KRAPP’S LAST TAPE/THE ZOO STORY Opening Thursday, 5/17 

Friday, 18th

Friday, 18th

The second production by Nashville actor Brian Niece’s fledgling People’s Branch Theatre certainly offers something different: two major dramas by two major players in the so-called Theater of the Absurd. Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story is 40 years old, and Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape is considerably older than that. But they are both important genre works that have rarely, if ever, been mounted in the greater Nashville area. It should be interesting to see how they hold up in the new millennium. (Who knows? Maybe they won’t seem absurd in the least.) Niece directs Denice Hicks in the Beckett, and they switch roles in the Albee, which also features Tennessee Repertory Theatre regular Matt Chiorini. The production opens at the Belcourt Theatre May 17 with a special “Pay-What-You-Can” performance, and continues through June 2. A May 18 benefit gala features food, drink, and a silent auction beginning at 6:30 p.m., with proceeds supporting Niece’s company as well as Nashville Theatre Works.

—M.B.

Music

Thursday, 17th

The Blake Babies “Don’t call it a comeback,” L.L. might say, but it’s hard to believe that the much revered Blake Babies are once again making rickety pop music together. One of the more hallowed alternative groups of the ’80s and early ’90s, the trio of Freda Love (drums), John Strohm (guitar), and Juliana Hatfield (bass) created some memorable garage clatter back in the day, fusing a sort of New Zealand pastoralism to an American college-rock aesthetic, and winning legions of fans in the process. Of course, Hatfield moved on to slight notoriety/indie pinup status, but time has a way of bringing it all back around; the original trio has reformed for a one-off record, God Bless the Blake Babies, and a chance to see these guys whip out classics from Earwig and Sunburn at 12th & Porter shouldn’t be missed.

—W.T.

Peace, Love, & Opera About two and a half years ago, classically trained vocalists Michelle Prentice and Jen Cohen and pianists Barbara Santoro and Paula Wolak began performing recitals of opera music in homes for invited audiences. That was “when we realized,” Cohen says, “we all secretly loved to play/sing this stuff.” The surprise was how much people wanted to hear it. So many started wrangling invitations that guests inevitably ended up standing in the kitchen, straining to catch the airs of Delibes above the clatter of cheese trays. Hence this extended opera night at the Bluebird Cafe, where the founding performers are joined by actor Mike Eldred, Catherine Styron, Andrea Zonn, Elizabeth Bell, and Gordon O’Brien. Show time is 10 p.m.

—J.R.

Los Hombres Calientes This band is slowly but steadily gaining fans and recognition outside its New Orleans home base. Percussionist Bill Summers, a former member of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, provides the rhythmic energy, while Irving Mayfield is the most consistent soloist. Jason Marsalis, who once played with the group, has unfortunately left, but the Summers/Mayfield nucleus remains intact and will be appearing at the Exit/In for a 9 p.m. show.

—R.W.

Dancin’ in the District Sister Hazel headlines the kickoff show for Riverfront Park’s annual concert series and summer-long traffic headache. Arrive early for rocker Will Hoge and opening acts Marathon and Stereoblis.

Tift Merritt Many in Americana circles are looking to North Carolina-based Merritt, a dusky-voiced, alt-leaning country singer, to be the next Emmylou Harris. No doubt that’s what Merritt’s record label, the would-be hipster imprint Lost Highway, is banking on as well. And maybe they’ll help her pull it off. But here’s hoping folks give her enough room to be Tift Merritt, a smart, soulful singer with a voice of her own. Merritt joins Rabelaisian Knoxville bard R.B. Morris and his band at 12th & Porter for a must-see double bill.

—B.F.W.

The Billy Contreras Trio Teen violinist Contreras has displayed sharp proficiency and a swinging flair that belies his age. His skills were noted a couple of years ago by legendary vibes player Lionel Hampton, when Contreras appeared at Hampton’s yearly Midwest festival. Contreras also frequently shines playing Western swing with Buddy Spicher. However, jazz will probably be on the menu for his appearance at Borders, which provides Nashville fans a chance to see Contreras heading his trio.

—R.W.

Rod McGaha Trumpeter McGaha has been doing more playing outside Nashville than in local settings the past couple of years. His crackling upper-register style and commanding sound reflect both the influence of hard-bop greats like Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard as well as the discipline he showed while honing his abilities in gospel and soul bands. McGaha returns to Cafe 123 for a welcome appearance.

—R.W.

Pete Huttlinger An honors grad from the Berklee School of Music who has played with everyone from Alan Jackson to the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, recent D.C.-transplant and reigning national fingerpicking champion Huttlinger is yet another gifted Nashville plucker whose artistic reach far exceeds Music Row. His new Naked Pop CD, an assortment of solo guitar interpretations of pop, rock, and soul classics, is an acoustic music maven’s dream. Huttlinger and a band consisting of local session musicians Jeff Cox, Brian Fullen, and Bob Patin play the Gibson Bluegrass Showcase at Opry Mills.

—B.F.W.

Dead Musicians’ Society Carbondale, Illinois’ Dead Musicians’ Society create lysergic soundscapes that unfortunately recall New Age giants like Vangelis more often than Tortoise. Despite this, bandleader Kevin Lucas is a masterful marimbist, and the ensemble’s work might come across better live. They appear at Springwater with Voight-Kampff and (yes, not a misprint) Jonathan Marx’s New Faggot Cunts.

—W.T.

Koko Taylor Chicago’s roof-rattling Queen of the Blues, four decades in the biz, is back in town for “Mardi Gras in May” at the new Congo Square club in Printer’s Alley. Blessed with a growl that could strip paint off an El Camino, Taylor is supporting a star-studded new album, Royal Blue, that finds her mixing it up with everyone from B.B. King to Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Live, she’ll blast her way through Melissa Etheridge’s “Bring Me Some Water,” her new show-stopper “Don’t Let Me Catch You (With Your Drawers Down),” and her signature song “Wang Dang Doodle.”

Stan Lassiter & He’s History A fixture on the Music City scene for more than three decades, as both player and instructor, Stan Lassiter is regarded by many as the dean of Nashville jazz guitarists. He flexes his chops with a gig at Joe’s Diner.

Friday, 18th-Saturday, 19th

Artimus pyle band Drummer Artimus Pyle should be a household name in really any domicile below the Mason-Dixon line. He got his break with Charlie Daniels’ Volunteer Jam Band and served a stint with the Marshall Tucker Band before replacing Bob Burns as the double-bass-drum juggernaut behind the premier Southern rock act of all time, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Pyle brings his band to the unlikely venue of Planet Hollywood for a two-day stand of Southern boogie that should nix any nostalgia for the return of Bruno. He is joined Friday by Sequoia and on Saturday by Skunk, with the Randall Hall Band opening both nights.

—C.D.

Saturday, 19th

Koonda Holaa and the Beetchees/Pineal Ventana/Body of Binky Local noise maestro Andrew Seal (Praying for Oblivion) hosts a noteworthy night of experimental music. Koonda Holaa and the Beetchees, from the Czech Republic, have a member who tours with The Residents; it’s appropriate, since their black, post-industrial sense of humor certainly recalls those San Francisco icons. (The group also performs 5:30 pm May 21 at the Tower Records on West End Avenue). Pineal Ventana create an endlessly disturbing racket that brings to mind the image of Grace Slick trapped in a demonic factory; they promise to be an overpowering live act. Somewhere between the coda of Funhouse and the ’80s work of Depeche Mode, Body of Binky meld electronic beats and unhinged saxophone. Also appearing on the bill are three local acts: Praying for Oblivion, the wondrous Electronic Playgirl, and in what appears to be a new frontier crossed for media sponsorship, Jonathan Marx’s New Faggot Cunts. The music gets under way at 9 p.m. at Joe’s Diner.

—W.T.

Red Rose Spring Festival Murfreesboro’s most valued player, Bingham Barnes, has turned Murfreesboro’s Red Rose coffeehouse into one of the more notable places to catch touring groups in Middle Tennessee. This Saturday, he hosts a sort of “spring festival” to celebrate the venue’s newly found popularity. Appearing on the bill are Barnes’ own group Glossary, aging garage punks Jack, plus two visitors from Athens, Ga.: the insanely creative Of Montreal and their brethren, The Marshmallow Coast. Call 893-1405 for more information.

—W.T.

Joey Ramone Tribute Last month the sidewalk outside famed Manhattan punk club CBGB was heaped with candles, CDs, posters, and impromptu shrouds bearing notes in Magic Marker and smudged lipstick. The makeshift shrine celebrated the life, music, and ripped-kneed glory of the late Jeffrey Hyman, a.k.a. Joey Ramone, who died of cancer April 15. Few bands embodied the egalitarian spirit of punk more cheerfully than The Ramones, and with lead singer Joey, an unabashed lover of sugar-sweet pop at its simplest and sunniest, the band convinced generations of teens that anybody who could master the three chords of “Blitzkrieg Bop” could follow in their troglodytic footsteps. At Springwater, the Nashville club that most closely approximates CBGB’s grungy anything-can-happen vibe, the regular Working Stiff’s Jamboree will become an all-night Ramones tribute; featured performers include The Cherry Blossoms, The Limitations featuring Rob Stanley, Jack, The Doom Daddies, Dave Cloud, and the Last Soul Company. The main attraction, however, should be current Nashvillian and former Dead Boy Cheetah Chrome, who was Joey’s contemporary during the golden years of New York punk. Proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.

—J.R.

Ziggy Stardust...You Bitch! An all-star band of local heroes plows its way through David Bowie’s entire 1972 concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, with the Cheeksters’ Mark Casson doing a spot-on Bowie to Kenny Vaughan’s Mick Ronson. And with Jerry Dale McFadden, Daniel Tashian, Preach Rutherford, and Max Abrams rounding out the Spiders, it should be a total blam-blam, to coin a phrase. It’s at 12th & Porter; get there early unless you want to listen from the sidewalk.

—J.R.

Greta Lee Atlanta country singer Lee has been playing in town fairly regularly for the past couple of years. Recently, she also finished her forthcoming album here—a forward-looking, neo-trad affair that’s likely to draw comparisons to the time-tested records of Dwight Yoakam and Patty Loveless. Lee and her band play at Radio Cafe.

—B.F.W.

Kim’s Fable One of the most distinctive local rock acts on the circuit, this Kim Collins-led outfit imbues otherwise standard modern-rock song structures with dramatic arrangements, dressed up with flute, strings, piano, acoustic guitar, and Collins’ own lovely voice. On their self-released debut LP Breathless, Kim’s Fable maximize their assets, courting an image of exotica and backing it up with passionate performances and imaginative production. They also provide a much-loved live experience, which can be had this week at the Exit/In. Opening acts are Tommy Womack and Jeff Skorik.

—N.M.

Sunday, 20th

Roscoe Shelton & Earl Gaines One of the great rites of spring and summer comes courtesy of the Tennessee Jazz & Blues Society with its annual concert series. This year’s series opens with a wonderful vocal duo whose exuberant style and musical versatility date back to the years Nashville was a power in black popular music. Shelton and Gaines each cut some superb singles for local labels, and both are recognized and admired stars among fans of urgent, impassioned soul singing. The show gets under way at 6 p.m. at Belle Meade Plantation.

—R.W.

Finger 11/Boy Hits Car/Drowning Pool Grinding, dark-hued hard rock is the order of the day for all three of the acts appearing at 328 Performance Hall. New York-based Wind-Up Records—the home of Creed—is the label backing this package tour of young bands, whose membership stretches from Canada (Finger 11) to California (Boy Hits Car) to Texas (Drowning Pool). Big spaces all, which may explain the soaring sound—tinged with grunge and hip-hop—that the three groups mutually employ. What it doesn’t explain is why all three seem so unwilling to burst out of the dank box of tuneless riffing and moaning, pierced by the occasional scream or acoustic bridge.

—N.M.

Monday, 21st

The Juliana Theory/Helicopter Helicopter Bleeding-heart emo “rockers” The Juliana Theory return to Nashville, joined by Boston’s Helicopter Helicopter. HH should go over well in a town as steeped in power pop as ours. Energetic and hooky, this group’s greatest assets are its dual vocalists, Julie Chadwick and Chris Zerby. Each voice is equally suited to HH’s short, catchy songs. The guitars alternately chug and squeal and are miles away from broken-hearted college boy “punk.” Get a dose at the Exit/In if you like big catchy rock.

—T.A.

The Mercury Program This Florida quartet is lodged deep in the groove of jazzy instrumental alt-rock (à la Tortoise), and it cares not a whit that the groove is, for many, fast becoming a rut. To their credit, The Mercury Program are livelier and less self-indulgent than most exhausting post-rockers; plus, their music is prettier. Now, if they could just shorten the songs and add lyrics, they’d be onto something. In the meantime, they’ll be stretching out at The End with opening acts Trophy and The Sincerity Guild.

—N.M.

Tuesday, 22nd

Cafeteria Cafeteria return to Springwater in support of Knee Deep, released on their own Backburner Records. Imagine an International Submarine Band (Gram Parsons’ first band) updated with an ’80s college-rock sensibility, and you have an idea of what these folks are capable of: understated, beautiful melodies underpinned by shimmering steel guitar and loose-limbed drumming. Did I mention they’ve been warming up for the likes of Willie Nelson? Local insurgent country rockers Merciful Teeth open the show.

—C.D.

Smash Mouth There’s nothing especially wrong with these mellow California rock-hop superstars. They seem like nice guys, and they play unpretentious good-time music that strikes many the right way despite its utter lack of originality or depth. But for loosing the insipid song “All Star” upon the world—and then allowing it to be used in every movie trailer of the past two years—Smash Mouth should be punished. May I suggest a peaceful economic boycott? Start by skipping their show at 328 Performance Hall.

—N.M.

Wednesday, 23rd

Malcolm Holcombe/Valorie Miller Singer-songwriter Holcombe’s slight physical stature belies a booming, gravelly voice that, in performance, rarely fails to turn the heads of the uninitiated. Few performers match his raw emotional intensity—it’s as if he’s a soul peering as far as he can over life’s precipice, struggling not to lose his balance. Much of the material on Holcombe’s 1999 release A Hundred Lies has an almost visionary quality, forsaking stories and morals for a deeper and nonjudgmental contemplation of the fragile, beautiful, tragic, wondrous essence of being human. You can catch this force of nature at the Bluebird Cafe. And be sure to get there early to see Holcombe’s upright bassist, Valorie Miller, whose lovely, lonesome wail has a purity that’s clearly from the mountains, and her straight-faced delivery of tales of the macabre can leave you wondering just how firmly her tongue is planted in her cheek.

—J.S.

Old Crow Medicine Show It’s not clear yet whether these old-timey buskers will emerge as the sons of the gonzo Holy Modal Rounders or the more reverential New Lost City Ramblers, but they are, without doubt, the grandkids of Harry Smith. With endorsements from Marty Stuart and a debut album that splits the difference between being devotional and making a racket, the Crows are definitely a band to watch. They play at The Station Inn.

—B.F.W.

Philip Pomeroy Local one-man studio wiz Philip Pomeroy owes a heavy debt to his avowed hero, Brian Wilson, but often his low-fi pop confections bring the recent Flaming Lips to mind, in his use of psych-orchestration and odd humor. Pomeroy has a new CD coming out, and he celebrates his record release at Springwater. Make sure to come out and support him; he’s one to watch out for. Bill Buckley opens.

—W.T.

The Green Hornes The Green Hornes bring their Farfisa-fueled garage beat-rock from Cincinnati to our own Slow Bar. Not just another garage band, the Hornes stand out in an already crowded playing field on which so many bands get everything “right” yet still don’t inject any emotional intensity into their work. The Green Hornes, thankfully, give incendiary performances that incorporate manic Kinks riffing and Lyres-inspired keyboard coolouts.

—C.D.

Film

Nashville Screenwriters Conference Any scribe wanting to know how the movie business works is encouraged to check out this weekend’s gathering of writers, producers, and other talents at the Westin Hermitage Hotel. Panels will address everything from pitches to finding representation, and the talents involved have shaped movies as diverse as Best in Show, October Sky, This Is Spinal Tap, Charlie’s Angels, Groundhog Day, and the upcoming Rollerball. And it’s a safe bet that the recent WGA “strike” settlement will be a major topic. For registration and other information, check out the official Web site at www.nashscreen.com; see the related story about screenwriter/author Karen Essex on p. 69.

—J.R.

Music in Movies In conjunction with the Nashville Screenwriters Conference, a panel of music-industry execs, music supervisors, and artists will discuss the role and selection of music in movies at a noon luncheon Saturday at 6º. The panelists include MCA Nashville President Tony Brown, Vector Management President Ken Levitan, United Talent Agency development agent Julien Thuan, and songwriter/producer Chris Farren. But the person audience members may want to hear from most is artist/producer T-Bone Burnett, who assembled the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack—one of the few country soundtracks of recent years to succeed both artistically and commercially. For reservations, call 321-2016.

—J.R.

Bringing Up Baby Screwball-comedy heaven, as nerdy paleontologist Cary Grant gets sidetracked from his fiancée by dizzy heiress Katharine Hepburn and a pet leopard named Baby. Director Howard Hawks pitched this manic 1938 farce at the speed of sound, with Grant and Hepburn swapping repartee like machine-gun fire; it gets a rare big-screen booking at the Belcourt starting Sunday.

—J.R.

Shrek Not quite Pixar, but a giant improvement over Antz, the new PDI/DreamWorks animated fantasy is a Princess Bride-like fairy-tale parody about an ogre (voice of Mike Myers) who goes on a quest to rescue a beautiful princess (voice of Cameron Diaz). The digs at Disney are amusing, but the chief laugh-getter is Eddie Murphy’s voluble donkey companion, whose timing gives a smack to his every line. The movie opens Friday.

—J.R.

Angel Eyes Jennifer Lopez plays a troubled cop who becomes involved with a haunting stranger (Jim Caviezel) in this romantic drama directed by Luis Mandoki (White Palace) and scripted by Gerald DiPego (Phenomenon). It starts Friday at local theaters.

—J.R.

DVD

Best In Show One of the funniest movies of last year (albeit problematically so) arrives on a DVD that sports a commentary by writer-director Christopher Guest and documentary footage of dog lovers and their pets. But the reason to rent (if not buy) the disc is the generous helping of deleted scenes. Given the free-ranging nature of Guest and company’s improvisatory working style, some very good footage often hits the cutting room floor; see the side-splitting hour of deleted scenes on the Spinal Tap DVD for further proof.

—N.M.

Tora! Tora! Tora! Just in time for the summer blockbuster-to-be Pearl Harbor, this 1970 docudrama hits DVD with a 20-minute featurette about the Japanese attack and a feature-length commentary by director Richard Fleisher and Japanese film historian Stewart Galbraith.

—N.M.

Theater

Best Little Whorehouse in Texas You’re not going to have a chance to see this crazy-quilt musical about vice and corruption Texas-style very often. Franklin’s Pull-Tight Players have a devoted following south of town, and if they can find the laughs inside the infamous Chicken Ranch bordello, this could be a fun evening for theatergoers.

—M.B.

Nashville Theatre Works Nashville Theatre Works continues its once-a-month Reading Series at Bongo After Hours Theatre 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 21, with Jim Reyland’s play Stuff, featuring the cast of David Alford, Matt Carlton, and Barry Scott. NTW will also present workshop productions at the Belcourt Theatre on May 23 and 30. First up is Bill Shick’s Alligator Shoes, a dark comedy about a middle-aged salesman caught in the web of his own unsatisfying life decisions. The cast includes Mark Cabus, Ken Bernstein, and Brian Russell.

—M.B.

STOMP This U.K.-originated, percussion-based extravaganza has garnered Olivier, Obie, Drama Desk, and Emmy awards at one time or another. The North American touring company returns to Nashville for a fourth time May 22-27 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall. The show’s young performers take common everyday objects and use them to make a joyful noise characterized by compelling and infectious rhythms. STOMP’s international influence has been been reflected in movies, TV, video, and the recording industry, and the excitement that the production generates doesn’t seem to be waning.

—M.B.

I Should’ve Listened Originally produced in Detroit, this play by Rev. Marvin Miles—a former schoolteacher and pastor of Motor City’s Ecrose International Gospel Center—conveys lessons to youths about choices, decision-making, and the realities of everyday living. The cast includes jazz guitarist Tim Bowman and Nashville native Ann McCrary. Performed May 18-19 at the Ryman Auditorium.

Art

Stanford Fine Art Although this gallery on Highway 100 has made a name for itself by specializing in 19th- and early 20th-century American and European works by long-deceased artists, gallery owner Stan Mabry has nothing against living artists. As proof, he has assembled an exhibit of paintings from the Nashville-based Cumberland Society of Painters. Formed three years ago, the group shares a common admiration for the works of such 19th- and early-20th-century artists as John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, and Robert Henri. The Society’s aim, however, is not to mimic these earlier artists’ works; as member Dawn Whitelaw puts it, “We don’t want to retrace the journey of these artists, but rather to apply their aesthetics to our modern world and to continue their journey into the 21st century.” Viewers can join the journey and meet the artists at the opening reception, 4-6:30 p.m. May 19. The exhibit is on view through June 9.

—A.W.

The Arts Company Brother Mel, a St. Louis-based monk and working artist for over 25 years, returns for his third annual exhibit at this downtown gallery. Armed with a master’s degree in art from Notre Dame, Brother Mel travels the world sketching and painting and has been commissioned to create works for numerous churches and public spaces. The artist works in a variety of media, including canvas, steel, stone, and watercolor—and his approach to materials is always inventive and resourceful. This summer, his annual artistic pilgrimage begins with his Nashville exhibit, so you can meet Mel at the opening reception 2-6 p.m. May 19. The show continues through June 8.

—A.W.

Ruby Green Contemporary Art Center A traveling troupe of 10 visual artists calling itself “Cloud Seeding: Circus of the Performative Object” unfolds its tent, figuratively speaking, at this downtown art space. Inspired by the acts once seen under the big top—and in the side show—the evening promises to be an interesting mix of live performance and sculptural and video installation. Show time is 7 p.m. May 19.

—A.W.

Books

Charles Baxter Baxter’s The Feast of Love is a celebration of minutiae. The author relates the ordinary and everyday world in all its realism, complete with human mistakes and misjudgments. He gives the mundane significance, and the familiarity of his characters is no coincidence—he tells the stories of my neighbors, your neighbors, the people of our collective everyday. Baxter even includes himself as a character, with his own average problem: insomnia. Beautiful and funny, the book takes the common and shines a spotlight—a warm, accepting glow—upon it. Baxter will be reading and signing his book at Davis-Kidd, 6 p.m. May 23.

—A.M.

Events

27th Annual Festival of British & Appalachian Culture If you’d like to visit England but don’t have the time, a road trip to the tiny town of Rugby, Tenn. (about two hours east of Nashville), is just the ticket. The restored Victorian village was founded in 1880 by British author and social reformer Thomas Hughes as a cooperative, class-free agricultural community for younger sons of English gentry and others hoping to start life anew in America. Today this utopian experiment survives as both a living community and a fascinating historic site with 20 original buildings still standing. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time even more at this annual celebration of British heritage and Tennessee mountain culture, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 19 and 20.

—A.W.

Picks written by Todd Anderson, Martin Brady, Chris Davis, Bill Friskics-Warren, Angela Messina, Noel Murray, Jim Ridley, Jack Silverman, William Tyler, Angela Wibking, and Ron Wynn.

Shrek Not quite Pixar, but a giant improvement over Antz, the new PDI/DreamWorks animated fantasy is a Princess Bride-like fairy-tale parody about an ogre (voice of Mike Myers) who goes on a quest to rescue a beautiful princess (voice of Cameron Diaz). The digs at Disney are amusing, but the chief laugh-getter is Eddie Murphy’s voluble donkey companion, whose timing gives a smack to his every line. The movie opens Friday.

—J.R.

Angel Eyes Jennifer Lopez plays a troubled cop who becomes involved with a haunting stranger (Jim Caviezel) in this romantic drama directed by Luis Mandoki (White Palace) and scripted by Gerald DiPego (Phenomenon). It starts Friday at local theaters.

—J.R.

DVD

Best In Show One of the funniest movies of last year (albeit problematically so) arrives on a DVD that sports a commentary by writer-director Christopher Guest and documentary footage of dog lovers and their pets. But the reason to rent (if not buy) the disc is the generous helping of deleted scenes. Given the free-ranging nature of Guest and company’s improvisatory working style, some very good footage often hits the cutting room floor; see the side-splitting hour of deleted scenes on the Spinal Tap DVD for further proof.

—N.M.

Tora! Tora! Tora! Just in time for the summer blockbuster-to-be Pearl Harbor, this 1970 docudrama hits DVD with a 20-minute featurette about the Japanese attack and a feature-length commentary by director Richard Fleisher and Japanese film historian Stewart Galbraith.

—N.M.

Theater

Best Little Whorehouse in Texas You’re not going to have a chance to see this crazy-quilt musical about vice and corruption Texas-style very often. Franklin’s Pull-Tight Players have a devoted following south of town, and if they can find the laughs inside the infamous Chicken Ranch bordello, this could be a fun evening for theatergoers.

—M.B.

Nashville Theatre Works Nashville Theatre Works continues its once-a-month Reading Series at Bongo After Hours Theatre 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 21, with Jim Reyland’s play Stuff, featuring the cast of David Alford, Matt Carlton, and Barry Scott. NTW will also present workshop productions at the Belcourt Theatre on May 23 and 30. First up is Bill Shick’s Alligator Shoes, a dark comedy about a middle-aged salesman caught in the web of his own unsatisfying life decisions. The cast includes Mark Cabus, Ken Bernstein, and Brian Russell.

—M.B.

STOMP This U.K.-originated, percussion-based extravaganza has garnered Olivier, Obie, Drama Desk, and Emmy awards at one time or another. The North American touring company returns to Nashville for a fourth time May 22-27 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall. The show’s young performers take common everyday objects and use them to make a joyful noise characterized by compelling and infectious rhythms. STOMP’s international influence has been been reflected in movies, TV, video, and the recording industry, and the excitement that the production generates doesn’t seem to be waning.

—M.B.

I Should’ve Listened Originally produced in Detroit, this play by Rev. Marvin Miles—a former schoolteacher and pastor of Motor City’s Ecrose International Gospel Center—conveys lessons to youths about choices, decision-making, and the realities of everyday living. The cast includes jazz guitarist Tim Bowman and Nashville native Ann McCrary. Performed May 18-19 at the Ryman Auditorium.

Art

Stanford Fine Art Although this gallery on Highway 100 has made a name for itself by specializing in 19th- and early 20th-century American and European works by long-deceased artists, gallery owner Stan Mabry has nothing against living artists. As proof, he has assembled an exhibit of paintings from the Nashville-based Cumberland Society of Painters. Formed three years ago, the group shares a common admiration for the works of such 19th- and early-20th-century artists as John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase, and Robert Henri. The Society’s aim, however, is not to mimic these earlier artists’ works; as member Dawn Whitelaw puts it, “We don’t want to retrace the journey of these artists, but rather to apply their aesthetics to our modern world and to continue their journey into the 21st century.” Viewers can join the journey and meet the artists at the opening reception, 4-6:30 p.m. May 19. The exhibit is on view through June 9.

—A.W.

The Arts Company Brother Mel, a St. Louis-based monk and working artist for over 25 years, returns for his third annual exhibit at this downtown gallery. Armed with a master’s degree in art from Notre Dame, Brother Mel travels the world sketching and painting and has been commissioned to create works for numerous churches and public spaces. The artist works in a variety of media, including canvas, steel, stone, and watercolor—and his approach to materials is always inventive and resourceful. This summer, his annual artistic pilgrimage begins with his Nashville exhibit, so you can meet Mel at the opening reception 2-6 p.m. May 19. The show continues through June 8.

—A.W.

Ruby Green Contemporary Art Center A traveling troupe of 10 visual artists calling itself “Cloud Seeding: Circus of the Performative Object” unfolds its tent, figuratively speaking, at this downtown art space. Inspired by the acts once seen under the big top—and in the side show—the evening promises to be an interesting mix of live performance and sculptural and video installation. Show time is 7 p.m. May 19.

—A.W.

Books

Charles Baxter Baxter’s The Feast of Love is a celebration of minutiae. The author relates the ordinary and everyday world in all its realism, complete with human mistakes and misjudgments. He gives the mundane significance, and the familiarity of his characters is no coincidence—he tells the stories of my neighbors, your neighbors, the people of our collective everyday. Baxter even includes himself as a character, with his own average problem: insomnia. Beautiful and funny, the book takes the common and shines a spotlight—a warm, accepting glow—upon it. Baxter will be reading and signing his book at Davis-Kidd, 6 p.m. May 23.

—A.M.

Events

27th Annual Festival of British & Appalachian Culture If you’d like to visit England but don’t have the time, a road trip to the tiny town of Rugby, Tenn. (about two hours east of Nashville), is just the ticket. The restored Victorian village was founded in 1880 by British author and social reformer Thomas Hughes as a cooperative, class-free agricultural community for younger sons of English gentry and others hoping to start life anew in America. Today this utopian experiment survives as both a living community and a fascinating historic site with 20 original buildings still standing. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time even more at this annual celebration of British heritage and Tennessee mountain culture, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 19 and 20.

—A.W.

Picks written by Todd Anderson, Martin Brady, Chris Davis, Bill Friskics-Warren, Angela Messina, Noel Murray, Jim Ridley, Jack Silverman, William Tyler, Angela Wibking, and Ron Wynn.

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