In one cruel year, the world lost both Johnny Cash and Sam Phillips. The sole consolation is that we still have the man who remains the link between their legaciesa witness to, and a maker of, history. In his jaw-dropping career, the irreplaceable Jack Clement was the recording engineer on “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” at Sun, wrote Cash’s “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and a slew of other hits, and produced everything from Charley Pride’s ground-breaking records to Dickey Lee’s “Patches.” He also financed a horror movie, went to Bible school, manufactured ukuleles and became a lighter-than-air ballroom dancer (a fact related to me by Marianne Faithfull, who beamed and issued a luscious sigh of cigarette smoke just at the mention of his name). His great gift to Nashville, besides a generation of protégés who wound up making some of the best and biggest records of the century, is his indefatigable spirit of adventure and capacity for surprisesomething that’ll likely be on full display at this headlining extravaganza. Will there be horns? Banjos? A 10-piece band? Fiercely guarded home movies? We wouldn’t dream of telling, or even asking. All you need to know is that Jack Clement is still here, still making music, still very much with usand you can either mourn the fallen forest or celebrate the oak that stands. Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum
Cursive Frontman Tim Kashner rips himself open for Cursive’s latest LP, remarking on his penchant for turning romantic pain into music, while noting how his sensitivity has proven to be an effective tool for getting women into bed. To match the reflexive, self-skewering mood of the lyrics, his bandmates whip up a ferocious noise peppered with bursts of melody and orchestral interludes. The sound is jolting, and a little scary, in the vein of psychodrama post-punk like The Cure’s Pornography or Public Image Limited’s The Flowers of Romance, but nowhere near as dirge-like or monotone. These Nebraskans chop up thrash, funk, soul, folk and chamber pop, stringing together an impressive range of sounds and tones into one almost seamless suite. Exit/In
Davey Williams “The art of improvising is about 3 percent playing, which comes only after 97 percent listening.” Such are the reflections of guitarist Williams, an Alabama native, renowned improviser, founder of the Trans Museq label and self-effacing giant in the world of six-string deconstructionists, alongside Derek Bailey, Sonny Sharrock and Fred Frith. Like many outsider musicians, Williams started inconspicuously, playing as a sideman for Delta blues great Johnny Shines. Tuscaloosa, Ala., in the mid-’70s, however, proved to be a nerve center for art-school miscreants, and Williams began turning to free improvisation. Long based in Birmingham, he has been recording and releasing projects steadily over the past two decades, modestly destroying notions of what guitar etiquette “should” be. (Several years ago, Guitar Player magazine named him the “world’s greatest improviser,” a title he deserves but would probably shrug off.) Unlike many in the stodgy world of avant-garde sound exploration, Williams has always maintained an endearing, humorous and distinctly Southern attitude about what he does, which is perhaps why he has remained so dazzling; his bag of tricks has involved attacking the strings with everything from shrapnel to toys, and his oddball solos touch on everything from freakoid blues to ear-splitting screech, often in a matter of seconds. Springwater
Clem Snide By releasing Soft Spot, an album of unironic, unapologetic and disarmingly sweet love songs to his wife and new son, Clem Snide frontman Eef Barzelay seems to have pissed off the hipsters who embraced his Brooklyn/Boston band’s snarky 2000 gem The Ghost of Fashion. Fuck ’em: This is a joyous record of wistful, wonder-struck adult pop, and on songs like the exultant, horn-powered “Happy Birthday,” Barzelay sounds sincere but never humorless. “I hope that your friends are true and funny / And your girlfriends are sweet, and wear tight pants,” he tells his young son. “And when your heart gets gently broken / I hope you get a second chance.” That anxious parent’s emphasis on “gently” will leave a lump in your throat. Exit/In
Califone The post-Red Red Meat project of Tim Rutili, Chicago’s Califone reconstitute the old, weird essence of Harry Smith’s Anthology in new, weird ways. Quicksand/Cradlesnakes, their latest album, permits the clatter of el trains and traffic noise to participate in the music like a choir of bullfrogs and crickets on a Folkways record. Far from a field document, however, the record exists in its own time, whether on the fractured blues of “Your Golden Ass” or on the claustrophobic “Slower Twin.” It’s too bad that a larger audience remains elusive for Rutili, whose unaffected blend of avant-garde and folk influences remains melodic and inviting even at its most outside. Exit/In
Trans Am Don’t go poking your nose around the equipment of this D.C. trio to see what sort of gear they use. In a recent noreasterzine.com interview, guitarist Phil Manley (who also plays bass, keys and sings) said in no uncertain terms that the band isn’t fond of such inquisitiveness. He also made it clear that the members of Trans Am aren’t afraid of being ripped off; it’s just that they’d rather you focus on their work instead of their technical preferences. Intended as a “party record,” the band’s most recent album, T.A., is a remarkably smooth, easy listen, despite the ironic trademarks that border on parody. Perhaps because they’re fans of both classic rock and early electronica (they cite Kraftwerk as a major influence), they’re able to make compelling bedfellows of those styles while incorporating a sense of humor. Although highly referential of a previous period, Trans Am neither mock nor pay sentimental tribute to their influences. On T.A., they again use primitive, prototypical electronica as a point of departure, but also add some Miami Bass, a form of dance music from Rio called Funk Carioca, and even space rock. The End
Papa M/Entrance On his latest album, with the aloof title Whatever, Mortal, David Pajo winds his way through droning acoustic material that ultimately lacks the substance to justify its self-important presentation. Previous documents recorded under variations of his Papa M monikeran oblique reference to Roky Erickson’s own oblique reference to marijuana as elevatorattest that Pajo is capable of greater work that relies less on name-brand recognition and more on the emotional transcendence of his guitar playing. Entrance, a.k.a. Guy Blakeslee, opens the show with his Skip James-influenced acoustic blues. While he doesn’t have James’ unearthly pipes or idiosyncratic guitar and piano style, he wails and plays with considerable intensity. The End
Pretty Girls Make Graves These Seattle post-punk revivalists work at the jagged juncture of emo-punk aggression and arty garage rock, a genre with inherent limitationsprimarily a tendency toward the brittle and amelodic. But Pretty Girls Make Graves demonstrate how raw formalism can be put to good use. They trot out just about every trick of their trade on their second LP, The New Romance, including hand claps, fuzzy organ and moody bridges, and they prove that even sounds that aren’t fresh can be arranged into compositions with a unique dramatic flow. Throughout the album, guitarists Nathan Thelen and J. Clark and the rhythm section of Derek Fudesco and Nick Dewitt craft exciting, well-layered, tempo-shifting tracks in which jolts replace hooks, but it’s lead vocalist Andrea Zollo who plays ringmaster, whispering and bellowing and enacting the stressed-out characters who populate her stark stage. The End
Born Dead Icons/La Fraction Since the resurgence of the North American hardcore scene in the late ’90s, Montreal’s Born Dead Icons have been at the forefront of the movement with their signature mix of bass-driven apocalyptic punk, which takes cues from the likes of Motorhead and Discharge. On their latest album, however, they’ve introduced an element of twangy rock ’n’ roll riffage to their songwriting formula. The shift is evidence of their affection for proto-grunge garage-punk acts like The Gits and The Wipers, whose “Doomtown” they covered on their 2001 EP Modern Plague. Making their first appearance in Nashville this week, Born Dead Icons will be supported by French punks La Fraction, who, two albums and five years into their existence, are finally getting past-due attention in the States. Rounding out the bill are local bands Lipstick Killers and Deadly Skies. Guido’s
Ani DiFranco w/Hamell On Trial A beacon for those who aspire to a do-it-yourself, stay-independent ethic, DiFranco is also esteemed for bringing her aggressive, nakedly emotional twist on contemporary folk to within the inner edges of mainstream awareness. Raw, engaging and funny in concert, DiFranco has over the course of over a dozen albums consistently broken new stylistic ground, growing as a composer, a guitar player and, more covertly, as a producer and a recording engineer as well. Though her last three albums, including this year’s Evolve, have featured a five-piece backing band, DiFranco is again playing solo. Matching her for intensity is the incisive, outraged social commentary of one-man act Hamell on Trial, a recent signee to DiFranco’s Righteous Babe label who plays acoustic with a recognizably punk-influenced attack. James Robertson Theater, Municipal Auditorium
Conjure Women: A Cauldron of Music, Movement & Mouth Green Room Productions inaugurates a busier than usual year of theater offerings with this revue-style celebration of female performers representing diverse areas of endeavor, including poetry, music, storytelling, dance and the visual arts. Among the impressive list of talented participants are Molly Secours, Minton Sparks, Kelly Falzone, Sylvia, Jen Cohen, Carol Ponder and Jackie Welch. Jennifer Jewell’s drama-cum-movement rendering of Christina Rossetti’s 19th century poem “Goblin Market” is the cornerstone event of the two-weekend engagement, which is under the supervision of Green Room artistic director Mark Cabus. Presented Oct. 3-11 at the Darkhorse Theater. For performance schedules and/or reservations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 665-3066.
Smoky Mountain Mist This musical folktale, based loosely on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, was first staged locally about 10 years ago. Now it receives a remounting under the direction of Jamey Green, who, along with Joe Correll, Kathy Shepard and Michael Bouson, wrote the show’s book, lyrics and music. Witches, ghosts and goblins are the key supporting characters in a family-friendly story about star-crossed lovers and the unusual friends and relations who conspire to get them togetherand keep them apart. The setting is Appalachia, and the lush score encompasses original folk, country, bluegrass and Broadway-style tunes; the cast includes Corbin Green, Neely O’Brien and Megan Murphy. Opening this Friday, Oct. 3, the show runs through Nov. 1 at the Boiler Room Theatre in Franklin. For tickets, call 794-7744 or visit www.BoilerRoomTheatre.com.
A Victorian Funeral This unique collaborative community project commemorates the life of Mary Rutledge Fogg, one of Nashville’s leading 19th century citizens. The Nashville City Cemetery Association, which usually presents living-history tours in the fall, departs from that tradition with this dramatic presentation of a script authored by Carolyn Brackett, who offers a portrait of Fogg’s notable family connections, her work as an author and poet, and her efforts as an activist in service of orphans and the church. Under the direction of Lori Leigh, students from Hillwood High School’s drama department stage the play Oct. 4 at Nashville City Cemetery, 1001 Fourth Ave. S. For information and show times, visit www.thenashvillecitycemetery.org or phone 226-4078.
Bill Engvall This folksy, observational stand-up comedian continues to have a very solid and serious career probing marriage, family life, human behavior, social mores and the cultural landscape. His albums Here’s Your Sign, Dorkfish and, most recently, Cheap Drunk: An Autobiography have done consistently well on the comedy sales charts, and he’s amplified his visibility with television appearances, including a co-starring role on NBC’s The Jeff Foxworthy Show. Engvall performs five shows, Oct. 2-4 at Zanies. For reservations, phone 269-0221.
Sarratt Gallery Energetic, committed and politically engaged, Ally Reeves and Shaun Slifer are partners in Rule of Thirds gallery, a literally homegrown effort the couple operate out of a house on Bernard Avenue, off Belmont Boulevard. This space has been dedicated to activism in many forms, including exhibiting art that engages with protest and social change. Now, in a perfect example of the potential for cross-fertilization in the city’s visual arts scene, they’ve been invited to show their own works in the Vanderbilt University student center’s gallery. Their collaborative multimedia installation, “Johnny Appleseed,” combines natural and manmade materials to create a “pseudo ecosystem,” which should serve as a visceral commentary on what we humans do to and on our planet. Though the show directly expresses an environmentalist’s point of view, it promises to do so not in strident or self-righteous tones. If nothing else, Reeves and Slifer seek to convey just how crucial these concerns are for all of us, regardless of how willfully we may indulge our penchant for ignoring them. Across the country, there’s a groundswell of artists analyzing and protesting current conditions while pursuing challenging uses of artistic material. Reeves and Slifer are important members of the Nashville community doing just this, and it will be good to see how they lay claim to the space at Vanderbilt. Highly recommended, the show opens Sunday, Oct. 5, with a gallery talk from 4 to 5 p.m., followed a reception lasting till 7.
David Maddox/Jonathan Marx
Zeitgeist Gallery Opening this Saturday at Zeitgeist is “Fields of Action,” a show of works by local artist Richard Painter, who has shown previously here and at Tennessee State Museum and Cheekwood. Painter has also participated in the Tennessee Arts Commission artist exchange program, spending time in Israel; the artist says he sees similarities between his own work and Israeli art in that they both address political subjects. The title of the show derives from Painter’s idea that “each work represents a view of the field of action in which life takes place.” He uses loaded visual symbols such as moths, dogs and flora to suggest an air of fragility or vulnerability, with these iconic images left free-floating in vast blackened spaces. “These objects are surrounded by aggressively burned visual fields and thus represent...the profound tenacity of life,” he explains. What’s engaging about this work is not so much its romanticized subjects, but the process, in which Painter uses lead, wood and a torch to achieve such invitingly rich imagery. Through his systematic application of retardants and burning wood panels, he constructs thick, textural charcoal surfaces. This added technique gives each piece the variance of multiple and coexisting dimensionalities. The references to painting masters such as Caravaggio and Velasquez seems only obvious for an artist working in such tonal seas of blacks, but how this new mixture is reflective of current cultural issues is still a little dark. Up through Nov. 31, the exhibit opens with a reception, 6-8 p.m. Oct. 4.
TAG Art Gallery This Hillsboro Village gallery’s latest show features two favorites, Jon Langford and Kevin Titzer, both of whom have shown here before. Though long known for his pivotal role in the bands the Mekons and Waco Brothers, Langford is rightfully just as recognized for his paintings, which touch on some of the same themes he’s explored in his music for yearsincluding what he calls his “on/off love-hate relationship with America.” The works all feature country singerssome real and others fictionaland Langford’s handling of these images touches on the complex associations country music has accumulated over the years, especially the tension between commercialization and the music’s fundamental humanity. More than that, his paintings are just plain beautiful, if touched with darkness and even grimness. From Indiana, Titzer embellishes his wooden human figures with all manner of scraps, from light bulbs to tin to bathroom tile. The show opens Oct. 4 with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Langford also plays a show that night at Family Wash, joining author-cum-musician Neal Pollack (who appears at Davis-Kidd earlier in the day).
Books & Learning
Diane Nash A participant and leader in protests against segregation in the early 1960s, Nash played a key role during a watershed moment in our city’s history. A Fisk undergrad at the time, she was one of a group of students who confronted then-Mayor Ben West on the steps of the courthouse on April 16, 1960, after the bombing of attorney and civil rights activist Z. Alexander Looby’s home. When Nash asked West, point blank, if he thought segregation was a moral wrong and if lunch counters should be integrated, the mayor replied, “Yes,” prompting the crowd to erupt in cheers and applause (and drowning out the rest of his response: “That’s up to the store managers, of course”). Nonetheless, the next day’s Nashville Tennessean ran a front-page headline, “Integrate CountersThe Mayor,” and most downtown store owners complied, probably for reasons as much financial as ethical. Nash, who was prominently featured in The Children, David Halberstam’s book about the sit-ins, will speak about her experiences, 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Tennessee State Museum.
Aaron Betsky For two-and-a-half years, the Nashville Cultural Arts Project has hosted lectures on art and design in its “Outta Site!” series. The idea, according to NCAP’s Anita Sheridan, is to stimulate intelligent conversation. Aaron Betsky has surely done that as a teacher, curator and writer (for Blueprint, Details, Architecture Magazine and other publications). Currently based in design-savvy Holland, he heads the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam and will publish a book on Dutch design next year. In the meantime, Sheridan says Betsky has been focusing on themes such as “the relationship between architecture and the cultural development of communities.” Last fall, he released two books; one of them, Landscrapers, was about structures designed around challenging sites. Betsky speaks 5:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Neuhoff site, 1315 Adams St.; for more info, call 481-8102.
School of Rock The gifted Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused) deserves a mainstream hit, and this one looks huge: an unabashedly audience-pleasing comedy about a scruffy metal guitarist (Jack Black, in a tailor-made vehicle) who passes as the new teacher at a stuffy private school for pint-size overachievers. Mike White wrote the script and stars as Black’s downtrodden buddy; Joan Cusack, Sarah Silverman and a cast of irresistible youngsters lend support. See the review on p. 127.
Out of Time Denzel Washington plays a small-town sheriff who tries to steer a homicide investigation away from the person shaping up as the chief suspect: himself. Washington reteams with Carl Franklin, director of the excellent Devil in a Blue Dress, for this twisty thriller co-starring Sanaa Lathan and Eva Mendes. The film opens Friday at area theaters.
OT: Our Town Scott Hamilton Kennedy directed this acclaimed documentary about an inner-city high school where the students are producing the school’s first play in 20 years: the Thornton Wilder classic Our Town. This Friday, the movie launches the Watkins Film School’s new series of free monthly screenings devoted to unreleased but worthy films. See the article on p. 127.
Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Works with Time Who’d have thought that Nashville would turn out reliably for films related to art? Held over for a third week, Thomas Riedelsheimer’s unexpectedly popular documentary follows Scottish sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, who works painstakingly with cold, wind and flowing water to create pieces that are eventually destroyed by the natural forces that shape them. The movie alternates shows at the Belcourt with the brazen Brazilian biopic Madame Sat.
So long Don. Your creative energy and encouragement were inspirational to me.
It was so great being one of those kids in Dayton.
I miss Iodine.
^ It's nice to see an official acknowledgement by management. Kristen Mcarther Miles (the girl…
How ironic that "Vandy radio" gets resurrected as a fictional station?! I was just glad…
Wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.