After a career of stylish entrances, Prince is proving that he knows how to make an unforgettable exitat least from one phase of his career. His new Musicology is his best album since 1996's Emancipation; with it, His Royal Badness establishes that he remains the funkiest artist of his generation. While much has been made of his becoming a Jehovah's Witness and how he's not the dirrrty player he once was, he still rolls out salacious tunes like "Illusion, Coma, Pimp & Circumstance," which toasts his lover's lips and hips while boasting about rocking her all night. Vocally, Prince is back to sounding like the cockiest bandleader alive, supporting it by peppering each tune with inventive twists and rhythms that school anyone trying to create heady, modern dance music. In other words, after a decade in which he seemed to lose his way, Prince has got his groove back. He's also saying this tour is the last time he'll perform his greatest hits live, and whether it's true or not, it'll quite likely be the party of the year. Gaylord Entertainment Center
The Walkmen Bows + Arrows, the thrilling new album by these New York rockers, retains the bargain-basement atmospherics of their debut, while cranking up the energy and passion, showing a rage that's been rare in this hopped-up but still cool "new rock" era. The standout track on the album is "The Rat," which opens with the stinger, "You've got a nerve to be asking a favor / You've got a nerve to be calling my number," and dissolves into the melancholy refrain, "When I used to go out I'd know everyone I saw / Now I go out alone if I go out at all." The song is representative of the accusatory, Dylan-on-4th-Street tone that rattles throughout Bows + Arrows, fueling the roar on noisy cuts like "Little House of Savages" and "138th Street." Of particular note is "Thinking of a Dream I Had," where, when lead singer Hamilton Leithauser curtly sighs, "Well, maybe you're right," it becomes a dramatic concession. Exit/In
Moe Raw & Rawgroup Moe Raw's Nashville surroundings crop up frequently in his rhymes, which include references to the TSU Student Center, "Cashville" and other local landmarks. Raw's brand of hip-hop is heavy on the bass but light on the top end, with rock guitar riffs finding plenty of space alongside the vintage synth sounds and arcade game blips that distinguish his work. Recently, he spent time in New Jersey working on an upcoming release with the twins Johari and Tejumold Newton, who are known for their work with Lauryn Hill. Since local scenes, like those in New Orleans and Atlanta, are responsible for the innovation in hip-hop these days, it would be a shame to ignore Raw, whose beats are as distinctive as anything coming from those two cities. In addition to this show, Raw and his band also play at Springwater May 12. Caffeine
Paul V. Griffith
Jamie Hartford Band Though lots of Nashville bands combine country, rock and blues, and too often with middling results, Hartford's crew have developed a sound that's too hip and aggressive for the Americana tag and too nuanced to be termed Southern rock. Whatever you call it, they're about the best roadhouse band going, fueled by the squared-off shuffles of drummer Rick Lonow and bassist Dave Pomeroy, and by singer-guitarist Hartford's soulful baritone and picking. Then there's Paco Shipp, who can make a harmonica sound like a Hammond B-3, a Farfisa and, on occasion, even a harmonica. JHB's latest is Stuff That Works, a raucous and engaging collection that features musical and/or songwriting contributions from Guy Clark, Pat McLaughlin, Mike Henderson, Jon Randall and Andy Griggs. Several of them are slated to join the band onstage for this gig, which should be a barnburner. The following day at 5 p.m., JHB will also perform at Tower Records' West End location. Douglas Corner
Sebadoh Lou Barlow is a repressed pop songwriter stuck in a punk band. Kicked out of Dinosaur Jr. in the late '80s, he went on to write well-crafted, introspective melodies that wouldn't have been out of place on mainstream pop radio if it weren't for his loyalty to his indie roots and his belief that no-frills demos often sound better than the records they become. The staple of Sebadoh in all their incarnations, Barlow often has allowed his sidemen to play the foil to his sweet, quirky frustrations, expressing the rage and hostility he hasn't been able or willing to confront. 1992's Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock made clever use of the disparate temperaments of Barlow and bass player Eric Gaffney, and Barlow exploited this tension again with bassist-guitarist Jason Loewenstein, giving him equal songwriting space on 1994's often anguished Bakesale. Barlow had his biggest commercial success with "Natural One," a Top 40 pop hit from 1997 written with his side project Folk Implosion (from the soundtrack to the indie film Kids). It's been five years since Sebadoh have offered new evidence of Barlow's ongoing exploration of the complexities and disappointments of modern romance. The last exhibit, The Sebadoh, is perhaps the best fusion of Barlow's brooding musings and Loewenstein's punk sensibilities. The duo are touring again, promising a "turboacoustic" set featuring Barlow and Loewenstein, a drum machine and the revival of rare old singles. Exit/In
The Long Players Cover-band nirvana from a floating lineup of all-star Nashville rockers (anyone from Bill Lloyd and Dan Baird to Ashley Cleveland and Garry Tallent) who play a different LP every gig in its entirety. With this cast of vinyl obsessives, you'll hear every lick exactly as you remember ityet somehow the concept translates into energy and excitement instead of warmed-over nostalgia. Tonight's plat du jour: Neil Young's After the Gold Rush. 12th and Porter
The Thrills/Spymob On their breakout So Much for the City LP, the Dublin-based Thrills do their California dreamin' with such unabashed sweetness and sunny sincerity that they set off all the usual fail-safe warnings against pure pop music: It's too slick, too pretty, too weightless, blah blah blah. What saves it from sugar overdose is its wistful undertone. Its airy, spacious sound summons the mental image of five guys peering out at cold gray skies, picking up their instruments, and playing the Beach Boys and the breeziest of '70s soft-rock in psychic defense. It's a tall fruity drink of a record frosted with a half-dozen toothpick umbrellas, and if you let your guard down it can leave you pleasantly buzzed. They're paired, in a terrific double bill, with Spymob, the Minneapolis art-pop group that got the gig as the Neptunes' backing band on their N.E.R.D. in Search of... side project. Think XTC or Todd Rundgren nursed on Stevie Wonder and After the Gold Rush-era Neil Young, and you've in the vicinity of their LP Sitting Around Keeping Score, the first rock album on the Neptunes' new Star Trak imprint. Mercy Lounge
Kill Henry Sugar The acoustics of an abandoned warehouse sparked the creative process for Kill Henry Sugar's forthcoming album, Love Beach. While scouting locations in which to record, the duo of drummer Dean Sharenow and banjoist/guitarist/singer Erik Della Penna were given a tip on the building. The free-flowing results they got there (the raw material for two songs that appear on the album), led to a search for other abandoned buildings where they might shape individual songs. Indeed, spatial character contributes an essential depth to Della Penna's wry, plaintive narratives, and the search for location fittingly represents the duo's muse. By their own admission, these New Yorkers find inspiration across the figurative and literal landscape of American roots music, crafting what some have labeled "metropolitan folk." As with other music that yearns for a place or time not native physically to its creators, part of Kill Henry Sugar's appeal lies in what is lost and gainedin the translation. Caffeine
Bill Lloyd/Jamie Hoover Always prolific, Nashville pop godfather Lloyd has released two melodic, guitar-driven gems this year alone. His solo album, Back to Even, is a reminder of how fresh his take on classic pop-rock is. His chiming guitar work and playful vocals will be immediately identifiable to his cult of fans, who will be enchanted all over again at how his witty wordplay balances his acerbic takes on love and life. Meanwhile, Lloyd also has issued a duet album, Paparazzi, with his longtime collaborator, Jamie Hoover (of North Carolina's Spongetones), another consistently enjoyable gift for fans of Beatlesque rock. In addition to this in-the-round show, Lloyd and Hoover play 3 p.m. Sunday at Tower Records on West End. Bluebird Cafe
Cursive Cursive bridge the gap between the Dylanesque straggle of their fellow Nebraskans Bright Eyes and the art-scuff of Les Savy Fav. On the band's fourth LP, frontman Tim Kashner rips himself open, remarking on his penchant for turning romantic pain into music, while noting how his sensitivity has proven to be an effective tool for getting women into bed. To match the reflexive, self-skewering mood of the lyrics, his bandmates whip up a ferocious noise peppered with bursts of melody and orchestral interludes. The sound is jolting, and a little scary, in the vein of the psycho-dramatic post-punk of The Cure's Pornography and Public Image Limited's The Flowers of Romance, albeit hardly as dour or monotone. (See story, p. 39.) Exit/In
Pamela DeMarche & The Karlton Taylor Jazz Ensemble Playing against Music City stereotypes, the piano-bass-drums trio (often augmented by guest sax players) display an elegant sophistication perfect for Taylor's expressive keyboard solos, which occasionally break into explosive clusters of notes reminiscent of McCoy Tyner. Singer DeMarche has a theatrical, show-stopping style, more attuned to the Broadway verve of Judy Garland or Barbra Streisand than the subtle tones of Billie Holiday or Sarah Vaughan. Routinely filling the cocktail club Drink at Loew's Vanderbilt Plaza on weekends, the ensemble's rising popularity has earned them the kick-off slot on the Tennessee Jazz & Blues Society's summer concert series. The Hermitage
Mike Watt & The Secondmen Modeled after Dante's Divine Comedy, the latest work from Minutemen/ fIREHOSE alum, current Dos/Iggy-Stooges bassist and DIY pioneer Watt explores the 38-day fever that almost ended his life. As expected, The Second Man's Middle Stand covers all new ground for the ever-searching Watt and shines, in particular, on the strength of the playing of organist Pete Mazich. Mazich seems, if not to lead, then to facilitate the ease with which he, Watt and drummer Terry Trebotic combine Yes-styled progressive rock with the earnestness of gospel and the insolence of Deep Purple without seeming cheeky or confused. Again, as expected, Watt brings with him a low-budget, low-fuss ethic (he calls it "econo") that sidesteps the bloating and excess of music industry machine politics, but that doesn't stop him and the Secondmen from channeling the power of arena rockeven without a guitar. The End
Brahms and Bernstein/ Nashville Symphony Orchestra Portentous, majestic, painfully wrought and revelatory, Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in C minor is a meaty symphonic experience. Brahms composed the workhis most Romantic symphonyover a long period of his life, and often in secret; the result owes an enormous debt to Beethoven. Indeed, Brahms' first symphony appears from some angles to be an attempt to out-Beethoven Beethoven and, in doing so, exorcise the Great Master once and for all. Grammy-nominated violinist Robert McDuffie takes center stage for Bernstein's Serenade After Plato's Symposium, a suite of reflections on love for solo violin, strings, harp and percussion. Conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn worked with Bernstein during the composer's most fertile period and will speak about the Serenade 7-7:30 p.m., before he takes up the baton for the evening. English horn virtuoso Roger Weismeyer also will be on hand before the concert to share his passion for Mozart, whose gamboling overture to the opera The Abduction From the Seraglio completes a well-thought-out program that should shift satisfyingly from the dark to the light to the transcendent. 8 p.m. May 7-8 at Jackson Hall, Tennessee Performing Arts Center
Alias: A New Way to Experience Music This unconventional chamber ensemble, performing for nonprofit causes under an "alias" that diverts attention from their usual identities as members of the Nashville Symphony, will deliver another provocative, eclectic program in their season finale. Selecting lesser known composers who deserve reconsideration as well as rarely performed works by major composers, Alias and several guest artists continue to challenge and redirect their audience's habitual tastes in classical music. Always diversifying their programs historically and by varieties of chamber combinations, this group balance high-art principles with the potential for expanding the classical audience base. One highlight of Sunday's concert will no doubt be the Baroque composer Heinrich von Biber's "Sonata Representiva for Violin and Continuo," in which violinist Zeneba Bowers will be joined by Christopher Stenstrom on viola de gamba. Each movement of this piece represents a different animal or thought, and one section in particular, "Musketeer's March," suggests a danceability not that far removed from bluegrass clogging. Another out-of-the-ordinary selection, "Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano" by German-American composer George Antheil, is a brisk, wryly comic duet from the 1920s, with certain parts sounding like a parody of a player piano. Toward the close of this work, guest pianist Rolin Mains will switch to percussion accompaniment for Bowers. 7:30 p.m. May 9 at Turner Recital Hall, Blair School of Music
The Graduate What happens when you can no longer play sexy young leading ladies in the movies? Turn to the theater, of course! Like many actresses before her, that's what Kelly McGillis (Top Gun, Witness) has done. McGillis, fresh off a series of classical stage performancesThe Duchess of Malfi, Twelfth Night, etc.comes to TPAC's Andrew Jackson Hall May 11-16 starring in this reworked version of the classic Mike Nichols film, which captured the intergenerational angst of the late '60s, launched the career of Dustin Hoffman and shed some glaringly painful light on sexually frustrated middle-aged women. The movie's screenplay, by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry, has been adapted by Terry Johnson, who also directed the original London production, which starred Kathleen Turner (yet another escapee from the cruel realities of film casting trends). This road-show engagement is under the direction of Peter Lawrence. McGillis will play the infamous Mrs. Robinsonand more power to her. The movie's catchy Simon and Garfunkel tunes help provide musical ambience. For tickets, call 255-ARTS.
HamletThe Musical (The Melancholy Dane) After successfully mounting 2002's McBeth! The Musical Comedy, the zany musically inclined folks at Boiler Room Theatre weigh in with yet another spoof of the Bard. Originally presented locally more than 10 years ago, this takeoff on probably Shakespeare's best-known tragedy features the collaborative writing gifts of Jamey Green, Michael Bouson, Joe Correll and Kathy Shepard. The team have reworked and updated the material, which pokes fun at the Bard, to be sure, but also the culture of musical comedy. Opens May 7 and runs through June 12. For tickets, phone 794-7744.
Ideaprov"Word to your Mother" Paul Bellos' improv enterprise is gaining more students with every passing day; meanwhile, the maestro of spontaneous mayhem has assembled stalwart core players who have been performing with him all over the area with increasing regularity, including a recent appearance at River Stages. The troupe will offer two shows, 8 and 10 p.m., on May 8 at Bongo After Hours Theatre. For tickets, call 385-1188. You can also visit the Web site www.ideaprov.com.
"From Sargent to Grooms"/ Cheekwood Museum of Art
From the depths of the Cheekwood vaults comes a rare opportunity to view drawings and watercolors by some of America's greatest artists. Since the Cheekwood Museum of Art opened in 1960, it has been committed to developing a significant collection of works on paper. The flipside to this ongoing endeavor is that these light-sensitive pieces can only be shown for three months out of the year. More than 50 works by artists such as John Singer Sargent and the American impressionists John Henry Twachtman and Maurice Prendergast are featured in this new showsome for the first time ever. Most of the pieces date from 1880-1940, but Cheekwood has sprinkled in a few works by contemporary artists such as Red Grooms. Several drawings by Arthur B. Davies, recently given to the museum, will also be on display for the first time. There's no overall theme as such (subject matter varies from scenes of Europe, the American Southwest and New York City to figurative subjects, portraits and landscapes) and trying to find one would be missing the point. Beginning May 8, Nashville art-lovers have a chance to view little-known works on paper by great American mastersreason enough to plan a trip out to Cheekwood before these fragile works are once again consigned to the anonymous, preserving darkness of the vaults on Aug. 2.
"Under My Skin"/Zeitgeist Gallery "Under My Skin" finds Jeff Hand continuing to produce his signature faux fur collages on wood, previously seen in numerous Nashville venues. The difference this time is the addition of a small group of felt assemblages and a few vinyl interpretations of extracted bone pieces found in the novice game Operation. Hand's predominate craft-store fur pieces are heavily manicuredwhich reeks of kitschand his choice of palette is typical of artists perpetuating the pop style. The chosen imagery follows the pulp fiction formula, with its intent to mix the clinical with the violently sexual. Rather than "stir up questions of body relationships," as the artist states is his aim, the pieces have a '70s taxidermy-gone-wrong feel that seems more focused on simply adding a tactile fetishism to expected images of contemporary culture. Hand fails to use the materials in a thoughtful way that could explore their cultural appeal or perhaps interrupt what they subconsciously represent. The exhibit continues through May 22 at Zeitgeist and includes works by painters Michelle Anderson and Rob Faucette and photographer Gieves.
BFA Senior Thesis Shows/ Watkins College of Art and Design Only in the past couple of years has Watkins offered a Bachelor of Fine Arts, making it the first independent art school in Nashville to offer the degree. As the Watkins students matriculate through the system, the community can expect to see more talented young artists presenting the culmination of their learning and years of hard work in senior thesis shows. This Friday, four graduating artistsLaura Cumbee, Patricia Jordan, Brian Hulsey and William Nashpresent distinct bodies of work in an exhibit that runs through July 2. Utilizing found objects, photography and quilting, Cumbee invokes a feminist twist on her nostalgic reconstructions of women's lives, while Jordan explores the life and wisdom of the post-menopausal woman in her paintings and prints. Hulsey incorporates latex, chocolate, salt and carpet to create mixed-media sculpture based on selective memory, and Nash's obsession with cataloguing his record collection serves as the fodder for his blueprint-like drawings. Celebrate the capstone exhibit of these artists' undergraduate careers at the opening reception, 6-8 p.m. May 7 in the college's Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Gallery.
John Seigenthaler Former Tennessean editor John Seigenthaler is the author of James K. Polk, a recent study of one of the nation's most overlooked presidents. For my money, the most riveting part of the book has to do with Polk's childhood surgery for urinary stones, the details of which the author explores in minute detail and which will leave you lurching for the brandy bottle (which is all the young Polk had available in those pre-anesthesia days, and accounts for why his Kentucky surgeon strapped him to the table before slicing into his perinium, located midway between the anus and scrotum). What makes the account so interesting, in part, is that several local doctors are credited in the book for helping Seigenthaler figure out exactly what happened to Polk post-surgery. The conclusion: The operation is probably why the 13th president never had children. Elsewhere in the book one finds a thorough examination of the Jacksonian politics of the day, both here in Tennessee and nationally. Seigenthaler offers a positive appraisal of Polk, even though he is generally given short shrift in the history texts. On the upside, Polk expanded the nation's landmass and promoted free trade. On the downside, he was so unwaveringly serious that he wasn't a whole lot of fun. Seigenthaler will be signing books and otherwise holding forth on Saturday, May 8, at 11 a.m., at BookMan/ BookWoman in Hillsboro Village.
Kelley Baker, Angry Filmmaker What makes Kelley Baker angry? Judging from his Web site (www.angryfilm-maker.com), he's pissed at the star-bound vanity projects that are passed off as "independent film," the PR machinery that turns film culture into Movieline fodder, and crappy movies. That's why he's barnstorming the country with an assortment of his wry, personal, digressive short films, which serve as prelude to his quirkily impressive 1999 feature Birddog. In this homegrown variation on Chinatown, with the checkered history of Baker's hometown Portland, Ore., as backdrop, a struggling used-car salesman stumbles upon a decades-old conspiracy surrounding a controversy from the city's past. The result is an offbeat mystery, a piquant character study and a ringing tribute to the merits of joining the Kiwanis Club. A sound editor and designer who worked on Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven and made five films with Gus Van Sant (including My Own Private Idaho and Good Will Hunting), Baker stops by the Belcourt 7 p.m. Monday for a talk and screening.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg If four stars, in the Scene's Movie Guide, denotes a must-see movie, Jacques Demy's 1964 musical deserves five. It's one of my absolute favorite films. Girl (Catherine Deneuve) loves boy (Nino Castelnuovo) in a seaside French town splashed with impossibly gorgeous Technicolor. Girl and boy swear eternal love, until the boy is shipped off to the conflict in Algiers. Then the girl learns she is pregnant. With every line sung to a lilting Michel Legrand scorethe main theme, Americanized as "I Will Wait for You," became a pop standardit strikes some people at first as the silliest thing they've ever seen. But few movies evoke the transience and naïveté of first love as piercingly as its youthful intensity. It culminates in a glorious final image, a gas station dusted by a Christmas Eve snowfall, that may be the saddest happy ending in movie history. Get a stout box of Kleenexes, take someone you love and don't let go of their hand. It opens Friday at the Belcourt in a breathtaking new 35 mm print; the theater celebrates 7 p.m. Sunday with a free post-film reception, music and screenings of rare French film treasures on 16 mm. See Donna Bowman's review on p. 68.
Dogville Not to be missed. Every bit as polarizingand emotionally pulverizingas his earlier films Breaking the Waves and Dancer in the Dark, Lars von Trier's rabid reworking of Our Town concerns a Depression-era jerkwater village that brutally squanders its one brush with grace. Nicole Kidman plays the angelic outsider who seeks shelter but finds undreamt-of hardship; the townspeople include Paul Bettany, Stellan Skarsg&squo;rd, Chloë Sevigny, Lauren Bacall and Ben Gazzara. It opens Friday at Green Hills, along with Kitchen Stories and Mayor of the Sunset Strip.
Main Hoon Na The directorial debut of Bollywood choreographer Farah Khan, whose credits include Monsoon Wedding, the blockbuster Kahbi Khushi Kahbie Gham and the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Bombay Dreams, this three-hour Hindi action musical sounds like a blast. Hindi cinema superstar Shahrukh Khan plays a government agent sent undercover as a high-school student to protect a scientist's daughter. What follows are Matrix-style special effects, romance, exploding desks and, of course, splashy production numbers. It screens 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the Belcourt, which holds over the comedies Good Bye, Lenin! and Intermission.
Van Helsing Hugh Jackman pops a silver cap in lots of undead asses, wielding an arsenal of weapons as the legendary vampire hunter and nemesis of Count Dracula. Stephen Sommers (The Mummy) wrote and directed this CGI orgy, which co-stars Kate Beckinsale as bodice-busting bat bait. It opens Friday, along with the equally toothsome Olsen twins in New York Minute.
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