Pick of the Week 

43rd Annual Jazz Festival feat. Claudia Acuña ♦ Saturday, April 17

43rd Annual Jazz Festival feat. Claudia Acuña ♦ Saturday, April 17

After cutting two well-received albums consisting mostly of jazz standards, Chilean vocalist Acuña decided to record all but two tracks on her latest release, Luna, in her native Spanish. If the upbeat songs hint at the sophisticated feel of South American pop, Acuña delivers them with a tonal depth well beyond her years, and explores even deeper nuances of phrasing on ballads and torch songs. She continues to receive sympathetic backing from pianist and co-producer Jason Lindner, whose bell-like comping on the Fender Rhodes nicely accents Acuña's unique manner of holding and varying the pitch on long vowel sounds at the end of her lines. Whereas her recordings aim for a lush sound, with occasional horn parts, an extra percussionist and the singer backing herself on vocal overdubs, Acuña will be touring with only a basic jazz trio behind her. But even as she plays large halls, this format will allow her to convey a club-like sense of intimacy with the audience, as well as more direct dialogue with the individual musicians who accompany her. 7:30 p.m., Music/Mass Communication Concert Theatre, Austin Peay State University

—Bill Levine


Thursday, 15th

The Damnwells A DIY success story, this Brooklyn-based roots-pop quartet gained popularity the old-fashioned way: by impressing choosy New York audiences every chance they got and cobbling together their PMRs (Poor Man's Records), two self-produced collections that faithfully recreated their live sound. The Damnwell's mix of alternative rock, pop and Americana caught the attention of Epic Records, which released Bastards of the Beat, the band's third self-made record that had been slated for indie release. The Damnwells aren't breaking new ground on Bastards—jangly anthems like "Sleepsinging" and "The Sound" bring to mind rootsy alternative bands like The Silos and The Replacements, whereas moody pieces like "The Lost Complaint" and "Texas" recall singer-songwriters Josh Rouse and Freedy Johnston. Though much of Bastards sounds familiar, the Damnwells selling points are their exuberance, their lack of pretense and their obvious love of rock 'n' roll played well—without ornament and with abundant, well-placed guitar hooks. Thankfully, that never goes out of style. Exit/In

—Paul Griffith

Brian Auger's Oblivion Express Auger entered the British music scene in the early '60s, just as the heavy influence of American blues and soul began to show, so it's no surprise that he shifted gears from playing straight jazz on piano to a more cross-pollinated approach. Experiencing an epiphany upon hearing the Hammond B-3 organ up close, Auger set out to combine jazz with funk and touches of soul, blues and rock. His bands have, at various points, included John McLaughlin and Rod Stewart, among other luminaries. Auger's latest work, the aptly titled Voices of Other Times, distills his stylistic passions into a smooth, listenable formula, with rich chord progressions gliding over meaty, unobtrusive grooves. The album veers toward Lite Radio territory in spots, but benefits from the youthful enthusiasm of Auger's band, which consists of two of his children and two of their friends. The record also proves that easy doesn't have to mean easy listening. Café 123

—Saby Reyes-Kulkarni

Thursday, 15th

Jimmy Nalls Recovery Benefit Guitarist Jimmy Nalls remains a favorite of jam-band fans as a founder of the jazzy Southern-rock supergroup Sea Level. For the past 10 years, however, he's waged a grueling battle with Parkinson's disease that requires more than $1,000 for medicine every month. To help out, his friend Dave Duncan has organized an all-star benefit gathering many of Nalls' friends and fans from around the country. The lineup sounds more like a dream-team roadhouse jam than a solemn occasion: Delbert McClinton, Bonnie Bramlett, Lee Roy Parnell, T. Graham Brown, Jimmy Hall, Gary Nicholson, Widespread Panic's JoJo Hermann and surprise guests. Suggested donation is $25; if you can't make the show, contact 03duncan@comcast.net about contributions to the Jimmy Nalls Recovery Fund.

—Jim Ridley

Fake Printer Turntabulist Maria Chavez is an up-and-coming figure in Houston's fertile improvisational music scene. Rather than using pedals and processing, she works with broken styluses and mutilated and modified vinyl to get a variety of sounds from a turntable. Chavez has quickly started touring and establishing musical partnerships with key improvisational figures like Kaffe Matthews and Christina Carter. In the duo Fake Printer, she joins Matthew Wascovich from Cleveland, a multi-instrumentalist (and poet and publisher) who is equally connected in his artistic associations, having worked with the likes of Brian Straw, Thurston Moore, Ty Braxton and Alan Licht. Also on the bill is Lazy Magnet, a trio consisting of Jeremy Harris (from Providence) and Jimmy Cousins and Matthew Dinkins (both from New Orleans), along with Nashville's beloved, shambling free folk ensemble The Cherry Blossoms. Springwater

—David Maddox


Nashville Chamber Orchestra Acoustic Café Series It isn't tough to find guitar players in these parts—surely, the number has grown since John Sebastian's census in "Nashville Cats"—but it isn't often you'll witness a half-dozen virtuosos pushing each other. That's the agenda for the Nashville Chamber Orchestra's three-day Acoustic Café series, which will feature a diverse roster of players—many of whom are noted for their variegated approaches—in pairings designed to set musical stereotypes on their ear. Among the series' wild cards are jazz-inflected mandolinist Matt Flinner, fingerstyle guitarist Laurence Juber (late of Paul McCartney's Wings) and breakout artist Tony McManus, who emulates the fiddle and bagpipe tunes of his native Scotland but draws from other sources as well. Because rehearsal time is limited, an elite corps of players, including Phil Keaggy, Bryan Sutton, Muriel Anderson and John Jorgenson—both solo and accompanied by the NCO, with newly commissioned arrangements—will be performing at full-tilt, offering a seat-of-the-pants energy rather heard in a semi-formal setting from musicians of this caliber. (See listings for nightly lineups.) Belcourt Theatre

—Steve Morley

Saturday, 17th

Death Cab For Cutie With just one ominous keyboard swell and two crashing guitar chords, indie darlings Death Cab For Cutie turned a corner at the top of last year's splendid Transatlanticism. In those brief opening seconds of "The New Year," the band seemed boldly to claim for itself the mantle of "modern rock." Thankfully, by the album's close, this would be cause for celebration, not panic. The cohesion of the LP, the group's fourth and best, was ultimately enhanced by keyboardist and guitarist Chris Walla's radio-wise production and new drummer Jason McGerr's front-and-center percussion, two elements that might have led long-time acolytes to cry foul. It's hard to complain from any angle, however, when lead singer Ben Gibbard is writing his heaviest and most quotable lyrics to date. Time spent in the electro-pop side project Postal Service appears to have enhanced Gibbard's ability to emote succinctly about the spurned and bewildered, including himself. Gibbard only benefits from Walla's big-leagues, faders-up approach, as does the newly forcible band overall. Even the MTV-ready sing-along "The Sound of Settling" and guest spots on the Carson Daly and Craig Kilborn shows haven't cost the group any street cred. The record is that strong. Rocketown

—Jonathan Flax

Pedro The Lion On Pedro the Lion's upcoming LP Achilles Heel, singer-songwriter David Bazan doesn't deviate from his frank studies of the weaknesses inherent in humanity. But he does take a broader approach than on his previous two releases, both of which were dark concept albums. This time, the characters' microcosmic rationalizations of addiction, misogyny, self-doubt and self-righteousness form a loose but overarching examination of the pressures—both societal and familial—that challenge males in their roles as husbands, fathers and sons. It's a recurring paternal theme that Bazan uses unobtrusively to parallel the oft-tested heavenly Father/faithful son connection of his Christian faith. His material is most compelling when he affords the listener a firsthand view of a struggling mind-set—typically striking a chord with anyone willing to recognize his or her own flaws. As the album's title suggests, the vulnerabilities are—at least to each song's protagonist—seemingly minute and thought to be well masked, yet they often domino toward a tragic end. With the assistance of collaborator and fellow singer-songwriter TW Walsh, Bazan delivers this smart collection of songs in a simple musical setting that straddles the line between indie folk and indie rock. Rocketown

—Doug Brumley

Ben Kweller Kweller's latest album, On My Way, is studded with introspective, story-telling lyrics and toe-tapping beats. Most of the material seems to delve into the past, and much of it has the collage of elements Kweller is known for, including big piano ballads, punk-pop and what he calls "folkadelica." At 23, Kweller may be young, but he makes mature music. The baby-faced singer shows off his gift for songcraft on the likes of the title track, where he paints himself as a thief, a lover and a murderer, and on the catchy "My Apartment," where he has some fun at the expense of his new hometown, New York. This is Kweller's first album consisting entirely of songs he wrote since leaving Dallas in 1999 and he seems to be taking his job seriously. Whether it's the catchy hooks, the pressing rhythms or the personal lyrics, "On My Way" is honest without getting too sappy. Rocketown

—Will Jordan

Sunday, 18th

The Long Winters Late of the Seattle group Western State Hurricanes, John Roderick has found a remarkable fit with his new project. As singer and guitarist of The Long Winters, Roderick (who also logged time in Harvey Danger) can now belt his lovesick lyrics comfortably in the context of a band sound which, though decidedly indie, packs a visceral wallop. This is evident repeatedly on The Long Winters' two albums, and was proven live during the group's rocking Nashville debut at Slow Bar two years ago. Roderick's muscular vocal approach seems to work in the exact opposite way that, say, Christina Aguilera's doesn't. Where Aguilera twists the arm of every note to the ground until both listener and artist are too exhausted to care, Roderick tends to attack each note just as hard, but then glances off and perhaps returns to it, sometimes never finding the exact mark, before warbling onward. It's believable. The best examples of this, as well as of Roderick's growing range as a songwriter, can be found on the band's second LP, When I Pretend To Fall, most notably on the buoyant "Cinnamon" and the shuffling album opener, "Blue Diamonds," two of the biggest would-be hits of last summer that weren't. Exit/In

—Jonathan Flax

Merle Haggard A reluctant road warrior who freely confesses he'd rather be at home with his family, Haggard is a Hall of Famer who's come to terms with his legendary status in his own distinctive way. Where others have explored new terrain with rock and pop producers or wrapped themselves in the comfort of the Grand Ole Opry, the Hag's kept it all at arm's length with a tour schedule heavy on concert halls and casinos and a series of self-produced albums that alternate between new originals and cannily chosen classics from the idols and inspirations of his youth. In concert, he adds plenty of his own past masterpieces to the set list, relying on a band comprised of longtime veterans and a couple of more or less newcomers to follow him through the twists and turns of country music history. And whether he's tackling something from his latest, Haggard Like Never Before, a signature number like "Mama Tried" or a gem from Floyd Tillman, Lefty Frizzell or Jimmie Rodgers, he's still got one of the greatest voices in American popular music. If anyone can summon the Ryman's ghosts out of the shadows, Haggard's the one. Ryman Auditorium

—Jon Weisberger

American Analog Set For the past decade, this quintet from Austin have stuck to repetition and quiet, the latter isolating it from the majority of its indie-rock peers. Because they don't follow the convention of thickening their sound onstage with increased volume or distortion, the American Analog Set risk audience inattentiveness at every show. These days, they no longer feel the need to struggle against people who insist on chatting while they play, but they still prefer to use natural room acoustics when they can instead of running their instruments through a PA. If you can find a good spot in the venue to focus on the music, you'll be treated to a sense of building by slight degrees rarely heard in rock—or any—music. Most compelling is how rousing their music becomes once you meet it on its own, outwardly subdued emotional and tonal ground. The End

—Saby Reyes-Kulkarni

Diana Darby Darby sings in such a deliberate whisper that it's as if she needs to take oxygen between each phrase. But the delicateness of her delivery accentuates the intensity of her songs, which can sound dreamily romantic one moment and darkly disturbing the next. On her second album, Fantasia Ball, she's backed by cello, bass and her own electric guitar, turning personal lyrics into affecting dramas that, like a spotlighted actor on an otherwise dimly lit stage, focus attention on what she has to say. Live, the strength of those words should carry even more impact. Springwater

—Michael McCall

Wednesday, 21st

The Glands The Glands create melodic yet elastic indie rock that's spare in sound yet rich in texture. Singer Ross Shapiro has a sweet, hangdog voice that sounds scruffy yet clearer and more articulate than most modern college-rock bands. The angularity of Shapiro's songs has drawn appropriate references to peers Pavement and Spoon, but this Athens, Ga., band have a distinctively buoyant quality all their own. Their self-titled second album, released in 2000, remains an indie-rock gem that they've yet to follow up. The End

—Michael McCall


Brian Brooks Moving Company This seven-year-old, New York-based dance company invades Vanderbilt's Langford Auditorium April 18 at 3 p.m., presenting an exciting multimedia work called Dance-O-Matic. The performance fuses physical choreography with a hot-pink color scheme, all backed by an original score by John Stone and Canadian electro-shock-rocker Peaches and featuring video enhancement by Sarah Browder. The cast of five—including company director Brooks as well as Nashville native Alexander Gish—will also offer a master class 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on April 17 at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym Dance Studios. Then, at 8 p.m. that evening, the group perform at Ruby Green Contemporary Art Center as a part of the Great Performances Series' POM (Performance on the Move) program. Tickets for the Langford engagement are available through Ticketmaster (255-9600) or the Sarratt Box Office. For information on the other events, phone 322-2471.

—Martin Brady


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Nashville Children's Theatre is a busy place these days. In their Cooney Theatre, the company is currently presenting The Wrestling Season, a co-production with Mockingbird Theatre. On April 19, over in the Hill Theatre, NCT unveils this rendition of the famous Mark Twain novel, which features a script by Ken Ludwig and songs by Don ("The Gambler") Schlitz. Scot Copeland is the director, and Paul Carrol Binkley provides the musical direction. An all-star local cast is featured, including Henry Haggard, Jenny Littleton and Jonathan Root in the title role. The show runs through May 14. For reservations and information, phone 254-9103.

—Martin Brady

The Red Light District Robins Management Company is a Murfreesboro-based talent agency and production company that has been mounting plays for five years. Their latest offering is an original urban mystery co-authored by Tracy Levine and Candy Robins, which combines a Mardi Gras atmosphere with humor and elements of the supernatural. The jazz- and hip-hop-influenced musical score features contributions from rapper Big Smo, saxophonist Ernest Newsom and bluesman John Lanier. The cast includes Angela Bingham, Shawn Whitsell and co-creator Robins. The show will be performed at 7 p.m. at the 'Boro's Playhouse Theatre, April 16-17 and 21-22. For tickets, phone 573-5034 or 217-2849.

—Martin Brady

To Gillian: On Her 37th Birthday Circle Players returns to action with this staging of Michael Brady's warmly bittersweet drama about a family coping with death. (Moviegoers may remember the 1996 feature film that starred Peter Gallagher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes.) Melissa Williams directs a solid local cast, which includes Brian Hill, Emily Landham, Molly Thomas, Doug Whatley, Lisa Marie Smith, Kay Ayers-Sowell and Trish Moalla. The production is slated for its regulation April 23-May 2 run at TPAC's Johnson Theater, but will first debut April 17-18 at the Gordon Jewish Community Center in Bellevue. Tickets for the Johnson Theater performances are available through the TPAC box office (downtown or at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Green Hills), Ticketmaster or by calling 255-ARTS. For information about the GJCC shows, phone 356-7170.

—Martin Brady

Salome Nashville Opera Association's fourth and final production of the 2003-2004 season is this emotional and technical juggernaut by German composer Richard Strauss, performed April 15 and 17 at TPAC's Andrew Jackson Hall. The libretto is based on Oscar Wilde's retelling of the infamous biblical tale of King Herod's step-daughter, who dances for the head of John the Baptist. John Hoomes directs a cast headed up by world-class soprano Eilana Lappalainen.

—Martin Brady


Shaun Slifer/Watkins College of Art and Design A young artist dedicated to installation works with an activist spirit, Slifer has already had works displayed at the Fugitive, Sarratt, and on the sides of I-40 all across the state. This is all the more remarkable for the fact that he is just finishing his BFA; his Watkins show, "Tame," presents his senior thesis work. Slifer's central concerns are humans' experience in and impact on the natural world, and he acutely captures the details of the 21st century landscape of strip malls and subdivisions where we spend more time than we might like. He has the ability to translate this into strong visual statements. It sounds like this work will extend past the gallery, and it promises to incorporate performance and "natural processes." (His exhibit at Sarratt with Ally Reeves included garden plantings.) It is always worth seeing what Slifer comes up with, and this may be the last chance Nashvillians will have for a while since he plans to leave the area after graduating. There is an opening reception 6-8 p.m. Friday, April 16, and the show continues through May 8.

—David Maddox

Phil Ponder and Jim Sherraden/The Arts Company Located in the arts district on Fifth Avenue North, the Arts Company is a multiple-floor gallery space that is home to hundreds of local and national artists. It's likely one of the most voluminous commercial galleries in town, and every third Saturday they host "Salon Saturday," a 2-6 p.m. reception and open house. This weekend's edition is special, though, as it celebrates both Earth Day and the 125th anniversary of Hatch Show Print. The show "Nashville Originals" highlights local artists Phil Ponder, whose work will be featured at the Earth Day Festival in Centennial Park, and Jim Sherraden, a Hatch Show Print legend since 1984. Phil Ponder debuts paintings honoring the architecture and design of Nashville's skyline, while Sherraden takes a contemporary approach to the traditional letterpress. Sherraden debuts his 13-by-15-foot, 28-sheet work acknowledging the history of billboard posters with a Hatch connection alongside three-dimensional works covered in vivid monoprints. The April 17 "Saturday Salon" event marks the opening.

—Nicole Pietrantoni

Jack Girard/ Sarratt Gallery The Sarratt Gallery at Vanderbilt features recent work by Jack Girard, a regional artist who teaches art at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. Girard exhibits two- and three-dimensional mixed-media collage, which resembles the works of Robert Rauschenberg, likely the best-known and most frequently referenced artist to work with the medium. Girard's loose, spontaneous compositions incorporate found objects, images, photographs and ephemera from the artist's everyday experiences, with themes ranging from disability and aging to race and ordinance. In terms of process, Girard emphasizes that he prefers to "let the work's shifting image relationships dictate the course of form and ideological evolution." The opening reception is Friday, April 16 from 4-7 p.m, with a gallery talk by the artist at 4 p.m. The show is on display through June 5.

—Nicole Pietrantoni


Emeril Last year Emeril Lagasse added yet another serving to his already full plate when he opened a restaurant in Atlanta. Now the famous chef, TV personality, restaurateur and product licensee has written a new book, There's a Chef in My Family. Rather than an autobiography, this is a cookbook with meals, snacks and treats that can be prepared by either young budding chefs or their elders. Lagasse signs his new book 4 p.m. April 20 at Davis-Kidd Booksellers.

—MiChelle Jones


Kill Bill Vol. 2 Here comes the Bride (Uma Thurman), all dressed to kill, ready to cross off the final three names on her to-do list. The last name, of course, is the biggie: Bill (David Carradine). Quentin Tarantino concludes his epic revenge diptych with more black-and-white bloodshed, more twists and turns, more exuberantly gory set pieces, and a lot more conversation. Bill bites the dust Friday: see the review in our Movie Listings on p. 99.

—Jim Ridley

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised A must-see. What starts as a documentary portrait of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez turns into something chillingly unexpected: a firsthand account of the coup attempt that temporarily removed Chavez from power in April 2002. In the process, directors Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain show how the country's corporate media, in bed with oil interests and the military, conducted a pervasive—and persuasive—smear campaign to sway public opinion. It can't happen here, right? Just watch for cameos by Colin Powell and Ari Fleischer. It opens Friday at the Belcourt: see the review on p. 96.

—Jim Ridley

Good Bye, Lenin! A blockbuster overseas, Wolfgang Becker's gentle satire of post-Cold War Germany tapped into a national wave of ostalgia (a kitschy fascination with the communist trappings of East Germany). The plot concerns a doting son whose party-loyalist mom awakens from a coma after the fall of the Berlin Wall: to spare her weak heart, he maintains the illusion that the wall never fell and everything is hunky-dory in the Soviet bloc.

It opens Friday at Green Hills, along with the Colin Farrell black comedy Intermission, the grim comic-book adaptation The Punisher and the drag-queen yukfest Connie and Carla.

—Jim Ridley

Acting Workshop Taking a break from his ongoing efforts to prove the NASA moon landing was a hoax (we're not kidding), Nashville filmmaker Bart Sibrel launches a six-week acting and filmmaking workshop for a handful of young students, who together will produce a short film for screening. Registration is $250. The class runs Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning April 20: for more information, call Sibrel at 726-8222 or see www.sibrel.com.

—Jim Ridley

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