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Looney Tunes, Brett Dennen, The Underpants, British Sea Power, Jeffrey Lewis, Reggie Young, Josh Ritter, Uh Huh Her and more

THURSDAY 5/1

Pops at the PopsA TRIBUTE TO LOUIS ARMSTRONG In Ken Burns’ documentary Jazz, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis comes off as a cranky purist whose regressive view of jazz would seek to bury the music in the graveyard of irrelevance, but he was right about one thing—Louis Armstrong is the shit. Arguably, no musician in any genre has been so integral to its development. Armstrong (a.k.a. “Satchmo,” a.k.a. “Pops”) combined dazzling technique and boundless creativity with that most elusive of traits: the ability to connect with listeners. Though today he’s most remembered for his ubiquitous vocal rendering of “What a Wonderful World” (and understandably so), his instrumental prowess and innovation have rarely been matched. Byron Stripling, a phenomenal trumpeter who’s played with just about every major pops orchestra—and who was selected to play Armstrong in the musical Satchmo—joins the Nashville Symphony for a tribute to the master. 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday & Saturday at Schermerhorn Symphony Center —JACK SILVERMAN

ComedyJOHN HEFFRON With the winner of Last Comic Standing Season 2, you get the best of both worlds. Heffron is a remarkably seasoned performer, having gotten his start during college and firmly established himself as both a stand-up and a radio DJ by his mid-20s. He possesses the ease, insight and stage presence of a veteran, but he also boasts boyish good looks and an outlook that’s the polar opposite of often-bitter lifers. His chunks on relationships and growing up are bolstered by a kinetic naïveté, an attribute that feels authentic as opposed to merely persona-driven. Such style-and-substance combos don’t strike often. May 1-4 at Zanies —JULIE SEABAUGH

What’s Brewin’BOSCOS BREWMASTER’S BEER DINNER Grab a booth or barstool when craft-beer aficionado Lucy Saunders joins Boscos brewmasters Chuck Spycheck and Fred Scheer for a five-course meal with complementary beers. Saunders, a journalist, blogger and author of five books, including The Best of American Beer & Food: Pairing and Cooking with Craft Beer, will sign her books from 4 to 6 p.m. Dinner features an appetizer of Savannah shrimp and grits; salad of blue cheese, arugula celery hearts, pancetta, apple and hazelnuts; braised halibut, smoked pork chop and tiramisu made with bittersweet chocolate beer. Saunders and the brewmasters will also answer questions about pairing food and beer. Reservations are required for the $50 event. 6:45 p.m. at Boscos —CARRINGTON FOX

Yada Yada YadaJERRY SEINFELD Yes, Seinfeld was a phenomenal show—one of the best sitcoms of all time. But before the kooky characters and sweeping catchphrases, before the promotional onslaught of last year’s Bee Movie and way before that whole bizarre plagiarism hoopla over his wife’s cookbook, there was the stand-up. A workhorse wholly dedicated to the art form, Seinfeld is the master of observational humor, spawning an entire generation of “What’s the deal with…?” knockoffs. There’s a reason he landed at No. 12 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time, and it has far more to do with his 2002 documentary Comedian than with nine seasons worth of Puffy Shirts and Soup Nazis. 7 & 9:30 p.m. at TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall —JULIE SEABAUGH

Re-BourneTHE BOURNE ULTIMATUM Matt Damon puts a foot upside your head from Morocco to Manhattan in last year’s slam-bang wrap-up of the Jason Bourne saga. It shows free and open to the public, projected on DVD, as this month’s “Movies @ Main” selection at the downtown public library. 5:30 p.m. at Nashville Public Library —JIM RIDLEY

 

FRIDAY 5/2

Top-Drawer ComedyTHE UNDERPANTS A little over two years ago, Actors Bridge Ensemble mounted this Steve Martin farce with uniform success. Now the Tennessee Rep has a go at the comedian’s update of Carl Sternheim’s 1910 story about a lady who accidentally drops her drawers during the king’s procession and wins unexpected new admirers. Lane Davies directs a promising cast of six, led by the indefatigable Marin Miller. Other performers include Patrick Waller, Martha Wilkinson and Bobby Wyckoff. May 1-17 at TPAC’S Polk Theater —MARTIN BRADY

All That JazzMAIN STREET JAZZFEST FEAT. NICHOLAS PAYTON Opportunities to see a jazz artist of Payton’s caliber in the Middle Tennessee area are few and far between these days. Born and raised in New Orleans, the Grammy-winning trumpeter weaves elements of bop and modern jazz with nods to his Crescent City lineage, including Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden and Wynton Marsalis. The festival also features a smorgasbord of area high school jazz bands, the MTSU Jazz Ensemble, the U.S. Army Ground Forces Jazz Guardians and several local acts: saxophonist Joe Johnson, vocalist Jeff Hall and trumpeter Jamey Simmons’ sextet. On Saturday, Kids’ Alley will feature a climbing wall, mural painting and a musical instrument “petting zoo.” 6-10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday —JACK SILVERMAN

MusicCHRIS HILLMAN & HERB PEDERSEN This town’s music community does a good job of honoring country greats, but it does tend to be pretty insular. That’s the only plausible explanation for the fact that these guys’ names aren’t regularly preceded by “legendary,” because they’ve surely earned it. Mandolins, guitars, banjos, honky-tonk, country-rock, bluegrass, Bakersfield—Hillman and Pedersen have been playing them all for more than 40 years. Whether backed by friends or on their own, they put on a great show—warm, witty and with plenty of improvisation, in and in between songs. 9 p.m. at Station Inn —JON WEISBERGER

Party PooperTHE NERD Talented playwright Larry Shue died in a plane crash in 1985 at age 39. He left behind two staples of modern stage comedy: The Foreigner and this two-acter about a dinner party gone awry. The Community Players production is directed by J. Spurlock and features a cast of seven including Owen Sullivan, Rebekah Lyons, Cory Hutcheson and Brad Oxnam. May 2-16 at Cedar Ridge Community of Christ (3220 Bell Rd.) —MARTIN BRADY

 

SATURDAY 5/3

MusicBRITISH SEA POWER’s 2003 debut, The Decline of British Sea Power, was a bracing, wintry blast, resplendent in raggedy-ass post-punk guitars and dense lyrics chock-full of eccentric references and imagery. The English band’s third album on the Rough Trade label, Do You Like Rock Music?, finds the quartet shambling toward coherence and accessibility, with anthemic guitars, hooks and a newfound openness. The album starts with the mantra-like repetition of “We’re all in it and we close our eyes,” while the celebratory “Waving Flags” is a welcoming song to the “Polish Plumber,” a phrase some have used to symbolize the ways immigrants from poorer EU countries are reshaping the economies and cultures of Western Europe. It’s a change British Sea Power seem keen on: “Are you of legal drinking age? On minimum wage? Well welcome in.” Plombiers de tous les pays, unissez-vous! 9 p.m. at Mercy Lounge —AARON JENTZEN

Green DayGO GREEN AT THE NASHVILLE FARMERS MARKET To market, to market, to buy a fat…rutabaga? Spring’s restorative powers have evidently energized the Nashville Farmers Market as well, and the market celebrates with a day devoted to Middle Tennessee’s homegrown finest—the legal stuff, that is—focusing on organic growers and green living. Put your bicycle pedal to the metal with Walk/Bike Nashville and rendezvous with other bikers from North and East Nashville and Hillsboro Village, then enjoy live music sponsored by the Americana Music Association. While you listen, experts from Gardens of Babylon and Direct Growers will be on hand to show how to build nutritious soil and foster a bed of perennials not even the brownest thumb could kill. Make sure to leave ample time to peruse the food stands and a plethora of herbs, flowers and berry bushes from local nurseries. Go forth, Nashville, and veg out. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Nashville Farmers Market —JIM RIDLEY

MusicJEFFREY LEWIS Post-folk troubadour Jeffrey Lewis is a rarity—the self-aware artist. His rambling, rhapsodic tune “Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror” captures indie rock self-loathing perfectly. Spotting a man who may or may not be Will Oldham on the subway inspires a reverie about living five to an apartment, doing email interviews, feeling artistically inferior (who doesn’t) and not doing anything to really help the world. Onstage he is prone to illustrated bard-style narrations of everything from the history of punk rock on the Lower East Side to a history of communism in China. His songs have a wonderfully droll tone, and are delivered in his endearing speak-sing croak. Lewis recently released a whole album of Crass covers (entitled 13 Crass Songs) that is a fun listen, though not quite as fun as a new Jeffrey Lewis record would have been. Opening for British Sea Power. 9 p.m. at Mercy Lounge —LEE STABERT

Rock & Walk for a CauseTAKE STEPS W/JORDAN SWEENEY If you don’t know anything about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, just Google either one and you’ll be extremely thankful you’re not afflicted. Though the diseases are treatable, they aren’t curable, and their effect on sufferers’ quality of life is devastating. UC sufferer Jordan Sweeney, a 23-year-old singer-songwriter from California, will share stories of his struggles and perform material from his album Road to Recovery at Take Steps, a charity-walk fundraiser to help prevent and find a cure for Crohn’s, UC and other digestive diseases. 4-8 p.m. at Bicentennial Capitol Mall —JACK SILVERMAN

Bridge Over Troubled WaterCUMBERLAND RIVER PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE GRAND OPENING Hallelujah! For those who frequent the Shelby Bottoms Greenway, this day has been long in coming. Not only are we regaining the tail-end of our five-mile paved trail, we’re gaining access—via the impressive newly completed bridge—to a new network of greenways across the river. Advancing the greenway system is sure to be a long-term boon for the city, and eventually that urban ideal of businesspeople on commuter bikes and families with strollers sharing a broad network of beautiful utilitarian green spaces will no longer be solely the province of coastal yuppie playgrounds. 10 a.m. on the Two Rivers Park side of the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge —LEE STABERT

MusicGEORGE CLINTON & PARLIAMENT/FUNKADELIC If you’ve spent any time exploring Pedro Bell’s hyper-detailed album art for P-Funk’s mid-’70s output, 2008’s convergence of technology, politics and collective psychosis probably seems pretty passé. Dr. Funkenstein and his entourage have been purveying serious science-fiction funk for over 40 years, and it seems like society as a whole is finally catching up. “Funky Dollar Bill” might be 38 years old but it reads like an NPR report on the dour state of our 21st century economy, and it’s not much of a stretch to think that the political ascendancy of Barack Obama was presaged by Clinton’s (Bill) Clinton-era jam “Paint the White House Black” or that the Iraq quagmire can be succinctly summed up by the epic “(Not Just) Knee Deep.” But frankly, we’d rather just become “One Nation Under a Groove” for at least one Saturday night. 6 p.m. at Wildhorse Saloon —SEAN L. MALONEY

Nashville Cat’s Got SoulNASHVILLE CATS: REGGIE YOUNG A handful of instrumentalists can lay claim to defining soul music, and guitarist Reggie Young is among them. Born in Missouri in 1937, Young attended the same Memphis high school as future Stax maestro Steve Cropper. And while Cropper’s minimalist solos demonstrated how much one could leave out of soul music and make it fly, Young’s round tone and elegant conception were in part modeled after the playing of fellow guitarist Bobby Womack. Young would be immortal if only for his contributions to Womack records such as 1970’s My Prescription, but as part of the studio band at Memphis’ American Studios he played on the epochal Dusty in Memphis. Since moving to Nashville in 1972, Young has clocked innumerable sessions backing the likes of Dobie Gray, Merle Haggard and Frank Black—his solo on Black’s 2005 “My Life Is in Storage” is a typically understated marvel. 2 p.m. at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum —EDD HURT

Kiddie KlassicSLEEPING BEAUTY The Olde Worlde Theatre continues to be Nashville’s leading community-based ensemble providing stage entertainment for children. The company always manages to breathe new life into classics, and here we enter the magical kingdom of the princess Briar Rose, who learns important lessons about curiosity and patience. Expect the usual comic spirit, plenty of movement, a colorful set and happy musical interludes. Ages 3 and up. 10 a.m. May 3, 10 & 17 at The Belcourt Theatre —MARTIN BRADY

ERIKA JOHNSON: CURTAIN In her press release, local artist Erika Johnson introduces Curtain as “an installation, a fearful, playful, hopeful attempt at reclamation, an invitation.” The work explores how technology communicates global information about issues such as world hunger and genocide. Johnson has exhibited at Plowhaus, Vanderbilt and in several group shows, and her installations are often political, though they make their point quietly, enabling you to make your own opinions and discoveries. The show’s three-month stint should encourage multiple visits, allowing the opportunity to gain new perspectives with each viewing. May 3-Aug. 9 at The Parthenon’s West Gallery; opening reception, 6-8 p.m. —AMANDA DILLINGHAM

DIALOGUE 2: PHOTOGRAPHY Zeitgeist Gallery continues its series of group exhibitions and panel discussions with a new show of photography. Even with our ever-growing art scene, photo-fans in Nashville are sometimes hard-pressed to find impressive shows of contemporary work, so they should find this installment of Dialogue to be a welcome shot-in-the-arm. Participating artists include Jimmy Abegg, Caroline Allison, Stephen Alvarez, Todd Baxter, Scene photographer Eric England, John Folsom, David Wright LaGrone, Peter Monroe, Nancy Rhoda, Bjorn Sterri, Simon Roberts and Mark Tucker. Hans Shmitt-Matzen continues to explore the no-man’s-land between photography and painting. His oil-and-alkyd studies are decorated with rows of textual patterns that recall Brion Gysin. Katherine Slingluff’s series of meditative, black-and-white roller coaster photos document a noble geometry more than thrills and chills. May 3-June 14 at Zeitgeist Gallery; opening reception, 6-9 p.m. —JOE NOLAN

PAMELA SUKHUM & THE BEAUTIFUL PROJECT Estel Gallery opens three new shows for May’s First Saturday Gallery Crawl. Painter Pamela Sukhum combines floral elements in patterns of movement and texture. The near-abstract result contrasts the unflinching, brutal reality that is depicted in the drawings and paintings of The Beautiful Project. The Project’s participants are all Sudanese child and young-adult refugees, living in the Gaga and Gonje refugee camps in Chad. Sukhum worked with the young artists to express some of their experiences, and the resulting drawings and paintings are full of dread, doom and a strange beauty that makes them the highlight of the show. Work by the Lost Boys of Nashville will also be featured in the back gallery. Keep your eyes peeled for John Kur’s amazing masks and bird sculptures. May 3-24 at Estel Gallery; opening reception, 6-9 p.m. —JOE NOLAN

 

SUNDAY 5/4

MusicBRETT DENNEN From the looks of things, people are ready for a fresh-faced heir apparent to Paul Simon, and Brett Dennen is the guy. So Much More was released a year-and-a-half ago, but—as his recent Tonight Show appearance and spot on an upcoming John Mayer tour show—its warm, socially conscious folk appeal is still going strong. Maybe it’s the fact that he has more to say about the world than Jack Johnson, and he does it with a fractured, sensitive croon and a buoyant acoustic sound that—like Simon’s Graceland—is often laced with world music grooves. Even Dennen’s “Ain’t No Reason” video doesn’t just string together artsy images, but attaches everyday life to issues of global justice. (A woman doing laundry sees a vision of sweatshop workers.) Dennen has a way of sewing it all together with appealing melodies and a light touch. And that’s no small feat. 7 p.m. at City Hall —JEWLY HIGHT

Reach for the Sky, Ya Fur-Bearin’ Varmint!LOONEY TUNES Nyeh…what’s up, Doc? A three-weekend series of family fare at the Belcourt, that’s what. Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and Foghorn Leghorn are among the Termite Terrace escapees to grace the big screen this week, and if the selection’s at all decent—i.e., avoiding duds from the long-running series’ sad 1960s decline—you’ll need an oxygen tank to keep from laughing yourself sick. Coming soon: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (May 9-10) and a rare showing of the 1971 animated classic The Point (May 17-18), with Harry Nilsson’s songs and the original Dustin Hoffman narration. Noon May 2-3 at The Belcourt Theatre —JIM RIDLEY

Female TroubleSUNDAY ON THE ROCKS If the name Theresa Rebeck seems familiar, it might be because you watch Law & Order: Criminal Intent, one of various TV shows to which she has contributed regularly in recent years. Rebeck is also a screenwriter, a budding novelist and, most prominently, a prolific playwright, whose Bad Dates was presented last season by GroundWorks Theatre. The company returns to Rebeck with this middle-’90s exploration into the lives of four female housemates, some dealing with critical personal issues but all having to contend, most of all, with each other and a morally ambiguous modern world. Director Melissa Bedinger-Hade has established herself in recent years as one of Music City’s more astute theatrical interpreters, and she’s assembled a cast of talented young women—Mandy Butler, Laura Marsh, Kellye Mitchell and Jessica Sparks—whose presence alone should generate theatergoing interest. May 2-10 at Darkhorse Theatre —MARTIN BRADY

 

MONDAY 5/5

MusicHOLY FUCK Tagged as one of the top live acts at the Glastonbury Festival back in ’05, noise-huggers Holy Fuck have since become coveted show-openers for their caustic yet cuddly performances. Cramming dueling drummers and twin mix boards—a chaotic tangle of vintage analog equipment and fuzz box synthesizers to re-create their studio finish—the Toronto outfit forge swarming instrumentals with spasmodic dance beats. Less in line with fellow dirty-word lovin’ duo Fuck Buttons, who recently graced Nashville, this Kanook outfit owe more of a debt to technorati strongarms Black Dice and Melt Banana. As stage prep for M.I.A.’s third-world riot starters, Holy Fuck should serve as both a thorough palate-cleanser and a crash course in some of the best fringe experimental out there. There’s more than electrical tape holding these guys together. 8 p.m. at City Hall —DUSTIN ALLEN

 

TUESDAY 5/6

MusicJOSH RITTER Sometimes it’s enough just to write excellent songs. Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter doesn’t have a gimmick, a shtick or even a vibe, he just writes tunes that are alternately beautiful, heartbreaking, foot-tapping and always thoughtful. Last year’s wonderful The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter was a ballsy barroom album that still took the time for some breathtaking slow-burn numbers. Stand-out “The Temptation of Adam” is the exquisitely melancholy tale of a man who falls for his partner in an atomic bunker while doing crosswords and singing her songs. He realizes that the only way to keep her is to keep them down there, to push that “great big button.” It’s a perfect song, because by the end you can almost empathize with the protagonists’ twisted, heartsick logic. 8 p.m. May 6 & 7 at The Belcourt Theatre —LEE STABERT

MusicBUCKY HALKER, BRENT MOYER & HUNTER MOORE Singer-songwriters with a feel for the struggles of working people, Bucky Halker, Brent Moyer and Hunter Moore share an interest in populist music that’s grounded in history. From Wisconsin, Halker is a folklorist and labor historian who writes literate tunes that mention photosynthesis and name-check Duke Ellington. Moyer is an idiosyncratic tunesmith with a rootsy bent. “Butt, Bop, Boogie” takes liberties with jump blues and country vocalist Gary Allan effectively covered his “Red Lips, Blue Eyes, Little White Lies.” Moore specializes in spare, closely observed songs that mix naturalistic detail and nostalgia, as in “Just Because We Do,” a sweet portrait of an old couple who live in a “house above the river in the West Kentucky night.” They’ll be joined in-the-round by Michael Johnson, who is perhaps best known for writing hits such as “Bluer Than Blue.” 9 p.m. at Bluebird Café —EDD HURT

Rush to Judgment12 ANGRY MEN The background story of Reginald Rose’s famous courtroom drama is almost as interesting as the script, which was first produced in 1954 for television. It was then made into an Oscar-nominated feature film in 1957—director Sidney Lumet’s first big-screen effort. It didn’t see the Broadway stage until 2004, when it was produced by the estimable nonprofit Roundabout Theatre Company (also behind this national tour). Jurors gather to deliberate in a murder trial, and their journey to a unanimous verdict proves elusive—and gets very personal. TV star Richard Thomas enacts the critical role of Juror #8. The remainder of the cast are lesser-known stage vets, with the exception of Kevin Dobson, former co-star of Kojak. May 6-11 at TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall —MARTIN BRADY

 

WEDNESDAY 5/7

MusicUH HUH HER Actress Leisha Haley is best known for her role as the perky Alice Pieszecki on lady soap The L Word, where she cheerfully tracks the sexcapades of friends in their tightly knit Los Angeles lesbian community for The Chart. But before acting she played in The Murmurs, and Uh Huh Her, her new electro-pop band with former Mellowdrone bassist/keyboardist Camila Grey, is named after PJ Harvey’s highest-charting album of the same name. Their first full-length, Common Reaction, is a batch of sultry, ethereal pop that rests somewhere between Ladytron’s synthy surges (“Not a Love Song”) and Annie Lenox’s mournful moans (“Everyone”). Coincidentally, it’s the kind of sexy, atmospheric music that would fit perfectly on The L Word’s soundtrack. 9 p.m. at Exit/In —TRACY MOORET

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