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Gregg Schlanger: “Mr. Peabody’s Coal Train”

According to the locally produced documentary Kilowatt Ours, more than half of our nation’s electricity comes from burning coal—and in the Southeast, more than 12,000 pounds of coal are burned per home every year.
According to the locally produced documentary Kilowatt Ours, more than half of our nation’s electricity comes from burning coal—and in the Southeast, more than 12,000 pounds of coal are burned per home every year. Such statistics weigh heavily on artist Gregg Schlanger, a professor at Austin Peay in Clarksville. His installation at Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery explores the workings of the coal industry and the impact of mining on the environment, combining a variety of components in a way that suggests the infelicitous, if inevitable, collision of economics, politics and nature. Though Schlanger’s work involves intensive research and is intended to educate, that hardly makes it didactic. If anything, the artist’s passion for his subject and his commitment to the idea that art should be accessible to everyone lend a sense of humaneness to his installations and public art projects. For this piece, he brings in kids’ toys and trains, cast-aluminum catfish floating over pools of water, video and 2D work that connects the dots and demonstrates the power of words to deceive. “Mr Peabody’s Coal Train” opens Thursday, Dec. 15, and runs through Jan. 27; there will be an artist’s reception 5-7 p.m. Dec. 17. —Jonathan Marx/David Maddox Music Thursday, 15th IRON & WINE/CALEXICO Sam Beam’s pacific vocals form the core of the recent Iron & Wine/Calexico collaboration, In the Reins. But Calexico more than hold their own, dressing Beam’s poetry in brighter colors and more variegated shapes than usual. On “Red Dust,” an impatient organ figure and gritty harp lead the band in a bluesy shuffle that rocks more than Iron & Wine would normally dare. Then, on the very next song, “Sixteen Maybe Less,” Calexico are the perfect, windy accompaniment to Beam’s sad, bittersweet take on the notion that the deepest and most deeply remembered cut is the first. Hearing the expansion and variety that Calexico bring to Iron & Wine’s melancholy hymns bodes well for both projects, and word on the street is that the live incarnation has been nothing short of stellar. (www.ironandwine.com; www.casadecalexico.com) Cannery Ballroom —Steve Haruch Friday, 16th BRYAN SUTTON w/DAN CRARY, RUSS BARENBERG & DAVID GRIER This show is an exceedingly rare opportunity to see four generations of bluegrass flatpicking giants at work. Busy recording a new album of duets, the phenomenal Sutton—who won his fourth IBMA Guitar Player of the Year award in October and is almost omnipresent in studios on Music Row—has invited several of his recording partners to join him. “My guitar heroes,” he calls them, and they’re a stellar bunch: Crary, whose pioneering efforts in the late ’60s and early ’70s have yet to be fully appreciated; the inventive, eclectic Barenberg, who first made his mark in the ’70s and ’80s; and the supremely witty and technically dazzling Grier, who owns three early-’90s IBMA awards himself. For anyone with an interest in acoustic guitar, this is the must-see show of the year. (www.bryansutton.com) Station Inn —Jon Weisberger Saturday, 17th 3 FOX DRIVE It’s become a cliché: up-and-coming bluegrass group covers a rock classic, garnering momentary attention for a parlor trick that seems a little less audacious the more often it’s performed. Recently, the Grascals revived Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas” and Malibu Storm took on Def Leppard’s “Photograph.” Now progressive bluegrass sextet 3 Fox Drive’s calling card is their take on the Doobie Brothers war-horse “Listen to the Music” (also the title cut of their new album). But once they’ve got your attention, this group from New York state led by siblings Kim, Joel and Barb Fox—who recorded as the Fox Family in the 1990s—have plenty more to offer in the way of genetically enhanced harmonies, thoughtful originals and instrumental chops. (www.3foxdrive.com) Station Inn —Chris Neal PAT GALLAGHER’S 13th ANNUAL CHRISTMAS SHOW Ever wish you could drop in on an alt-country Christmas party? You can. Writer and toastmaster Gallagher, a hale and hearty fellow beloved by colleagues, gathers together friends for a loose, raucous holiday concert that once a year turns a nightclub into a big living room. Gallagher’s guests for this installment include Joy Lynn White, Gwil Owen, Richard Ferreira, Pru Clearwater and the hilarious Mark & Mike Show, in which Supe Granda and Mark Horn cut up with original folk songs that will make you chuckle and sometimes shake your head in disbelief. (www.patgallagher.us) Douglas Corner —Michael McCall Sunday, 18th SARAH BETTENS The former lead singer of Belgian alt-rockers K’s Choice calls her recent solo album Scream, and the term couldn’t be more misleading. Bettens’ perfectly toned alto is like polished leather—soft yet strong, pure yet aged and timeless. The title cut, one of the year’s best rock songs, is about learning you’re not as smart as you thought you were when you were young. Scream features melodic rockers and lilting ballads, showing a wider range than Bettens did with her former band. (www.sarahbettens.com) 3rd & Lindsley —Michael McCall Monday, 19th DOOMRIDERS This Massachusetts quartet spike their metal with hardcore and punk, their tight, relentless arrangements serving as bracing vehicles for feelings of hostility and loathing that border on the unhinged. The group aren’t long on invention, certainly not in the lyrics department, where ID-driven epigrams like “Ride or Die” and “Fuck This Shit” are par for the course. These guys are knowing dolts, though, and the latter of those titles is a one-minute anthem worthy of Black Flag circa Damaged. It’s anyone’s guess how the group’s Sturm und Drang will translate live, but on their new Black Thunder, the hammering bass, tonsil-shredding yowls and dirty, implacable riffage are as visceral—and exhilarating—as head-bang gets. (www.myspace.com/doomriders) The End —Bill Friskics-Warren Tuesday, 20th ROBINELLA This astringent-voiced East Tennessean drops the reference to her former stringband on her upcoming album for Dualtone, and for good reason; broadening her music to embrace orchestration and a shambling, artful band sound, Robinella Contreras adds depth to her fragile voice and her yearning, openhearted songs. Sounding at times like a mountain-born Macy Gray, Robinella and her husband, the multi-instrumentalist Cruz Contreras, work with producer Doug Lancio to create an intoxicating collection that should give them another round of critical praise after the album’s February release. She’ll preview the new album and introduce her new sound in preparation for a busy new year. (www.robinella.com) Mercy Lounge —Michael McCall CAVE IN In a genre where performers typically try to top each other by being the heaviest, loudest or most intense, Massachusetts’ Cave In stand out because they’re not afraid to let their music slow down, stretch out and actually sing—not to mention express some emotion other than anger. Though their earliest recordings tended to hew to the typical modern metal sound—fast and furious—over a decade they’ve allowed other influences that were there all along to emerge. The result, on their latest album, Perfect Pitch Black, is music that surges and seethes with pile-driving riffs and gruff screaming, then expands to make room for muscular grooves, skyscraper-tall guitars, soaring vocals and even a few contemplative moments. In some ways, the album’s scope and earnest ambition recall another of the year’s best records, My Morning Jacket’s Z. The difference here is that, instead of ’70s and ’80s arena rock, Cave In’s touchstones are ’90s alt-rock and the sinewy post-hardcore of bands like Unwound and Fugazi. But the feeling you get from both is one of urgency and catharsis, with songs that manage to rock and shimmer at the same time. (www.cavein.net) The End —Jonathan Marx Wednesday, 21st THE WRIGHTS Say hello to Music Row’s most unfairly slept-on new act of 2005, and a damn fine argument for nepotism. Adam Wright and his wife Shannon are the first signing to Alan’s Country Records—an imprint of RCA owned by Adam’s uncle, Alan Jackson. And maybe the assumption that The Wrights undeservedly graduated to the big leagues solely by way of blood relations explains why radio and the press have determinedly ignored them. Those folks might want to try actually listening to The Wrights’ gently swinging Down This Road, which happens to be one of the year’s most striking debuts. With their sensually intertwining voices, Adam and Shannon play out absorbing narratives about couples falling in and out of love, taking full advantage of the possibilities of the male-female dynamic. Alan who? Family Wash —Chris Neal ROSIE FLORES CHRISTMAS PARTY Rockabilly, honky-tonk and other forms of roots music make for great Christmas songs, so it’s natural that a traditional American music master like Flores would create such a catchy, fun holiday album. Her new Christmasville, recorded near her East Nashville home, is packed with her trademark bopping guitar notes and cheery voice, and she’ll feature tunes from the album in a hometown show. (www.rosieflores.com) The Basement —Michael McCall Classical NASHVILLE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: HANDEL’S MESSIAH The Christmas season is the time for annual rituals of all sorts—The Nutcracker ballet, It’s a Wonderful Life, Christmas trees at Cheekwood, awkward social encounters at the company party. Classical music enthusiasts have the Nashville Symphony’s performance of Handel’s oratorio, the baroque masterpiece best known for the rousing “Hallelujah” chorus, but filled with enough great melodies to make it the 18th century equivalent of an album that spins out one single after another. The Symphony performs Dec. 16-17 in TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall. —David Maddox CARNATIC MUSIC A free concert of South Indian music by performers living in the United States who are champions for Indian culture in this country. The group consists of two vocalists (Ram Kaushik and Shankar Venkataraman), a violinist (Shivkumar Kalyanaraman), and a percussionist (Lakshman Mahadevan on mridangam). As an example of their efforts on behalf of this musical tradition, Dr. Kalyanaraman maintains an extensive Carnatic music education website, in addition to his duties as a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The concert is 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17 at Sri Ganesha Temple, and is free of charge. —David Maddox Theater SLEEPING BEAUTY—THE UNTOLD TALE Playwright Myra Anderson has evolved into Nashville’s resident stage interpreter of fairy tales. After the popular success of last season’s humorous Fairy Tale Confidential, which put Cinderella and other legendary heroines on the analyst’s couch, Anderson now attempts a more serious reworking of this classic. The adaptation is based on the Grimm Brothers’ version of the story, but she has expanded the scenario into some mature-themed areas and added new characters. For this Dec. 16-23 run at the Darkhorse Theater, the playwright will stage her own script, with a cast that includes experienced players like Kaye Ayers-Sowell and Linda Speir, as well as several talented newcomers. The production also features moments of swordplay, under the direction of fight choreographer Craig Wilkosz. Promising the elements of magic and fantasy apropos of Christmastime theatricals, this Sleeping Beauty nonetheless comes with a suggested PG rating for children 13 and under. For tickets, phone 423-5304. —Martin Brady Art

TARYN SIMON: “THE INNOCENTS: HEADSHOTS” Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Gallery presents an exhibit of portraits by former Vanity Fair photographer Taryn Simon. Taken from her book The Innocents, Simon’s faces and stories of wrongfully convicted men and women humanize the paradox of innocent people imprisoned in “the land of the free.” Detailing the years lost from their lives and their traumatic transition back to civilian life, the photographer transforms her subjects into avatars of dissent against America’s tough-on-crime policies and its ever-expanding prison industrial system—which now incarcerates over 10 percent of all African-American men in their 20s and gives the U.S. the dubious distinction of being the largest per capita jailer of its population in the world. While raising questions about civil rights and the death penalty, Simon’s images ultimately qualify as combat photographs from a domestic war zone. As Susan Sontag put it, “The practice of representing atrocious suffering…enters the history of images with a specific subject: the sufferings endured by a civilian population at the hands of a victorious army on the rampage.” The portraits in The Innocents are a painful, powerful addition to that too-long lineage. “The Innocents: Headshots” opens Dec. 15 in Sarratt Gallery, which will hold an artist’s reception on Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. The show closes on Dec. 31—the same day that Vanderbilt’s Great Performances Series hosts Tim Robbins’ play The Exonerated, which explores the same subject. —Joe Nolan

NINE YEARS AND COUNTING The Arts Company celebrates nearly a decade downtown with an afternoon-long reception and “Salon Saturday” highlighting its latest show of two Nashville photographers. Kimiko’s series “The Art of Geisha” takes a look at this unique Japanese tradition, which has persisted in spite of that country’s technological and social advances. The photographer’s images capture geisha women, their faces masked in white, as they make their way through a relentlessly modern milieu. Also on view will be images from Bob Schatz’s book Tennessee Simply Beautiful, which documents not just the natural beauty of our state, but also the cultural richness. The show opening and birthday celebration runs 2-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17 at The Arts Company on Fifth Avenue North. —Jonathan Marx

“WINTER SHOW 2005: POLAR” The local artist group Untitled hosts its latest one-night show this Friday night in a location that should be a little off the beaten path for even the most committed gallery-goer: GELYN llc, a warehouse space at 1300 Pillow St., in the industrial neighborhood tucked between Chestnut Street and Fourth Avenue South (also known as Nolensville Road). As always, there should be a vast array of work on view—accomplished, amateur and everything in between—and DJ Jane Dupree will get the party started right, 6-10 p.m. Dec. 16. For more information, visit www.untitlednashville.com  —Jonathan Marx “CONTEMPORARY WORKS IN GLASS” Ruby Green Contemporary Art Center’s fare typically sides on the conceptual—lots of installations—so it’s nice to see the gallery take a departure into the realm of craft. The lines are always blurry between craft and art, but the sculptural manner in which the participants in this show use glass departs from utilitarian object-making. Curated by Nashville artists Dona Berroti and Rob McClurg, the exhibit features 12 artists from across the United States and includes Hank Adams, Jessica Bohus, Curtiss Brock, Jerry Catania, Cassandra Chambers, Brent Cole, Danny Marder, Greg Nangle, Masako Onodera, Tim Straubing, Atsuko Tajima and Becky Wehmer. An opening reception takes place Saturday, Dec. 17, 6-9 p.m. —Nicole Pietrantoni JOAN LAWLER The Tennessee Art League will host an artist’s reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, for Joan Lawler, the first artist to present a juried exhibit in its newly opened Premiere Gallery at 808 Broadway. Founded in 1954 as a nonprofit and originally located downtown between Third and Fourth avenues, TAL helped to repair the neglected Parthenon and began exhibiting local artists there in 1955. A decade later, the organization started the Central South Art Exhibition, which continues to this day—Lawler’s vivid floral, landscape and abstract paintings have been included in the exhibit for the last four years. Utilizing acrylics, the artist paints from photos that she takes in early morning light, creating a dramatic interplay of light and shadow. In addition to providing artists such as Lawler with exhibit opportunities, the TAL also sponsors workshops and educational programs, and does outreach work at schools, community centers, senior centers and homeless shelters. Once again located downtown after vacating its previous space on Poston Avenue, the organization hopes to raise its profile in the local art community and to contribute to the city’s ongoing downtown revitalization. —Joe Nolan LEPER BEACH PARTY Having just taken down its “I-24” exhibit featuring works by artists from Murfreesboro and Sewanee, the Secret Show Series closes out the year with a one-night show featuring work from Amanda Dillingham, Jason Driskill, Angela Messina, Jack Dingo Ryan, Kristen Burton, Lisa Deal and more than a dozen others. The show runs 7-11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at 310 Chestnut St. For more information, visit www.secretshowseries.com. —Jonathan Marx Events PANTY RAID CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR In a town where less-than-traditional holiday theatrical fare has flourished of late—Zombies Can’t Climb, Merry (Bleeping) Christmas, Santaland Diaries—it’s only right that Nashville’s headline-making burlesque divas get into the seasonal swing. Lula Licious, Ramona Rouge and Ruby Van Go-Go—a.k.a. Panty Raid—host this ecdysiastic Yuletide extravaganza, which features performances by Monique Honeybush, Miss Lollipop and Kicky LaRue. The stripteasing—strictly legal, of course—incorporates familiar fantasy concepts (e.g., 19th century Parisian cancan), but also goes one better with the special appearance of New York City’s Miss Saturn, who dares to doff her costume while keeping a dozen hula hoops in motion. Santa Claus will also be on hand. (Actually, it’s Sideshow Bennie, whose escapades with fire and a bed of nails make disappearing up a chimney look like child’s play.) Rockabilly caroling and strategically hung mistletoe enhance the festivities, too, and it’s all topped off with Christmas pies, which will be hurled at a certain Scene editor, doing penance for some naughty (and not nice) journalism. The shenanigans begin at 9 p.m. on Dec. 17 at Mercy Lounge. For more information, phone 944-0457, or visit www.pantyraiddames.com. —Martin Brady Film IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE Or at least that’s the decision good guy James Stewart reaches, after enduring one of the darkest visions of desperation and failure in all of American movies. The most harrowing of holiday classics, Frank Capra’s 1946 film has become a holiday tradition at the Belcourt; if you’ve only seen it on TV, instead of a theater filled with snuffling parents and their traumatized tots, you haven’t seen it. Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls! Opening Friday. —Jim Ridley KING KONG If you’ve seen the astounding spider-pit sequence that Peter Jackson had assembled for the essential new two-disc edition of the 1933 original, you know he’s the right man for the remake. Naomi Watts, Jack Black and Adrien Brody face the giant gorilla king of Skull Island in Jackson’s three-hour version, opening Wednesday at area theaters. —Jim Ridley THE PASSENGER Greeted upon release with mixed reviews, Michelangelo Antonioni’s enigmatic 1975 film has been largely out of circulation for 30 years, with star Jack Nicholson holding the rights to this slightly longer European cut. Now you can see Nicholson in his ’70s prime as a disaffected war correspondent who switches identities with a dead look-alike at a remote Saharan hotel, only to find he’s assumed the life of a shady gunrunner. Co-starring Marlon Brando’s butter buddy Maria Schneider from Last Tango in Paris, the movie opens Friday at the Belcourt. —Jim Ridley

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