Pick of the Week ♦♦♦ Aug. 27th 

Shawn Colvin, Buddy Miller

Shawn Colvin, Buddy Miller

Anyone who stereotypes Colvin as a gentle, sensitive singer-songwriter doesn’t listen closely enough to her music—or hasn’t seen her live. With a fierce guitar style and a glare as tough as Chrissie Hynde’s, Colvin brandishes her confessional lyrics with a rocker’s attitude. It works too, because the truths of her songs are hard-eyed and penetrating, and when she reveals something tender, she does so without leaning on easy sentiments. A native of South Dakota who first gained notice in the New York club scene, Colvin has excised some demons in recent years—she’s now a mother and a marathoner who enjoys her domesticity in Austin, Texas. However, she’s still an assertive, seemingly fearless performer onstage, which is where she has always shined. Expect some new songs too, given that she has only released two new albums (including an outstanding holiday collection) since her Grammy-winning commercial high point, 1996’s A Few Small Repairs. Colvin will be joined at Uptown Mix by old friend and Nashville treasure Buddy Miller, who came of age artistically in the Manhattan musical community that also nurtured Colvin and the likes of Jim Lauderdale, Suzanne Vega and Lucy Kaplansky. With his soul-rich take on gutbucket country, Miller has been responsible for some of the most consistently resonant and exciting American music of the last decade.

—M.Mc.

This week’s picks be Martin Brady, Paul Griffith, MiChelle Jones, Michael McCall, Noel Murray, Jim Ridley, Jon Weisberger, Angela Wibking, and Ron Wynn.

Music

Thursday, 21st

Tim O’Brien Band O’Brien sings with conviction, writes with sensitivity and craft, and displays amazing musical versatility (he’s capable on every instrument of the bluegrass idiom). His 30-year career has featured classy solo albums and collaborations with his sister Mollie and Darrell Scott, major publishing credits with artists like Kathy Mattea and the Dixie Chicks, and the co-founding of the influential progressive bluegrass band Hot Rize. His new CD, Traveler—his first strictly singer-songwriter effort in six years—is worthy for its musicianship alone. (Scott, Bela Fleck and Jerry Douglas are among the players.) But more than that, the record offers a literate yet colloquially expressive accounting on personal issues spanning love, truth, progeny and the road. The 12 cuts range from dark (“On the Outside Looking In”) to sobering (“Another Day”) to philosophical (“Travelers”) to bluegrass-whimsical (“Family History,” “Kelly Joe’s Shoes”). Hard-charging mandolin and bouzouki anchor almost every song, and O’Brien’s vocals convey sincerity and maturity—whether he’s reflecting on kinfolk, the passage of time or the landscape as observed from a moving automobile. He saves the best for last with the jaunty closer “Less and Less,” a simple and wide-open up-tempo number that captures a self-aware middle-aged artist who has stripped off a few layers of emotional baggage and is now quite comfortable in his skin. Belcourt Theatre

—M.B.

Friday, 22nd

Los Lonely Boys Quintessentially Texan, Los Lonely Boys come out of San Angelo (west of Austin) with an accomplished roots-rock sound that’s an inspired amalgam of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Texas Tornados, ZZ Top and even a little bit of Willie Nelson. In fact, Nelson has mentored the band, which consists of the three Garza brothers, all of whom are in their early 20s but are decade-plus veterans of their father’s conjunto band (which worked out of Nashville during the early ’90s). On Los Lonely Boys’ eponymous debut, years of road work show in both the polished playing and a rare sensitivity to how electric blues can be given more texture and made more personal. Their genre-twisting fusion of grit and delicacy is almost as impressive as their romanticism, which has the band pledging love and sharing dreams in almost every song. There’s a tone of far-off longing in a few tracks (like the ballad “Hollywood”), but most of the record follows the “it’s good to be here” mood of many Austin-area acts, who tend not to have the restlessness of other Southern rockers. The album’s triumph is the nine-minute, Santana-like “Onda,” which exults so thoroughly in the joy of the moment and in the Garzas’ instrumental command that it’s hard to imagine anyone not getting swept up by it. The End

—N.M.

Saturday, 23rd

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver Bring a top-shelf bluegrass sound to pop and rock audiences, and you’ll get the adoration of the media. Bring it to gospel audiences, and you won’t. It’s not really that simple, but Lawson must sometimes wonder if it is. Arguably the most influential bluegrass stylist of the past quarter century, he revitalized classics of the idiom with the Bluegrass Album Band, and with his band Quicksilver, he has created an enduring and widely imitated blend of traditional and contemporary sounds. (He also deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the existence of bluegrass gospel as a distinct sub-genre.) Yet despite this unexcelled record of accomplishment—and the compelling beauty and unyielding drive of his music—Lawson’s only now getting his due, including a nomination for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award. For while other artists have been reaching out to the hip side of the youth audience, Lawson has spent his time in churches and at the National Quartet Convention, introducing a truly alternative generation to the sounds of the banjo and Bill Monroe. His stop in Woodbury this weekend is the closest that Lawson and his band will get to Nashville with a full-length appearance this year, and it’s more than worth the trip to sample the abundance of talent, gospel inspiration, secular dynamism and pure showmanship that make up a Quicksilver show. The unrivaled one-two vocal punch of tenors Barry Scott and Jamie Dailey is not to be missed, nor are the twin fiddles Lawson carries as a matter of course, and the same goes for the leader’s engaging stories and dry sense of humor. And if that’s not enough, there’s a special bittersweet note to be savored as the band prepare to bid farewell to banjo player, bass vocalist extraordinaire and 10-year veteran Dale Perry, who departs at the end of the month. It all should make for a riveting bluegrass experience, even for the hippest of the hip. 2 & 7:30 p.m., Arts Center of Cannon County, Woodbury

—J.W.

T-Model Ford It’s become trendy to call Ford a revivalist, but that’s just not the case. Along with several of the other acts who record for the Fat Possum label, Ford could more appropriately be called a Delta blues modernist. (He didn’t cut his first album until 1997, when he was in his 70s.) Other than playing a six-string guitar and exploring such topics as ill-fated affairs and other woes, Ford works in a style that’s thoroughly original and contemporary. He isn’t the rousing, unpredictable instrumentalist his labelmate Cedell Davis is, but Ford makes up for that with a wry, weary vocal approach: He moans, hums, crackles and wails, sometimes offering ironic commentary, at others times delivering bittersweet tales or snappy repartee. He also manages to be eloquent without being verbose, wise without sounding pedantic, and he exemplifies everything that’s compelling and enduring about the blues. Hopefully, amidst all the talk about this being “The Year of the Blues,” Ford will receive some wider attention. Slow Bar

—R.W.

Theater

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Expanding its geographical range to the west side of town, long-running community theater company Circle Players will be presenting both preview and encore performances of its 2003-2004 productions in the Pargh Theater at the Gordon Jewish Community Center, 801 Percy Warner Blvd. This new program kicks off on Aug. 23-24, when the company offers an advance look at Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The production, under the direction of Dan McGeachy, will receive its “official” public staging at TPAC’s Johnson Theater, Aug. 29-Sept. 7. For tickets and information regarding the GJCC, phone 356-7170 or visit www.nashvillejcc.org. For more on Circle’s upcoming season, its 54th, visit www.circleplayers.net/season54.asp.

—M.B.

War of the Worlds Young, energetic and eager to exhibit his innovative spirit and flair for the dramatic, the wunderkind Orson Welles caused a temporary national panic on Oct. 30, 1938, when his Mercury Theater on the Air company orchestrated a shockingly realistic radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. The Franklin Drama Reserve, a new nonprofit Franklin theater company, will offer a re-creation of this historic media event on Aug. 27, a date that coincides with the planet Mars’ closest proximity to the Earth in 60,000 years. (Assuming no cloud cover, Mars will appear in the night sky more than six times larger than usual.) The performance, directed by Shane Caudill, will take place 7:30 p.m. at Edwin Warner Park, and will be enhanced by various activities including music, vendor booths, prize giveaways and a Mars observation post. For further information, phone 614-0033. (Those harboring a particular fascination with WOTW will want to visit www.war-of-the-worlds.org/.)

—M.B.

Art

Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery Nashville artist Herb Williams explores crayons as fine art in sculptures that turn the kid-friendly medium on its ear. “I think artwork can be humorous and even downright fun, yet still be viable in the midst of what is considered 'art’ today,” he says. The artist uses the waxy sticks of color as building blocks to create flags, human figures, fruit, wine bottles and even a pair of men’s briefs. The results are witty, sophisticated and anything but childlike. Williams’ works are paired in the show with Alice Anthony’s photos of Elvis fans snapped outside Graceland. Join the artists for a reception, 4-6 p.m. Aug. 22.

—A.W.

Marnie Sheridan Gallery This Harpeth Hall gallery kicks off its fall exhibition series with functional and sculptural works in clay by Kirke Martin. The Maryland artist fires his pieces in a large wood-burning tunnel kiln that he built himself. Temperatures reach 2,400 degrees, and the fire lasts four days, with wood fed to the flames by Martin’s team of helpers every 30 minutes. The show opens with a free reception, 2-5 p.m. Aug. 24. Martin will discuss his labor-intensive creative process at 3:30 p.m., and music by Nancy Seiters follows the talk.

—A.W.

Books & Learning

Jennie Fields There are two times when the adage “write about what you know” should be ignored: when what you know is your second career or your second chance at love. Brooklyn author Jennie Fields manages to work both into The Middle Ages, a drawn-from-life novel in which the protagonist lands both the soul-satisfying gig and the perfect man. Good for her. Jennie Fields reads and signs The Middle Ages at Davis-Kidd Booksellers, 6 p.m. Aug 20.

—P.G.

Film

Bhaji on the Beach Dinner & a Movie Movies and Indian meals have proved a winner with local audiences, who showed up in droves for dinner-and-a-movie screenings of Bollywood/Hollywood and last year’s Lagaan. The watch-and-eat event returns to the Belcourt 6:30 p.m. Sunday with a screening of Bhaji on the Beach, the first film by Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha. The $10 admission includes a box dinner from Franklin’s Bistro Shakti; if the turnout is as huge as it was for Bollywood/Hollywood—or last week’s Belcourt screening of Koi...Mil Gaya, a Hindi variation on E.T.—plan to arrive early. For more information, call 846-3150.

—J.R.

11’09”01—September 11 In 12 segments, international directors from Sean Penn and Ken Loach to Iran’s Samira Makhmalbaf and Mexico’s Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu use 11 minutes, 9 seconds and exactly one frame of film to address the still looming shadow of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (See the review on p. 59.) The movie opens Friday at the Belcourt. After the 7 p.m. show on Friday, journalist Ron Wynn will host a panel discussion of the film and related issues with The Tennessean’s Tim Chavez, The Rage’s Dana Kopp Franklin, Awadh Binhazin from the Islamic Center, and Matt Leber from the Nashville Peace and Justice Center. For more information, call 846-3150. This coming week, the Belcourt also holds over Matthew Barney’s equally controversial Cremaster 3—the subject of much discussion in the city’s art scene last weekend.

—J.R.

Dirty Pretty Things Stephen Frears (High Fidelity) returns to his roots in gritty British television dramas with this well-reviewed thriller, in which an illegal Nigerian immigrant stumbles upon an underground trade in human...well, let’s not say more. Audrey Tautou and Sergi Lopez star. The movie opens Friday at Green Hills, along with Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson in the Merchant Ivory romantic comedy Le Divorce and the British comedy-drama I Capture the Castle. Opening elsewhere this week: the new Jackie Chan vehicle The Medallion, Marci X and My Boss’s Daughter.

—J.R.

Television

FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION Gene Kranz is perhaps best known for uttering his famous phrase during the Apollo 13 mission, but his career in Mission Control stretched from the pioneering Project Mercury era to the Space Shuttle years. His 2000 memoir, aptly titled Failure Is Not an Option, was a refreshingly candid account of the space program as seen from his flight director’s console. This TV adaptation focuses largely on the development of Mission Control—a place characterized by “coffee, cigarettes, junk food and stress”—and the space program’s defining moments. There are a few unfortunate reenactment scenes, but these are overpowered by outstanding archival footage coupled with appearances by controllers and astronauts. The program airs 8 p.m. Aug. 24 on the History Channel.

—M.J.

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