The Charles Moore photograph that became the cover of Paul Hendrickson’s Sons of Mississippi: A Story of Race and Its Legacy isn’t one of the most immediately recognizable of the civil rights era. It depicts no fire hoses or snarling dogs, no protesting students being hauled away from lunch counters. Yet the photograph of seven Mississippi sheriffs taken on Sept. 27, 1962, a few days before the enrollment of James Meredith at Ole Miss, is as chilling and iconic a study in the insouciance of historical and personal evil as any you’ll ever seeenough that this single image provided the inspiration and the focal point for Hendrickson’s study of racism in Mississippi’s all too recent past. For example, Billy Farrell, the handsomely lantern-jawed figure swinging a billy club on the book’s cover, is one of two figures in the photograph whom Hendrickson actually meets; and it is through Farrell’s story and that of his children, and then through six of his confederates’ stories, that we watch how racism bursts into literal flame, then finds quieter, less discernible means of preserving itself, sometimes despite the best efforts of those who despise its presence in themselves. Hendrickson’s book would be a valuable document if he did nothing more than relate historical events and their consequences; what makes Sons of Mississippi a work that flickers toward genius is Hendrickson’s rendering of guilt, collective and individual, without judgment. “Where did the hatred and the sorrow go that flowed out of that moment?” he asks. There is no answer to such a question, of course; instead, we have Hendrickson’s Faulknerian narrative, with its essential digressions and meditations that seem frighteningly timely. The author appears at Davis-Kidd, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 1.
This week’s picks by Todd Anderson, Martin Brady, Doug Brumley, David Cantwell, Chris Davis, Bill Friskics-Warren, Paul Griffith, Bill Levine, Jonathan Marx, Mark Mays, Steve Morley, Noel Murray, Jim Ridley, Jon Weisberger, Angela Wibking and Ron Wynn.
Nashville River Stages
Starting Friday, more than 60 local, regional and national acts will converge on Riverfront Park for the city’s annual three-day music festival. Truth be told, this year’s lineup seems even tamer and less ambitious than previous yearsespecially compared with this weekend’s competing Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, which supplements many of the same artists with the likes of Wilco, India.Arie, Big Star, Nappy Roots, LL Cool J, Evanescence, Sheryl Crow, T-Model Ford and Jim Dickinson. Next year, how about a better representation of contemporary black music, international artists and indie up-and-comers? In the meantime, choose from among the worthwhile performers listed below.
Buddy Guy Whether acoustic or electric, the blues is more and more about guitars. We can blame rock, British fans and, yes, Guy, who often has spent more time on squalling, lengthy guitar solos than on singing. But whether you favor Charley Patton or Muddy Waters, the blues at its best is about the give-and-take between vocals and guitarsomething that Guy, who earned early fame as a pleading singer, understands so well. He plays the Budweiser Stage at 8:20 p.m.
The Mavericks This band’s postmodern take on vintage country and pop set the standard for Nashville hip in the ’90s and introduced the world to the dramatic, resonant voice of Raul Malo, who has been pursuing his Latin roots as a solo act of late. Though they’ve been on hiatus a relatively short time, the Mavs’ reunion promises to be a crowd pleaser when they hit the Gay Street Stage at 9:30 p.m.
Robert Randolph & The Family Band Pedal steel guitarist Randolph delights in obliterating idiomatic distinctions and rocking the house, whether the audience be a gospel congregation or a rock crowd. He’s been a driving force in the “Sacred Steel” movement, while also providing support on record to such artists as the Blind Boys of Alabama and Ben Harper. His Family Band may be the best context in which to hear him, if only because Randolph is so animated and loose fronting his own unit. The Family Band played a tremendous local show here a few weeks ago; they return for a 5:45 p.m. appearance at the Acme Lot Stage.
Caitlin Cary The ex-Whiskeytown violinist’s new LP I’m Staying Out offers a more confident, elegant version of country-soul than last year’s While You Weren’t Looking. Cary and producer Chris Stamey have developed a polished but not-too-slick sound, spare and evocative, decorated tastefully with electric piano, horns and strings. Cary takes it slow and easy, dropping her rich voice to a hush for drama and emphasis, guiding the songs through verses, over bridges and into choruses, pitching hard and pitching soft. She brings her band to the Gay Street Stage at 3 p.m.
Keb’ Mo’ Keb’ Mo’ has evolved greatly since his initial albums, which emphasized his ability to contemporize traditional blues. He’s now demonstrating his facility with everything from country music to highly produced urban contemporary pieces, while also expanding his scope and vision as a writer and player. He appears 8 p.m. on the Gay Street Stage.
Robinella & The C.C. Stringband One part repertory ensemble and one part hybrid jam band, this dynamic unit features Robinella Contreras’ soaring soprano framed by arrangements that shift from country to bluegrass, then back to a jazz or swing foundation. Contreras derives inspiration from Billie Holiday and Dolly Parton, and the group’s self-titled Columbia debut showcases those influences and more, plus some intriguing originals. They play the Gay Street Stage at 5:30 p.m.
Aimee Mann Mann’s songsan unlikely blend of the cynical and the romanticwave a banner for the lovelorn left-of-center crowd. Her command of pop songcraft and clever way with a couplet are the sweeteners that make her bitter pills go down so easily. She appears at the Gay Street Stage at 9:30 p.m.
Joe Cocker One of pop’s most recognizable stylists as well as a defining voice of rock, Cocker still sounds the most exciting when he’s revisiting the alternately rollicking and pile-driving material of his post-Woodstock phase, and last year’s Austin City Limits appearance demonstrated he can still deliver. He plays the Budweiser Stage at 5:15 p.m.
Steve Winwood The British rock and R&B legend, and part-time Nashville resident, plays 3:45 p.m. at the Best Buy Stage with a new band that combines elements of world music with a Jack McDuff-style organ trio. Flora Purim guitarist Jose Neto and former Santana and El Rayo X drummer Walfredo Reyes Jr. form the core of the group, with Winwood kicking the B-3 pedals in lieu of a bass player.
Angelique Kidjo Kidjo has been unwillingly drawn into the ongoing controversy over whether African musicians should confine themselves to “traditional” material performed in native languages or expand their horizons to include rock, pop and other styles. She steadfastly refuses to adhere to anyone’s musical formula, and her strong, booming voice is a wondrous thing, no matter what she’s singing. She performs 3:45 p.m. at the Gay Street Stage.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe Saxophonist Denson plays funk, outside jazz and hard bop with dexterity and imagination. His Tiny Universe band can mimic James Brown on one song, Funkadelic the next, then move into an experimental mode, though they never lose the groove. Denson and his Tiny Universe play the Acme Lot Stage at 4 p.m.
Marc Broussard Despite his relative youth, twentysomething guitarist and vocalist Broussard performs fiery songs with authority, adding tingling blues and rock licks to emphatic, tersely sung leads. Broussard also delves into country on occasion, while covering the broad South Louisiana canon and adding fresh works of his own. He’ll be doing songs from his recent LP Momentary Setback on the Gay Street Stage at 1:15 p.m.
Donna The Buffalo A subversive wit and roots music chops keep DTB from sinking too deeply into jam-band miasma. Yes, they can (and do) go on at length, but somehow it worksa deliciously twisted fusion of hillbilly rock and reggae, grinding out a 21st century “Sally Gooden” for the dancin’ folks. DTB play the Acme Lot Stage at 2:30 p.m.
The High Strung These slantwise Brooklyn popsters trade in trippy melodies, frothy harmonies and blissed-out guitarsthat is, they run Pavement-style high jinks through their Beatles and Love filters. They know how to write songs too, as their forthcoming full-length, These Are Good Times, amply attests. Jim Diamond, who’s worked with the White Stripes and Mooney Suzuki, produced the record, which the band doubtless will spotlight when they play the Slow Bar.
Drive-By Truckers Drive-By Truckers have drawn national attention thanks to their ambitious 2001 double LP Southern Rock Opera, which grappled with the implications of being an enlightened Lynyrd Skynyrd disciple. It’s a good record, smart and even thrilling at times, but some rightly grumbled that the band’s riffs weren’t up to the level of their forbears. The Truckers address those concerns on the follow-up Decoration Day, which is twangier and groovier (and less muddy) than their acclaimed breakthrough. They’ll be trotting out kick-ass new songs like the spiteful “Sink Hole” and the scary “Careless” at The Mercy Lounge with support from the equally fine Glossary.
27bstroke6 These five talented musicians are a jam band in the traditional senselong solos, even-tempered vocals, a percussionist. They’ll disband this week at the Red Rose with an outdoor show that looks determinedly to the futureeach member will also play in his or her new band. (These include The Carter Administration, Uva Mala, Ghostbridge and the percussion ensemble Caixa Trio.) The show starts 7 p.m. and goes head-to-head with Jack, Flesh Vehicle and Knife Fight, who play inside.
Terence Blanchard First rising to prominence when he replaced Wynton Marsalis in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, recent Down Beat Artist of the Year winner Blanchard plays in a forthright manner that mines and rethinks the mainstream jazz tradition. If the trumpeter is best known for scoring many of Spike Lee’s films, he certainly deserves broader recognition for projects like his 2001 release, Let’s Get Lost: The Songs of Jimmy McHugh. Blanchard’s reharmonized and rhythmically reconfigured arrangements of the title track and standards like “I’m in the Mood for Love” allow his melodic lines to play off the boppish undercurrent of tenorist Brice Winston and the quiet lyricism of pianist Edward Simon. When Blanchard headlines the Main Street Jazz Fest in Murfreesboro, his quintet will be augmented by Shedrick Mitchell on Hammond B-3 and Lionel Loueke on guitar, promising a more boisterous, blues-drenched sound.
Rhonda Vincent & The Rage Arguably the hardest-working gal in bluegrass today, Vincent will celebrate the release of her dandy new CD, One Step Ahead, on the Grand Ole Opry’s televised 7 p.m. segment. With a crackerjack band and a couple of gee-whiz guestslongtime friend Alison Krauss, and preteen fiddler Molly Cherryholmes, who penned the disc’s lone instrumentalit’s a safe bet they’ll bring down the house.
Danielle Howle South Carolinian singer Howle has a soaring, distinctly melodious voice that, on its own, exerts a powerful pull. Matched with her accomplished, singular songs, it’s doubly forceful. An enchanting, affable and warmly funny performer, Howle is perfectly matched with wry Nashvillian Tommy Womack at The Sutler.
Reggae Spring Splash w/Mystic Meditations Mystic Meditations founder Mustafa Abdul-Aleem hosts the Reggae Spring Splash at the Exit/In to give Nashville a taste of the arts of the African Diaspora. Featuring an exhibition of capoeira, martial arts from Brazil, and showcasing the intricate interplay between traditional African drummers and dancers, the event also serves as a celebration for the release of Aleem’s new solo disc and a live recording of the eighth annual Bob Marley birthday tribute.
Average White Band Like a lot of groups who had hits in the ’70s, AWB have become a franchisea couple original members working mid-sized clubs and festivals, with journeyman musicians filling in for the members who are deceased or used up. Still, the hitslike “Cut the Cake” and “Schoolboy Crush”are soul-funk masterpieces that have held up well, quite a feat for a band of self-effacing Caucasoids from Scotland. AWB perform at 3rd & Lindsley.
Pepper MaShay The sassay, flashay Miss MaShay has sung backup for everyone from Cher to Mick Jagger, but it was her vocals on the 2000 club smash “Dive in the Pool” (a Queer as Folk anthem) that launched her into the club-diva stratosphere. She makes a rare Nashville appearance at The Connection.
Gary Burr & Randy Hart Ringo, Reba, Juice, Faith, Garth, Wynonna, Tanyaat this point, who hasn’t Burr written for? He’s even added “American Idol” Kelly Clarkson to his list with “Before Your Love” from her recent CD. Burr is the king of the co-write, but he writes and performs just as regally by himself. Expect an evening of varied, high-gloss professionalism in both material and delivery at this 9:30 p.m. Bluebird Café gig, which will include Burr’s talented keyboard sideman Randy Hart.
King’s X/Fishbone/The Soul Of John Black Fishbone cross the socially conscious ska-punk of The Clash with the witty bump of Parliament-Funkadelic; their latest record, Essential Fishbone, surveys their 20-year career. Former Fishbone guitarist John Bigham fronts The Soul of John Black, whose self-titled debut embodies the boisterous Fishbone spirit, especially with Bigham’s tight production controlling the chaos. King’s X have evolved from a cheesy imitator of The Jimi Hendrix Experience to a band with a taste for the esoteric. The three acts play at the Exit/In.
Orleans When Orleans take the stage at 3rd & Lindsley, you’ll hear the anticipated renditions of their tuneful ’70s hits, new material and a noticeably renewed constitution. Reunited after a respite in the late ’90s, the band (which includes Nashvillians John Hall and Lance Hoppen), just released a live set in time for their 30th anniversary tour, currently in progress.
Richard James Richard James Zaccheo is well known among local rock fans for his gutbucket blues band, The James Family. Recent solo acoustic shows reveal a tendency toward outside note choices while retaining the rhythmic urgency and spontaneity of his full band. James plays at Guido’s NY Pizzeria.
Firecats/Dana Cerick Sunday afternoons at The Boardroom may be the coolest gig going this spring. The shows start at 5 p.m. and, weather permitting, the bands play outside on the deck. There’s no cover, and the pints are only a buck. On tap this week is the gutsy soul of Firecats and the urban heartbreak of Dana Cerick.
Harpeth Valley Sacred Harp Singers The Renaissance Center in Dickson concludes its three-day “Singo de Mayo” celebration with a sing-along performance by these area aficionados of the 18th century shape-note tradition. There’s no effective way to describe the beauty or intensity of fasola harmonies sung with the strength and soul of a volunteer chorusit’s best just to participate and appreciate how fun and easy it is to make beautiful music with strangers.
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Ronnie Baker Brooks He spent 11 years playing in his father Lonnie Brooks’ band, but now the younger Brooks has broken out on his own and proven he has his own special flair. His debut album, Golddigger, got even hardened blues fans excited with its blend of frenetic guitar and screaming vocals; Brooks’ new Live DVD is even more definitive. He appears at Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar.
The Damnwells Overshadowed by hometown buzz bands like The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, New York City’s The Damnwells have yet to receive their due. But that hasn’t prevented critics from proclaiming eventual sure-thing status for the band, and judging by their debut EP PMR + 1, the prognosticators might be right. Frontman Alex Dezenwhose singing style meanders between that of Jeff Tweedy and Bobby Bare Jr.tweaks his earnest, tightly crafted songs with psychedelia, roots rock and power pop in varying proportions. None of these stylistic forays obscures the heart of the songs, though, allowing the infectious hooks and clever, introspective lyrics to rush right to your brain and stick there. The Damnwells open for ex-Sebadoh member Jason Loewenstein and +/- (see below)at Slow Bar.
+/- Versus guitarist James Baluyut and drummer Patrick Ramos haven’t rested on their laurels during that band’s protracted break. Their winsome pop project, +/-, deftly mixes programmed Casio electronics and indie ballads with bombastic rock gestures. Fleshed out to a foursome, the group play at Slow Bar with Jason Loewenstein and The Damnwells.
Rotten Piece Made up of the husband-and-wife team of Shaun and Carol Kelly, this duo evoke the sounds of Houston’s post-industrial wasteland and transform them into a hazy, droning collage accompanied by experimental video clips. Though their instruments and manner of playing constantly mutate, their most recent configuration has featured Shaun on stick-cello, synths and “dark guitar,” with Carol on lap-steel guitar. When the duo’s depopulated urban soundscape enfolds improvised figures from local soprano sax player Dave Maddox, the Glass Snake Lizards are born. Opening for them at Guido’s is the frazzled blues of the hometown trio Arizona Drains.
Brandtson One of the few post-punk bands to whom one can’t apply the adjective “whiny,” Brandtson temper heavy guitar riffs with melodic vocals. Their songs have satisfying hooks too, but are never obvious or predictable. They play The End with Copeland and Death Comes to Matteson.
Nashville Film Festival The city’s 34th annual showcase for international features, documentaries, shorts, animation and experimental film continues through Sunday night at Green Hills. Must-see films include Sweet Sixteen, Lilya 4-Ever, Turning Gate, The Weather Underground, The Secret Lives of Dentists and Our House, as well as the festival’s two hottest tickets, the locally produced features Stuey and Charlie’s War. For more information, see last week’s Scene cover story or consult www.nashvillefilmfestival.org.
Nashville Film Festival Panels & Workshops In its popular series of industry panels and workshops, the NFF offers sessions with visiting heavyweights on topics ranging from music supervision and TV production to the business of screenwriting. This year’s guests include The Matrix executive producer Andrew Mason, and we’re especially excited about Thursday’s appearance by Nicholas Meyer, who wrote the novel (and movie) The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and directed two of the most durable sci-fi fantasies ever, Time After Time and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. To find out more, see p. 69.
Interview with the Assassin Every time the hair-raising trailer for Neil Burger’s conspiracy film gets shown at a local theater, apparently someone comes out to ask the staff, “Is this movie for real?” The Zapruder film meets The Blair Witch Project in Burger’s “documentary,” which consists of an interview with a scarily credible man who says he can identify the second gunman in the JFK assassination. The film opens Friday at the Belcourt.
X2: X-Men United When a military zealot demands the eradication of all mutants, the X-Men reluctantly join forces with their old foe, the criminal mastermind Magneto (Ian McKellen). The first X-Men did a surprisingly effective job of catching newbies up with the comic book’s convoluted mythology. This one’s reportedly for the fans, with more characters, bigger action scenes and an even more complicated plot. It opens Friday, along with Hilary Duff in The Lizzie McGuire Movie.
Harpeth Hall Annual Spring dance Concert The Harpeth Hall School Dance Company presents its annual spring concert, as more than 80 students perform to the music of great female composers and lyricists, including Betty Comden, Carole Bayer Sager, Dolly Parton, recent Grammy Award winner Norah Jones and Nashvillian Conni Ellisor. The company, celebrating its 27th year offering a blend of modern, jazz, tap, ballet and other styles, is under the artistic direction of Stephanie Hamilton. The concert will be held May 1-3 at the Frances Bond Davis Theatre in the school’s Idanelle McMurry Center for Arts and Athletics.
Lady Frederick W. Somerset Maugham is best known as a novelist, but for a time he was a fairly popular playwright. Occasionally, his stage works get revived, and ACT I does just that with this rarely produced 1907 comedy of marriage, money and manners concerning a society lady and her persistent young suitor. Melissa Bedinger-Hade directs a promising cast May 2-17 at the Darkhorse Theater; call 726-2281 for reservations.
Respect: The Musical Journey of Women The Nashville Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association is the host of this musical revue, which uses pop songs through the decades as a means to assess the social progress of women. The music, spanning from Gershwin to Helen Reddy and beyond, will be performed by Adrienne Ewing-Roush, Dorothy Marcic, Emily Price and Rachel Price; Marcic authored the book on which the program is based. There will be one free performance, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 1, in the atrium of Davis-Kidd Booksellers.
The Three Little Pigs The Olde Worlde Theatre Co., a group of parents committed to value-oriented children’s programming, offers this new musical satire based on the kiddie classic, 10 a.m. May 3 at the Belcourt Theatre. The company, under the direction of Richard Stein, made its debut in February with Jack and the Beanstalk. For info, phone 300-0374.
Richard Lewis Lewis started as a stand-up performing in clubs, then moved to television, where he has made dozens of appearances. Later, he made a successful segue into dramatic acting with roles in Drunks and Leaving Las Vegas. He’s even the author of an autobiography, The OTHER Great Depression. Lewis brings his neurosis-based shtick to Zanies for one show only on May 4, at 8 p.m. Phone 269-0221 for reservations.
Fugitive Art Center Upon entering the Fugitive this Saturday, visitors will be greeted by “Waiting on What Won’t Be,” by Donna Tauscher, a former Nashvillian (and former Fugitive board member) who has relocated to Seattle. As with her wonderful show at Cheekwood’s Temporary Contemporary space last year, Tauscher incorporates elements of her own life into this multimedia work (in this case correspondence and photographs). But rather than feeling even remotely self-conscious or self-indulgent, Tauscher’s art is frank, brave and uniquely beautiful, the sort of self-examination/expression that invites the viewer to plumb his or her own humanity. It should provide an ideal counterpart to “push, sometimes float,” an exhibit of lovely, evocative photographs by Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based artist and university instructor Ashley Oates. As the title of her show indicates, Oates is interested in moments of quiet fluxthe anticipation (or aftermath) of a tornado, the dynamic yet serene motions of a swimmer. Printed on metal, her photographs come as close to capturing the ineffable, the transitional, as anything can. The opening receptionalways a festive occasion at the Fugitiveis 7-9 p.m. May 3. For information or directions, visit www.fugitiveart.com.
Premier Art Decor & Designs This Music Row gallery, at 1516-A Demonbreun St., celebrates its third anniversary with an exhibition by Haitian artist Essud Fungcap. His colorful paintings often have a musical theme, with singers and musicians presented in a Cubist style. The opening reception is 4-7 p.m. May 3.
The Artful Dog At this laid-back folk art and funky craft emporium in Berry Hill, you’ll find six rooms and a courtyard filled with works by regional and local artists. “Princesses, Mermaids & Mothers” opens Thursday and runs through May 11; the art ranges from mosaic birdbaths and metal art to mermaid paintings and hand-painted mirrors. The Artful Dog is at 2828 Dogwood Pl. 269-6920.
Watkins College of Art & Design Now well ensconced at the former site of the Fountain Square movie theater, Watkins College honors Lydia Wilkes, its first graduate to earn a BFA degree, with an exhibit in the school’s Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Gallery. Though Wilkes’ focus is printmaking, her work incorporates a variety of media, focusing primarily on images of the nude for a show that promises to be honest, inventive and quite possibly revelatory. The school celebrates the noteworthy occasion with an opening reception, 6-8 p.m. May 2.
Stanford Fine Art A group of local artists who show together as The Cumberland Society of Painters present their annual show at this gallery on Highway 100. The artists, who paint plein-air landscapes in the Impressionist style, include Paula Frizbe, Jason Saunders, Michael Shane Neal, Pam Padgett and Dawn Whitelaw. Join them for an opening reception, 5-8 p.m. May 2.
Diggin’ The Dinosaurs at Gaylord Opryland Opryland theme park may be extinct, but the Gaslight Theater (next to the Opry House) looks like Jurassic Park these days. The theater is housing a dinosaur exhibit created by Don Lessem, author of more than 25 books and advisor to the blockbuster film adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel. Kids also know him as “Dino Don,” columnist for Highlights. Filled with genuine dinosaur skeletons, robotic models and kids’ activity stations, the show opens May 1 and runs all summer long. For reservations and ticket information, call (800) OPRY-872.
Tennessee Crafts Fair Follow the craft-loving crowd (about 50,000 people each year) to Centennial Park for the biggest and best celebration of fine craft by Tennessee artisans. You’ll find works in clay, glass, wood, fiber and metal, as well as jewelry and fine wearable art, sculpture, photography and original prints. You can also enjoy demonstrations by artists in different media, hands-on children’s art activities orchestrated by the Renaissance Center, live music and a food court. The fair is May 2-5. Admission is free.
Conference of the Community For $3 a carload, you can take a cultural tour of nearly a dozen countries, as demonstrated by members of ethnic communities right here in Middle Tennessee. Enjoy the music and dance of southern India, courtesy of members of the Gujarat Cultural Association, and kick up your heels with Danny Campbell and the Mid State Ramblers as they demonstrate the art of buck-dancing. The native dances of Polynesia, the Philippines, Mexico and Ireland will also be showcased by various ensembles, as will be steel drum music from the Caribbean, African drumming, Ukrainian folk tunes and more. It’s all happening May 3 at Cedars of Lebanon State Park, only 35 miles from Nashville. For info, call 444-4565.
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