Our Critics' Picks 

An acronym for “Jazz and More,” this weekend’s J.A.M. leans heavily toward the “and more”—not that there’s anything wrong with that.



THE GO W/ALL WE SEABEES After preceding the garage-rock euphoria by a smidge with 1999’s Whatcha’ Doin’ (which included contributions from one-time bandmate Jack White), The Go suffered through label troubles that delayed their return until the wave had passed. While 2004’s self-titled second album features a terrific glam-inflected garage stomp, it pretty much disappeared without a trace. On the follow-up, Howl on the Haunted Beat You Ride, the band takes a left turn, forgoing their blazing rock for a tuneful psych-pop amble. Following in the footsteps of late-’60s British Invasion acts like The Kinks and The Zombies, their latest grooves to harmony-abetted melodies and easy-going rock shuffles. Opening are hearty local folk-rockers All We Seabees, whose songs feel as intimate as overheard confessions of guilt between long-illicit lovers. Like The Go, they’ve got a fine sense of melody as well as surprising guile and a graceful shimmy to lighten the step of their loping roots rock. 9 p.m. at The End —CHRIS PARKER


JOE PAGETTA On his new EP Other People’s News, this Brentwood resident and WNPT staffer crafts moody folk-rock that explores different forms of faith. In “Back to the Sea,” an island fisherman wades back into the ocean after a devastating tsunami, while in “Both Be Wrong,” a couple turns to mutual forgiveness as a reason to continue. His songs have a crisp but easygoing sense of purpose, setting acoustic rhythms against melodies that chime with reflective optimism. His outlook is summed up in “Practice Makes Perfect,” where he links guitar pioneer Les Paul, Elvis and Jesus—all visionaries who ignored doubters on the way to extraordinary breakthroughs. Unlike those heroes, Pagetta isn’t out to change the world—he’s happy just helping people to see it in a more humane way. He’ll front a trio featuring bassist Dave Jacques and fellow guitarist Josh Pessar. 8:30 p.m. at Family Wash —MICHAEL McCALL


PAT BENATAR W/LENNON The ’80s featured more than its share of tough rock chicks, but only the opera-trained Benatar consistently went multi-platinum and crossed over to the pop charts. By blending a punk-inspired look with simple-as-can-be pop-metal arrangements, she rose to fame with tough-girl anthems like “Heartbreaker” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” before graduating to social-commentary tunes like “Love Is a Battlefield.” Her multi-octave voice, still a thing of wonder at age 54, gave personality and punch to the one-dimensional songs of her husband, guitarist Neil Geraldo, and keeps them in rotation on classic-rock radio. Although she’s continued to record, expect the set to concentrate on familiar oldies. Opening is former Hendersonville resident Lennon Murphy—who records under her first name—and whose ferocious hard rock stomp gains complexity from the lyrical depth of her songs. 7 p.m. at Wildhorse Saloon —MICHAEL McCALL



THE RENTALS After spending three years in Leiper’s Fork, Tenn., making a self-titled solo album that was only supposed to take a couple weeks, Rentals frontman Matt Sharp thought he might like some bandmates to keep him on task. Unlike the last incarnation of these catchy power-pop mavens, Sharp’s replaced the revolving door lineup with a steady band. Last month, they ended an eight-year recording hiatus with the release of The Last Little Life EP. All four songs reprise those winning Rentals elements: infectious melodies, plucky new-wave keyboards, touches of strings and great boy/girl backing vocals and harmonies. The highlight is a bubbly, self-deprecatory number in which Sharp bemoans all his worldly ambitions, short-circuited by a “date with procrastination” and the fortune to have gotten a “Life Without a Brain.” If indeed it’s autobiographical, the supple warmth of this EP is enough to forgive Sharp’s sins, so long as a full-length is forthcoming. 7 p.m. at City Hall. —CHRIS PARKER


THE BLASTERS Along with X and Los Lobos, these working-class barnburners gave the Los Angeles punk rock scene of the early ’80s a credible grounding in American roots music. A propulsive live band, The Blasters drew deeper than their peers on rockabilly and jump blues. Singer Phil Alvin’s exaggerated bravado fit the band’s concise yet swaggering sound perfectly. The lineup has continually evolved over the years—the departure of guitarist and songwriter Dave Alvin still matters most—but the band’s rep and deep catalog always attract top trad-rock players. That’s certainly the case now with John Bazz on bass, Jerry Angel on drums and Keith Wyatt on guitar. Their intermittent tours rarely reach Nashville, but few bands coming to town understand and respect the city’s music history as much as these guys. 9 p.m. at Mercy Lounge —MICHAEL McCALL

Shades of Black Theatre Festival

CRYIN‘ SHAME The first scheduled production in this local fest is Nairobi Cafe Theatre’s exploration of life in the ’hood at a hole-in-the-wall convenience store, where the proprietor runs a numbers racket. Local boyz come and go, exposing us to the weightier issues that affect their lives, including prison, rape, cancer, violence, drugs and more. Javon Johnson’s script is a talky piece, more about character than plot, though dramatic things certainly happen along the way. Director Stella Reed gives her players a wide berth in working the histrionics. The results are mixed, but there are patches of power in the performances of Kenny Dozier, Rodrikus Springfield and Rashad Rayford. A precocious youngster, Jordan James Woodard also proves to be remarkably poised. Through Sept. 2 at Darkhorse Theater —MARTIN BRADY


CHEVELLE A Chicago-based alt-metal trio, Chevelle recorded their debut, Point #1, with Steve Albini, and their muscular, lock-step rhythms pegged them as Helmet imitators. The trio of Loeffler brothers (Joe, Sam and Pete) endured some label troubles, and it took more than three years to finally release Wonder What’s Next, with its huge hit single “Send the Pain Below.” This mid-tempo Modern Rock® ballad features a more modulated attack than much of the album (aside from the angst-y middle break), playing on Pete’s fine tortured croon. During a break between tours for their 2005 follow-up, This Kind of Thinking (Could Do Us In), they fired bassist Joe, replacing him with their brother-in-law Dean Bernardini. Their April release, Vena Sera, features more throbbing, Tool-indebted, bottom-heavy churn, but it’s even more melodic—sounding almost emo on “Saferwaters” and charting with another slow, swooning, radio-ready ballad, “Well Enough Alone.” 8 p.m. at Rcktwn —CHRIS PARKER


LEND ME A TENOR Ken Ludwig’s popular comedy is set in 1934 at the Cleveland Opera, where a high-maintenance Italian tenor is suddenly unable to perform the role of Othello. An unlikely replacement steps in with farcical results. Lydia Bushfield directs this production, which features Robin Daugherty, Kim Nygren, Buddy Raper and Martha Wilkinson. Through Oct. 6 at Chaffin’s Barn Dinner Theatre —MARTIN BRADY



MUSIC CITY J.A.M. An acronym for “Jazz and More,” this weekend’s J.A.M. leans heavily toward the “and more”—not that there’s anything wrong with that. The jazz that is present is mostly of the smooth variety: Saturday’s “Guitars and Saxes” set features several smooth-jazz heavyweights (saxophonists Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum and guitarists Tim Bowman and Jeff Golub), and Sunday afternoon features Nashville six-string smoothie Denny Jiosa. With artists like George Huff, Jaci Velasquez, Ron Gutierrez and the Fisk Jubilee Singers, there should be plenty to entertain gospel and Christian music fans too. R&B mainstay Brian McKnight headlines Sunday night. Our recommendations: the always fabulous Jubilee Singers (Saturday), jazz singer April Barrows (Sunday) and Whalum, who also plays a set Sunday with his own group, and can go from smooth to Coltrane in the blink of an eye. For a complete schedule, go to visitmusiccity.com/musiccityJAM. Noon to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Riverfront Park —JACK SILVERMAN


WHITEY JOHNSON & BAND W/GARY NICHOLSON Musical alter egos can be a big-time flop (Chris Gaines anyone?), but monstrously successful songwriter Gary Nicholson’s albino Texas bluesman Whitey Johnson is an unqualified success. In part, that’s because his band—Colin Linden, who produced Johnson’s self-titled debut, provides second guitar, while veterans Tom Hambridge (drums) and Dave Roe (upright bass) form the muscular, minimalist rhythm section—are idiomatically perfect. It also doesn’t hurt that the songs, written mostly with similarly minded collaborators such as Linden, Guy Clark, Lee Roy Parnell, Delbert McClinton, Dan Penn and Donnie Fritts, are equally and deliciously true to form. Lastly, what seems to really drive Whitey Johnson is the somber commentary Nicholson offers on race, as on the album’s closing song, “Blues in Black and White.” So, while there’s plenty of finger-lickin’, guitar-pickin’ and blues-growlin’ fun to be had here, there’s a message too. 9:30 p.m. at The Bluebird —JON WEISBERGER

First Saturday

“ART-LUCK” Root. Beer. Floats. Are ya catchin’ me? Root beer floats, along with whatever dish you and others bring, will be served up with a refreshingly cutting-edge and dynamic mural painting from four of Minneapolis’ finest young artists. After the potluck, join members of the Downtown Presbyterian Church, The Viridian and Twist Gallery as they present the 80’ x 30’ mural, a collaborative effort among Twin Cities artists Drew Peterson, Isaac Arvold, John Grider and Eric Inkala. The artists bring an approachable yet forward-thinking perspective to our community. Their painting, though varied in style, maintains a cohesive ideology and form that make this group (and this mural) very appealing. 6 p.m. in the parking lot of Downtown Presbyterian Church —LISA DONOVAN

First Saturday

LADIES (AND GENTLEMAN) This month SQFT Gallery presents another of its highly successful exhibits of affordable illustrations and works on paper. The exhibit’s title refers the up-and-coming young artists—seven female and one male—featured in the show. Amy Ruppel describes her work as “painting with scissors and fire instead of a brush.” Her beeswax-layered digital prints, derived from photography, are completed with drawings etched into the wax, then smoothed with a propane torch. Appropriated vintage imagery, found objects, layering and recycling are common themes seen throughout the works. Former comedian and theater school dropout Ray Fennick is exhibiting some of his drawings and comics in the show. Can’t make it to the opening reception? Limited-edition prints and select artworks are now available for sale on the gallery’s website, sqftgallery.com. Through Sept. 28 at SQFT Gallery in the Arcade —BRITTANY CONNER

First Saturday

CONNECT 12 This exhibit, curated by Ben Vitualla, features the diverse works of 12 of Nashville’s longtime arts warriors. The goal of the exhibit is to educate the viewer about the history and continued growth of our local arts community. Painter Andee Rudloff has exhibited with Untitled Artists and Plowhaus Artists’ Cooperative, in addition to being involved with the successful Arts in the Airport program. Her dreamy landscapes are meant to reflect a sense of memory. Untitled’s husband-and-wife teams are also included in the September exhibit. Alesandra Bellos is “giving away her dreams” in a performance art piece at the opening reception. Her husband, Rick Bradley, is doing an interactive piece featuring monitors showing repeated imagery that explores the idea of machines expressing emotions. Eric Denton will exhibit his quirky photographs in the show alongside wife Tiffany Denton’s fiber collages. Audience participation is encouraged in three installations and one performance art piece. With the majority of Art at the Arcade spaces having stellar shows opening this month and the McKay Otto/Monica Cook show at TAG, downtown is the place to be this Saturday night. Opening reception 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 1 at Dangenart Gallery; runs through Sept. 28. —BRITTANY CONNER


CHTHONIC Though it’s often derided for its narrowness, death metal has, somewhere along the course of its evolution, paradoxically reached an ultimate pliability. Think about it—these days, bands fuse death metal to a variety of musical styles that are almost as far-reaching as the hybrids we’ve come to expect in jazz or electronica. Case in point is Taiwan’s Chthonic, who apply touches of both their native lore and traditional instrumentation to the all-too familiar growling and whitefaced church-burner aesthetic. Though the band certainly makes you wonder what it is about well-worn Western metal clichés that appeals to people overseas, it’s a refreshing, if somewhat painful, reminder that bad taste is universal. They look utterly ridiculous, but at least they mean to. While they’re busy playing up the melodrama, Chthonic also spice their death with melodicism, synths and traditional (though less technical) metal in the European operatic style. 9 p.m. at The Muse —SABY REYES-KULKARNISUNDAY 9/2


JUCIFER Like fire and ice, Jucifer frontwoman Amber Valentine’s breathy, somnambulant vocals drift through a snarling storm of crashing guitar distortion and scabrous six-string shrieks. Valentine is backed by Ed Livengood on drums, and together the Athens, Ga., duo have crashed and burned through three albums of noisy garage-blues in a dozen years. Their songs range from Melvins-worthy, slow-motion sludge (“She Tides the Deep”) to anguished, off-the-rails blues-boogie (“Antietam”) to spidery, angular squalls (“Pontius of Palia”). Valentine wrings an impressive clamor from her instrument, and her pretty, girlish voice is a nice counterpart to the musical bluster. Their latest, If Thine Enemy Hunger, is their best to date, finding a better mix of blistering guitar theatrics and appealing song structures. Live, they’re fueled by insistent wall-rattling throttle and shambling intensity. 8 p.m. at the End. —CHRIS PARKER

The Queen Holds Court

25TH ANNUAL MARION JAMES MUSICIANS’ REUNION James, Nashville’s Queen of the Blues, has been lending a helping hand to her fellow artists for as long as she can remember, whether she was running folks to the store or passing around the hat for a hometown hero fallen on hard times. Twenty-five years ago, she made it official, hosting the first of her Musicians’ Reunions to support those in need and remember those who had passed on. Over the years, the event has stoked the fires of Nashville’s R&B heritage: when the Country Music Hall of Fame assembled its landmark “Night Train to Nashville” exhibit and CD sets, many of its artists were noted mainstays of the Musicians’ Reunion. This year, alas, the heat is keeping James from cooking the soul-food supper that kept people coming back for years. But in the event’s new home at Jimmy Church’s downtown club The Place, there’ll be a full menu and cash bar available, along with the main course: smokin’ sets from the stalwarts of Music City soul, including guests of honor Earl Gaines (“It’s Love Baby”), Bobby Hebb (“Sunny”) and Robert Knight (“Everlasting Love”). Watch also for Johnny Jones, DeFord Bailey Jr., Sam Dismute and the 40 Plus Band, Rickey Godfrey, Hal Hardy from the Neptunes, Amy Watkins, Walter Hampton, Lady Diane—and of course the Queen herself, whose backing group the Queen’s Men serve as house band. Half the proceeds from the $10 tickets go toward lung cancer research, with the other half going to James’ Musicians’ Aid Society. The Place —JIM RIDLEY

Weekend Classics

5 X JLG: BAND OF OUTSIDERS Although world cinema has lost several towering figures this summer—Bergman, Antonioni, Ousmane Sembene, Edward Yang—we still have Jean-Luc Godard, one of the giants who defined art movies for a generation. Through September, the Belcourt revisits the French New Wave director’s creative damburst of the 1960s, when the next groundbreaking Godard film was as eagerly awaited as the new Beatles, Bob Dylan or Miles Davis LP. The series starts with Band of Outsiders, his 1964 gangster fantasia—a breathless jumble of film allusions, literary shout-outs and exuberant pop-culture riffing centered on two popgun outlaws (Claude Brasseur and Sami Frey) and the woman (bewitching Anna Karina) who breezes along in their child’s-play thug life. It’s where Bertolucci’s The Dreamers got the impulse to sprint through the Louvre. It’s where Tarantino got the name for his production company. It’s where bossa-nova punk revivalists Nouvelle Vague got the video for their remake of Lords of the New Church’s “Dance with Me”—a reprise of the marvelous “impromptu” Madison line-dance the leads perform in a nightclub, a scene that’s probably sent thousands of teens to the Criterion DVD to copy the moves. Noon Sept. 1-2 at the Belcourt —JIM RIDLEY


Labor Day Hijinks

END OF SUMMER FESTIVAL Rumor has it, we’re looking at temperatures in the 80s this weekend. Hallelujah! What better way to celebrate the end of our own personal little August nightmare (I can’t sweat no more! I can’t!) than with traditional Labor Day pursuits like sittin’ outside, drinkin’, eatin’ and swayin’ to some laid-back tunes—oh, and you can peruse some art too, if you like. This year, the Metro Parks and Recreation Department, Arts in the Parks and the Convention and Visitors Bureau are sponsoring an outdoor fest o’ fun in honor of our out-going mayor Bill Purcell. Taking place on Centennial Park’s South Lawn (in front of the Parthenon), this all-day event will feature local art and music by more than a dozen acts including Luke Bryan, Dirt Drifters, Diamond Rio and Pam Tillis. Bring the white shoes—it’s your last chance. Noon-7 p.m. in Centennial Park —LEE STABERT


Dramatic Reading

HOLLERLULA The African American Playwrights Exchange (AAPEX) is an effort to unite and promote the work of black playwrights nationwide through a series of staged readings of unproduced plays. HollerLULA, authored by Washington, D.C., playwright Lois A. Wiley, is a comedic monologue recounting events at a funeral somewhere in the modern-day Deep South. The reading will be performed by noted Music City actress and teacher Helen Shute-Pettaway. Local AAPEX organizer Jaz Dorsey directs the presentation and the event includes remarks by local theater doyennes Persephone Felder-Fentress and Denice Hicks. eLIFE magazine out of Atlanta is planning a livestream broadcast of the reading. Previous AAPEX events happened earlier this year in Cincinnati, Atlanta and New York City. Admission is free. 7 p.m. at Fisk University’s Little Theater —MARTIN BRADY

Big (Not So) Easy

JOSE TORRES TAMA/THE CONE OF UNCERTAINTY: NEW ORLEANS AFTER KATRINA Faced with history’s darkest moments—calamities that strain the limits of comprehension—artists sometimes emerge with a stronger sense of who they are, where they’ve been and what they must do to help a dangerously tilted world regain its footing. For New Orleans performance artist Jose Torres Tama, that crucible is the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina—not the flood’s devastation so much as the abandonment of the city’s poor to homelessness, violence and suffering at the hands of federal incompetence. In his multimedia performance piece, the former French Quarter fire-juggler draws upon personal anecdotes, film projections, and the influences of voodoo culture, magic realism and his Latino heritage to evoke the city after the levees broke, culminating in his own escape from the embattled Big Easy by stolen school bus. Torres Tama will appear twice next week on the Vanderbilt campus, starting with a keynote address Tuesday regarding the relevancy of performance art, his work and his personal, political and cultural identity. But the main attraction will be his solo performance Thursday, Sept. 6, at the Sarratt Gallery, augmented by a curated show featuring the work of New Orleans photographers Michel Varisco, Bryce Lankard, Eric Waters and Edgar M. Sierra Jimenez. Lecture 6 p.m. Sept. 4 at Vanderbilt’s Ingram Studio Arts Center, with reception to follow; performance 7 p.m. Sept. 6 in the Sarratt Gallery —LISA DONOVAN


Cool Jazz Combats Global Warming

COURTYARD CONCERT: DENIS SOLEE-JIM HOKE JAZZ QUARTET Not only can Jim Hoke play most any kind of instrument, he can play it almost any way you want: golden-era swing in the big band he fronted around town for years, lounge psychedelia in his Aqua Velvet side project with Randy Leago, modern classical with a European bent in his chamber group Otto—and that’s not counting his myriad sessions and sideman gigs with everyone from Emmylou Harris and Faith Hill to Jimmy Buffett and Vince Gill. This free lunchtime concert in the downtown Nashville Public Library’s courtyard is a keen antidote to triple-digit heat: a chance to hear saxmen Hoke and Denis Solee play straight-up jazz along the lines of the old Gerry Mulligan-Paul Desmond throwdowns—a rare enough commodity in Nashville clubs as it is. The rhythm section is Charlie Chadwick on bass and Bob Mater on drums. Bring a lunch, pick a shady bench and save your coins for the musicians, not the fountain. 11:30 at the Nashville Public Library —JIM RIDLEY

Kiss Kiss, Twang Bang

“PULP RADIO” It’s been a big month for Radio Free Nashville, WRFN-98.9 LPFM—Music City’s community radio station can now reach more than 10 times as many listeners. To paraphrase ZZ Top: they’re bad, they’re countywide. It’s all thanks to a new agreement that has them broadcasting over the secondary audio program on Metro’s educational iQ TV Channel 10. (Hit the audio setup on your remote, enable “SAP” and see if that does the trick.) It functions like a DVD commentary track to the TV programming, which some viewers are using for a kind of Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz effect; more importantly, it gets Radio Free Nashville into an estimated 750,000 Comcast households in Middle Tennessee. If you haven’t tuned in yet, there’s no better intro to RFN’s mix of homegrown music, talk and public-affairs programming than pulp-country chanteuse Kristi Rose’s Wednesday-drivetime show—a sultry back holler where Bobbie Gentry coolly nods to Ike & Tina Turner and murder ballads co-exist in fragile peace with old gospel 78s and contemporary Americana. For a full schedule, visit radiofreenashville.org. 5-6 p.m. on WRFN-98.9 LPFM —JIM RIDLEY


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