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David Mamet’s Oleanna was first presented onstage in 1992, not too long, coincidentally, after the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings brought to light some peculiar elements of the mentor/protégé relationship and raised questions about the nature of sexual harassment.
David Mamet’s Oleanna was first presented onstage in 1992, not too long, coincidentally, after the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings brought to light some peculiar elements of the mentor/protégé relationship and raised questions about the nature of sexual harassment. Mamet’s script goes deeper into these issues, as the playwright gives us a male university professor (played by William H. Macy in the 1994 feature film) and a female student engaged in a philosophical power struggle that rages over the sexual politics of the situation but also addresses other arguments, such as the usefulness of higher education. The play’s topic might draw perennial interest, but Tennessee Repertory Theatre’s new production—only the company’s second-ever Mamet mounting—may also allow theatergoers to explore how far we’ve come in 15 years, or how effectively the usually provocative Mamet nailed the subject in the first place. Of no less interest will be the performances of David Alford and Marin Miller, who would appear to be splendidly cast. René Copeland directs. Presented March 2-25 at TPAC’s Johnson Theater. Phone 255-ARTS for tickets. —MARTIN BRADY MUSIC THURSDAY, 2ND DAVID GRAY This Welshman poses a number of critical dilemmas. Even at its most spare, his music is too deftly orchestrated to be called bland, but it’s never riveting. His strum-and-synth sound is so weightless it verges on lightweight, while his SoundScan numbers could be a figment of Dave Matthews’ evangelism. Still, Gray has paid his dues. Though he’d been kicking around since the early ’90s, it took the Matthews-boosted White Ladder to win over the Friendster generation for whom punk rock is mostly a fable, the sampler is just another instrument and Elton John isn’t a guilty pleasure. Sweet, sad and tuneful, the album still sounds fresh; Gray didn’t have to quote both “Into the Mystic” and “Cypress Avenue” to evoke a young Van Morrison. “Babylon” was a surprise radio hit, with crisp DIY drum loops, a “Ventura Highway” guitar lick and a solid-gold sing-along chorus. Last year’s Life in Slow Motion was neither a misstep nor an advance: it was just negative space, an emotional vacuum despite synthesized layers courtesy of Björk producer Marius De Vries. An image like “Swans are ghosts on the jet-black water” distills Gray’s aesthetic: a lyrical minimalism too limpid and pensive to be dismissed as meaningless. (www.davidgray.com ) Ryman Auditorium —ROY KASTEN STONE JACK JONES A Nashvillian for some years now, Stone Jack Jones grew up in the coal-mining country of West Virginia but escaped the mines by adopting the ways of an itinerant musician. His second album, bluefolk, just released on the local Fictitious Records imprint, is rich with muted textures created by the intermingling of guitars, piano, electronics, subtle noises and sound effects, but no matter how sophisticated, the music never quite escapes the cold, dark realities of the life Jones saw as a youngster. A somber mood hovers over the record, with his gravelly, drawling voice alternately adopting a tone of resignation or controlled anger—and with words to match. And yet there’s something seductive within these gauzy soundscapes, crafted with care by Jones and producer Roger Moutenot; it feels as though we’re being imparted with a forbidden knowledge, peering into the recesses of one man’s soul. Jones is also charitable enough to end the record on a note of affirmation, as the music lightens up and the choruses give way to chants of “love and adoration” and “freedom reigns.” He celebrates the album’s release at this show, with openers Jennifer Niceley and El Hub. The Basement —JONATHAN MARX SUNDAY, 5TH LEE ROY PARNELL/STEPHEN CLAIR Parnell’s slide guitar brought a sweet Allman Brothers-style lyricism to the ’90s country boom, while his songs of love and mercy had an easy swagger that stood out from the era’s hat acts. On Back to the Well, his first major-label album in nine years, Parnell leans harder than usual on blues riffs and grooves, although a couple of sentimental country tunes offer a nod to his radio-friendly past. Still, his rep as a solid live act carried him much further than his radio hits ever did, and it’s onstage where he makes his best stand. Opening act Stephen Clair handles a guitar pretty well himself. The New Yorker’s wry voice and well-observed songs recall those of Texans like Robert Earl Keen and James McMurtry. 3rd & Lindsley —MICHAEL McCALL MONDAY, 6TH EAGLES OF DEATH METAL The first time The Strokes played Nashville at 328 Performance Hall, they delivered a wooden performance that could just as easily have been accomplished if they’d set up a boom box onstage, cued up the record and left. The second time they played, the venue was River Stages, and singer Julian Casablancas peed in the Cumberland. There’s no telling what the band’s show at the Ryman will bring, but the Eagles of Death Metal are an interesting choice as the opening act. Fans of Queens of the Stone Age will recognize singer-guitarist Josh Homme on drums, and they’ll even hear some of the same scuzzy riff-rock QOTSA are known for. But this band have their collective tongue planted firmly in cheek. Their name is the result of a conversation that reads like a Wayne’s World yardstick for gauging just how death metal some death metal bands are. “Dude, that’s not death metal. That’s, like, The Eagles of death metal,” the band told Penthouse, discussing the genesis for their name. Their moniker, and the band’s attitude about it, makes the music come off more like satire of ’70s hard rock, which makes Jack Black’s vocal participation in and love for the band all the more understandable. The songs on the group’s new Death by Sexy are bluesy and hook-heavy, with sassy falsetto vocals, but it’s the slamming drums and dirtied riffs that’ll bring out the devil horns. Which, if you think about, is actually pretty death metal. (www.eaglesofdeathmetal.net) Ryman Auditorium —TRACY MOORE THE STROKES Upon arriving five hours late for an interview with author Jay McInerney, The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas explained, “I fell asleep.... I’m a little bit sad.” What would be pretentious self-indulgence in any other band is still pretentious self-indulgence with The Strokes; it just happens to work for them. With its urban grit and attitude, the band’s 2001 debut Is This It? had critics touting the New York quintet as the saviors of rock ’n’ roll. And now, like a gesture from an old lover whose brooding arrogance you found irresistible but got a little tired of, First Impressions of Earth is a reminder why you loved this band in the first place. The Strokes might be a touch more vulnerable, bruised from their battle with success, but their blend of ironic detachment, retro rock swagger and tight pants still makes you feel funny in all the right places. This show is sold out. (www.thestrokes.com) Ryman Auditorium —LEE STABERT TUESDAY, 7TH LIVING THINGS Any band can wear the eyeliner and feather boas, but Living Things capture a more essential part of glam—its tribalism. Take, for example, the troglodyte groove of “Bom, Bom, Bom,” which recalls Gary Glitter’s trash-rock wonder “Rock and Roll.” As anyone who’s watched a sporting event during the last 20 years can attest, that beat can move the masses, ideally leading to an undifferentiated communion of equals where boys can be girls and cheesy beats can be king. In the case of Living Things, the magnetism comes from frontman Lillian Berlin, a Marc Bolan/Paul Stanley look-alike who wears his debt to Jim Carroll and Sylvia Plath on his satin sleeve. ( www.livingthingsmusic.com ) Exit/In —PAUL V. GRIFFITH OWEN Recording under the single name of Owen, longtime Chicago scenester Mike Kinsella whispers sour little smackdowns to lovers and acquaintances on his latest album, I do perceive. His messages may wallow in self-absorption and paranoia, but his music breathes with such tenderness that it mocks his brittle diatribes. As with the like-minded Morrissey, you expect Kinsella’s icy heart to melt at any moment and reveal its true, empathetic self. Rcktwn —MICHAEL McCALL VAN MORRISON Much like director Robert Altman, Morrison has done inspired work for nearly four decades but is typically celebrated for the masterpieces he created as the ’60s gave way to the ’70s—an unconscious run spanning the release of Astral Weeks and Veedon Fleece. There have been discomfiting misfires and rote genre exercises since then, as well as periods of brooding and withdrawal, all of it perplexing to even the most unreconstructed of Morrison aficionados. On first blush, it might seem like Pay the Devil, his new set of mostly country covers on Lost Highway, is one of those head-scratchers. But country inflections have been there at least since the pastoral reveries of Tupelo Honey and the Hank Williams reference and keening slide guitar on “St. Dominic’s Preview.” Long before that, of course, there was the influence of his father’s skiffle band and of Morrison’s main man, Ray Charles. Pay the Devil is looser and more offhand than Brother Ray’s pioneering country turns, but it gets just as far into the music, most of it golden-age honky-tonk from the likes of Hank Sr. and Webb Pierce. While not in every case revelatory, Morrison’s readings are utterly his own and always swinging, and the covers of R&B singer Chuck Willis’ “What Am I Living For” and Rodney Crowell’s gloriously ravaged “Till I Gain Control Again” are for the ages. Live, Morrison has been erratic in recent years, but given the venue and the inspiration for his new album, there’s no betting against this show, which, alas, is sold out. Tuesday, 7th, Ryman Auditorium —BILL FRISKICS-WARREN WEDNESDAY, 8TH BELLE AND SEBASTIAN Veterans of the light and airy pop song, B&S write graceful studies of characters who might just as easily find themselves in a Lorrie Moore story or a Wes Anderson movie. For the release of their 2006 album The Life Pursuit, the Scottish septet have moved from the U.K. to Los Angeles, producing a sound that’s funkier than before. (See the story on p. 37.) The New Pornographers open; see below. Ryman Auditorium —CLAIRE SUDDATH THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS The difference between last year’s Twin Cinema and its predecessor, 2003’s Electric Version, resembles the step forward from Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Model to Armed Forces: though not wound as watch-spring tight, the music gains in expansiveness and sheer hooky virtuosity anything it loses in tension. Songs such as “Use It” and “Sing Me Spanish Techno” remain as bouncy and melodically effervescent as any Cowsills single, but the loveliness of A.C. Newman’s popcraft seduces rather than ravishes in the rainy-day watercolor dissolve of “The Bleeding Hearts Club.” At their second Nashville date in six months, the Vancouver pop ensemble will perform without vocalist Neko Case, whose seen-it-all sultriness provides a tarnished foil for Newman’s ebullience. But recent addition Kathryn Calder—leader of the new-wavish Immaculate Machine, and Newman’s long-lost niece—should fill in just fine. Ryman Auditorium —JIM RIDLEY BUCKETHEAD The guitarist Buckethead has proved himself a great sideman for auteurs like Bill Laswell and the Swedish bassist and composer Jonas Hellborg. And while Guns N’ Roses might not qualify as auteurs, his frenetic elegance has livened up their act as well. His style encompasses Zappa-like elegance as well as the most uncontrolled death-metal, and though it’s true the man in the Kabuki mask and Kentucky Fried Chicken hat isn’t always at his best as a leader, he’s always interesting. Touring behind a spate of recent releases, including the guest singer-studded Enter the Chicken and the chopped-and-screwed hair-metal étude Kaleidoscalp, Buckethead brings along bassist Delray Brewer and drummer Pinchface for a reinvention and destruction of rock’s power-trio tradition. His live performances can be as enigmatic as his offstage demeanor; he’s known for communicating with interviewers using hand puppets, and his guitar playing can veer down paths that leave his sidemen wondering what happened. Expect originals like the stunning “Nottingham Lace” from Chicken, along with the occasional cover, maybe even his extended take on Hendrix’s “Machine Gun.” (www.bucketheadland.com) Exit/In —EDD HURT THEATER TALLEY’S FOLLY Playwright Lanford Wilson is one of those artists who overcame an uncertain family life, mostly bypassed conventional scholarly pursuits and then drew deeply upon his experiences and his flat-out talent to create full-bodied, interesting characters. Through the 1960s and ’70s, he was as hot as a serious dramatist could be, piling up a string of award-winning stage successes, including Balm in Gilead, The Rimers of Eldrich and The Hot L Baltimore. Talley’s Folly, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980, is part of Wilson’s cycle of plays set in the rural Missouri of his youth. The year is 1944, at the height of World War II, and a 30-ish spinster, Sally Talley, and her unlikely Jewish immigrant suitor, Matt Friedman, engage in a halting romance that finds sincere expression through Wilson’s compassionate and humorous sensibilities. The new ACT I production stars Mary Jane Bowles and Obadiah Ewing-Roush, under the direction of Brian Hill. Performances are March 3-11 at the Darkhorse Theater. For more information, visit www.act1online.com or call 726-2281. —MARTIN BRADY THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS If ever there were a tale that epitomizes the essential magic of children’s literature, it might very well be Kenneth Grahame’s hundred-year-old classic, with its fabled forest creatures and their “Life Adventurous.” The story’s sly allegorical themes also make it something of a forerunner to Orwell’s Animal Farm. The new Nashville Children’s Theatre production features an adaptation by Scot Copeland, who also directs, with music by Paul Carrol Binkley, adapted from Gilbert & Sullivan. The cast is a thoroughly veteran ensemble, including Bobby Wyckoff, Rona Carter, Pete Vann, Jenny Littleton and Henry Haggard. Performances are March 7 through April 9 at NCT’s Hill Theatre. For tickets, phone 254-9103. —MARTIN BRADY ART VIVIEN FRYD, “INTERSECTING LIVES: JUDY CHICAGO AND DONALD WOODMAN IN COLLABORATION” Judy Chicago was one of the pioneers of feminist art in the early 1970s, the first of several movements that blew apart America’s white-male-dominated art scene. She’s best known for “The Dinner Party,” a heroically scaled installation from 1974-79 that featured place settings with plates in vaginal forms, each dedicated to a significant woman in history and culture. For the last several years, Chicago has worked with her husband, photographer Donald Woodman, on collaborative projects that involve teams of artists creating a linked series of works and environments. In 2001, they led the “At Home” project at Western Kentucky University, where the artists filled a bungalow in Bowling Green with art installations exploring the idea of home. This spring, Chicago and Woodman are serving as the Chancellor’s Artists-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University, guiding a group of students and community artists through a similar project that will transform the Cohen Building on the Peabody campus. As that project progresses, the focus will turn toward the collective and individual contributions of the participants, but this talk by Vanderbilt professor Vivien Fryd will provide an opportunity to consider the work and careers of the project’s leaders. After Fryd’s lecture, Chicago and Woodman will answer questions. The talk starts at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 2, in Sarratt Cinema; it will be preceded by a reception from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Sarratt Gallery. —DAVID MADDOX NICOLE PIETRANTONI AND JONATHAN PRICHARD This weekend, TAG art gallery opens an exhibit of paintings by Nicole Pietrantoni and Jonathan Prichard. Pietrantoni graduated from Vanderbilt and is currently the director of the Visual Arts, Crafts and Media Program at the Tennessee Arts Commission, as well as an occasional writer for the Scene. In her multimedia work, she blends collage, lithography and sewing to explore the intersection between “domesticity and nature, women and girls, routine and unpredictability, community and isolation.” Her repeated use of wallpaper patterns as backdrops and use of stitched-on words are her work’s most distinguishing qualities, and her childlike drawings of girls give her pieces an overall whimsical quality. Prichard, a native of Charlotte, N.C., is just 25 years of age and has already created a distinctive visual style for himself. His heavily layered paintings and sketches abandon any references to the natural world in favor of stream-of-consciousness explorations of color and shape. Join the artists for the opening reception Saturday, March 4, 6 to 8 p.m.; the exhibit runs through March 25. —JESSICA FRIEDMAN DIG THROUGH ART AND FILM SERIES Organized by the Downtown Presbyterian Church, the “DIG” (“Dialogue: An Interaction for Growth”) Lenten art series began in 1998, using visual art, film, lectures and forums to explore the Christian experience through creative expression. This year, more than 30 Nashville painters, sculptors, video artists and installation artists have been invited to explore the theme “The Silence of God.” The exhibit, which includes work by Shane Doling, Greg Pond, Valerie Lueth, Paul Roden, Brandon Gnetz, Tom Wills and others, will open at the church on the first day of Lent, Sunday, March 5, at noon. An $800 dollar purchase award will be announced at the opening, and a panel discussion on “The Silence of God and the Role of the Artist” will follow at 2 p.m. The nine films in the “DIG” series will be screened at the church and at the Belcourt Theatre. A second reception at the Belcourt will close the series on Wednesday, April 12, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Downtown Presbyterian Church is located at 154 Fifth Ave. N., at the intersection of Church Street. —JOE NOLAN CHRIS HILL, BARRY NOLAND, CARRIE MILLS AND KAREN KINSLOW: “ONE WALL, ONE ARTIST” Plowhaus Artists’ Cooperative presents the latest exhibit in its ongoing “One Wall, One Artist” series, which offers an opportunity to explore the work of four different artists under the same roof. An opening reception will be held on Friday, March 4, from 7 to 11 p.m. Carrie Mills’ drawings and photography reflect her background in the fashion industry, but her mixed-media sculpture transcends her preoccupation with design. Karen Kinslow’s painterly portraits make use of a flat, melancholy palette, and her expressionless subjects reflect the artist’s ambivalence toward her own process. The show also includes work by sculptor/painter Chris Hill and photographer Barry Noland. The Plowhaus Artists’ Cooperative is at 211 S. 17th St. in East Nashville. —JOE NOLAN COLIN MCLAIN This painter takes images from Gray’s Anatomy—drawings of human bodies with the skin removed to reveal organs and muscles—and renders them in the electric colors and spatter-paint style of skateboard art. His merger of domains wakes up the familiar imagery of formal art education and slyly elevates the techniques of street art to the legitimacy of more traditional methods. McLain is from Memphis but now works and shows in New York. His show at Sarratt Gallery opens on Thursday, March 2, with a gallery talk by the artist at 4:30 p.m. and a reception at 7. —DAVID MADDOX “NEW FAVORITE SMELL” This Saturday night, Secret Show Series hosts its eighth group show, drawing from different corners of the local art scene, including current and former students at Watkins College of Art & Design. Participants include David Hellams, Lisa Deal, Asher Wood, Jonathan Rogers, Ryan Norris, Derek Gibson, Iwonka Waskowski, Terry Thacker, Jaime Raybin, Abby Whisenant, Heather Spriggs Thompson, Jason Driskill, Amanda Dillingham, Terry Glispin, Debbi Kraski, Erika Johnson, Elise Tyler and Armon Means. The Secret Show gallery is at 310 Chestnut St.; for more info, visit www.secretshowseries.com. —JONATHAN MARX BOOKS KARENNA GORE SCHIFF The eldest daughter of the former vice president, Schiff is a lawyer and journalist whose best-known work, up to this point, is a scathing rebuke of the Bush administration that appeared in Glamour magazine. Schiff, who may harbor political aspirations herself, has just published a collection of biographies, Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America. The book focuses on grass-roots activists such as labor organizers Mother Jones and Delores Huerta, as well as left-leaning officials like Frances Perkins, who, during the FDR administration, was America’s first female cabinet member. Schiff explores the reasons why her subjects, many of whom suffered greatly for their causes, managed to be so effective. In the case of Jones and anti-lynching advocate Ida Wells-Barnett, the answer seems to be their extremism—a characteristic that the author doesn’t varnish. Others, such as Huerta and Perkins, used motherhood as a tool to reach their often coldhearted male adversaries. At a time when the terms “well-meaning” and “politics” are seldom linked in the popular imagination, Schiff’s book reminds us of the long-lasting changes that have occurred when women fearlessly spearheaded progressive policies. She will discuss and sign Lighting the Way on Friday, March 3, at 3 p.m. in the Rochelle Center at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin. The event is free and open to the public; for more information, call 230-3770. —PAUL V. GRIFFITH FILM WESTERNS ON THE BIG SCREEN: DUEL IN THE SUN / 3:10 TO YUMA Return with us now to those glorious days of yesteryear when big-screen Westerns weren’t as scarce as buffalo. It can’t be a coincidence that the experience of moviegoing has diminished at the same time the panoramic horse opera has all but vanished from movie theaters. Fortunately, as a kickoff to next week’s Nashville Premieres festival—which gathers recent first-run features and repertory films that skipped Nashville—the Belcourt offers two gems from last year’s “Essential Westerns” retrospective at the Film Forum in New York. Ridiculed upon release as producer David O. Selznick’s shoot-the-works attempt to top Gone With the Wind, 1946’s Duel in the Sun is lurid Hollywood pulp at its craziest and most ferocious, a Technicolor fever dream of heaving bosoms, blazing guns and unlikely miscegenation between half-breed hellcat Jennifer Jones and grabby heel Gregory Peck. Martin Scorsese claimed it made him want to make movies. Not at all campy but just as memorable, 1957’s rediscovered 3:10 to Yuma (adapted from an Elmore Leonard yarn) mines terrific suspense from the mind games between a captured outlaw (Glenn Ford) and the desperate farmer (Van Heflin) who means to place him on a train bound for justice. Screenings begin Monday; for reviews and show times, see our Movie Guide on p. 64. (Editor’s note: Jim Ridley will introduce the 7 p.m. Tuesday screening of Duel in the Sun.) JIM RIDLEY CAFE LUMIERE/TROPICAL MALADY After its two Western screenings, the Nashville Premieres Festival at the Belcourt gets under way with two recent highlights of foreign cinema: Taiwanese director Hsiao-hsien Hou’s Café Lumiere and Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Tropical Malady. The films begin screening on Tuesday, March 7, and continue through to next weekend. For more information, visit www.belcourt.org, and look for the story about the Nashville Premieres Festival in next week’s issue. —JONATHAN MARX OSCAR NIGHT Dust off the tux, shore up the cleavage and prepare to walk the red carpet at the Belcourt’s annual glamourpuss gala, the city’s only officially sanctioned Oscar party and the historic Hillsboro Village theater’s chief fundraiser of the year. There’ll be gourmet goodies from Tayst, Sunset Grill and The Food Company, wine tastings, a silent auction of swag from donors as diverse as Gibson Guitars and Late Night With Conan O’Brien, and live coverage emceed by WKRN’s Joe Dubin. Tickets begin at $50 or $400 for a party of 10; for more information, call 846-3150 or visit www.belcourt.org. —JIM RIDLEY CACHE (HIDDEN) Yikes. Michael Haneke’s original, immensely unsettling film places a bourgeois couple (Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche) at the mercy of an unknown watcher who leaves anonymous surveillance tapes of their home. In some ways, it’s a behavioral experiment on moviegoers, as Haneke strips away the traditional signposts of thrillers while turning the humble establishing shot into a weapon of psychological terror: while you’re watching the movie, the director is watching you. Pay close attention to that last shot—and get ready to argue. It opens Friday at Green Hills, along with the Russian horror fantasy Night Watch. —JIM RIDLEY DAVE CHAPPELLE’S BLOCK PARTY In which the Chappelle’s Show escapee takes a page from the Jeff Spicoli playbook, using his windfall of cash to throw a free concert and shindig for assorted Brooklynites and residents of his Ohio hometown. Kanye West leads a high-school marching band; Common, The Roots and the reunited Fugees are among the performers. Directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and photographed by Ellen Kuras (who shot Neil Young: Heart of Gold at the Ryman), the Wattstax-inspired concert doc opens Friday. —JIM RIDLEY 16 BLOCKS There are two block parties at the movies this weekend, and both invited Mos Def. In Richard Donner’s action thriller, an apparent update of the Clint Eastwood vehicle The Gauntlet, the rapper plays a key witness against some crooked cops; Bruce Willis is the burned-out veteran who must transport him the length of a city street to trial, if he lives that long. It starts Friday, along with the teen mermaid comedy Aquamarine and the Milla Jovovich shoot-’em-up Ultraviolet. —JIM RIDLEY


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