Our Critics' Picks 

Asylum Street Spankers, Underwear! The Musical, Brian Posehn, Kristy Kruger, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Dr. Matthew Sleeth and more



ASYLUM STREET SPANKERS There’ll never be a time when the serious nonsense dished up by this eight-person vaudeville troupe from Austin, Texas, won’t be needed. The hard-touring group debuted What? And Give Up Show Biz?, a musical revue, in New York City in January. The New York Times called the show a cross between Marx Bros. and John Belushi. The Spankers are also expanding into the ever-growing field of children’s music with the recent release Mommy Says No! When the kids grow up, the parents ween them onto the band’s more adult material, starting with the classic roll call anthem, “Beer.” 7 p.m. at 3rd & Lindsley —WERNER TRIESCHMANN

Dance Music

FUNKY GOOD TIME A wise man once said “I got a thing, you got a thing—everybody’s got a thing.” Well, if classic funk over classy cocktails is your thing, then this is your jam. The last Thursday of every month, Bound’ry hosts a round-robin soul explosion with your favorite DJs’ favorite DJs (Coolout, D-Funk, Geezus, Bowls and Radski) playing short sets of crate-digging classics. Consider this a warm-up for the Sharon Jones show on Saturday—get loose, get limber and get down. 9 p.m. at Bound’ry —SEAN L. MALONEY

Hebrews & Hillbillies

SHALOM Y’ALL In honor of its exhibit Bagels & Barbecue: The Jewish Experience in Tennessee (through Feb. 3), the Tennessee State Museum hosts a screening of Brian Bain’s award-winning documentary, in which the filmmaker explores his roots as a third-generation Southern Jew. Stay for bagels and lox, kosher cakes and popcorn. The event is free with limited seating; to RSVP, call 741-9255. 6-8:30 p.m. at Tennessee State Museum —JIM RIDLEY


THE GOAT OR, WHO IS SYLVIA? By staging the Nashville premiere of Edward Albee’s controversial 2002 Tony Award winner, Tennessee Rep continues with its plan to present quality small-cast fare with high-art possibilities—and thus meet the precipitous fiscal demands of professional Equity theater. Director Rene Copeland’s ensemble features well-respected players—Matthew Carlton, Ruth Cordell, Henry Haggard—and together they confront Albee’s tale of a married, middle-aged architect whose life crumbles when he falls in love...with a goat. During a talk at Vanderbilt in late 2007, Albee, master of absurd realism, decried contemporary theater—it’s not as daring as it once was. Yet there’s plenty of room today for this stimulating rumination on bestiality and civilized society. Theatergoers under the age of 18 will not be admitted. Jan. 31-Feb. 16 in TPAC’s Johnson Theater —MARTIN BRADY


UNDERWEAR! THE MUSICAL This musical, sponsored by MTSU’s theater department, is touted as witty and irreverent, poignant and hilarious—and if it’s even one or two of those, the kids might be on to something. The story is set in the not-so-distant future: Piper Smallton (raised in a ’50s-style commune) leaves her poodle-skirted past to pursue a career in the fashion industry. The naive young lady encounters a brave new world where food comes in pill form, no one under 35 uses a last name and models are forbidden to read. Our heroine sets out to teach everyone their ABCs, while foiling the evil plans of her conniving boss, Patricia Pezon, who hopes to take over the world with mind-controlling underwear called the Erectric 3000. The score is rather Rent-ish, with a solid dash of pop empowerment, a little Weill and some ’50s rock thrown in for seasoning. For information, visit underwearthemusical.com. Jan. 31 & Feb. 1-2 in MTSU’s Tucker Theatre —MARTIN BRADY


BRIAN POSEHN There aren’t that many out there in the indie landscape willing to shout it loud and shout it proud: “ I LOVE METAL!” The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle is one, and comedian Brian Posehn is certainly another. This blond, balding, bespectacled, self-proclaimed nerd—and member of the Comedians of Comedy crew—has recently made us giggle as one half of the dysfunctional gay stoner duo on The Sarah Silverman Program. Just don’t make him try Tab. Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at Zanies —LEE STABERT


Tour of Duty

KRISTY KRUGER Singer-songwriter Kristy Kruger’s brother was killed in Iraq, after only one day stationed in Baghdad. Since then, she has embarked on her own tour of duty, attempting to perform a concert in his honor in each of the 50 states, and Tennessee is the 18th. Proceeds from the dates benefit Fisher House, which cares for wounded veterans. For information on Kruger’s project, visit kristykruger.com. 8 p.m. at Christopher’s Pizza —LEE STABERT


THE SELMANAIRES Atlanta quartet The Selmanaires’ new album The Air Salesmen is filled with the kind of geeky, ultra-nerd reference points that make record-store clerks giddy. It inspires eye-rolling diatribes of collector-babble, the kind rife with flowery phrases such as “psychedelic afro-motor punk” and “Eno-influenced disco dub.” Oddly enough, it also has the sing-along choruses and hip-shaking rhythms that make normal, rational people actually give a shit—think The Dirtbombs’ King’s Led Hat. And Music City is in for a double dose this weekend: The Selmanaires perform at The Basement’s anniversary party on Friday night, followed by an afternoon in-store on Saturday. 8 p.m. at The Basement; 4 p.m. Saturday at Grimey’s. For more on The Basement’s anniversary show, see the story on p. 58. —SEAN L. MALONEY

Great Performances

THE TEAM Vanderbilt’s Great Performances Series simply won’t stop exposing Nashville audiences to unusual, cutting-edge theatricals. This New York City troupe’s mission is to dissect and celebrate the experience of living in contemporary America. Their original works are staged with aggressive athleticism and inspired by diverse material, ranging from fiction, critical theory and dramatic lit to images taken from art and film. The Team’s offering Particularly in the Heartland, directed by Rachel Chavkin, is a fantastical journey to Kansas—where parents vanish, aliens grow in cornfields, New Yorkers fall from the sky and dead presidents stop by for Christmas dinner. A Performance-on-the-Move (POM) preview event will be held, 6-8 p.m. Jan. 31 at Estel Gallery. 8 p.m. at Ingram Hall —MARTIN BRADY


CHRIS CROFTON As the standout representative of Nashville’s meager comedy scene, Chris Crofton employs a Bill Hicks-meets-Sam Kinison style that’s both charming and wickedly vulgar. Crofton paces, drinks and swears as he riffs and proselytizes on the travesties of pop culture and politics. His routine is pure stream of consciousness, laden with non sequiturs and disdain for conventional wisdom—as well as the hipster trendsetters who never fail to show up for his act. Also on the bill, Alcohol Stuntband cover band Sophisticated Arab Woman—they’re from Europe. Local folk-pop youngsters Eureka Gold open up. 9:30 p.m. at The End —D. PATRICK RODGERS

Classical Jazz

JANE MONHEIT Jane Monheit sings cocktail jazz with compelling richness when paired with a small combo. But she’s proven repeatedly that her luscious voice becomes a gloriously nuanced instrument with the aid of lush strings and the wide sonic palette of a classically trained orchestra. At 31, she already has a decade of experience on the New York cabaret circuit, where she’s immensely popular. She sings jazz and pop standards with uptown elegance rather than downtown abandon, and she brings a sumptuous tone and air of grace to whatever she does. Her appearance with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra offers an early valentine to the city. 8 p.m. at Schermerhorn Symphony Center —MICHAEL MCCALL


JONESWORLD MARDI GRAS SHOW You may have seen Todd Austin (a.k.a. Toddzilla) towering over 21st Avenue on a billboard last year—he was the one in the loud purple suit levitating a guitar. Jones’ funk-rock band is equally larger-than-life. At any given moment there may be 20 people on stage—and just as many waiting in the wings—but the core remains Austin, his big-voiced wife Tara, bassist Randy Woods and drummer Matt Green. Last year they put out punchy full-length A Thing of Booty, which takes a lesson or two from Prince, Morris Day, Van Halen and Parliament Funkadelic, proving there’s formidable musicianship beneath all the theatricality. For live shows, JonesWorld rolls out outlandish costumes, dancers, a six-piece horn section and all manner of bizarre decorations. Rumor has it there may even be a stripper pole this time—very Mardi Gras-appropriate. 9 p.m. at The Rutledge —JEWLY HIGHT


ALMOST, MAINE After a successful 2004 debut in his home state of Maine, John Cariani’s play, set in a remote fictional town, made its way to New York in 2006, and was greeted with generally positive reviews. Tennessee Women’s Theater Project presents the Nashville premiere, under the direction of Maryanna Clarke. Four actors—Patrick Kramer, Nettie Kraft, Keri Pisapia and Shane Bridges—inhabit nearly 20 roles in vignettes that embrace innocence, hope and romance in the unpredictable spirit of magical realism. Critics have attacked the play for its stereotypical, flannel-wearing characters, its clichéd approach to relationships and its discernible saccharine quotient. The bottom line seems to be that good New England syrup is simply a matter of taste. The playwright completed a fresh rewrite on one of the scenes just for this production. Feb. 1-16 in Looby Theatre —MARTIN BRADY

Granting Wishes

WISHING: A GALA RECEPTION & CONCERT The charitable equivalent of a fairy godmother, the Make-A-Wish Foundation fulfills the dreams of young people with life-threatening illnesses—and for this event, the young participants’ fondest wish is to do nothing more than feed, serve and entertain guests. With a panel of top-flight chefs from Whole Foods Market, Wish Kid chefs Jillian Pasley, Kiel Hamil, Brittany Walker and Quinten Moore devised a menu of lip-smacking hors d’oeuvres. While you’re snarfing those, against the backdrop of Wish Kid Elise Reinfeldt’s décor, enjoy performances by Wish Kid’s Aaron Browning—with his super punk trio Kindergarten Circus (there’s my wish granted already)—and Paige Armstrong, as well as an acoustic jam led by Montgomery Gentry’s Troy Gentry. Reservations are $125; RSVP online at storiesofflight.net or by calling 259-2324 ext. 15. 7 p.m. at Musicians Hall of Fame, 301 6th Ave. S. —JIM RIDLEY


BILL LLOYD & PETER HOLSAPPLE Both these songwriters know their way around a three-minute pop tune. Lloyd hooked up with Radney Foster and penned “Since I Found You” for Sweethearts of the Rodeo. The first album of a three-album deal with RCA in the late ’80s produced a string of hits and a bar they’d not match again. Since going solo, Lloyd’s released a handful of catchy power pop albums and hired out his guitar hand. Holsapple’s a fellow lover of jangly guitars and bright melodies, which he offered in spades as half of the dBs with Chris Stamey. They were a college radio staple in the early ’80s, but their infectious Big Star-inspired bounce found more critical than commercial success. 9:30 p.m. at Bluebird Café —CHRIS PARKER

Bluegrass Bounty

SPBGMA WEEKEND AT STATION INN The Station Inn always tries to tempt out-of-towners attending the annual Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America shindig by offering a stellar lineup, and this weekend’s no exception, with a brand-new, buzz-heavy act sandwiched between two veterans with revamped lineups. Thursday features revitalized vocal powerhouse IIIrd Tyme Out, who surround incomparable lead singer Russell Moore’s voice with muscular harmonies. The quintet now includes finesse mandolinist Wayne Benson, as well as excellent tenor singer and bass player Edgar Loudermilk. On Saturday, Hall of Fame banjo legend J. D. Crowe holds court. Already a winner with his Grammy-nominated Lefty’s Old Guitar—the disc took an Album of the Year trophy at the IBMA awards in October—the pride of Lexington, Ky., brings a new fiddler in the exuberant Steve Thomas and the quietly superb work of John Bowman on bass and vocals. Look for Friday night to be especially busy as Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent, former members of Doyle Lawson’s and Ricky Skaggs’ bands, respectively, bring their new group in to celebrate the release of their self-titled Rounder debut. Dailey and Vincent are intent on reviving the duet tradition, and their voices blend like bourbon and branch water. The disc alternates well-crafted full band numbers with stark duets by the two principals, serving up selections that range from old-time, acoustic country to driving bluegrass with equal conviction; one of the year’s earliest, it may well turn out to be one of its best. Thursday-Saturday at Station Inn —JON WEISBERGER


One-Man Show

INCOGNITO Chicago’s Michael S. Fosberg is a writer, actor, director and teacher. In his early 30s, Fosberg learned a startling truth: He was black. This surprise revelation propelled him into a journey of self-discovery rife with issues of diversity, history, divorce, adoption and fatherhood. His one-man show, presented with humor and appropriate irony, unfolds as a mystery and reflects the subject matter back to its audience, who are urged to make their own discoveries about themselves, and to ponder their own perceptions of identity, race and stereotypes. 7:30 p.m. at the Scarritt-Bennett Center —MARTIN BRADY

Black History Month

BLACK FAMILY HERITAGE CONFERENCE HISTORICAL TOUR If you’re looking for a way to honor Black History Month without sitting through yet another earnest PBS series, this educational road trip might be the answer. “Freedom’s Roads: Traveling West” is this year’s theme for the annual tour hosted by the African American Genealogical and Historical Society of Tennessee. The tour will visit Fayette, Lauderdale and Shelby counties, and will include sites such as Ft. Pillow-Black Union, Tent City, Elwood Cemetery, the Haley House in Henning and a Freedmen’s School. The all-day bus trip is free and open to the public, and will feature a lecture by Verlon Malone. For more information, contact Tommie Morton-Young at 299-5626. 8 a.m. at Looby Branch Library —MARIA BROWNING

Black History Month

A CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM Mention school desegregation, and most Nashvillians think of the busing battles of the early 1970s, but the movement toward educational equality actually began in the fall of 1957, when the first enrollment of black children in white schools provoked segregationists to bomb Hattie Cotton Elementary. The documentary A Child Shall Lead Them, written by John Egerton with Rachel Lawson and narrated by John Seigenthaler, examines those early days of integration from the perspective of the children involved. Students featured in the film will be among the guests at a reception following the screening. 2 p.m. at the Main Library Auditorium —MARIA BROWNING


SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE Before guitarist Ben Chasny joined psychedelic freak-out Comets on Fire, he crafted smaller scale compositions as the musical auteur behind Six Organs of Admittance. Alternately sparse and sprawling, Six Organs’ sound weaves between nuanced acoustic guitar with hints of singer-songwriter to droney, sometimes Middle Eastern-tinged psychedelia. The ninth Six Organs full-length, Shelter From the Ash, finds Chasny leaning a little more heavily on the former. While the songs are a bit calmer this time around, Chasny’s picking is still highlighted by a tense and ominous undercurrent that threatens to overrun the tranquility at any moment. 9 p.m. at The End —MATT SULLIVAN

Dance Party

CHINESE NEW YEAR The Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville’s Lion Dance & Drumming Performing Team will make a series of local appearances (Nashville and Murfreesboro) in celebration of Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb. 7. (FYI: It’s the Year of the Rat.) Performances begin at area restaurant venues on Feb. 2 and continue Feb. 3, 9 and 10. For information about these and other scheduled family-friendly New Year’s events, visit chineseartsalliance.org. —MARTIN BRADY

Musical Relief

BENEFIT FOR LORNA FLOWERS Less than a year ago, Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko—an attack on America’s health care industry—helped highlight our staggering number of uninsured and underinsured citizens. Nashville-based U.K. songwriter Lorna Flowers shares a similar predicament with many of the film’s subjects. Recently diagnosed with breast cancer, Flowers, like most other Nashville songwriters, has no health insurance. Seeking to offset the ghastly cost of treatment, surgery and recovery, this benefit at the Commodore Sports Lounge (located inside West End Holiday Inn Select) will feature performances by Rivers Rutherford, Tony Lane, David Lee, Benita Hill and too many others to list. Autographed memorabilia from other popular artists will also be up for auction. 7 p.m. at Commodore Sports Bar —SETH GRAVES

Different Kind of Demo

VINTAGE GIBSON MANDOLIN ORCHESTRA PRESENTATION FEAT. DAVID HARVEY & TIM MAY Given the recent news about Gibson’s merger with a Danish audio firm, David Harvey and Tim May’s presentation of vintage instruments made by the company is particularly timely. While the pair can wander deep enough into the thickets of historical design and construction to satisfy even the geekiest of an admittedly geeky bunch of devotees, they’re also articulate enough to keep it lively and savvy enough to move along before eyes start to glaze over. More importantly, both are players for whom the word “virtuosic” is hardly adequate, since their considerable skills are invariably deployed in the service of taste, not bombast. Musical interludes range from Harvey’s delicate “Late Waltz” to David Grisman’s “E.M.D.,” Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages” and beyond. 1:30 pm at The Gibson Retail Store, Opry Mills —JON WEISBERGER

Fast Car

HELL ON WHEELS: MARTY ROBBINS AT THE RACETRACK The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s ongoing Marty Robbins exhibit takes a pit stop to examine his auto-racing career in this panel discussion. Hell on Wheels: Marty Robbins at the Racetrack pulls in photos from racing historian Russ Thompson’s collection and audio clips featuring the author of 1959’s “El Paso” talking about his passion for the sport. Thompson will be joined by Marty’s son Ronny Robbins and Bob Reuther, who drove a car the singer sponsored. It should offer a look at the fascinating intersection of two careers and a glimpse into a vanished Nashville, where the likes of Robbins and fellow driver Coo Coo Marlin delighted fans on Saturday nights at the Fairgrounds Speedway. In 1968, Robbins cut short a race at the Speedway to hop downtown to the Ryman and hit the Opry stage on time. He was winning, too. 2 p.m. at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Ford Theater —EDD HURT


SCOTT SIMONTACCHI AND JULIE LEE’S MY BIRD’S EYE VIEW This month, two of the local bluegrass scene’s brightest lights shine a spot on their visual art work. Lee is becoming as well-known for her found-object sculptures as she is for her musical talent and Simontacchi is also a musical force—burdened with a serious shutterbug habit. For Bird’s Eye, he takes his visual work to a new level, creating a stop-action film casting Lee’s assemblages as his stars. Make sure to stick around to hear the two songsters swap tunes. Between them, these two artists have worked with everyone from Alison Krauss and Ricky Skaggs, to Sam Bush and Ralph Stanley. This being Nashville, don’t be surprised if a guest or two drops by. Through Feb. 23 at Twist Gallery; opening reception, 6-9 p.m. —JOE NOLAN

TONY HERNANDEZ The lovely, inscrutable faces of the children at the center of Tony Hernandez’s paintings are almost Buddha-like, possessing a capacity for reflection that seems beyond their years. Though the works in this show, on 4-by-4-foot Baltic birch panels, are created with encaustic and oil, they have an almost airbrushed quality, as if hazy images in a dream. Like classic nursery rhymes, the Atlanta artist’s works walk the fine line between sweet and creepy. In fact, each figure seems to suggest it’s own narrative, hidden somewhere in the wood-grained background. (One of Hernandez’s figures is featured on the CD cover for Train’s Drops of Jupiter.) Through Feb. 23 at Tinney + Cannon Contemporary; opening reception, 6-9 p.m. A “Collectors’ Evening,” featuring Hernandez and guest speaker Lois Riggins-Ezell, deputy director of the Tennessee State Museum, takes place Friday; RSVP to 255-7816. —JACK SILVERMAN

JOSH KEYES, JOHN CASEY & DAVID MCCLISTER On the move again, TAG opens it’s latest show at 83 Arcade Building, former home of Dangenart Gallery. John Casey and Josh Keyes are both California-based artists and TAG favorites. Casey’s sculpture explores human forms that include unexpected aberrations of scale, shape and texture. In his drawings this exploration really comes into it’s own, recalling the imaginative obsessions of a boy creating monsters. Keyes’ drawings and paintings look like pages torn from wildlife journals and architects’ notebooks, but they document a future where wild nature and civilization have come to a new disturbing balance. Fact meets fiction in They Live By Night, David McClister’s photo-documentary exploring the plutonium-dosing of unwitting civilians by the U.S. Army as part of the Manhattan Project. Runs through Feb. 23 at TAG Art Gallery; opening reception, 6-9 p.m. —JOE NOLAN

DESI MINCHILLO’S BITS & PIECES The work of this New York-based artist, new to Estel Gallery, pops with an optimistic babble of color and detail. Minchillo cuts pieces of paper, plastic and found material into repetitive patterns that she assembles to build up a three-dimensional surface—she started out as an architect and retains some of that profession’s approach to model-making. She uses exquisitely bright colors and patterns like flower forms that—along with the dense detail—lend everything a psychedelic, animated quality. Through March 8 at Estel Gallery; opening reception 6-9 p.m. —DAVID MADDOX


THE NOBILITY W/TURNCOATS & TOMMY AND THE WHALE Aging hipsters disenchanted with the state of modern pop music will no doubt find solace in the romantic retro infatuation of a handful of local bands championing the sharp melodies and cheerful wit of the British Invasion. The Nobility channel an eerily accurate Music City incarnation of Ray Davies. The Turncoats crank out some old school sock hop pop ’n’ roll that clings to the soul like a vintage sweater vest. Tommy and the Whale play the kind of sleepy, glossy pop Americana you can listen to with your Dad, and Atlanta’s Sovus Radio would be better suited opening up for psychedelic British troubadour Donovan. 9 p.m. at Exit/In —SETH GRAVES



CEPHALIC CARNAGE No one else in metal walks the line between terror and humor with as much flair as this five-piece grindcore powerhouse from Denver. Perhaps it’s all the hydro-grade pot they smoke, but the band somehow manages to make your blood run cold while also getting you to laugh your ass off. It’s not that they don’t really believe in government experiments on its own citizens and extraterrestrial plots to breed with humans, it’s just that, while confronting these hard truths, the band comes off more like metal’s answer to the Scooby Doo gang than a bunch of freaked-out paranoids. But make no mistake, as the band goofs and tokes its way through its X Files-inspired material, it rocks harder, and with more intensity than 90 percent of the extreme-metal competition. Getting your mind fucked never felt so creepy and fun. 8 p.m. at The Anchor —SABY REYE-KULKARNI

Mass(hole) Gathering

SUPERBOWL XLII AT BATTER’D AND FRIED Clam Chowdah, Sam Adams and a bunch of Massholes making fun of the Mannings—it’s the perfect way to end a perfect season. Eli Manning is a second-string goober and The Giants are going back to Jersey in tears. Bill Belichick is an evil genius dressed like a soccer mom, Tom Brady impregnates supermodels daily—throw in Randy Moss and they combine to form a giant, record-breaking robot that crushes opponents like matchbox cars on a movie set. Let’s hope the cameras catch the Mommy Dearest moment between Archie and Eli as the Pats lift the Lombardi Trophy for the fourth time this decade. That would be wicked pissah. 6:17 p.m. at Batter’d Fried Boston Seafood House —SEAN L. MALONEY


African choral music

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO Some 22 years have passed since this Grammy-winning South African a cappella group were introduced to America through Paul Simon’s Graceland. Their smooth, sustained folk harmonies are the polished opposite of Fela Kuti’s raw, undulating, African funk, and they continue to sound best when sticking to their refined, one-of-a-kind sound. Leader Joseph Shabala founded the group in 1964, and by 1973 they’d perfected their style: seven bass voices humming a deep bed of pulsing rhythm, a tenor punctuating the low moans with soulful wails and percussive clicks, all propping up Shabala’s hushed, spiritually inclined leads. 2008’s Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu is a reverent return to their roots after several albums featuring Western sounds and collaborators. Shabala recently announced he’d retire in the summer 2008, so consider this a last-chance victory lap to see the group with its original leader. 8 p.m. at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center —MICHAEL MCCALL



MANDO SAENZ Over the course of his new album Bucket, Mando Saenz entertains second thoughts about airplane travel, wonders if he’s merely “a poster of a man with a holster” and loses his pride in Pittsburgh. A Texan recently relocated to Nashville, Saenz sings in a sun-dazed tenor perfectly suited to his cryptic and unabashedly romantic songs. Bucket benefits from R.S. Field’s big, bold production, which finds room for dulcimer and Stones-y guitar. The record sounds mild until you listen closely. “Pocket of Red,” written with Kim Richey (and featuring Richey on vocals), rocks like glam Americana, and “In the Back of Your Mind” features a spiffy guitar break that suggests Tom Petty imitating Roger McGuinn. It’s a sharp record—the quietly tortured “A Touch Is All” is a song about how your favorite song can’t revive a lost love, or a town you once called home. 7 p.m. at the Basement —EDD HURT


LORI MCKENNA This Boston-bred songwriter’s first three albums worked her plaintive ache against relatively spare country-folk arrangements. The keenly sketched portraits of marriage doldrums (“Stealing Kisses”), relationship roulette (“What’s One More Time?”) and dreamers (“Fireflies”) recall Patty Griffin with their intimacy. Faith Hill was so impressed she used three of McKenna’s songs on 2005’s Fireflies. It was enough to secure McKenna a deal from Warner’s and Tim McGraw in the producer’s chair for Unglamorous. The anthemic title track trumpets “no frills, no fuss,” but the album’s more polished and sizable than anything McKenna’s released to date. Fortunately, it does nothing to dim the shine of McKenna’s writing, which is honest enough to sell love ballads like the excellent “Witness to Your Life.” 6 p.m. at Bluebird Café —CHRIS PARKER


Compassionate Conservatives

DR. MATTHEW SLEETH Evangelicalism’s obsession with homosexuality and abortion often obscures the good work done by some conservative Christians. Consider Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth, who left a successful medical practice—and a considerable chunk of the American Dream—for a life of anti-materialism and environmental action. Like similarly minded evangelicals (including Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, and National Association of Evangelicals’ vice president of governmental affairs Rev. Richard Cizik), Sleeth sees environmental issues as part and parcel of the conservative moral platform. The Bible’s message of stewardship and asceticism, he reasons, demands action in the face of pressing issues like global warming. In his book, Serve God, Save the Planet, Sleeth tells the story of his family’s downscaling, and the spiritual and emotional benefits to be gained by individual environmental responsibility. 4 p.m. at Vanderbilt’s Benton Chapel —PAUL V. GRIFFITH


JEFFERSON BASS Crime scene investigation is a perennial hot topic for lovers of murder mysteries, and Jefferson Bass literally cranks up the heat in the latest Bill Brock novel. In The Devil’s Bones, burned and decaying bodies litter the landscape as forensic anthropologist Brock is once again pitted against evil. Brock is the fictional alter ego of UT’s Dr. Bill Bass, whose legendary exploits at the real-life Body Farm form the basis of the Brock series. His literary teammate is writer Jon Jefferson. Together they have brought realism and a distinctly down-home touch to the CSI genre. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Brock alternate scientific discussions about cremation with riffs on the quality of biscuits at Cracker Barrel. 7 p.m. at Davis-Kidd Booksellers —CHRIS SCOTT


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