Ah, the smell of gunpowder, the smudging of a stranger’s lipstick and the sound of plastic champagne glasses crushing underfoot. It’s time to sing “Auld Lang Syne” again in Music City. These are some of your options:
♦ The unvanquished Jason & the Scorchers play what is becoming an annual New Year’s gig at the Exit/In with special guests Bonepony. Tickets are $20.
♦ The Esquires, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings’ rock ’n’ roll side project, chime in 2002 at East Nashville’s supposedly shut-down Radio Cafe.
♦ Power-pop heroes Joe, Marc’s Brother never fail to pack 12th & Porter. See the pick at right to read more about their show.
♦ Kenny Chesney fills in for Faith ’n’ Tim’s usual New Year’s Eve bash at the Gaylord Entertainment Center with support from Sara Evans, Phil Vassar and Jamie O’Neal. Tickets are $24.50-$49.
♦ Silent Friction, perhaps the best loved of the young pop-punk outfits in Nashville, will be bidding farewell to 2001 by meeting their constituency where they liveat the Hendersonville Skating Rink. This is a genuinely cool idea. If any local rock band can sound credible calling for a “couples-only skate,” Silent Friction can.
♦ New Year’s Eve at Springwater features the usual suspects: The Last Soul Company’s noise-infused blues; Trophy’s post rock; Paul Booker’s Neil Young-influenced Dynamite Operators; and a rumored performance by Slipshaft. Dave Cloud will perform with his new Gospel of Power lineupand he’ll serve as the evening’s Dick Clark.
♦ Pianist Lori Mechem and bassist Roger Spencer, who together run the nonprofit Jazz Workshop, will be performing Jazz You Can Believe, a New Year’s Eve gala at Cafe 123, along with veteran saxophonist Dennis Solee, bassist Charles Dungee and drummer Tommy G.
♦ Hometown nü-metal act Abraid, edgier than most and already garnering attention from the national hard rock press, play a gig at The Boro.
♦ Melina packs some habañero heat into Club Caliente’s salsa New Year.
Caspian’s Dream These Murfreesboro-based free spirits play sprawling, spiritual, sax-infused light rock with accents of jazz and worldbeat, reminiscent of Dave Matthews or Johnny Clegg at their airiest. The quintet are agreeable and proficient, and they’re finding a home among fans of lengthy jams and freeform instrumental explorations in a defined pop framework. They play 6:30 p.m. at 3rd & Lindsley.
Jamie Hartford Band Hartford’s music is a sophisticated blend of country, blues, Southern rock, bluegrass, even old-school R&B. But his eclecticism defies any of the current alt-roots-insurgicana nametags spewing forth from promoters of The Next Big Thing. Few love songs are as sweet, simple or poignant as Hartford’s “Good Things Happen (When You’re Around),” a tune that Al Green should record were he ever to go secular again. And live, Hartford twangs his Telecaster with a refreshing rawness and soul all too rare in the era of Brent Mason imitators, while drummer Rick Lonow and bassist Dave Pomeroy stoke the locomotive’s furnace until the train just about jumps the rails. (Harmonicist Paco Shipp sounds the horn at all crossings.) Catch ’em at Douglas Corner.
Critic’s Choice in the Round You know Craig Havighurst, Peter Cooper and Drew Walen as music journalists for The Tennessean and The City Paper. At The Basement, though, they’ll show off their own mad skillz on the mic in an in-the-round showcase.
David Mead Still enjoying the kudos for his sophomore LP Mine and Yours, this former Nashvillian wraps up his year with a visit home and a gig at 12th & Porter. If you haven’t checked out Mead’s sophisticated folk-popand if you like melodic, lively balladeers in the vein of David Gray and Stingyou need to be at this show. Mead’s music is a treat on almost every level.
Kevin Gordon One of Nashville’s bluesiest, and most poetic, singer-songwriters, Gordon just keeps on churning out the best and most literate roots-rock this side of anywhere, even though no one seems to notice. His pre-New Year’s show at The Sutler will be just what the doctored ordered if you’re stuck inside of Nashville with the holiday blues again.
Hadacol This Kansas City bar band trade in twangy riffs and Westerbergian angst, and they’ve drunk deeply of the working man blues. They ain’t ever gonna be famous, but they already know that, and, God bless ’em, it doesn’t stop ’em from making plenty of noiseindeed, from raging against the machine. Joined by roots rock homeboy Duane Jarvis and heartland belter Kristi Stremel, Hadacol’s show at the Basement promises to be one of the high points of the holiday season.
No Doctors/Hair Police Both these bands update the late ’70s/early ’80s No Wave sound without diluting its dramatic potential. No Doctors offer homeopathic dirges and dissonant poultices with a Stonesy swagger. Lexington’s apoplectic and hilarious fashion mavens Hair Police are spellbinding live performersimagine The Time’s Morris Day as the frontman for Arto Lindsay’s former band DNA. They play a multi-band bill at Springwater.
Joe, Marc’s Brother/The Features With all respect to Jason and the Scorchers, the majority of Nashville’s rock cognoscenti will be blowing their party favors at 12th and Porter, in what amounts to a grand summit of two of the area’s finest groups. Both Joe, Marc’s Brother and The Features utilize the pop song to explode an encyclopedia of original ideas, albeit in different ways. The Features have grown rawer and a little darker recently, moving farther away from the new wave of the Cars and Talking Heads and closer to the post punk of Pere Ubu, Television and Wire. Joe, Marc’s Brother, as evidenced by much of their last record, are moving in a more sedate, pastoral direction à la Yo La Tengo’s quieter material and Nick Drake. Both bands should be great, so long as you don’t mind the Fellini-esque crowds of revelers.
Wednesday, 2nd & Friday, 4th
The Nationals Few guitarists anywhere can match Jack Pearson’s aptitude for combining blues sting and jazz finessea talent that has at various times landed him in the employ of Bobby “Blue” Bland, Dobie Gray, Delbert McClinton and those Allman boys. He fires out off-the-cuff flurries of bends, slurs, screams and arpeggios with a nonchalance that leaves the many guitar students in the audience shaking their heads. And William House blows some furious harp, making this aggregation certainly one of the best blues tickets in town. They play twice in the space of a few days, Wednesday at The ’Boro and Friday at 3rd & Lindsley.
Hot Club de Nashville The Station Inn becomes a French jazz club for the night as five superlative musicians indulge their passion for the music of Django Reinhardt. An insanely talented trio of guitaristsJohn Jorgenson, Richard Smith and Bryan Suttonare flanked by ace fiddler Stuart Duncan and fiery bassist Charlie Chadwick. This is a chance to see some of Nashville’s (and the world’s) finest players strut their stuff outside of their own typical musical milieus.
Jen Foster The Nashville rocker plays songs off her Ordinary Girl CD to benefit Democratic congressional challenger Carlton Cornett’s campaign. The show’s at 3rd & Lindsley; tickets are $10.
Peter Rowan & Vassar Clements Rowan and Clements each did stints in Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys before going on to take the music places their old boss never dreamed it could go. In the process, the two men helped usher in the newgrass revival of the ’70s, incorporating elements of everything from jazz to reggae into their singular artistic visions, while inspiring the likes of Sam Bush, Bela Fleck and Mark O’Connor to do the sameand then some. Rowan and Clements’ show at the Station Inn is sure to have its share of epiphanies, no doubt including the appearance of several surprise guests.
Fate/N2O/7 Stories High/Overture/ 10 Years A night of Nashville metal acts, including up-and-comers Fate and N2O, all swamping the stage at 328 Performance Hall.
The Gathering 2002 More than 100 area churches join forces for this unique interdenominational worship service, which drew 7,500 people last year to Gaylord Entertainment Center. This year offers musical performances by Michael W. Smith and CeCe Winans, along with a 1,000-voice choir and 100-piece orchestra. The service begins 5 p.m. at Gaylord Entertainment Center and is free and open to the public; an offering will be taken, and proceeds above expenses will go to help Middle Tennesseans in need. For more information, call 297-7293.
Nashville Symphony Our city’s longest-running classical ensemble kicks off 2002 with an exciting young guest conductor, JoAnn Falletta, and a prodigious Canadian violinist, Corey Cerovsek. The international program includes works by a Frenchman (Jacques Ibert, d. 1962), a Pole (Henryk Wienawski, d. 1880), an Italian (Ottorini Respighi, d. 1936) and a still pulsing American (John Adams, b. 1947). The young Falletta is a hot baton nowadays who, according to the Washington Post, shows Toscanini’s tight control, Stokowski’s gutsy showmanship and “a controlled frenzy worthy of Bernstein.” Cerovsek, not yet 30, has earned kudos all over the world. He’ll perform Wienawski’s Second Violin Concerto, a lyrically romantic piece that should allow him to demonstrate his virtuosic skills. The evening will end with the lucent, luscious resonance of Respighi’s “Roman Festivals,” but the program’s radioactive center is Adams’ “The Chairman Dances: A Foxtrot for Orchestra,” an “outtake” from his meteoric 1985 opera Nixon in Chinahistory surrealized. The concert takes place Jan. 4 and 5 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall.
A Beautiful Mind Ron Howard directed this surprisingly inventive biopic based on the life of mathematician John Forbes Nash (Russell Crowe), whose brilliant career was detoured by a prolonged battle with paranoid schizophrenia. Crowe and Jennifer Connelly (as his wife) are outstanding in the film, which opens Friday at area theaters.
Gosford Park A nastily elegant entertainment from director Robert Altman, who moves with dizzying fluidity among upstairs and downstairs intrigues at a British estate during a weekend shooting party in 1932. Altman apparently availed himself of every working actor in Britainstarting with Emily Watson, Maggie Smith, Alan Bates, Richard E. Grant and Helen Mirrenand they’re all a delight; the movie is scheduled to open this week at Green Hills.
Open Your Eyes (Abre Los Ojos) The biggest gripe about Vanilla Sky is that it isn’t half as good as the Spanish film it’s based on. Starting Friday, the Belcourt gives you a chance to decide with a brief run of Alejandro Amenábar’s engrossing 1997 romantic fantasy/thriller, starring Penelope Cruz in the same role she plays in Cameron Crowe’s remake.
The Royal Tenenbaums The greatly anticipated new comedy by Rushmore director Wes Anderson and co-screenwriter Owen Wilson was supposed to open in Nashville this past weekbut it didn’t. With any luck, the movie will hit theaters soon.
Film Noir Month The Belcourt kicks off its first matinee series of the new year with John Huston’s coolly vicious rendering of The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart as soulless private eye Sam Spade. The movie shows afternoons Jan. 4-5; upcoming films include The Big Sleep, Jacques Tourneur’s noir masterpiece Out of the Past, and one of the coolest reissues of recent years, Jean-Pierre Melville’s existential heist thriller Bob le Flambeur. For more details, visit www.belcourt.org.
Viva Las Vegas The King swings in the city of hot dice and hotter vice! As race-car driver Lucky Jackson, Elvis Presley woos sex kitten Ann-Margret in one of his most vivacious vehicles. It screens on Jan. 8, what would have been the King’s 67th birthday, in a Presley tribute at the Belcourt.
Truly Madly Deeply Anthony Minghella’s debut film deals sensitively and poignantly with the idea of loss, as Juliet Stevenson plays a woman who can’t get over the death of husband Alan Rickman because his ghost won’t leave her alone. Minghella would later expand upon his subtle observations of delicate human emotions in epic-ish films like The English Patient and The Talented Mr. Ripley, but here he gets it right on a smaller scale. The new DVD edition includes a commentary track by Minghella, whichif the Ripley commentary is any indicatorwill be breathlessly packed with insider info.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai One of the most anticipated DVD releases of the year (at least by its many cult followers), this 1984 sci-fi comedy whirls philosophy, camp, rock ’n’ roll and pulp scholarship in a big cyclotron, generating a dozen of the most quotable lines in cinema history and some remarkably entertaining adventure to boot. The DVD contains a commentary by writer-director W.D. Richter, a new making-of documentary and scores of deleted scenes and Easter eggs.
RENT It’s been two years since this musical played at TPAC to sold-out houses. Its return should generate another round of serious interest from Nashvillians. One of only five musicals ever to win both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Musical, Rent has an appropriate Christmas Eve/Manhattan setting, an exuberant sensibility about arts and artists, and a pulse on contemporary issues. The show opens Dec. 27 for five performances through Dec. 30 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall.
THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE C.S. Lewis’ talethe initial entry in his vastly popular Narnia Chronicles seriescould be the perfect post-Christmas show for the kiddies. Starring David Payne as the Christ-like lion Aslan, this stage version is making its third appearance at TPAC, and is well on its way to becoming an annual local holiday event. Dec. 28-Jan. 12 at Johnson Theater.
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST Murder mystery dinner theater might seem rather arcane to most drama fans. Yet devotees of the genre, especially those who find themselves in a holiday mood, will likely go for this Victorian-era twist on Dickens in a big way. If sampling the food at Govan’s Gathering Place and helping to solve the onstage crime isn’t enough, audience members are also encouraged to come dressed in their best turn-of-the-20th-century finery and become a part of the dramatic proceedings. Final performances are Dec. 27 and 29 at the Gallatin venue.
Cheekwood Remember that great tree house you and your dad built as a kid? OK, now remember the one you really wanted to build, but your mom said it was way too complicated? Well, dust off those dreams and make plans to enter the design competition for “Terrific Tree Houses,” an exhibition that will showcase 10 tree houses at Cheekwood’s 55-acre site next spring. The competition is open to everyone with a feasible plan and a $10 application fee. You’ll also have to attend the required pre-design meeting, 2 p.m. Jan. 3 at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall. Designs are due by Jan. 30. The 10 finalist designs will be announced in mid-February. For more information, interested designers can call Cheekwood’s Bob Brackman at 353-6966.
Lewis Black Whether Black’s form of humor is cathartic or self-destructive, only time and a highly paid shrink may be able to tell. One thing, however, is certain: He’s damn funny. Star of the “Back in Black” segment of The Daily Show With John Stewart, a regular on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, and winner of the 2001 American Comedy Award for Best Standup Comic, he is nothing if not entertaining. He’s one pissed-off manyou can almost see his blood pressure rise as his act progresses. But his anger is everyone else’s pleasure, and it helps us laugh at our own ill-humored moments. He’ll perform Dec. 28-30 at Zanies.
This week’s picks written by Martin Brady, Chris Davis, Bill Friskics-Warren, Noel Murray, Jim Ridley, Jack Silverman, Marcel Smith, Will Stewart, William Tyler, Angela Wibking and Ron Wynn.
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