Our Critics' Picks 

Murder by Death, Reckless Kelly, The Moody Blues, Charles E. Cobb Jr., Dale Ann Bradley, The Annual Herb Sale, Drawings by Sculptors, Sam Davidson and more

THURSDAY 4/17

Road WarriorsNASHVILLE’S NEW SOUND AND VISION Music City Arts TV 9, one of the city’s two rejuvenated PEG channels, is in the process of unveiling an unprecedented slate of original local arts programming, including video rotation mixing local and regional bands and a 13-episode Nashville music series. Toward that end, the station has planned an on-air telethon studded with Nashville talent for May 24. In the meantime, check out this clever new program, which pairs still images by Nashville visual artists with music by local bands and composers: printmaker Lesley Patterson-Marx with ambient torch singer Cortney Tidwell, painter Lain York with experimental group Hands Off Cuba, digital-imaging explorer Teresa VanHatten-Granath with neo-folk troubadour Jimmy the Lung. 8 p.m. on Music City Arts TV 9; also 8:30 p.m. April 19 —JIM RIDLEY

Road WarriorsRECKLESS KELLY Reckless Kelly’s 2005 full-length Wicked Twisted Road was a concept record about all the trouble a Texas alt-country band could get into on tour. Singer and songwriter Willy Braun got the details right—the “hostage in a Delta skirt” the narrator of “Sixgun” grabs after a bungled bank robbery, the rueful acoustic guitars that colored the record’s more contemplative numbers. They play their Americana with a twist of boogie, and can sound pure country. They’ve recently switched labels and have a new collection entitled Bulletproof in the can. Early reports call it their most tuneful record yet, with Braun and Robert Earl Keen’s New Orleans lament “Godforsaken Town” a highlight. Far from being mindless road warriors, these hard-working guys have depth and an eye for detail, as in that song’s chilling line about “children in the treetops.” 8 p.m. at Exit/In —EDD HURT

Keeping ComposedTHIRD ANNUAL JAZZ WRITERS’ NIGHT Many Nashville writers’ nights feature Music Row songsmiths who can’t sing or play their way out of a paper bag—that’s why they’re “writers” and not “artists.” But this show will feature the excellent Nashville Jazz Orchestra playing compositions by some of the area’s finest jazz musicians, including Doug Moffet, Jeff Coffin, Socrates Garcia, Jamey Simmons and NJO director Jim Williamson. Trumpeter Rod McGaha is a special guest for the evening. 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. at Vanderbilt’s Ingram Hall —JACK SILVERMAN

MusicTHAD COCKRELL W/ROMAN CANDLE Radio-ready pop rock that doesn’t end up on the radio is usually far superior to the stuff that does. Roman Candle are no exception. Blending crisp, emotional songwriting with a slight rootsy bent, this Chapel Hill, N.C., quintet write music that is easy to love. (This Yankee became woefully addicted to “Well, I Wish I Was in New York” during one particularly homesick stretch last year.) Headlining is their good friend and Nashville’s best-kept secret Thad Cockrell. What ever that thing is that great singers have in their voice—the thing that breaks your heart—Cockrell has it in spades, and puts it to excellent use on his loose, clever trad country. 9 p.m. at Mercy Lounge —LEE STABERT

ArtFAITH WILDING Best known for multimedia projects ranging from 2D to video to performance, Faith Wilding addresses the social and psychic history of the body from a feminist perspective. Recently Wilding’s work has dealt with contemporary issues like cyberfeminism, biotechnology and new advances in reproductive medicine. Expect the artist to address these issues and more in this final installment of Watkins’ Visiting Artist Lecture Series. 7 p.m. at Watkins College of Art & Design; 6 p.m. reception —JOE NOLAN

Hot! Hot! Hot!MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL Seven years ago, this little musical with the big name debuted in Orlando, Fla. Since then, the show has developed a touring life in markets large and small, and has evolved into its own franchise focusing on women over 40, with publications, art shows and a nonprofit charity. Writer/producer Jeanie Linders created MTM as a celebration of women who are on the brink of, in the middle of, or have survived The Change. Hence, the (presumably) predominantly female audience can expect material riffing on both the humor and joy in hot flashes, night sweats, memory loss, chocolate, sex and more, all achieved through re-lyricized pop hits. The show features Patti Gardner, Cynthia Jones, Katie Anne Harper and Vita Corimbi as Earth Mother. The baby boomers might crawl out of the rafters for this one. Can E.D. the Musical be far behind? April 16-20 at TPAC’s Polk Theater —MARTIN BRADY

Symphony of SurvivorsNASHVILLE SYMPHONY: “AGAINST ALL ODDS” All three composers on this program share a common bond—Kurt Weill and Erich Korngold fled the Nazis because they were Jewish, while Aryan Paul Hindemith left Germany because of his Jewish wife. Further connecting the threads, exotic German-born vocalist Ute Lemper—who admits to a contentious relationship with her homeland’s complex history—will sing Weill and lyricist Bertolt Brecht’s The Seven Deadly Sins, with help from the Hudson Shad vocal ensemble. Also on the program: the prelude from Hindemith’s When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d and Korngold’s Symphony in F-sharp, Op. 40. 7 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday & Saturday at Schermerhorn Symphony Center —JACK SILVERMAN

 

FRIDAY 4/18

MusicNEW PORNOGRAPHERS W/OKKERVIL RIVER This is the kind of bill indie rock kids dream about when they’re tucked in their beds at night, skinny jeans in the closet, Converse tossed casually on the floor. Austin, Texas’ Okkervil River released one of last year’s most exuberant albums. The Stage Names is earnest and brash and really fucking heartbreaking. Frontman Will Sheff has a literary bent—accented by a clever streak—and a ragged, soaring delivery that perfectly matches the raw emotion encapsulated in all his songs’ carefully chosen words. Canadian indie pop stalwarts New Pornographers headline, touring in support of 2007’s Challengers, an album that also bursts with the ecstatic joy of making music. 9 p.m. at Cannery Ballroom —LEE STABERT

College!VANDERBILT’S RITES OF SPRING Those hefty tuition costs ain’t for nothin’: Vandy uses some of that dough to host the city’s only multi-genre festival, and this year’s lineup features bluegrass (Avett Brothers), pop-rock (Jeremy Lister), blues-rock (Grace Potter) and even aristocrunk (Lord T & Eloise)—come to think of it, this might be the crowd these Memphis high-rollers should have been playing to all along. But the headliners are where tickets ($35 a day/$45 for an advance weekend pass) for non-students will be well worth the price of admission. Friday night, go ga ga for indie royalty Spoon, and Saturday night, try getting your head around putting a sugary songstress (Feist) on right before the Dirty South’s loudest mouth (Lil Jon). 3 p.m. Friday & Saturday on Vanderbilt’s Alumni Lawn —TRACY MOORE

Civil RightsCHARLES E. COBB JR. If the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination has left you looking for some more inspiring civil rights history, look no further than Cobb’s recently published On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Movement. Conceived as a state-by-state travelogue of major events, the book also provides a broad, engaging account of the movement and its personalities. Cobb, an award-winning journalist, was a young activist in the tumultuous Mississippi voter registration campaign of the 1960s. On the Road to Freedom gives ample attention to Nashville’s civil rights history, from the nonviolence workshops led by Rev. James Lawson to the lunch counter sit-ins that ultimately desegregated downtown businesses. 12 p.m. at Nashville Public Library —MARIA BROWNING

MusicPATTERSON HOOD If there are any Drive-By Truckers fans out there who have yet to catch a Patterson Hood solo show, I have three words for you: Move. Your. Ass. Freed from the onslaught of his band’s excellent riff-heavy rock, Hood is a revelation—a songwriter with an eye for detail and charisma shooting out of every one of his ample whiskers. In addition to songs off his wistful solo debut Killers and Stars, expect plenty of Truckers classics and soon-to-be-classics off his upcoming (someday) sophomore solo effort. And don’t be surprised if there are some familiar faces in his backing band. 9 p.m. at Mercy Lounge —LEE STABERT

Green ThumbsLITTLE MARROWBONE FARM PLANT SALE Why in the hellebore would you ever pay full price when you can save up to 30 percent at this annual sale of perennials, herbs, greenhouse exotics, citrus, succulents, dwarf evergreens and garden accessories? Plants and gifts will be on sale all weekend, and owners Bill and Andrea Henry will be on hand to answer gardening questions. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon-4 p.m. Sunday at 1560 Little Marrowbone Road, Ashland City (792-7255) —CARRINGTON FOX

MusicTHE MOODY BLUES They’ve been critically marginalized by their association with prog rock’s excess, but it’s impossible to deny The Moody Blues’ enormous influence. Their blend of British folk and orchestral elegance dovetailed perfectly with San Francisco’s acid-folk movement and the recorded majesty of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. From 1967 to 1972 they released a string of seven fine albums defined by pie-eyed optimism, loose-limbed rootsy jams and big soaring harmonies. These songs epitomize the upbeat hippie attitude—which may have fueled the critical backlash—but it’s hard not to marvel at the beauty and grace of the arrangements in light of today’s far more overwrought twee acts. 8 p.m. at Ryman Auditorium —CHRIS PARKER

MusicDIXIE BEE-LINERS CD RELEASE SHOW There’s nothing that bluegrass audiences (or at least DJs) like better than a song about bluegrass, and Virginia’s Dixie Bee-Liners come right out of the chute with one on their Pinecastle Records debut Ripe. But the album’s real attraction lies in the quirky combination of distinctive lead singer Brandi Hart and her partner, guitarist Buddy Woodward. Both qualify in different ways as bluegrass “outsiders,” but the result is songs and performances equally informed by a love for the form and by sensibilities that range beyond the tried-and-true. So while Ripe may not be a knock-out—compared to their live shows, it’s a little tame—it’s a very cool announcement of a new group with something interesting to say. 9 p.m. at Station Inn —JON WEISBERGER

SATURDAY 4/19

ArtDRAWINGS BY SCULPTORS Part of what makes sculpture such a compelling medium is that it involves revelation of form through deletion of material. But this new exhibit of work by LeQuire Gallery artists focuses on the first step in the process, when an original idea takes shape on paper. Making use of pencil, charcoal, ink and crayon, the works in Drawings by Sculptors offer a unique insight into the artistic process, allowing viewers a glimpse into the artist’s imagination that is usually reserved for studio visitors. Drawings features work by Mike Andrews, Olen Bryant, Ted Jones, Murat Kaboulov, Alan LeQuire, Victor Schmidt and Scott Wise. Olen Bryant’s transcendent sketches date back to the 1950s and are the highlight of the show. April 19-May 24 at LeQuire Gallery; opening reception, 6-8 p.m. —JOE NOLAN

An (Art Show)THE RABBIT RELEASE PARTY Last September, a black-and-white zine called The (Rabbit) popped up around town. In the inaugural issue, the creators—local artists Casey Pierce, Leslie Guimereas and Lauren Jones—expressed hope that their efforts would act as “fertilizer” for inspiration on the local art scene. In a new art space/studio started by Veta Cicolello and Theo Antoniasdis, the upstart publication, now in color, celebrates its latest issue with an exhibit featuring eight artists, among them the aforementioned Pierce, Tracy Milum and Elizabeth Stanley. Meanwhile, dressmaker Hanna Hattori will display her work, Food Not Bombs will serve the former and a lineup of bands—including Darla Farmer, The Mattoid, Caitlin Rose, The Attack, The Early Evening and Robbin Mielke—will play throughout the evening. It would seem the fertilizer is working. 6 p.m. at 425 Chestnut St. —STEVE HARUCH

Pitchfork Fan FairMEET THE INDIE STARS TABLE AT GRIMEY’S BIG ASS SALE Traditionally Grimey’s Big Ass Sale is a beer-fueled blitz of buying that is part carnival, part family reunion, with the added bonus of awesome performances by some of the region’s best up-and-coming bands. Since this year’s sale coincides with the National Record Store Day festivities, the lovable Eighth Avenue crew has pulled out all the stops, including screenings of Juno, comedy by Chris “Best of Bread” Crofton and a “Meet the Indie Stars” table. At first we thought this table was going to be like the Three Stooges movie Time out for Rhythm, with the Silver Jews’ David Berman playing Moe, Will “Bonnie Prince Billy” Oldham in the role of Larry and freak-folker Wooden Wand dressed like Curly dressed as Carmen Miranda. But the inclusion of the stoney sprouts from the Infinity Cat Records crew and Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner made us realize that this will be more like those Scooby Doo episodes with the Stooges as co-stars and Mike Grimes in the role of the dastardly amusement park owner. It’s the perfect activity to go with your Saturday morning wake-and-bake—nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. 12 p.m. at The Basement —SEAN L. MALONEY

The Kind BudTHE ANNUAL HERB SALE Get ready to body-slam any dowager who even looks at that last pot of lamb’s ear as the Herb Society of Nashville hosts its annual plant sale—a hotly anticipated harbinger of spring that draws longer lines than The Raconteurs. Besides the expected basil congestion, ready your elbows for a crack at a wide array of indigenous wildflowers, including jack-in-the-pulpit, wild ginger, St. John’s wort and tansy. But it’s the herbs, medicinal and edible, that bring back the faithful year after year: 12 varieties of lavender, nine varieties of rosemary, 10 kinds of mint, newcomer Camellia sinensis (good for green tea) and all the thyme in the world, just for a start. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds —JIM RIDLEY

MoshvilleLUCY BARKS! Liberadio(!) co-host Mary Mancini may have found a niche as a rising star on liberal talk radio—like she’s got much competition—but a generation of mid-1990s Nashville teens knows her as the voice of reason who ran Lucy’s Record Shop, the city’s celebrated underage punk club. It closed a decade ago (sigh), but at least we have this time capsule of its Church Street glory days, shot in 1994 and 1995 by then Vanderbilt student Stacy Goldate (now an experimental filmmaker working in Chicago). It’s all here: the stained carpet, the dilapidated couch, the surging mosh pits that defied Nashville’s reputation for living-dead audiences, and of course the sad-eyed Weimaraner who gave the place its name. Digitally remastered, it makes its local TV premiere this weekend and shows throughout the month. 9 p.m. on Music City Arts TV 9 —JIM RIDLEY

MusicDALE ANN BRADLEY Plenty of people were surprised when the sweet-voiced Bradley slipped past incumbent Rhonda Vincent to win the IBMA’s Female Vocalist award last year, but at least as many were delighted. Bradley’s last album, 2006’s Catch Tomorrow, generated one massive bluegrass hit in Chris Stuart’s joyous steamboat song “Julia Belle” and turned her loose on a set of songs, including several originals, that highlighted her versatility and stylistic breadth. Adding to the album’s delights, Bradley was backed by a long and varied list of star musicians. On the road, she’s assembled a top-notch band that includes reliable bassist Mike Bub, ace North Carolina banjo picker Gena Britt-Tew, Jeremy Abshire (fiddle) and Tim Loughlin (mandolin). 9 p.m. at Station Inn —JON WEISBERGER

Cheekwood openingsSONG ARCHIVE PROJECT In this new video installation at Cheekwood, German artist Yvonne Buchheim continues collecting the songs of average people from around the world. The exhibit includes an interactive stage where visitors can sing in front of a camera—appropriate for Nashville, where everyone is already a singer. Buchheim herself appears in a video shot in Iran, breaking the law restricting female performers to female audiences. The song she sings is “Die Gedanken Sind Frei,” or “Thoughts are Free,” a song rich in political history—it was banned twice in Germany, once under Nazi rule. By allowing individuals free license to sing whatever they want, the installation showcases the diversity of cultural identities. April 19-September 28 at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens & Museum of Art; opening reception, 6-8 p.m. —MATT CHRISTY

Critical MassDAN STEINHILBER This D.C.-based artist redeems packing peanuts by making them the raw material for art with a mystical bent. For some sculptures, he throws the peanuts into garbage bags, mixes in some glue, closes the bag and wrestles with it until it takes on the shape of the space in the middle of his embrace. The black shape of the sculpture is in essence an internal shadow. For this show, Steinhilber will fill the gallery with peanuts and set loose robotic vaccum cleaners that leave behind trails, creating a changing series of floor drawings. April 19-July 6 at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens & Museum of Art; opening reception, 6-8 p.m. —DAVID MADDOX

 

SUNDAY 4/20

MusicROLAND GRESHAM TRIO FEAT. DALLAS STARKE A Murfreesboro mainstay, the Roland Gresham Trio have been making a lot of noise with recent residencies at Sambuca and Bosco’s. Mr. Gresham’s metallic, echoing guitar tone is informed by 50 years of playing—with nods to Chet Atkins and Wes Montgomery—and his R&B-tinged originals are nothing less than delightful. Although a very accomplished player, Gresham dispenses with overly technical finesse in favor of blues-battered flavor and just enough atonal sensibility to make any enemy of easy-listening jazz lick their lips. Vocalist Dallas Starke got her start with Gresham when she was still a student in Murfreesboro. In addition to her engaging stage presence, Miss Starke’s vocal stylings immediately establish her as anything but a pop-singer disguised as a chanteuse. 10:30 a.m. at Bosco’s brunch; 7 p.m. at Sambuca —JOE NOLAN

MusicBRAILLE The first track on The IV Edition, the latest album from Oregon rapper Braille, winds down amid a multilingual patois of shout-outs and salutations, a fitting introduction to Braille’s internationalist worldview. In fact, the “IV” in the album title stands for “international vision,” and the music bears the touch of producers from Finland, Australia, Germany and elsewhere. Like hip-hop’s answer to Thievery Corporation, Braille focuses a highly tuned sense of empathy on societal ills, giving his music a broad conscience and highlighting the rumblings of a spiritual shift taking place in our time. Heady stuff indeed. Good thing there’s also fat-ass beats, Braille’s infectiously unique and assertive phrasing and a fresh production flavor. As he raps, “I don’t got a vendetta / I don’t play with guns,” his chants of “West Coast, West Coast” take on a whole new meaning. It’s about time. 8 p.m. at the Peanut Butter & Jelly Party (520 Commerce St.); Monday and Tuesday at GMA Week —SABY REYES-KULKARNI

High TimesFRIENDLY 4/20 FILM FEST Resist the exorbitant, hypocritical, destructive and increasingly indefensible war on hemp by joining the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) at the barricades—or at the very least, by taking a giant hit off this three-film cinematic bongload. First up is 1936’s Reefer Madness, the all-true exposé that proves pot is the gateway to hot babes and jazz piano. Next is Ron Mann’s 1999 doc Grass, charting the folly of the drug war over the past century, followed by the PBS Frontline investigation Busted. Warning: These films may lead directly to the consumption of pizza. 4:20 p.m. at the Belcourt Theatre —JIM RIDLEY

High FidelityWMTS RECORD CONVENTION Between the Record Store Day festivities and WMTS’ semi-annual record convention, this is a peculiarly social weekend for Middle Tennessee’s record-collecting masses. As a group, vinyl fetishists are better known for solo expeditions into the dark depths of dusty grooves than for congregating and socializing, so seeing them all assembled is something of a minor miracle. Another minor miracle is the reemergence of Knoxville power-pop legends Superdrag, who will be on hand for a meet and greet (2-4 p.m.). After a five-year hiatus, the band—who were so badass that MTV banned them for the better part of the ’90s—have begun recording a new album at Lake Fever Productions, their first with the original lineup since 1998’s Head Trip in Every Key. For information, visit wmts.org. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Holiday Inn, Murfreesboro —SEAN L. MALONEY

MusicWILL JONES AND THE WESTERN FRINGE REUNION BENEFIT CONCERT For nearly a decade, actor/funnyman Will Jones’ comic and musical antics have been a steady presence on local community-access television. New episodes of Will Jones and the Western Fringe haven’t been filmed for a few years now, but the variety show has interminable life in reruns on programming-starved Channel 19. Comedy sketches, short filmed excerpts, parodies and goofy original songs—who can forget “Skanky” or “Don’t Fart When We’re Lovin’ ”?—are Western Fringe’s bread-and-butter, and Jones has gotten his rock-solid bandmates back together for this reunion gig. A special appearance by the Skankettes is also promised. The concert serves as a benefit for both Second Harvest Food Bank and Channel 19, and will be filmed for a subsequent TV airing. 8 p.m. at Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar —MARTIN BRADY

MusicMURDER BY DEATH As Adam Turla’s voice has plunged deeper into craggy, Cash-like depths, so has Murder by Death arrived at a sound that chills, grabs and—as the title of their new album, Red of Tooth and Claw, implies—draws blood. You don’t have to dig too far down to hit the Indiana-based band’s influences. Besides the aforementioned vocal gravity in the spirit of the Man in Black, there’s a spaghetti Western-style instrumental titled “Theme (For Ennio Morricone)”—pretty self-explanatory, given the parenthetical reference—and shades of Nick Cave’s inky, death- and religion-obsessed post-punk. This is MBD’s fourth album, but their first for Vagrant, and they made it here at Dark Horse with Trina Shoemaker. There’s plenty of traveling around, demoniacal threatening and Sodom and Gomorrah-like imagery on this 11-song set. And Sarah Balliet’s sharp, foreboding cello—along with Turla’s singing—helps break the skin. 9 p.m. at Exit/In —JEWLY HIGHT

MusicTHE OLD CEREMONY Frontman Django Haskins had already released several solo albums of pop rock and songwriter folk reminiscent of Marshall Crenshaw and John Hiatt when he became consumed by a set of songs. His first attempts to record these smoky cabaret pop tracks failed, so he brought together a band to better capture them, and the project took on a life of its own. Soon the group was selling out venues all over Chapel Hill, N.C., and burning them down with a dark sophistication that hits a similar sweet spot to area faves The Squirrel Nut Zippers. As with the Zippers, there’s an old-fashioned swing to The Old Ceremony that doesn’t preclude them from rocking. Their second album Our One Mistake has a baroque swoon that suggests Rufus Wainwright, but tracks like the catchy, Crescent City barrelhouse rock number “Papers in Order” and slinky, hot-blooded blues vamp “Believer” echo Haskins’ earlier influences, helping defy easy categorization. 9 p.m. at The Basement —CHRIS PARKER

Third-Degree HepburnTHE PHILADELPHIA STORY Philip Barry wrote this effervescent comedy with Katharine Hepburn in mind; she bought the film rights and handpicked her director, George Cukor, who had directed her in the wonderful 1938 adaptation of Barry’s Holiday. The resulting 1940 smash ended Hepburn’s infamous designation as “box-office poison”—and yet, paradoxically, her triumph was seen as something of a public comeuppance. Deliberately spoofing her widely disliked “haughty” screen image (which today looks pretty damn sexy), Hepburn plays a divorced socialite scheduled to marry a dullard tycoon. Her wedding plans are disrupted by scheming ex-husband Cary Grant and tabloid newshound James Stewart—both of whom fall madly for her, as anyone with a pulse and an IQ over 100 would. Selected by head projectionist Kirk Futrell for the Belcourt’s hugely successful “Staff Picks” series. April 19-20 at The Belcourt Theatre —JIM RIDLEY

MONDAY 4/21

Nick’s Got the KnackNICK LOWE W/RON SEXSMITH If 2007’s At My Age proved that Nick Lowe is mortal, the new reissue of Lowe’s 1978 solo debut Jesus of Cool enshrines a record of unique tone—insouciant insincerity that’s never less than winsome. While appearing to address burning issues along the lines of world diplomacy, the fate of Cuba, Hollywood and record-label advances, Jesus—retitled Pure Pop for Now People to suit delicate American sensibilities—discourages analysis as only the greatest pop can. Since his days with pub-rockers Brinsley Schwarz, Lowe had demonstrated a sly way with the banalities that crept into a lot of ’70s pop, and Jesus turned Nick’s knack into art. Live, Lowe remains a charmer with an endless repertoire. Also on the bill is Ron Sexsmith, another exponent of deceptively smooth pop. Baby-faced and intense, Sexsmith writes songs steeped in British Invasion tradition, and he’s an engaging singer. 8 p.m. at The Belcourt Theatre —EDD HURT

The Biggest WinnerBOB HARPER As reality TV shows go, The Biggest Loser is one of the good ones. Rather than pitting a bunch of strangers against each other (Big Brother, The Apprentice) or squashing the dreams of the marginally talented (American Idol, Hell’s Kitchen), the hit NBC show actually encourages personal growth and feelings of self-worth in its overweight contestants. That spirit is the focus of Are You Ready! Take Charge, Lose Weight, Get in Shape, and Change Your Life Forever, a new book by Bob Harper, the show’s permanently upbeat, extensively tattooed Blue Team trainer. A native Nashvillian, Harper comes home to explain the benefits of bringing him along on your “personal fitness journey.” We’re guessing this journey doesn’t include a visit to nearby Cheesecake Factory. 7 p.m. at Davis-Kidd Booksellers —CHRIS CLANCY

Critical MassDONALD KUSPIT In his 2004 book The End of Art, Donald Kuspit tells about a 2001 show at a highbrow London gallery featuring a six-figure work by Damien Hurst consisting of discarded coffee cups, beer bottles, candy wrappers and the like. The cleaning man threw out the entire piece, mistaking it for trash. “The cleaning man was clearly the right critic,” Kuspit writes. A professor of art history and philosophy at Stony Brook University, Kuspit is a contributing editor at Artforum, Sculpture and New Art Examiner, the editor of the imaginatively named Art Criticism and the author of over 20 books. One of the most respected (and controversial) art critics on the scene today, Kuspit will speak on “Iconoclasm and Traditionalism in Modern Art.” Free and open to the public. 7 p.m. in Lipscomb University’s Shamblin Theatre; a dessert reception will follow. —JACK SILVERMAN

 

TUESDAY 4/22

MusicSTEVE EARLE W/ALLISON MOORER It was time for a change, so Earle and wife Moorer moved to Manhattan. The experience shaped his latest, Washington Square Serenade, which not only bids farewell to his home (“Tennessee Blues”) but to his analog studio. Produced by Dust Brother John King, it marks Earle’s embrace of Pro Tools. Fueled by the city’s energy and his trademark guttural, ground-level vibe, Earle offers a hawk’s eye view of the city (“Down Here Below”) in spoken-sung cadence like a backwoods Lou Reed and busts a bluegrass stomp with an ethereal distant choir (“Oxycontin Blues”). Moorer’s new album Mockingbird covers 11 classics in a revelatory manner, expressing her versatility and depth, particularly on her harrowing take on Judy Miller’s “Orphan Train.” They play solo acoustic and duet, before he’s joined by a DJ for a set of recast older tracks that reflect the sensibility of the new album. 8 p.m. at City Hall —CHRIS PARKER

Veggie TalesAN EVENING WITH EARTHMATTERS TENNESSEE: THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS Walon Green’s seldom-shown 1979 documentary The Secret Life of Plants remains best known for its score by Stevie Wonder, which he reworked into the album Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants—a double LP of cathedral dirges, near prog-rock and flower-themed suites that was (to put it mildly) not the follow-up anyone expected to Songs in the Key of Life. But the movie’s curiosity about whether veggies have a consciousness—dig the sequence that shows the effect of cigarette smoke on a cabbage—makes it a fine fit with EarthMatters Tennessee, Sizwe Herring’s nonprofit coalition of educators and community gardeners dedicated to putting soul back in the soil. This benefit night features music by Adrienne Young, Sara Beck, Kenny Mullins, “Earthman” Lanny Smith and scheduled guest Shannon Sanders, as well as appetizers by Whole Foods and brews by Yazoo. 5:30 p.m. at The Belcourt Theatre —JIM RIDLEY

WEDNESDAY 4/23

BooksSAM DAVIDSON The 141 pages of Sam Davidson and Stephen Moseley’s New Day Revolution tell you “How to Save the World in 24 Hours.” Ambitious New Year’s resolutions always fail, but easy, day-at-a-time lifestyle adjustments work and can accumulate to a revolution. For just one day, eat meatless or don’t drive your car. Don’t overspend buying Christmas gifts for friends and relatives who already have too much. Cut your home’s water and energy waste. Recycle. Throw out less. Think of others—the waitress and the guy behind the counter. Buy fair trade coffee and local produce. Simple, obvious actions by enough people will make the world a radically better place. Sam Davidson will discuss and sign New Day Revolution. 7 p.m. at Davis-Kidd Booksellers —RALPH BOWDEN

MusicELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTERS About two songs into his last show at the Ryman with the Imposters, after 2004’s aptly titled The Delivery Man, the ailing singer visibly realized he was going to have to put on a two-and-a-half-hour concert—including a long-awaited duet with Emmylou Harris—with a voice on the verge of cracking. The ensuing show, damaged voice and all, was as much of a marvel as watching a Hall of Famer pitch a shutout game with one arm in a sling: unstintingly generous, passionate and all the more exciting for the cool navigation of near-disaster. That skill may come in handy in escaping the music industry’s atrophied distribution model: Costello’s new album Momofuku comes out this week only on vinyl LP and digital download—a shrewd simultaneous pitch to the iPod generation and old-timers who still cherish the pre-distressed jacket of Get Happy! 7:30 p.m. at the Ryman Auditorium —JIM RIDLEY

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