fulfillment: White men will convene purely for the purpose of dismantling the myth that we live in a post-racial society. These aren't a bunch of roustabout honkies! These are brothers in arms who will present new evidence to argue that racism is, in fact, alive and well. Sure, it's easy to call this yet another "No Shit" study, but good activists are always prepared with the latest stats and talking points to shoot down nay-sayers. One quibble: The event description says they'll "candidly discuss the real issues behind racism with information gathered from college students, white men and African-Americans." So, uh, what will white women be doing? Massaging their feet and performing interpretive dance? 7 p.m. at Laskey Great Hall, Scarritt-Bennett Center TRACY MOORE

[TURN UP THE BASE-MENT]

THE BASEMENT FIVE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY BASH

If you're relying on the local rag to direct you to The Basement's anniversary bash, then you probably haven't spent much time frequenting Nashville's club scene over the last five years. In that time, the tiny haunt — located below Grimey's New and Pre-Loved Music — has built itself into an institution near and dear to this city's music community. On any given Friday or Saturday night, the club is a bastion of celebration and rock 'n' roll, so this two-day commemoration of the foundation of the organization is guaranteed to be a shindig of epic proportions. Friday's lineup features artists including The Branded Sons, Kat Brock (Dixie Dirt) and Ben Cashatt playing originals. Saturday, covers from My So-Called Band, The Coolin' System, peerless hedonists Weekend Jimmy and the Easy Party and Superdrag bassist Tom Pappas' Ramones tribute band WARTHOG should give you more than enough incentive to come on down and congratulate Basement proprietors Mike Grimes and Geoff Donovan for their fifth straight year of success. 9 p.m. Friday & Saturday at The Basement ADAM GOLD

[SCHOOL DAZE]

FIVE + 5

For this month's Gallery Crawl, Twist Gallery's space at 73 Arcade will play host to a new show of work by both students and faculty from Watkins College of Art. In the last few years, the college has attracted an increasingly talented number of artists to instruct at the school, and the impact of Watkins' students on the local art scene has taken on the urgency and thoroughness of a zombie rampage: There is no escape! Five + 5 will feature the work of students Lauren Willis, Clayton Lancaster, Robert Dunn, Claudia O'Steen, Alexis Hicks and Tim Marchbanks, which will be shown with the work of Watkins faculty members Ron Lambert, Derek Cote, Kristi Hargrove, and Brady Haston and Terry Thacker, who both participated in last year's abstract painting survey at Cheekwood. Opening reception 6-9 p.m. at Twist Gallery. Through Feb. 27 JOE NOLAN

[GROUP THERAPY]

JUDEVINE 

Actors Bridge Ensemble kicks off a busy February — look for Arthur Miller's All My Sons shortly down the road — with the kind of group-minded piece the company thrives on. David Budbill's portrait of poor, rural Vermonters working through emotional extremes offers roles for a good-sized cast, including an omniscient poet-narrator commenting on the townsfolk's human condition. Just as interestingly, producer Vali Forrister has overseen the transformation of the A.B.E. rehearsal space at the Neuhoff Site into a performing venue seating 50. Intimacy sounds guaranteed, and so much the better if the actors excel. Ross Bolen, seen in the ensemble's Simpatico last spring, directs. Familiar names in the cast include Rachel Agee, Rebekah Durham, Ken Jackson, Alice Raver and Linda Speir. Feb 5-14 at the Neuhoff Site in Germantown MARTIN BRADY

[THEY'VE GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN THEIR SOUND]

LOOK WHAT I DID CD RELEASE PARTY

With most emo-core acts, hardcore screeching is a crutch for lack of vocal chops. For locals Look What I Did, it's just another weapon in their arsenal. Indeed, given their strong melodic sensibilities and self-evident chops, they hardly fit there at all. The genre-splicing blend of big hooks, windy, contrapuntal post-punk riffage, hardcore rhythms and occasional throbbing breakdowns on their third album, Atlas Drugged, is like Ritalin for the ADD generation. While it's been five years since their last LP, Minuteman for the Moment, it sounds like almost the entire interim's been spent writing, because the dozen tracks are meticulously crafted, seamlessly segueing between styles bolstered by particularly tuneful passages, oft-amusing lyrics and strong vocal melodies. It's perhaps schizophrenic for some tastes, but those looking for a catchier, less humorless alternative to Dillinger Escape Plan and Between the Buried and Me will find plenty to love. 7 p.m. at The End CHRIS PARKER

[PLASTIC TUBES AND POTS AND PANS]

MIDNIGHT MOVIE: WEIRD SCIENCE

The cornerstone of hilarious science fiction is pseudo-science. While classic cinematic atrocities like The Core and The Day After Tomorrow utilize pseudo-science unironically and are therefore inadvertently hilarious, there is a very special strain of mid-'80s comedic sci-fi that gets it just right. In the heart of the home computer era, as people began to grasp the potential of computers but still failed to comprehend the things they were tremendously incapable of, one movie stands out among the computer-shenanigans-gone-awry genre. No, not WarGames. Weird Science. Question: What do you get when you cross a doll, a bunch of magazine clippings, a brassiere-hatted pre-steroidal Anthony Michael Hall (and that other guy) and a state-of-the-art 1985 home computer complete with "Crypto-Smasher v3.10" software? Answer: a scantily clad, babe-a-licious Kelly LeBrock who, for some reason, has a mildly pedophilic interest in two scrawny 15-year-olds and the power to transform Bill Paxton into a gooey, toad-like ogre. Thank you, John Hughes, for making emaciated adolescents everywhere think they could create superpower-possessing, utterly devoted mega-babes using a PC. I wasted six months studying computer programming for nothing. Midnight Feb. 5-6 at The Belcourt D. PATRICK RODGERS

[PROGGED DOWN]

UMPHREY'S MCGEE AT WAR MEMORIAL

There are, of course, many different varieties of improvisational music performance. There's the completely from-scratch improv of some of the more "free" members of Chicago's new breed of jazz community. There's the mostly-free, hanging-on-by-one's-coattails approach, perhaps best exemplified by jam-granddaddies the Grateful Dead. And then there's the Widespread Panic school, which some argue is not so much improvisation as it is a memorized/mathematical equation of musical cues. File Umphrey's McGee under the latter. The band, formed at Notre Dame, cites Frank Zappa and Yes as primary influences, and the group's music bears said influences out. Loopy, note-heavy swirls of sound are the thing here, and looseness (as it pertains to sloppiness) is not an option. Really, if they resemble anyone, it's Phish. Weird covers (Lionel Richie, Metallica) crop up often, and the lyrical content of the band's music is certainly secondary to the sonic bed in which it sleeps. Expect plenty of cuts from the band's brand new album, Mantis, and pray that they don't bust into "Running With the Night." 8 p.m. at War Memorial Auditorium TIMOTHY C. DAVIS

SAT/2.6

[IN THE FLEISH]

LEON FLEISHER

Legendary pianist Leon Fleisher visits the Blair School of Music Feb. 6-9, giving a total of three free concerts. Fleisher was a child prodigy in the 1940s and a major classical recording artist in the 1950s and '60s until neurological disease impaired his right hand. He continued teaching, conducting, and performing available one-handed repertoire until experimental therapies finally returned him to two-handed playing in the mid-1990s. Saturday at 8 p.m., he gives a recital of solos and duets with his wife Katherine Fleisher. He'll guest-conduct the Vanderbilt Orchestra on Sunday at 8 p.m., leading a Beethoven overture from the podium and a Mozart concerto from the piano. And at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, he joins the Blair String Quartet for an "open rehearsal" of the wonderful Brahms Piano Quintet, a work he's recorded with both the Juilliard and Emerson Quartets. Two Hands, an Oscar-nominated documentary about Fleisher, is also on Tuesday's program. Admission is free. Feb. 6-9 at Blair School of Music RUSSELL JOHNSTON

[CH-CH-CHANGES]

COCOONS AND MOBILE HOMES

Estel Gallery welcomes Pittsburgh-based painter Scott Turri to their downtown digs for tonight's Gallery Crawl. Turri's 2007 show at Estel, Poppies and Heroines, examined America's culture of excess, juxtaposing the image of an opium poppy with various abstract elements. This new exhibit finds the artist marrying images of an anthropomorphous cocoon to abstract designs and renderings of man-made shelters. Cocoons and Mobile Homes explores the notion of personal transformation, but fans of Turri's work will find much to recognize here. Turri's style is inspired by Flash digital design software, and his surfaces in Cocoons and Mobile Homes could be Hallmark cards sent by some previous self to a future identity. Pleased to meet me. Opening reception 6-9 p.m. at Estel Gallery. Through March 13 JOE NOLAN

[IT'S CLOBBERIN' TIME!]

TENNESSEE ULTIMATE FIGHTING

Google "the world's most dangerous man," and the top few hits go to mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Ken Shamrock. One of the legends of the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Shamrock is a former UFC Champion and Hall of Famer, and even spent a few years as a regular with the World Wrestling Federation. (But don't let that fool you — there's nothing staged about the ass-kickings he's unleashed in the UFC.) Though Shamrock, who turns 46 next week, still fights from time to time, he'll just be signing autographs at this event. But his mere presence lends credibility to a slate of fights that will feature some of the top MMA fighters from across the state. A benefit for Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, disabled veterans and victims of domestic abuse, this is the first MMA event ever held in Murfreesboro — unless you count closing time at The Boro. Tickets are $16 for MTSU students, $21 for the public, $35 for ringside. Call 796-3919 for more info. Doors at 5 p.m., fights at 7 at MTSU's Murphy Center Jack Silverman

[ACT LOCALLY, EAT GLOBALLY]

HAVE A HEART — SAVE A HEART BENEFIT FOR HAITI

Here's a whole new definition of comfort food. As global relief efforts attempt to bring needed supplies and medical aid to the stricken people of Haiti, Whole Foods hosts its second annual benefit for the Visitation Hospital Foundation, a Nashville-based organization that provides health care, water purification, pediatric nutrition programs and more for Haiti's poor. Co-sponsored by Vanderbilt Medical Center and the foundation, the event serves up a family-style feast of Haiti's French/Creole-inspired cuisine whipped up in Whole Foods' Salud! Kitchen. Dishes include spiced chicken, red beans and rice, cabbage salad and tropical bread pudding, accompanied by wines from West Meade Wine & Liquor Mart. In addition, there will be a silent auction featuring Haitian crafts and items from local merchants. Tickets are $45. For more information, see www.visitationhospital.org or call 673-3501. 6 p.m. at Whole Foods in Green Hills JIM RIDLEY

[ANTE UP]

URBAN MUSIC CHALLENGE

This Saturday marks the first round of the Rutledge's venerable hip-hop talent competition, the Urban Music Challenge, organized by local label LAFA Music. The U.M.C. has been one of the most reliable sources for finding hot new artists on the under-under-underground tip — seriously, some of these cats don't even have a MySpace, their shit is so fresh. And while we're not going to try to influence the results, we would like to throw our weight behind duo Teezy and Stone, better known as 2GZ. Their combination of tight rhymes and pop-worthy hooks over futuristic Dirty South beats are just a friendly reminder that Antioch is cranking out more tight music per square foot than any other neighborhood in town. C Vegus, Chad Armes and Get Fresh Entertainment also appear. 8 p.m. at the Rutledge SEAN L. MALONEY

[WITHOUT A TRACE]

DISAPPEARED AND VANISHED

Are artists' statements essential for art? Is it better to know what was on the artist's mind, or to dream up your own contexts for a work's sensual details? Eduardo Terranova's multimedia and collage-based paintings raise this question; the Colombian-born artist sees his work as "memorializing and honoring the disappeared, not only those of ... Colombia, where tens of thousands of people have been kidnapped, tortured, killed or simply 'vanished,' but also those of other world communities, forming a collective memory." The viewer could be forgiven for not picking this up on first viewing; the works, in muted shades of taupe (Terranova makes washes from coffee and wine) are beautifully composed abstracts with hints of representation — "Tracings" looks like a schematic map, or farmland viewed from above. But even if you miss the extra layer of political significance, these works are powerful and evocative. Opening reception 6-9 p.m. at Tinney Contemporary. Through Feb 27 EMILY BARTLETT HINES

[BURNING BARNES]

OF MONTREAL

Of Montreal is one of those bands that continually impresses. A few years ago, these Athens natives were mere indie underground notables, but today, thanks to an increasingly experimental discography, overly eccentric personas and an Outback Steakhouse commercial, "Of Montreal" is practically a household name. Still sustained by 2008's Skeletal Lamping, they opted for one more "mini-tour" before heading back to the studio to finish up work on their forthcoming album False Priest. Their blend of deliciously intellectual, esoteric lyrics with upbeat electro-psych-pop rhythms creates a great dynamic, while front man Kevin Barnes' erotic style and ever-changing repertoire of bizarre onstage props make sure that no two Of Montreal shows are the same. Don't let the antics deter you; there is something here for everyone. Barnes has a lot more to offer than shallow, ecstasy-soaked sex appeal — if they continue their same pattern, Of Montreal might be one of the biggest bands in the world in just a few years. 9 p.m. at Cannery Ballroom MADISON CONGER

[ADULT CONTENT]

EYE AND MIND LECTURE SERIES

Presented as part of Vanderbilt's Saturday University program, "Eye and Mind: Lectures on Art Works in the Vanderbilt Collection" offers five presentations on consecutive Saturdays focused on specific works of art, facilitated by expert faculty members. Each lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer period and an opportunity to examine the various pieces under discussion up-close. Offered as an opportunity for adult, lifelong learning, the $50 price tag comes out to the cost of five films in Green Hills or a month of rather cheap brunches. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning. Visit vanderbilt.edu/saturday to register. This week's lecture will feature art history professor Leonard Folgarait discussing Jean Cocteau's print "Méditerranée." Saturdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m. through March 6 in Vanderbilt's Cohen Memorial Hall JOE NOLAN

[MAD MATH]

PROOF 

Tennessee Repertory Theatre has spared no effort in getting the word out about David Auburn's award-winning play, which is receiving the company's second staging since 2003. The subject matter is the legacy of madness in a family of brilliant, mathematically minded people, and the script is widely considered one of the best serious stage dramas of the past decade. A promising cast of locals is on hand under the direction of Rene Copeland, all in support of new-to-Nashville Anna Felix, an attractive young actress with legit regional theater credits and a few TV and film appearances, most recently including 2009's Crazy Heart starring Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Felix takes on the pivotal role of Catherine, created originally in New York by Mary-Louise Parker and later re-created by Gwyneth Paltrow in a 2005 movie version, the critical reception of which ranged from "intelligent" and "respectable" to "goopy" and "phony," with even further extremes of good and bad characterizing the erratic press reaction. But Proof was a huge hit locally seven years ago, and its value as a live theater piece seems unquestioned. Feb. 6-20 at TPAC's Johnson Theater MARTIN BRADY 

SUN/2.7

[FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!]

HOUSE (HAUSU)

If you were in the midnight audience last summer when The Belcourt first showed Nobuhiko Obayashi's mind-melting haunted-house bubblegum phantasmagoria, you were in on the ground floor of a cult phenomenon. It was the movie's unprecedented reception in Nashville — two capacity crowds who clapped, shrieked and roared their approval for an all-but-unknown 1977 Japanese fantasy — that helped convince arthouse titan Janus Films to give the movie its first 35mm theatrical release in America. Now the film is making the rounds from New York to Austin, with Nashville artist Sam Smith's design on the poster and T-shirts. But it happened here first, folks — and for a week's run, the movie comes back in all its feline-fearing, mirror-smashing, sense-deranging glory, looking better than it ever has. We can't say it strongly enough: If you haven't seen it, you're missing the kind of once-a-decade spectacle that'll have you text-messaging "GET OVER HERE" to friends. Feb. 5-11 at The Belcourt JIM RIDLEY

MON/2.8

[O, I C U R A MC]

RJD2

OK, first things first. RJD2 might have a 10-year career under his belt, and he might have released four albums, a ton of singles and an innumerable amount of collaborations, but do we really care about anything besides the fact that he wrote the Mad Men theme? No, we don't. OK, yeah, we do. As much as we love to nerd out about basic cable, we've been listening to RJD2 since way before Jon Hamm and January Jones ever made us think about the horrors of suburbia. Since his early days on the seminal Definitive Jux label, RJD2 has been making dense, funky beats that push the envelope of hip-hop into the next dimension. His latest album, The Colossus, released on his own RJ's Electrical Connections label, follows in that path with lush instrumentation, vintage synths and flagrant disregard for genre boundaries. Kenan Bell and Happy Chichester also appear. 9 p.m. at Exit/In SEAN L. MALONEY

[WHO'S AFRAID OF LETICIA WOLF?]

LETICIA WOLF IN-STORE

For singer-songwriters in this town, it's hard to make a mark. The glut of first name/last names illuminated on the city's marquees has stigmatized the idiom to such a degree that the story of making a name for oneself in Nashville is one of escaping the Bluebird-ified pigeonhole. When considering the amount of talent it takes to accomplish such a feat, that isn't such a bad thing. Take for example local chanteuse Leticia Wolf. Fans of artists ranging from Mary Lou Lord to Feist would do themselves a favor by giving her newest offering The Fire and the Flood a listen. The record addresses the concerns of a quarter-life crisis with a tone that shifts from dramatically dire to warm and resolute, reflected sonically by dense but tasteful arrangements featuring a healthy dose of lush strings and wet organ sounds. They're driving when they need to be, yet laid-back and understated enough as to never distract from the soulful smoky singing voice that is easily Wolf's greatest asset. 6 p.m. at Grimey's ADAM GOLD

[The Other Iron Mike]

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON

Scholar and public intellectual Dyson has written 16 books on every subject from the life, times and legacies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to an analysis of Marvin Gaye's and Tupac Shakur's music. But he made national waves recently when he challenged Bill Cosby's outspoken criticisms of irresponsibility in some sectors of the black community, arguing that Cosby downplayed the impact of systemic racism and poverty. The ensuing debate only reaffirmed Dyson's standing as a cultural critic unafraid of controversy. A commentator on NPR, MSNBC and CNN and frequent guest on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher — not to mention an ordained minister — Dyson visits Vol State Monday to evaluate President Barack Obama's first full year in office and the changes his election signaled in America. He will speak at the Vol State auditorium at Caudill Hill; call 230-3443 for more information. 12:15 p.m. at Vol State, 1480 Nashville Pike, Gallatin RON WYNN

TUES/2.9

[MUSICAL HOMAGE]

ROGER WEISMEYER AND FRIENDS PERFORM MUSIC OF JOHN MARVIN

Oboist Roger Weismeyer is keeping busy — right on the heels of a beautiful solo feature with the Nashville Symphony in mid-January, he leads a recital of woodwind music by California-based composer John Marvin. Weismeyer brings together a host of friends for the concert, including fellow Blair faculty members clarinetist Cassandra Lee and fellow oboist Jared Hauser. The program includes Marvin's 2003 Quintet for Winds, originally commissioned by the Blair Woodwind Quintet. Weismeyer takes up the English horn in Marvin's Trio for 2 Oboes and English Horn, and returns to his oboe for the composer's Woodwind Octet. 8 p.m. at Blair School of Music RUSSELL JOHNSTON

[FANTASY FROLIC]

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

The lineage of this Tony Award-winning musical is nearly as surprising as its fanciful plotting and its score's homage to the Jazz Age. Conceived originally as a spoof to celebrate the nuptials of co-author Bob Martin, a more formally reworked version made a splash at the Toronto Fringe Festival a decade ago, then played successfully to even larger houses in that fair Canadian city. After it moved to Broadway in 2006, it garnered serious praise, ran for more than 18 months, then embarked on various national and international tour dates. It's a convoluted, pastiched tale of love, show biz, gangsters and millionaires, set in the Roaring '20s world of "Feldzieg's Follies," and TDC has to be the first one-act musical in history to feature a two-act play-within-the-play. There's also a fascinating conceit whereby the show's music emanates from a vinyl record, played on the studio-apartment phonograph of its dreamy narrator, whose overactive imagination has conjured up the big production spectacle before us. It all sounds like clever, over-the-top fun, and yes, there's tap-dancing. Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, who have collaborated on musical material for the acclaimed Canadian TV show Slings & Arrows, are the songwriters. Feb. 9-14 at TPAC's Jackson Hall MARTIN BRADY

[NO ORDINARY JOE]

JOSEPH ARTHUR

Across Arthur's iconoclastic 14-year career, he's delivered an eclectic mix of acoustic songwriter fare, arty pop and bar band rock, dipped lightly in psychedelica and coated in ache-ridden metaphor. He's always charted his own path, frequently playing all the instruments on his albums while exploring rich ever-inventive arrangements and honing his hook-making skills. By his last solo release, 2006's Nuclear Daydreams, he'd started his own label and stripped some of the floridness from the arrangements. Over the next two years, he assembled a band, and grew quite prolific (he credited getting sober), producing two generally rock-veined albums, and a quartet of EPs. He's since returned to the acoustic mien and is preparing his sixth solo album. During his latest tour, Arthur (who's also a visual artist) has been creating a painting while performing one of the songs in his set, auctioning it off at the end with proceeds going to the Clinton/Bush Haiti Fund. 9 p.m. at Bluebird Cafe CHRIS PARKER

[RARE EARTH]

SUZI RAGSDALE IN-STORE

More than a decade has passed since Suzi Ragsdale last released music that was hers and hers alone. Not that she swore off music in the meantime—she did plenty of collaborating with Verlon Thompson and Darrell Scott. She'd also been "inputting," she says, which basically means soaking up inspiration for songwriting. For her, this can happen during earthy, sense-heightening activities, like yoga (she's a certified instructor), cooking and gardening. She was doing the latter when she wrote "Virginia," a candid, string-swathed folk confession on Best Regards, one of her two new EPs. They both come together in one package; The other is called Less of the Same. Ragsdale is the daughter of novelty-singing funnyman Ray Stevens, but she has her own kind of good humor, and it comes out in songs like "Troublemaker," a funky blues-rock kiss-off that she sings rather playfully with Rodney Crowell. 6 p.m. at Grimey's JEWLY HIGHT

WED/2.10

[RARE EARTH]

NOIR FEST 2: THE THIRD MAN

The Belcourt's 2008 film-noir festival was one of the most successful film events in its history, and fans have been clamoring for a sequel ever since. This monthlong series is everything they could hope for and more, ping-ponging between vintage British and French crime films — studies in stiff-upper-lipped thuggery and existential cool, filled with suave antiheroes, dirty deeds and gorgeous femmes fatales. We'll have a full accounting in next week's Scene, but the series begins officially tonight with one of the greatest thrillers ever made: director Carol Reed and screenwriter Graham Greene's baroque 1949 tale of skullduggery and misplaced loyalty in treacherous postwar Vienna, with Joseph Cotton as the American pulp writer who learns his dear chum Harry Lime isn't the sweetheart he thinks. Sure, Orson Welles as the sinister Lime makes the kind of entrance that assures an actor's immortality: The proof of his greatness is that he lives up to it. If you've never seen the movie, you'll be blown away — and you'll hardly be the first person to run out immediately afterward searching for Anton Karas' zither score. Time your own entrance just right, and you can miss the idiot introducing tonight's screening. 7 p.m. at The Belcourt; film runs Feb. 10-11 & 13, Noir Fest 2 through March 11 JIM RIDLEY

[LIVE FREE]

'THE STRUGGLE FOR WOMEN'S EQUALITY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD' W/ZAINAB AL-SUWAIJ

At only 20, this Basra woman picked up a gun and joined her fellow Iraqi males in the uprising against Saddam Hussein in 1991. The effort was stomped, but it instilled an indisputable fighting spirit in this tireless activist who characterizes herself as Iraqi-born but American by choice. Now 37, Al-Suwaij is a passionate moderate who spends what appears to be every waking moment urging Muslims and particularly Muslim women to foster Western understanding of the Muslim faith and life. She's taught at Yale, penned essays for The New York Times, co-founded the American Islamic Congress after 9/11, testified before the Senate and founded the Iraqi Women's Higher Counsel, which won 25 percent of Iraqi parliamentary seats for women. If that's not enough all-around badassery, hear this direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad speak tonight on Muslim civil rights in person. 6:30 p.m. at Wilson Hall, Vanderbilt TRACY MOORE

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