The name of this event translates from the French as “sight and sound,” and it promises plenty of both. A convergence of art, music and fashion, it should also make for a helluva party at the comfortably stylish Mercy Lounge. The music comes courtesy of local bands Northern Lights, Character and Baby Stout, along with DJs D-Funk, Mickey Parks, Mindub and Chek. Just the DJs alone represent a sprawling cross-section of musiceverything from deep-catalog funk to soul-soaked Latin grooves to skittering electronicaand they can be counted on to get the party started right. Meanwhile, the art on view should offer a glimpse at the fecundity of Nashville’s visual arts community, thanks to the likes of Natalie Cox, Terry Glispin, Mark Hosford, Bryce McCloud, Lesley Patterson, Ally Reeves, Jack Dingo Ryan, Shaun Slifer, Julie Sola, Heather Swain, Colleen Zralek and more than a dozen others, including event planners Brittany Connor and Lain York. (Together, the artists represent pretty much every art institution in town that’s worth a look, from energetic upstarts like Rule of Thirds Gallery to more established places like Zeitgeist Gallery and Watkins College of Art & Design.) The evening will be capped with a show of clothes from eight designers and stylists, including lingerie by Kim Rosen, Goth apparel by Lizzie, dog fashions by Laura Patterson and clothes by Star (who won’t be able to attend because she just got a gig designing clothes for Target). And if you need any more reasons to go, consider this: The evening is hosted by the charismatic Dave Cloudthe only man for the job, really. Doors open at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 9. Tickets are $10, and there’ll be door prizes. J.M.
This week’s picks by Todd Anderson, Martin Brady, Doug R. Brumley, Chris Davis, Steve Erickson, Bill Friskics-Warren, Lacey Galbraith, Paul Griffith, Heather Johnson, Bill Levine, Jonathan Marx, Steve Morley, Margaret Renkl, Jim Ridley, Joshua H. Rothkopf, Jack Silverman, Jon Weisberger, Angela Wibking and Ron Wynn.
Mary Lou Lord City Sounds, the latest from this aspirated strummer from Boston, is a fetching set of covers recorded live with a portable DAT machine at a subway stop in Harvard Square. Everyone from Magnetic Fields, Sandy Denny, Bob Dylan and Bell/Chilton get their due, as do Lord’s go-to-guys Nick Saloman (Bevis Frond) and Daniel Johnston. Best of all is her downshifted take of “Thunder Road,” an example of reimagining tradition that borders on revelatory. Opening for Lord at The End are E.J. Friedman and Cory Branan; the latter is a heart-on-sleeve singer-songwriter from Mississippi akin to Ryan Adams or Conor Oberst.
Dub Narcotic Sound System After founding the influential faux-naïf band Beat Happening and the indie K Records label, singer-guitarist Calvin Johnson had a tough act to follow and so went in a different direction. While Dub Narcotic Sound System aren’t exactly a reggae band, they mix funk and dub with rock; far from the deliberate amateurism of Beat Happening, they lay down a groove with panache. They play with The Pine Hill Haints at Red Rose Coffee House and Bistro.
Taylor Grocery Band Veteran musicians of the North Mississippi music scene, the Taylor Grocery Band bring their “electric catfish music” to 12th & Porter when they open for The Kudzu Kings. Traditional in style, they’re not afraid to weave a bit of blues, gospel and Lou Reed into their sound. And when banjoist Bryan Ledford sings one of his originals, it’s hard to think one so sweet-faced could write so hauntingly and deep. Their debut CD features former Blue Mountain frontman Cary Hudson and Nashville Jug Band staple Ed Dye.
jetpack/Verde Verde’s latest EP, Hola Chica, upgrades the lo-fi warmth of their homemade debut without losing singer Andrea Dewese’s dark charm. Likewise, jetpack’s self-titled new album may be glossier than their High School Girls EP, but it’s still straightforward, well-written smart-rock. Evil Twin frontman Laws Rushing rounds out this bill at the Slow Bar.
Holopaw Rustic country music and electronically generated sound generally are considered opposites, but this five-piece band from Gainesville, Fla., wed the two with striking results. Though acoustic instruments and pedal steel monopolize Holopaw’s self-titled debut, seamlessly commingled electronic elements blaze a trail by which the compelling yet standard country-folk songs swell and have more impact. It certainly doesn’t hurt that lyricist John Orth’s vocals are as vivid and haunting as his imagery. Holopaw play at The End on a bill with Flick and Luna Halo.
The Greenhornes/The Sights In 2033, when somebody compiles a neo-Nuggets compilation of turn-of-the-century three-chord thunder, Cincinnati’s Greenhornes will rest comfortably between The Dirtbombs and The White Stripes (for whom they opened at The End two years ago). Hear the sounds of future past on their Dual Mono LP, then check ’em out at the Slow Bar on an awesome Rust Belt double bill with The Sights, who are setting themselves apart from their garage-bound Detroiters with a trippy dose of ’60s paisley pop.
The Chromatics Not to be confused with the art-damaged punk band of the same name, this a cappella group of scientists, NASA employees and computer geeks make their local debut at Greater Nashville Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
Boogie Nights feat. The Commodores/Brick/The Ohio Players/Kool & The Gang There’s renewed awareness of vintage funk and soul, in part due to the popularity of syndicated old-school radio shows and concert tours like this one. The Commodores dominated the ’70s in two settings, first as a predominantly instrumental, driving funk crew, then as masters of sentimental ballads featuring singer Lionel Richie, who is no longer with the band. Plenty of original members remain in the group’s lineup, though, and the same holds true for Brick, whose blend of jazz and dance music was known as “Dazz” (short for “disco-jazz”) when they were topping the charts during that same era. Rounding out this bill at the Gaylord Entertainment Center are Kool & The Gang, R&B sensations for novelty hits in the ’70s and crossover superstars in the ’80s, and The Ohio Players, renowned for their hook-laden funk and provocative album covers.
Jazzamatazz feat. Rod McGaha & Kevin Whalum Trumpeter McGaha and vocalist Kevin Whalum (Kirk’s younger brother) blend classic jazz with elements of contemporary R&B and pop in the first of what looks to be a promising series at Gibson Bluegrass Showcase. Although McGaha is best known for hard bop material, he began his career playing gospel and soul. Whalum also mixes idioms, doing jazz and gospel as well as urban contemporary ballads and groove tunes.
Chuck Prophet Prophet earned his stripes with the influential ’80s group Green on Red, which evolved from neo-psychedelia to druggy alt-country with his searing psycho-twang guitar as the standout. Prophet’s solo albums have all the atmospherics and tension without GOR singer Dan Stuart’s sometimes irritating bad-ass posturing. The combination of Prophet’s smoker’s rasp, his sweet-to-swaggering tunes and his hair-raising guitar on last year’s No Other Love proves that you don’t have to stay yoked to 12 bars to play the blues. Don’t miss his 12th & Porter show with Angelo, one of the city’s few singer-songwriters to straddle the club scene and Music Row without losing his cool in either camp.
Mel & The Party Hats From 1985 on, Hunter “Mel” Armistead left the shelter of one of Nashville’s most distinguished families to rule the Southern frathouse circuit. Covering everything from The Commodores to the Violent Femmes, cutting a swath from Knoxville to Athens, Mel and his pointy-headed rockers amassed one of the mid-South’s most rabid followings before Armistead left in 2000 for a stint in a Nepalese monastery. Now firmly rooted in the secular (or holy?) world of sex and rock ’n’ roll, Mel rejoins the Party Hats for their first Nashville gig in three years at the Exit/In.
The Remedy Session/Dead Letter Auction The Remedy Session play indie rock fraught with energy and angst, recalling bands like Dinosaur Jr. and the Blake Babies who drenched pop songs in fuzzy guitar. Dead Letter Auction don’t concern themselves much with melody, instead favoring dissonant guitars, breakneck changes and wailed vocals. Also on this bill at the Red Rose are the angst-ridden Black Soul Choir and hyperkinetic popsters Feable Weiner.
Shawn Camp w/Shannon Lawson It’s no surprise that Camp and Lawson are friends and collaborators; they share bluegrass backgrounds, sharp songwriting and disappointingly brief major-label stints in common. But where Camp’s vocal style is often restrained to the point of intimacy, Lawson has a huge voice and isn’t afraid to use it. The contrast makes for an engaging pairing when Lawson opens for Camp 8 p.m. at The Basement.
Mack Starks A victim of unfortunate timing, Starks, formerly the frontman for local rock band Farmer Not So John, released his excellent solo debut, Elsewhere, just before the U.S. declared war on Iraq. Under somewhat more irenic circumstances, he brings his literate roots rock to the Slow Bar. Starks shares the bill with Clay Steakley and his Velvets-inspired combo, Local 429.
“Remembering Louis Brown” A local institution and bandleader for many years, the late Brown championed and performed traditional New Orleans jazz. His contributions to Nashville music will be celebrated in a memorial concert anchored by his Firehouse Jazz Band; vocalist April Barrows and multi-instrumentalists David Hungate and Denis Solee will be among the luminaries who’ll also pay tribute. The 6 p.m. event kicks off this year’s Tennessee Jazz & Blues Society’s Concert on the Lawn Series at Belle Meade Plantation.
Jesse Harris & The Ferdinandos Best known as Norah Jones’ collaborator on her blockbuster debuthe wrote five songs, including the Grammy winner “Don’t Know Why”Harris seizes the spotlight with his longtime band The Ferdinandos on their new LP The Secret Sun. The group perform with Irish troubadour Damien Rice at a Radio Lightning live broadcast from 3rd & Lindsley.
Japanese Karaoke Afterlife Experiment As any school official will readily admit, fiscal crises make compromises mandatory. Witness the Providence, R.I., ensemble Japanese Karaoke Afterlife Experiment, who mock jazz like an underfunded orchestra forced to make do with a trap set, cheap electronics and drum machines. Their sonic thrift pays off big in jump-cut improvisations that skirt the brutality of confrontational noise bands like Lightning Bolt. JKAE perform at Springwater with Poppy Fields, Prairie Pusher and a truncated lineup of Tan As Fuck performing as Sweet Small Children.
Keith Tew Former Florida bluegrasser Tew is an undeservedly obscure singer and songwriter who’s placed some outstanding songs with leading contemporary bluegrass artists like Ronnie Bowman, Ernie Thacker and Mountain Heart. Together with a few friends, he’ll be offering his elegantly crafted originals 5 p.m. at The Boardroom.
Annie Sellick CD Release Party The popular Nashville chanteuse has upped the ante with her new album No Greater Thrill, bringing renowned B-3 organist Joey DeFrancesco on board. The disc features reworkings of several standards, including a hard-swinging update of “Dancing Cheek to Cheek” with DeFrancesco and Sellick trading vocal lines, and a down-and-dirty rendition of “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” DeFrancesco’s churchified organ work spurs Sellick to dig deep, particularly on their laid-back take of “Willow Weep for Me,” which is punctuated by Pat Bergeson’s bluesy guitar. Drummer Jim White strikes a balance between groove and swing, particularly on “Café 123,” a tune Sellick co-wrote with Jack Jezzro that combines carnival noir with sultry vocals. DeFrancesco will be on hand for Sellick’s CD release show at the Belcourt; he’ll also do two sets of his own Tuesday at Café 123 (see below).
Joey DeFrancesco Should a soul-jazz revival ever materialize, DeFrancesco would be recognized widely as the natural heir to Hammond B-3 kings Jimmy Smith and Brother Jack McDuff. Raising classic lounge music to an art form, DeFrancesco’s earthy grooves and kicking bass lines play off guitarist Paul Bollenback’s sharp octave runs and swing atop drummer Byron Landham’s funky chops. His sales-conscious record producers might have encouraged his Sinatra-style vocals, but his occasional trumpet partsinfluenced by his stints with fusion-era Miles Davis and John McLaughlintake a welcome turn. DeFrancesco performs 8 and 10 p.m. sets at Café 123. Reservations are recommended; call 255-CAFE.
Percussionary Acoustic Guitarist Alexander Green This Siberian native has rubbed elbows with greats from Muriel Anderson to Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins, all of whom have recognized his ability to coax myriad sounds from his instrumentoften simultaneously. A fleet-fingered yet unpretentious guitarist, Green will make a promotional tour stop at 3rd & Lindsley, where he’ll perform pieces that appropriate everything from Django Reinhardt to Hawaiian slack-key playing.
Job Cain Named for a character from the ’70s cult movie Zachariah, this new blues-rock atom-smasher centers on the twin-guitar attack of Alvin Youngblood Hart and Black Crowes axman Audley Freed. The group headline this week’s free “Village Vibes” show at Jackson’s in Hillsboro Village.
100 Toes This children’s dance company, featuring 10 youngsters ages 7 to 14, performs a program highlighted by “How We Make Dances,” which showcases the troupe’s singular approach to classic choreographic concepts. The concert also includes three additional pieces“Hats On, Hats Off,” “Boots” and a duet, “Heavenly Star.” The precocious kids are under the guidance of Donna Rizzo, former artistic director of Tennessee Dance Theatre. 100 Toes perform at the Downtown Public Library 1 p.m. May 17; they’ll reprise the program June 8 at the Darkhorse Theater. For more information, contact Robie Jackson at email@example.com.
The Dark Lady of the Sonnets A few years ago in Nashville, Studio Stage theater company presented this entertaining musical satire concerning young Will Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth I and the mysterious woman who inspired his famous sonnets. Since then, Studio Stagerun by the talented husband-wife team of Jill Massie and Tom Montgomeryhas moved operations out to Lebanon, where Massie and Montgomery are offering a revival of their very funny adaptation of a heretofore little-known script by George Bernard Shaw. Before embarking on a tour of local schools, the show will have two public performances, May 16-17 at the June and Bill Heydel Fine Arts Center on the campus of Cumberland University. For tickets, phone 453-3789 or 773-7130; for more information, call 547-1380.
Guys & Dolls Artistic forces from Fisk and Tennessee State universities have joined together to present this African American version of Frank Loesser’s Broadway classic. The performers encompass college drama students mixed in with community-theater and pro-level talent. Persephone Felder-Fentress is the director, Peter Fields choreographs and William Crim is the choral master. Oscar Dismuke conducts the orchestra. This production is the third developed by Salama Urban Ministry as a part of its annual inner-city performing arts program. The three-evening engagement is May 16-18 at the Ryman Auditorium. Tickets are available at the Ryman box office or through Ticketmaster.
Dave Chappelle A popular comedian, Chappelle has made the jump from the clubs of his native Washington, D.C., to appearances on all the major TV talk shows and a solid film career that has included Half-Baked, the offbeat homage to Cheech and Chong, which he also wrote. More recently, Chappelle co-starred in 2002’s Undercover Brother. He brings his appealing persona and his humorous appraisal of the American scene to Zanies Comedy Showplace May 19-20 for three shows nightly at 7, 9 and 11:15 p.m. For reservations, call 269-0221.
Zanies Open-Mic Night As of this writing, Nashvillian Tim Northern continues to make his way through the Star Search gauntlet of Naomi Judd and Ben Stein, with the potential of winning major contractual deals and a cash prize of $100,000. The local comedy scene from which Northern has sprung has been cheering on its favorite son in a big way. In the meantime, Zanies continues to give newcomers their time in the spotlight at this thrice-monthly showcase, Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Comedian Frankie Harris hosts the hopefuls. The May 21 evening will feature a set by pro Dawna Kinne. For information, call 269-0221.
Art & Invention Gallery @ The Garage Mahal This East Nashville art space has gone to great lengthsseveral thousand miles, in factto introduce four new artists to the city. Artist/gallery owner Bill Brimm and his partners at the gallery recently traveled to Arequipa, Peru, to check out paintings by award-winning artists Claudia Cuzzi, Thomas Lizarraga, Vidal Salas and David Condori. Impressed by their masterfully painted oils and watercolors, the gallery offered them a show in Nashville. That show, featuring 28 paintings by the four artists, opens this weekend with a festive reception that includes a performance by a local Peruvian musical ensemble. The artists will also be in attendance, provided some visa delays are resolved. A portion of the sales benefits the Don Bosco Orphanage in Peru. The reception is 7-10 p.m. May 17.
Frist Center for the Visual Arts From the 13th century until the abolition of the sultanate by the Turkish government in 1922, Ottoman Empire patronage fueled an astonishing period of arts and architecture. “Empire of the Sultans: Ottoman Art From the Khalili Collection,” opening May 16 at the Frist, showcases more than 200 exquisitely crafted works from that period, including arms and armor, textiles, treasury objects and manuscripts. Nahla Nassar, curator of the London-based Khalili Collection, delivers a free lecture on the exhibit at 2 p.m. May 17 in the Frist Center auditorium. Also not to be missed is the show of recent works by Fisk University art professor Alicia Henry, opening May 16 in the Frist’s CAP Gallery. Henry creates installations using masks and figures made from paper and other materials layered together. Combining the engaging simplicity of folk art and the psychological presence of African ritual sculpture, Henry’s characters explore, in the artist’s words, “traditions of play, death and mourning in different cultures.”
Hanging Around Eclectic Arts & Framing Todd Greene, a talented Nashville artist whose works have been featured in Time magazine, unveils 20 new paintings at this new Music Row gallery. Greene says his latest works are inspired by the Eastern belief that “our unconscious or sleeping self might be trying to communicate certain truths to our conscious or awake self through our dreams.” Thus, each painting uses two similar, desert-like images to suggest a balance between the sleeping self and the waking self. The contemporary paintings were created over the past three months in Greene’s studio at the Downtown Presbyterian Church. Join the artist for the opening reception, 5:30-9 p.m. May 15.
Main Cross Street Gallery Earlier this spring, Camille Engel, a Nashville graphic artist who began oil painting only three years ago, won a prestigious national competition with her entry “Red Apple on Green Napkin.” Now Engel is unveiling her latest crop of fresh fruits and flowers on canvas at this Franklin gallery. Meet the artist at the opening reception, 6-9 p.m. May 17.
The Mad Platter If you happen into this Germantown restaurant through June 30, take time to notice the oil paintings on the walls. The vividly rendered still lifes of pristine white eggs, glistening chili peppers and strands of rope are by Whitney Rayles, a restaurant employee who is also a trained artist. This is her first show in Nashville, but judging from the promise of these works, it won’t be her last.
Books & Lectures
Bobbie Ann Mason and Stephen Marion Veteran (and much decorated) Kentucky novelist Bobbie Ann Mason gives a reading with first-time (and due-to-be-decorated) Tennessee novelist Stephen Marion, May 16 at the Nashville Public Library downtown. Both are masters of Southern ways and speech without any of the cutesy stuff that too often gives the literature of the region a reputation for grits and guns and not much else. Q&A and books for sale follow the 2 p.m. reading.
Rachel King Death-penalty proponents like to trot out the family members of murder victims to say “I’d throw the switch myself” on courthouse steps all over the country, but the argument for ending capital punishment doesn’t come only from touchy-feely liberals untouched by crime. King, an attorney for the ACLU, spent a year interviewing people who lost loved ones to horrific violence and found a surprising number who passionately oppose executing the criminals involved. Don’t Kill in Our Names: Families of Murder Victims Speak Out Against the Death Penalty compiles their heart-wrenching stories. King reads at Davis-Kidd Booksellers, 6 p.m. May 20.
Marshall Boswell A professor of American lit at Memphis’ Rhodes College, Boswell takes a heartfelt look at the dating life of the hopelessly romantic thirtysomething male in his new book, Trouble With Girls. His protagonist, Parker, isn’t a loser or a player, just a regular guy with normal urges who’s baffled by the prospect of being a guy on the make during sexually charged yet sensitive times. Boswell reads and signs his book, 6 p.m. May 22 at Davis-Kidd Booksellers.
Gilbert Visconti A retired Nashville attorney, the pseudonymous Mr. Visconti helped set up a joint venture between the Italian automaker Fiat and an American company in 1973. His new novel was clearly influenced by the time he spent in Italy during the ’70s, when the country was suffering a rash of violent protests and international terrorism. Set in 1980, The Joint Venture follows an American attorney and his son as they become embroiled in intrigue involving the assassination of an Italian executive. Befitting a transatlantic mystery, Visconti’s scope is broad enough to take in World War II history, the alpine landscape of Northern Italy, familial/cultural clashes and the complexity of relationships. Visconti will sign copies of his book 6 p.m. Friday, May 16, at the Borders on West End.
SOBRO Design District Shoppers’ Open House The area south of Broadway downtowndubbed SoBrohas become a treasure trove of shops specializing in home decor and furnishings. Take a tour of 16 participating SoBro shops at the open house, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. May 17.
THE MATRIX RELOADED Windy, humorless and desperately in love with its plastic self, the hotly anticipated sequel is a breathtaking miscalculation on almost every level. What made the first movie such a cackling delight, beyond its photography, was its paranoid suggestion that everything around us was a lie; mystified and turned on, we followed Keanu Reeves down the foxhole eagerly. Inexplicably, the Wachowskis abandon this conceitalong with any “real life” counterweight whatsoeverand leave themselves stranded with only their portentous messiah story and lots of balletic explosions. About those explosions: They’re definitely the tail wagging the dog at this point. Slowed-down “bullet time” is stretched and abused to the point of tedium, sure to delight fans of the forthcoming video game, but not those who took these guys seriously as storytellers. (Why multiply Hugo Weaving into a fearsome army if he’s still going to get his ass kicked?) Is there anything to like? Well, the leather longcoats look great. But none of the cast emerges unscathed, with special indignities reserved for Monica Bellucci, in danger of becoming a pair of breasts in a see-through dress. If you stay through the vast continent of end credits, you’ll see a tease for November’s finale, which sadly promises more of the same. The Matrix Reloaded opens at area theaters Thursday.
Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony A feast for lovers of African musicand for anyone who believes in the power of music to defy oppression and hardshipLee Hirsch’s rousing documentary traces the role of South Africa’s vibrant protest music and dance in the fall of apartheid. Featuring footage of Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba and other musical greats, the film opens Friday at the Belcourt for a week’s run. J.R.
Down with Love The Far from Heaven of saucy ’60s pseudo-sex comedies, director Peyton Reed’s tribute to the pastel passions of Doris Day and Rock Hudson casts Ewan McGregor as a suave cad who takes on advice columnist Renée Zellweger in a battle of the sexes. Co-starring David Hyde Pierce in the Tony Randall roleand featuring Tony Randallthe comedy opens Friday. Renegade Independent Film Festival Now in its second year, this fledgling showcase for independent local filmmakers means to serve as the Slamdance to the Nashville Film Festival’s Sundance. The 2003 edition offers five short filmsincluding three prior NFF submissions, curiously enoughand the world premiere of a locally shot feature, Daniel C. Hall’s What Becomes. The fest takes place one night only, 7 p.m. Saturday, at the Belcourt.
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