At a time when the blues scene and the singer-songwriter tradition rarely meet, The Holmes Brothers prove that it doesn’t have to be that way. Their latest record, Simple Truths, shows that the triowho’ve been playing together in one form or another since 1966can raise the roof with their gospel- and blues-influenced compositions, as well as with songs from a diverse group of writers, including Willie Nelson, Gillian Welch and Bob Marley. Soulful harmonies and hellacious grooves have long been the band’s cornerstones, and the emotional depth of Holmes Brothers’ performances makes these different song styles fit together. Of course, from a musicological standpoint, the blues, American gospel and the troubadour tradition are close kin, sharing influences as well as instrumentation. It takes a band like The Holmes Brothers, who reject music marketing’s artificial labels, to remind us of that. The Brothers probably have suits older than Joss Stone, their 17-year-old opening act. Stone, who is English, is a pupil of soul legend Betty Wright, who herself was only 17 when her record “Clean Up Woman” reached the Top 10 in 1971. Wright discovered Stone just as the younger woman was about to begin work on a pop album designed to compete with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Instead, Stone made The Soul Sessions, an old-school funk and R&B wonder that features Miami soul kingpins like Latimore, Timmy Thomas, and Wright, who produced most of the record. Like the Holmes Brothers, Stone turns to singer-songwriter types for some of the material on her album. Alongside soul classics like Carla Thomas’ “I’ve Fallen in Love With You” and The Isley Brothers’ “For the
Love of You, Pts. 1-2” are John Sebastian’s “I Had a Dream” and a reworking of Jack White’s “Fell in Love With a Girl,” the latter produced by Ahmir Thompson of The Roots. 3rd & Lindsley
Paul V. Griffith
Omar & The Howlers For nearly 30 years, Omar Dykes has been keeping the Mississippi and Texas guitar blues as raw as the day they were born. Often hanging his gutbucket growls on the riffs made famous by his fellow McComb, Miss., native Bo Diddley, Dykes helped inaugurate the rowdy style of roots rock, Southern boogie and soulful blues that defined the Austin sound of the mid-’70s. While the bear-like leader has long been working crowds with his primal screams, playfully swaggering vocal mannerisms and arsenal of familiar but fresh-sounding electric blues riffs, he continues to record mostly original material. Usually touring in trio format these days, Dykes draws on an endless supply of confessional bellowing, remorseful self-reproaches and boastful romps like his classic “Monkey Man,” in which he declares his affiliation with King Kong and Mighty Joe Young, backing his simian hollers with some chest-pounding, screeching guitar runs. 3rd & Lindsley
Sandra Collins Sending listeners on another dreamy sonic adventure with her latest mix, Collins proves she still reigns as what dance clubbers call “The Goddess of Trance.” One of the most successful progressive house and trance DJs in the U.S., Collins spins tracks filled with rich, danceable rhythms, thundering bass and introspective samples, creating, as the title of one of them says, a polyphonic “Cosmic Fugue.” Though she started out working for pennies in tiny dives in the Phoenix club scene of the early ’90s, Collins has since joined the ranks of the DJ superstars, standing alongside Paul Oakenfold, one of the biggest names in the dance world, and recording for his Perfecto label. Collins’ name now appears on the bill of every major international dance music scene, where she’s reaching audiences as far away as New Zealand, Japan and Romania. She sets her “Bass Trap” in Nashville with like-minded DJs Joey Modus, Spoon and Delta 1. Pub of Love
Night Train to Nashville In-store feat. Robert Knight, Bobby Hebb & more It might be tempting to conclude that the new two-disc set Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues, 1945 to 1970 is almost, but not quite, engaged in the latter-day invention of an R&B capital that never was. After all, any number of the sides on this remarkable collection were cut elsewherein Alabama, Louisiana or New Yorkbut released on Nashville-based indies like Dot and Excello. Other tracks capture national acts during Nashville stintsas brief as one night at the New Era Club, in the case of Etta James’ smoldering version of “What’d I Say.” But the truth is that these discs actually memorialize something greater and more vital than a mere music scene. The set’s 35 tracks chronicle the evolving soundtrack of a real-live community, the music that Nashville’s black residents (and some whites) listened to while sitting on the front stoop, played over and over on the jukebox, danced to in clubs, got lit and made out to, and often even made. That alone is a gift of inestimable worth. Another is that many of these musicians are still around, and still playing. Accompanied by a band led by blues guitarist Johnny Jones, singers Robert Knight, Earl Gaines, Frank Howard, Clifford Curry and Bobby “Sunny” Hebb once again will be performing their Nashvillian soundtrack. 5 p.m. Tower Records, West End
Claire Lynch In 1997, Lynch won a passel of Music Row fans and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year award on the strength of her voice, an agile instrument that can slide from delicacy to strength in the blink of an eye. A skillful, elegant songwriter and a perceptive bandleader, she’s mixed folk-flavored bluegrass with country ballads, thoughtful gospel songs and breezy swing tunes to create some of the most striking albums of the past decade. Withdrawing from the bluegrass circuit shortly after releasing Lovelight in 2001, Lynch kept her hand in music by writing songs and singing harmony on CDs by the likes of Dolly Parton and Patty Loveless. Now she’s back with renewed energy and a band that includes mandolinist and fiddler David Harvey. Station Inn
The Autumn Defense As musicians go, Pat Sansone and John Stirratt are known to be very pleasant people. It’s not surprising, then, that their collaboration, The Autumn Defense, would produce pleasant music. In fact, the pair’s second record, Circles, is pleasant by design. Modeled on the mellow Laurel Canyon rock of artists like Bread and David Crosby, the album’s lush ambience conjures up images of cannabis-hazed sunsets. Stirratt and Sansone put Circles together in their downtimethe former is Wilco’s bassist, the latter an in-demand producer and session playerand the record’s lazy appeal seems the natural result of two guys who’ve punched out of their day jobs. Warm vintage keyboards and lightly brushed drums accompany the duo’s acoustic-driven songs, which are sung with little affect and, on occasion, in a falsetto reminiscent of Brian Wilson or The Band’s Richard Manuel. Five years ago, The Autumn Defense’s sugary nostalgia would have seemed insufferable, but things change. In a musical culture where hyperbole and attitude are often the coins of the realm, gracious understatement again has a place. 12th & Porter
Paul V. Griffith
Bleeding Through/Himsa Amidst the slew of acts currently toying with different configurations of metal and hardcore, Bleeding Through and Himsa succeed in casting a deeper shade of darkness through a moderate amount of restraint. This isn’t to say they don’t maintain the focus on pain and agitation that’s the prerequisite of those styles. Both bandsHimsa from Seattle, Bleeding Through from Orange Countyalso reflect the growing influence that Iron Maiden and black metal exert on hardcore. And both play with power and feeling, shifting effortlessly from, say, a Cro-Mags-styled East Coast thrashcore part here to a chunkier, more modern-sounding part there. This overlay of styles creates a broad, overall sensation of melody without an overtly melodic approach. Though Bleeding Through are quick to point out the significance of their home region in the evolution of metal-infused punk, their most distinguishing feature is the keyboard work of Marta, whose Goth-inspired lines are prominent in the mix. Not only that, by overlaying their influences rather than stacking them side by side, Bleeding Through avoid the stylistic single-mindedness of many of their metalcore peers. An intangible punk spirit permeates their new album, This Is Love, This Is Murderous, and brings pep and bounce to extreme metal. The Muse
Joan Baez/Erin McKeown Baez is no dusty throwback. Forty years after Dylan, she still promotes young songwriters, and she definitely has taste: Her 2003 album, Dark Chords on a Big Guitar, includes songs written by Ryan Adams, Caitlin Cary, Josh Ritter, Greg Brown and Gillian Welch. Baez doesn’t so much interpret the songs as bring them out, like buffing a shoe, such as when she smoothes off the snaggles of the Brown track, which is absolutely gorgeous. Lately, Adams’ bombast has threatened to overshadow his music, but there’s nothing but patient longing in Baez’s version of his “In My Time of Need.” No matter how searching the song, Baez invests it with a sensual ease. She dedicated Dark Chords in part to Michael Moore, so no doubt she’ll have some choice comments about the upcoming presidential election. Baez also champions artists by choosing them to open shows. Erin McKeown started out as a funk poet after the fashion of Ani DiFranco, but then discovered her inner jazz baby; Grand, her latest record, goes to your head like a fizzy cocktail. She’s a flirt one minute, a drama queen the next. It’s an odd pairing, but I wouldn’t come late. Belcourt Theatre
The Drawer Boy The final entry in Tennessee Repertory Theatre’s 2003-4 Off-Broadway Series is outgoing artistic director David Grapes’ penultimate effort with the company. (In May, he’ll direct the final Mainstage show of the season, Ain’t Misbehavin’.) Here, he co-stars with Peter Vann and Henry Haggard in Michael Healey’s Canadian comedy. Humor and a poetic spirit infuse this tale about friendship and regret, set on a farm in Ontario. Grapes’ successor, David Alford, directs. The play runs March 23-April 4 at TPAC’s Johnson Theater.
The Last Five Years Not yet 35, Jason Robert Brown is a very hot Broadway musical talent. He writes attention-grabbing music and lyrics, and in 2001 critics in both New York and Chicago raved about this two-character show, which concerns the launching and subsequent unraveling of a marriage. (It’s essentially a modern-day spin on the old Abie’s Irish Rose setupJewish guy meets charming colleen.) There’s an interesting backstory here as well, as Brown’s ex-wife attempted to halt the show’s initial production at Chicago’s Northlight Theatre, the story striking her as a little too close to reality. The playwright made some appropriate changes, and the eventual Manhattan version won some important awards. Boiler Room Theatre mounts the area premiere March 19-April 17, with Scott Rice directing Tim Carroll and Erin Parker in the leads.
The Producers There’s probably little more to be said about this blockbuster musical, but I’ll try: It’s still running in New York to huge crowds paying exorbitant ticket prices; it has toured nationally and done very well with second-line leading actors; and anticipated demand is so huge locally that TPAC is running the production an uncharacteristic two weeks. For those who don’t know, The Producers is based on Mel Brooks’ hilarious 1968 movie of the same name, in which two low-rent Broadway schnooks attempt to bilk little-old-lady theatrical investors. Their plan backfires in a bigand quite outrageousway. Veteran performer Lewis J. Stadlen co-stars with Alan Ruck. The musical opens March 23 in Jackson Hall and should play to enthusiastic crowds through April 4.
“Seeds,” presented by Untitled/ Hair of the Dog In typical fashion for the Untitled artist group, “SEEDS” is a one-night only event that features food, drink and hundreds of works of “uncensored art for unlimited audiences.” Untitled imposes no restrictions as to theme, media or artist, which will make for a diverse evening, from seasoned professionals working in oils to students doing performance pieces. This spring art show takes place at the newly opened Hair of the Dog bar and restaurant, a roomy space at 1831 12th Ave. S., which will be serving a special menu for the event. “SEEDS” runs 6-10 p.m. Friday, March 19.
Fifth Anniversary Show/ Fugitive Art Center The Fugitive Art Center has been around for five years now, and to celebrate, it’s pulling together work from 30 of the people who have exhibited at or worked with the center. The fact that the exhibit includes contributions from 30 artists goes to show the impact the Fugitive has achieved in a short time. Housed in an ungentrified warehouse on Houston Street near Greer Stadium, the Fugitive gives Nashville its strongest taste of an urban art scene. The setting only enhances the excitement and immediacy of the organization’s consistently engaging programming choices, which give local and regional artists an important opportunity to get work in front of the public. The show opens 7-9 p.m. Saturday, March 20, in typical Fugitive fashion, with a reception and “special guest DJ.”
James Lavadour & Kit Reuther/ Cumberland Gallery Raised on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in northeastern Oregon, James Lavadour spent his early years walking the hills, scaling craggy rocks and watching brushfires periodically sweep across the misty mountainsides. As an adult, he has brought these landscapes to life through his evocative “fractal” paintings. By superimposing architectural forms over stains and drips of paint, Lavadour creates a crisscross pattern of intersections or “cells,” each with its own flow and composition: worlds within worlds, micro- and macro-landscapes existing together in the same space and time. Lavadour composes his moody, multipart works on separate panels, which are then connected with purposefully obvious joins. Also on view at Cumberland Gallery’s latest show, the work of Kit Reuther stands in sharp contradistinction. The Nashville-based artist paints images of mysterious urns, bowls and other vessels, often isolated in neutral spaces. Seemingly half-real and half-imagined, her delicious atmospheres explorer the inner and outer space of her subjects, blurring the edges and imbuing them with a sensuous spectral quality. Reuther employs mostly muted tones, and even when her palette opens up to a quiet luminescence, her paintings always retain a subdued and understated quality that turns the viewer’s focus ever inward. Both artists will be present at the opening reception, 6-8 p.m. Saturday, March 20. The show runs through April 24.
Salon Saturday: The Artistry of Ed Clark/The Arts Company “I just tried to get people to stop,” veteran LIFE photographer and Nashville native Ed Clark (1911-2000) once said when asked about his artistic philosophy. Typical understatement from a photographer well known for his ability to unobtrusively photograph moments of great intimacy, such as his iconic shot of a teary-eyed Navy Bandsman playing an accordion salute after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death. Clark, a high-school dropout and former staff writer at The Tennessean, had a knack for finding favor with everyone from celebrities to farm workers to presidentsfamously gaining entry to then-Sen. John F. Kennedy’s home to photograph young Caroline and her beaming father in the nursery. His work forms the centerpiece of The Arts Company’s fifth annual exhibition of photography, which celebrates Clark’s 60-year career and also showcases the work of other LIFE magazine legends, including Margaret Bourke-White, Loomis Dean, John Loengard, Alfred Eisenstaedt (the “Father of Photojournalism”) and Carl Mydans. The work of Nashville-based photographers John Guider, Bill Steber and Marty Stuart is also on view. Each of these three locals acknowledges an artistic debt to Clark, and all will be on hand during the opening, 2-6 p.m. March 20, to discuss their favorite examples of Clark’s work. (They’ll give a talk at 4 p.m.) Former White House presidential photographer Joe O’Donnell, a Nashville resident since 1968, will also be present. The show runs through April 8.
Vicky Pierce/Belcourt Theatre Vicky Pierce has had a thing for Volkswagen Beetles since the day a maternity ward nurse, inspired by Vicky’s initials and red hair, told her mom about owning a red VW. The artist has been collecting VW toys since she was 5. One of those, a little red bug, has a starring role in her “Nashville in Large Format” series of photos, on display at the Belcourt Theatre. For the large-scale works, Pierce first photographed scenes of Nashville, then used them as backdrops for shots featuring the toy car. Pierce has also created a series of hanging lamps made from vintage movie posters. The lamps emit a beautiful glow, evoking both light boxes and silk lanterns. Both the photographs and lamps are on view at the movie theater through April 29, beginning with an artist’s reception 6-8 p.m. March 19.
Shakespeare’s Estate Sale For 16 years, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival has been providing exemplary productions of the Bard’s classics for thousands of Nashvillians. The summertime shows at Centennial Park are free to the public, but they still cost money to mount. Always looking for new avenues of support, NSF will host the equivalent of a classy garage sale March 19-21 at the University School of Nashville. This benefit features items donated by both the public and private merchants, and shoppers will be entertained by NSF thespians. There’s also a preview party 6-9 p.m. Thursday, which includes food, wine and Shakespearean entertainment. Call 255-2273 to get a sale schedule, preview-party tickets or information on how to donate items or work as a volunteer.
Modern Times Even without this Charles Chaplin classic screening at the Belcourt, this would be a great week for moviegoing. Chaplin defied the sound era with his largely silent 1936 comedy, typically acknowledged as his last masterpiece, which pits his undimmed Tramp character against a gigantic mechanized factory. See Chaplin pass through the innards of a giant gizmo, devour dinner from a robotic feeding machine, and cheat death with blithe abandon while roller-skating on the edge of a precipice. Kids and adults both will have a ball. It screens for one week at the Belcourt in a stunning restored print.
This week at Sarratt cinema Vanderbilt’s college cinema is creating excitement these days with a mix of repeat-engagement blockbusters, foreign and indie films, and clever promotions. All are on display this week, starting with Thursday’s outdoor showing of Pirates of the Caribbean on Alumni Lawn. Sunday brings an 8 p.m. screening of the Charlie Sheen classic Major League with hot dogs and a Sounds ticket giveaway. Sarratt’s International Week kicks off Monday and Tuesday with the Indian musical Lagaan, with a catered Indian meal available opening night. And next Wednesday, the theater hosts the local premiere of Brian Flemming’s unusual film Nothing So Strange, a “documentary” about the fictional assassination of Bill Gates. Flemming will attend the screening; Gates, in all likelihood, will not.
Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer Just how well did Oscar winner Charlize Theron portray serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster? See this chilling documentary by Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill, and find out. Broomfield revisits Wuornos, the subject of his equally fine 1991 doc Alieen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, for an account of her appeals process and her last days on Florida’s death row. Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene House, will introduce the 7 p.m. screening Friday.
A Civil Brand Shot at the Tennessee State Prison facility, Neema Barnette’s 2002 melodrama never got a proper release. Too bad, because the plot certainly sounds relevant: Two convicts (LisaRaye and N’Bushe Wright) get a firsthand look at the corruption inside a privatized prison. Featuring Mos Def and Da Brat, the movie makes its belated Nashville premiere Thursday at the Belcourt, courtesy of the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University. Actor Reed McCants will be on hand to discuss the film. For more info, call Hazel Joyner-Smith at 329-8812.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Advance word is excellent on this new comic fantasy from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry, with Jim Carrey as a lovelorn man who volunteers to erase the memory of his painful breakup.
Nashville Premieres Spring Film Festival You’ve still got a few days to see this excellent slate of overlooked films, which kicked off last weekend. Running through Thursday are Abbas Kiarostami’s Ten, Jia Zhang-ke’s Unknown Pleasures, and the runaway audience favorite, the restored print of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s exquisite melodrama Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. Call 846-3150 for more info.
Dawn of the Dead Zombies munch a bunch of guts in this remake of the George A. Romero splatter epic, in which survivors of Doomsday hole up in a suburban mall under attack by legions of the undead. The trailers rockas they did, alas, for that other slab of reheated ’70s meat, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Oh well. The movie opens Friday, along with Angelina Jolie in the serial-killer yarn Taking Lives.
Harvey James Stewart had one of his favorite roles as Elwood P. Dowd, a gregarious tosspot who claims to have an unusual drinking buddy: a six-foot invisible rabbit. The movie version of Mary Chase’s Broadway smash is this week’s Thursday-night offering at the Downtown Presbyterian Church’s Lenten film series, courtesy of Tom Wills’ 16mm archive. Arrive at 6 p.m. for a meal, stay for the film at 7.
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