DEAD TO FALL The cover of the metalcore band Dead to Fall’s most recent album, Villainy & Virtue, depicts an apocalyptic scene, with a blood-red serpent emerging from the fires of hell to battle a warrior bird who represents all that is virtuous and ass-whooping. The group’s music further sets the scene, with laser-quick riffs, pummeling rhythms and John Hunt’s Cookie Monster vocals alternating with slower, more dramatic passages that conjure images of imminent destruction and its aftermath. Read the lyrics, though, and you’ll discover that the songs aren’t so much about the approach of end times, but rather the battle of the self—the violent push and pull between the desires of the flesh and the nobler intentions of the soul. Whether played out inside a person’s head or against the backdrop of a sky filled with flames, this clash between good and evil results in songs that roil and explode with pained fury, with evil always on the verge of gaining the upper hand. Touring in advance of their next record, due out in April, Dead to Fall headline a five-band metal bill with Montreal’s Ion Dissonance, Tampa’s The Absence, and locals When War Breaks Out and Enlist the Union. Rcktwn —JONATHAN MARX
CLASSICALTOUCHING CLOUDS The Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville (CAAN) has steadily gained attention by combining traditional Chinese dance, music, theatrical concepts and martial arts with modes of presentation encompassing Western ballet and contemporary music. The group’s latest effort is a celebration of Chinese New Year (which falls on Jan. 29), blending East and West through dances choreographed by company artistic director Jen-Jen Lin and guest artists Shih-Ming Li Chang from Wittenberg University and Lisa Spradley, co-founder of Nashville’s Epiphany Dance Company. In addition, guitarist Carlos Enrique will perform original compositions to the dance “A Story,” and Shaolin boxing master Bruce Linville will lead the debut of CAAN’s new Lion Dance Team, sporting authentic costumes from Guangdong Province. The company performs Touching Clouds 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27-28 in Turner Hall at Blair School of Music. For tickets and information, visit www.chineseartsalliance.org or phone 385-9341. —MARTIN BRADY
NASHVILLE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA To celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, the NSO will feature up-and-coming pianist Jonathan Biss (who played with the New York Philharmonic earlier this season) performing the composer’s Piano Concerto No. 21, under the direction of Andreas Delfs. Delfs is music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and for a time directed the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. This program also includes the overture to Mozart’s opera La Clemenza di Tito, but switches tones and centuries in the second half with Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E Minor. The concert is 8 p.m. Jan. 27-28 in TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall. —DAVID MADDOX
THEATERTHE EXONERATED This galvanizing, issues-oriented script by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen offers a stark examination of capital punishment and criminal justice, specifically through the stories of death-row inmates who were eventually proven innocent by DNA testing or the subsequent confessions of the truly guilty. The show was first produced in New York in 2000 with a revolving cast that included Marlo Thomas, Mia Farrow, Aidan Quinn, Bebe Neuwirth, Richard Dreyfuss and Judy Collins. Locally, Steve Earle and his BroadAxe Theatre company presented the play in early 2004 at the Belcourt Theatre. This one-night-only performance, 8 p.m. Jan. 31 at Vanderbilt University’s Langford Auditorium, features the national touring company of The Actor’s Gang, the progressive Los Angeles theater ensemble under the artistic direction of Tim Robbins. —MARTIN BRADY RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS Comedy and the stressed-out post-9/11 mind-set converge in this play by Craig Wright, who, besides his contributions to the contemporary stage, has made a name for himself as a writer for TV’s Six Feet Under and Lost. Wright probes notions of fate and free will as well as the nature of modern communication through his Gen X characters, but he also breaks the planes of realism with the use of offbeat theatrical devices, most prominently a Joyce Carol Oates sock puppet. With its strong language, adult content and absurdist humor, Recent Tragic Events aims to provoke serious thought about the American human condition in the age of terrorism. René Copeland directs the Tennessee Repertory Theatre production—a Nashville premiere—which features one of the most promising young casts ever assembled locally. Performances are Jan. 26-Feb. 18 at TPAC’s Johnson Theater. —MARTIN BRADY SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY Originally published first in serialization in 1914, Edgar Lee Masters’ anthology of autobiographical poems “from beyond the grave” was based primarily on the lives of citizens he encountered growing up in the small central Illinois towns of Lewistown and Petersburg. It’s considered a landmark of modern poetry, not leastly because it captures historic American community life making the transition from rough pioneerism to stable tradition. Charles Aidman’s 1963 adaptation of Masters’ postmortem epitaphs has become a staple of community theater, with its diverse portraits of heartland villagers who epitomize poverty and ignorance, but also a surprising cosmopolitanism and intellectual wherewithal. The new ACT I production, staged by local actress Wesley Paine, features some very capable players, including Rachel Agee and Michael Roark. Caroline Davis, Jack E. Chambers and Joe Klockenkemper contribute original music, under the direction of Brian Hill. The play runs through Jan. 28 at the Darkhorse Theater. —MARTIN BRADY ANYTHING GOES The 1930s, shipboard romance and a classic Cole Porter score combine in this musical comedy production that should showcase the talents of Boiler Room Theatre. Erin Parker and Billy Ditty star under the direction of Lewis Kempfer. Opens Jan. 27 at The Factory at Franklin, running through Feb. 25. —MARTIN BRADY A WOMAN CALLED TRUTH/THE EMPEROR AND THE NIGHTINGALE/ DORA’S PIRATE ADVENTURE! Several entertaining stage-bound programs for the younger set come to town this week. Nashville Children’s Theatre presents A Woman Called Truth, Sandra Fenichel’s acclaimed biographical play about 19th century slave-turned-abolitionist/suffragist Sojourner Truth. The gifted Helen Shute-Pettaway stars under the direction of Julee Baber; recommended for ages up to 17, performances are Jan. 31 through Feb. 19 at NCT’s Hill Theatre. On Jan. 29, talented up-and-comers from Nashville Ballet’s training ensemble, in collaboration with Belmont University’s School of Music, will present The Emperor and the Nightingale, based on a Hans Christian Andersen tale. The single performance is 2 p.m. Sunday at Belmont’s Massey Concert Hall. Admission is free, and the ballet will be followed by an interactive demonstration with the dancers. For information, call 460-6408. Dora’s Pirate Adventure! is yet another live musical entertainment based on the popular Nickelodeon TV series for preschoolers, Dora the Explorer. Besides being entertained by the upbeat songs and familiar characters, the show’s young audiences will be induced to make interactive contributions to the show’s scenario, using skills that include map-reading, counting and speaking in Spanish. Performed Feb. 1-5 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall. —MARTIN BRADY ART “AFRICAN ART, AFRICAN VOICES: LONG STEPS NEVER BROKE A BACK” / HAMLETT DOBBINS: “EARLY MORNING PAINTINGS” The motifs of African art have been vitally important to Western art at least since Picasso, and with the world globalizing, art from the continent has become increasingly relevant. Only now we are in a better position to see African art as a cultural force in its own right and not just a source suitable for ethnographic raiding. Drawn mostly from the collection of the Seattle Museum of Art, “African Art, African Voices” at the Frist and between traditional and contemporary art by Africans. The Frist will supplement the exhibit with screenings of films and video art. Also opening this week is a show in the Contemporary Artists Project Gallery devoted to paintings by Hamlett Dobbins, one of the key figures in the current Memphis art scene. He is an abstractionist who never forgot his boyhood experiences making shapes from his imagination out of Legos, and now he builds up interlocking forms in paint to capture the experience of personally resonant moments. Both shows open Jan. 27 and run until April 30. —DAVID MADDOX “______NYM” Homonym, synonym, antonym,acronym—allwayswordsshiftplacesto reinforce,restateorredirectmeaning.Language and words form the framework for what looks like an ambitious one-night show staged by a new group of young artists, including Alison Boyd, Parker ClenDening, Matthew Christy, Chris Doubler, Mai Lick, Coffey May, Diana Mihaescu, Ken Nakamura, Amethyst Stark, Alecia Waters, Josh Whitten, Christina Wing and Scott Wold. The works touch on everything from Braille to sneezes (not exactly language, but an act that uses some of the same equipment as speech). The show runs 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday at 310 Chestnut St. —DAVID MADDOX LeQUIRE GALLERY: “WINTER WONDER” Late January is peak season for the winter doldrums—sure, the weather gods have been smiling on us recently, but this time of year can still make you feel like curling up on the couch with the remote. To make sure you keep the blood pumping and spirits up, the LeQuire Gallery offers “Winter Wonder,” the stated mission of ving hebetudinous Nashvillians “something venture out for.” Wood turner Brenda in displays two bowls ashioned out of sal-d trees from the Battle anklin site and the Hill erty on Post Road. twood artist Marleen aele-de Bock’s expresanvases reflect her travca and use bold colors human forms. (She’s e subject of an upcomhow at Tennessee Arts mmission.) According potter Tom Turnbull, at you use in your home every day deserves to be beautiful,” and his dishwasher-and microwave-safe bowls and plates, many featuring glaze-painted images, fulfill that purpose. Also showing work are Jim Sherraden, John Reed, Greg Decker, Ashley Wiltshire, Juliette Aristides, Ron A. Cheek and Brody Vincent. There’s a reception for the artists 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28; the show runs through Feb. 15. —JACK SILVERMAN “IT WAS A DARK AND RAINY NIGHT”/ VETA CICOLELLO OPEN HOUSE Plowhaus inaugurates its 2006 exhibit schedule with another of its group shows, this one with an evocative theme that the participating artists will take in any number of directions. Showing their painting, pottery, photography, collage and other works are Julie Sola, Sam Callahan, Kevin Cuskaden, Carri Hofaker, John Holland, Franne Lee, Jim Wheeler, Belinda Yandell and some two dozen others. The show opens this Saturday, Jan. 28, with a reception from 7 to 11 p.m., and continues through Feb. 26. Since Plowhaus moved into its new, much larger space at 211 S. 17th St. last year, painter Veta Cicolello has taken over the old Plowhaus space just next door. She’ll have an open house Saturday night in conjunction with Plowhaus’ opening, at which she’ll be showing older work, along with “whatever I might have done that morning.” She plans to make the open house a monthly event and says she hopes to start showing work by other local artists as well. “Amidst the smell of Scotch and turpentine,” she promises, “good things are bound to happen.” —JONATHAN MARX BOOKS LYDIA MELVIN Whether she’s engaged in an edgy meditation on childhood sexuality or contemplating the nature of God, Lydia Melvin’s poems are full of vivid, impressionistic imagery. She explores grim themes—violence in the family, the self-perpetuating cycle of racism—with an eye for the earthy beauty that inhabits even the most painful corners of life. Her gift for the haunting image saves her very personal verse from being merely confessional. Melvin’s first book of poems, South of Here, was published in October by New Issues Press Poetry. She will read from her work at 8 p.m. on Jan. 26 at APSU’s Gentry Auditorium. For more information, call (931) 221-7031. —MARIA BROWNING CHARLES BAXTER This author picks at his placid Midwestern characters so as to reveal their complex, troubled core. For example, the title characters of his latest novel Saul and Patsy (who recur in Baxter’s other books) are a young married couple settling into tranquil domesticity. Though the birth of their first child is routine enough, its stresses start to bring out the deep-seated ambivalences and insecurities of the father, Saul Bernstein, a quiet-living high school teacher. Baxter’s sentences are as languid and spacious as the Midwest itself, but like his characters, profound insight regarding the human condition lies beneath their apparent equanimity. Baxter has received the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and his novel Feast of Love was a National Book Award finalist in 2000. Currently the Edelstein-Keller Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota, he’ll read from his work at 7 p.m., Jan. 30, in Room 101 of Buttrick Hall on the Vanderbilt campus. A reception and book signing will follow. —PAUL V. GRIFFITH HISTORIC PHOTOS OF NASHVILLE Jan Duke’s book of vintage photographs is already in its third printing. Most of the photos, which are culled from public and private archives, date from the mid-1880s to the early 1900s, with a smattering from the ’40s and ’50s. The all black-and-white images capture local events such as a visit from President Teddy Roosevelt, parades of Spanish-American War and World War I veterans, and the floods of 1926 and 1937. Power lines, streetcars and then automobiles appear, as well as bridges over the Cumberland River. Particularly striking, however, are the faces of Nashvillians, as in one photograph depicting a group of porters, waiters and kitchen staff on a break. Jan Duke discusses and signs Historic Photos of Nashville, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, at Davis-Kidd Booksellers. —MICHELLE JONES
SAMURAI FILM FESTIVAL When Austin’s Ain’t It Cool News website directs readers to a movie event way the hell in Nashville, don’t just sit there waiting for a limo to pick you up. The occasion is this unprecedented local festival celebrating the way of the blade in seven films over 10 days beginning Friday at the Belcourt. Here the East meets the Western in some of the greatest action movies ever filmed, including a trio of Akira Kurosawa classics (among them 1954’s The Seven Samurai) and excellent films by the unjustly lesser-known directors Masaki Kobayashi (Harakiri) and Kihachi Okamoto (The Sword of Doom). Speakers will introduce each film, and the theater plans to make sake available in the lobby, with sushi opening night from Samurai Sushi. —JIM RIDLEYSARAH SILVERMAN: JESUS IS MAGIC “I was raped by a doctor,” comedian and Heeb magazine cover babe Sarah Silverman confides to her audience, before dropping the bomb: “Which is so bittersweet for a Jewish woman.” OK, when she says it, you’re more likely to laugh than to sit in thunderstruck horror—but there are no guarantees. Former Nashvillian Liam Lynch (who’s directing the upcoming Tenacious D movie, due in the fall) shot this concert film with sketch interludes; it opens Friday at the Belcourt, where the 7:30 show opening night will be preceded by stand-up from Chris Crofton and Eric Williams. See the review on p. 63. —JIM RIDLEY MATCH POINT The movies have a new master of suspense: Woody Allen. In Allen’s startling departure, a coolly vicious moral thriller worthy of Patricia Highsmith, a disarming British social climber (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) finds his road to riches impeded by an inconvenient femme fatale (Scarlett Johansson). The movie opens Friday at Green Hills; see the review in our Movie Guide—JIM RIDLEY THE MATADOR Pierce Brosnan, Hope Davis and the underrated Greg Kinnear make a smashing comic ensemble in writer-director Richard Shepard’s dark-humored farce, in which a seedy hit man and a struggling businessman cross paths during a fateful Mexican weekend. It opens Friday along with Annapolis, Big Momma’s House 2 (watch for Nashville actor Andrew Stahl) and Emma Thompson as Nanny McPhee. —JIM RIDLEY BATMAN X 2 Remember all those stupid arguments about who was cooler, Capt. Kirk or Capt. Picard? Put away childish things and try a grown-up discussion—such as whether Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne could beat up Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader. Dance with the devil in the pale moonlight as Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Cinema offers a double feature this weekend of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman with Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster update Batman Begins. Cowl optional. —JIM RIDLEY
There were plenty of jumps and screams at the severed-head reveal at the Sunday night…
I just...this recap...why did I not know these were here until now?! 4 times on…
So long Don. Your creative energy and encouragement were inspirational to me.
It was so great being one of those kids in Dayton.
I miss Iodine.
^ It's nice to see an official acknowledgement by management. Kristen Mcarther Miles (the girl…