Sexsmith’s show last year at the Belcourt Theatre was an ideal match of performer and venue: The Canadian singer-songwriter’s wistful songs gained haunting resonance in the auditorium, and yet the room was small enough that Sexsmith chatted amiably with fans from the stage. Sexsmith returns to the Belcourt to celebrate the release of Blue Boy, the album he recorded in Nashville with producers Steve Earle and Ray Kennedy; this may be your last chance to see him in a room this size. The opening act is the Canadian pop group The Supers; tickets are $11 at the door.
They Might Be Giants Perhaps the perfect revolutionary pop act, this group have an extremely large popular audience, bolstered by the odd soundtrack appearance or MTV hit. To be sure, not many in their position would play a free show (as they did at Lucy’s Record Shop a few years back) on the same day they were playing for a fee at 328 Performance Hall. The gesture didn’t hurt attendance at either venue. And if the songs from the McSweeney’s disc are any indication of what the band’s forthcoming album, Mink Car, has in store, it’ll be an uptempo guitar-dominated pop nugget. John and John give another free one to Nashville at Dancin’ in the District at Riverfront Park.
Happily Ever After The best-attended original musicals in town have been taking place not at TPAC but at 12th & Porter, thanks to former Milkshake? member Jon Wright. Last year, his tuneful telling of Jason and the Argonautswhich doubled as bandmate Jason Gray’s bachelor partydrew a full house, and the revue he organized of Rocky Horror tunes was such a blockbuster that it’s scheduled for multiple dates this Halloween. The same crowds that turned out for those will likely show up for Wright’s new “rock operetta,” a suite of songs about a good-natured guy who starts dating “a hot girl with no girlfriends.” (“Guys know what that means,” the author explains.) And since the psycho hot-girl in question is played by Katie Cook, whose lingerie-flaunting Janet was the hit of Rocky Horror, expect more guys than you’d normally see at a stage musical. The cast includes Gray, Jonathan Trebing, James DiGirolamo, Hags Haggerty, Maxwell Abrams, and Kami Lyle; the curtain rises 9 p.m. at 12th & Porter.
Fishbone One of the great bands to come out of the late ’70s/early ’80s SoCal punk-funk boom, Fishbone have maintained a strong cult following due to their marathon high-intensity live shows. And their mid-’80s Truth & Soul is one of the finest CDs ever to wear a “Nice Price” sticker. While longtime fans will surely miss the presence of some founding members, the current lineup is strong. And if we’re lucky, their set at Dancin’ in the District’s Mello Yello Smooth Zone will feature cameos by some of the artists who collaborated on their most recent release, Psychotic Friends Nuttwerx.
Tom Mason/Joe Nolan/Andy Scheinman Nashvillians should be used to Tom Mason’s mug; they’ve seen him in Dolly Parton’s TV movie and on billboards promoting the Frist Center, and heard him at his weekly shows about town. What folks may not know about him is how truly diverse his musical background is. Mason’s résumé includes the charming Shimmy Disc group, The Tinklers, and a stint as touring guitarist for Peter Murphy. He brings it all home to the Radio Cafe with some like minds: Joe Nolan, a storyteller and poet of some note, backs his narratives ably on both guitar and saxophone; Andy Scheinman, in addition to being a boxing correspondent and fly-fisherman, can name-check The Who and “The Hag” without being disingenuous. Show time is 7:30 p.m.
Little River Band Although they bear only a slight resemblance to the Australian semi-soft-rock juggernaut that landed monster hits like “Reminiscing” and “Lonesome Loser” in the late ’70s, the new LRB lineup that’ll be playing the Wildhorse Saloon does contain musicians who have at one point played with the band’s original members. They probably know all the words and stuff too.
Masa Billing himself as “the modern folk rocker,” this hard-gigging local artist plays spirited story-songs with doggedly traditional rock foundations, comedic lyrics, and occasionally wacky nods to his Asian American roots. He’s doesn’t exactly have the most original sound (or the choicest pipes) in town, but he’s a likable sort, and a born entertainer. He’ll be making a stop at The End on his never-ending “local club tour.”
Saddlesong Some of the sweetest alt-country around can be heard from this deeply affecting outfit, headlining at 3rd & Lindsley.
Last Thursday Alt-Country Hoedown Melba Toast, the host with the most on white or wheat, emcees Springwater’s Americana hootenanny on the last Thursday of every month. This month’s lineup features Suzette & the Neon Angels, Memphis Quick 50, Rob Ryan & His Band, and the Old Crow Medicine Show.
Ricky Skaggs Skaggs, who’s been performing with daredevil speed and ferocity in recent years, warns the young bluegrass upstarts not to get above their raising in a Bluegrass Night at the Ryman.
Tony Gore & Majesty The Southern gospel quartet performs with Royalty at The Renaissance Center in Dickson.
FRENCH KICKS The French Kicks are something like the ideal rock ’n’ roll band. Their sound is straight outta the garage: rambunctious and rebellious but completely fun. The group of transplanted New Yorkers carries on the great tradition of NYC groups who sound authentic and fresh at once. Like the departed Jonathan Fire♦Eater, French Kicks swing and pound like it’s 1967 without sounding retro. If the live feel of their latest EP, Young Lawyer, is anything to go by (and I hear it is), they should be quite cool at The End.
THE JAMIE HARTFORD BAND Though Hartford blends twangy country, blues, and Southern rockas do many other Nashville bandsthe music that results has a drive and resonance that set it apart from the pack. Propelled by drummer Rick Lonow and bassist Dave Pomeroy’s superlative locomotive grooves, Hartford delivers gritty emotional tales of love, heartbreak, and life on the fringes in a rich barroom baritone. And he’s developed into a formidable guit-picker in the last couple years. Add to the mix blues-harp wizard Paco Shipp’s mind-blowing sonic forays, and you have one of the most dangerous bands in town. Check ’em out at Douglas Corner.
JOE, MARC’S BROTHER These impish architects of left-of-center psychedelipop provide some of the most consistently intriguing and entertaining music in Nashville. Combining whimsical lyrics, ambitious harmonies, and lead vocalist/guitarist Joe Pisapia’s six-string excursionswhich can switch gears from dreamy lounge-jazz to what might best be termed spasmodic rock ’n’ roll in the blink of an eyethese three upstarts pull out all the stops for their live performances. This show at 12th & Porter celebrates the long-awaited release of The Pennsylvania Sessions, a 1993 document of the Pisapia brothers’ (Joe’s brother Marc plays drums, thus the name) first collaborative efforts. Steve Ward opens.
MARK SELBY As evidenced on his 2000 release More Storms Comin’, Selby is a musician who knows his strengths and sticks to ’em. The disc is a healthy portion of reliable blues-rock, in the tradition of John Hiatt or Delbert McClinton, with nods to Muddy and Keef along the way. Selby’s songs are down-home, no-nonsense affairs, and he possesses a soulful voice and a deft command of the blues guitar idiom. It’s the type of music that’s best enjoyed live, so check him out at 3rd & Lindsley.
Thistle This Northern Kentucky post-grunge power trio plays loud, pounding rock with earnest emotion, forever reaching for the next peaceful instrumental break between the screeching verses. They’ll be baring their souls at NXT Generation Performance Hall.
Buckcherry/Sinomatic/Econoline Crush If the Sex Pistols were to emerge today, rather than slashing up Pink Floyd T-shirts to piss off the rock establishment, they’d be targeting bands like those on this triple-bill at 328 Performance Hall. All signed to major labels, all sporting a trendy-pool-hall fashion sense, all devoid of personality, all cranking out generic hard-edged modern-rock with phony tough-guy pretensions, and all waiting for the right mid-tempo power ballad to make them crossover VH1 stars, these are the shitheads who are ruining rock ’n’ roll.
Friday, 29th-Saturday, 30th
Sandra Hall Hall is a stirring vocalist and soulful entertainer who is especially compelling doing confessional tunes, romantic ballads, and even R&B and blues anthems. She has long been a fan favorite on the soul/blues circuit, but hasn’t made it into the upper echelon mainly due to less than satisfying albums. She’s had some particularly outstanding appearances in Nashville, and returns to Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar for what will hopefully be two more.
Cuddle Core, Always Ariel, Tami Hart The Mr. Lady logo on a CD spine is a virtual guarantee of goodness within the realm of feminist punk. Tami Hart lives up to the label’s reputation on No Light in August, delivering some femme folk with a generous sense of humor, even while attacking some downright serious topics. And her CD cover has all the smoldering sensuality of a Bob Welch record jacket. Cuddle Core, the union of the sadly defunct Murfreesboro outfit Drain with Trauma Team guitarist Laurel Parton on drums, should be a band to watch. Always Ariel round out the night at The End.
Liquid Summer Fest The downtown Liquid Lounge at Second Avenue and Broadway hosts an outdoor concert headlined by two late-1980s/early-’90s dance and hip-hop legends: Digital Underground, the outfit that gave the world the Humpty Dance (and once boasted as a member a young Tupac Shakur); and P.M. Dawn, whose trippy 1991 smash “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss” made a dance-club sensation of the group’s “Daisy Age Soul.” Rounding out the bill is The Guy Smiley Blues Exchange. The show starts at 4 p.m., and tickets are $10; for more information, call 254-0333.
MERCATOR/CHARTER OAK/TRABANT Mercator display a fine sense of eloquence and lyricism on their debut split LP with Lotushalo. That’s pretty unique for an instrumental band. It’s post-rock that you can hum-along to. Live, their melodies and rhythms are much more infectious. They are joined at the Red Rose Coffee House and Bistro by Charter Oak, a band comprised of members of Mercator and Lake Region Men’s Club, and Trabant, another fine instrumental band from Nashville.
Greg Smith’s Dynamic Jazz Quartet Smith’s ensemble nicely blends originals with good renditions of hard bop, soul jazz, and some funk and blues pieces. Fine interaction and sterling musicianship are their stock-in-trade, rather than lengthy solos or experimental compositions. The group will display their skills Saturday afternoon as the headliners at the weekly Jazz@Bellevue Center performance series.
luvjOi Kenny Alphin’s stagecraft-savvy hard-rock quartet have just released their second CD, luvjOi vol. 2, which ups the volume and the brain-busting guitar, while retaining the easy-to-handle pop hooks and direct lyrical communication that Alphin learned as a Music Row songwriting grunt. The press material touts the new record as being harder-edged and nastier, but the soaring choruses and love-inclined emotion prevent even the raunchiest cuts on vol. 2 from getting too hardcore. The band still relies on feel-good anthemizing. They’ll be making an in-store appearance at Tower Records, followed by a typically high-energy performance at 12th & Porter.
Cornett for Congress Benefit To raise funds for Carlton Cornett, a Democratic progressive who’s challenging U.S. Rep. Bob Clement for his seat in the House next year, singer-songwriter Jen Foster hosts a benefit performance at 3rd & Lindsley. For more information about Cornett’s platform, which supports national health care, the right to choose, judicial reform, and civil rights for same-sex couples, check out his campaign Web site at www.cornettforcongress.com.
Saturday, 30th-Monday, 2nd
Sing! An A Cappella Celebration A cappella singing is the forgotten genre in American popular music, even though it was the foundation for such styles as jazz “jive” vocals, jubilee and quartet gospel, and doo-wop. A cappella devotees can hear the best currently active artists during a three-day festival billed as “Sing! An A Cappella Celebration.” The featured groups represent styles from classical to country to jazz, and include such units as Malaika, a women’s Afro Canadian gospel & folk quartet; the classical vocal ensemble Chanticleer; M-Pact, a contemporary pop jazz quartet; and For Heaven’s Sake, a female mainstream jazz quartet. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster, and concerts begin 7:30 p.m. nightly at TPAC.
Alien Crime Syndicate The Meices’ Joe Reineke fronts this acclaimed Seattle power-pop outfit that mines the same new-wave motherlode as The Features, with crunchy guitar snotpower and shout-along choruses offset by electronic whoop-de-do and the odd escaped experiment from the Stereolaboratory. Our favorite song, and we kid you not, sounds kinda like Eddie Money joining XTC with his brand-new Theremin. Or is it The Posies and The Pixies playing The Steve Miller Band? Call it the classic-rock radio of a different galaxyand be sure to check out the group’s highly touted live show (with accompanying interplanetary lights) at The Sutler.
Rod Stewart In some corners, the dude’ll never be forgiven for “D’Ya Think I’m Sexy”not that he needs forgiving, it’s a shamelessly great singleand will always be pegged publicly as a talent-squandering sellout. While his glorious rasp is becoming a gargle, his ear for material is as keen as ever: Nick Lowe, Oasis, and Ron Sexsmith on his previous record, Macy Gray, Curtis Mayfield, and the New Radicals on his new one. And for about 10 years, he amassed some of the most underrated and thrilling singles in all of rock ’n’ roll. If classics such as “Every Picture Tells a Story,” “You Wear it Well,” or “Tonight’s the Night” never made your pulse throb a little, you don’t have any business being at AmSouth Amphitheatrecertainly not for a top-ticket $100.
Jordan Field Benefit Eighteen-year-old rocker Jordan Field was in the midst of making her first album when she was tragically killed in a car accident last January near her Williamson County home. Two weeks later, her mother Patty died after a longtime struggle with cancer. To help her family with medical and funeral expenses, her producer Sharon Gilchrist hosts a benefit performance of Field’s songs at the Exit/In, featuring Josh Rouse, Baby Stout, and members of Venus Hum.
Highwater For Independence Day, the band shrewdly plays Windows on the Cumberlandwhich has one of Second Avenue’s nicest views of Riverfront Park (and the annual fireworks display).
I Am Cuba No, wise guy, it’s not the Cuba Gooding Jr. story; it’s one of the most amazing movie discoveries of the past decade. If you’ve ever wondered what kind of pro-Castro propaganda film would draw the passionate support of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, who co-sponsored its release after 30 years, you owe it to yourself to check out this delirious 1964 Soviet spectaclea riot of Western decadence, dance-hall sleaze, and revolutionary fervor. (Another fan is Paul Thomas Anderson, who recreated one of its most famous shots in Boogie Nights.) As a salute to Milestone Films’ 10th anniversary, the Belcourt opens the film for a week’s run this Friday; it also holds over Agnès Varda’s surprisingly popular The Gleaners and I.
Songcatcher A hit at the recent Nashville Independent Film Festival, Maggie Greenwald’s period drama concerns a turn-of-the-century musicologist (Janet McTeer) who embarks on a dangerous quest for the roots of folk balladry in the hills of Appalachia. With a soundtrack of lovingly sung folk tunesrecorded for the album by ringers like Dolly Parton and Patty Lovelessthe movie also features Aidan Quinn, Pat Carroll, Jane Adams, and Emmy Rossum; it opens Friday at Green Hills.
The King Is Alive When their bus breaks down in the sweltering African desert, the passengers (including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Janet McTeer, and Bruce Davison) are convinced to pass the time by staging an impromptu version of King Lear. (There’s another reason why people take airlines.) The shot-on-digital drama, directed by Dogme 95 conspirator Kristin Levring, opens Friday at Green Hills.
A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) The late Stanley Kubrick never realized this longtime pet project, which reaches the screen courtesy of writer-director Steven Spielberg. In a future where artificial human beings are outfitted with synthetic consciousness, an 11-year-old boy (Haley Joel Osment) struggles to prove himself real. The movie costars Jude Law, Frances O’Connor, and William Hurt; it opens Friday at area theaters.
Baby Boy Just because he’s fathered two kids by different women, that doesn’t make Jody (Tyrese Gibson) a man himselfsince he has no job, refuses all responsibility, and lives at home with his mother and her new ex-con boyfriend (Ving Rhames, who’s excellent). John Singleton returns to the ’hood with this comedy-drama, which opens Friday at local theaters. Also starting Friday: the Chris Rock Show spinoff Pootie Tang and Kirsten Dunst in Crazy/Beautiful. See our Film Listings and Movie Clock for more information.
Obsession In this kinky 1976 variation on Vertigo, directed by Brian De Palma and scripted by Paul Schrader, businessman Cliff Robertson meets a mysterious beauty (Genevieve Bujold) who’s the mirror image of the wife he lost in a kidnapping many years before. With music by Vertigo composer Bernard Herrmann (who insisted De Palma scrap the intended wrap-up of Schrader’s script), this no-frills DVD will have to tide over the director’s fans until August’s deluxe editions of Carrie and Dressed to Kill.
Traffik You’ve seen Steven Soderbergh’s U.S. remake; now see the 1989 British miniseries that inspired (and reportedly surpasses) itan episodic overview of the international heroin trade, from the poppy fields of Pakistan to the dealers, users, and narcotics agents of Europe. The epic TV drama comes out this week on DVD.
Unbreakable The two-disc DVD edition of M. Night Shyamalan’s admirably offbeat follow-up to The Sixth Sense contains a commentary by composer James Newton Howard, but not by Shyamalan, who prefers to preserve an air of mystery around his movies. There’s certainly mystery aplenty in Unbreakable, a comic book hero homage that stands as one of last year’s oddest studio blockbusters. The DVD also includes deleted scenes, an early Shyamalan short film, a documentary on comic books, and collectible illustrations by photo-realist superhero painter Alex Ross.
You Can Count on Me One of last year’s most profoundly moving comedy-dramasabout an orphaned brother and sister who grow up into a skewed but ultimately loving relationshipcomes to home video, where its small-scale gentility should play quite well. The DVD includes a commentary by writer-director Kenneth Lonergan.
Premier Art Decor & Designs Like most identical twins, Jerry and Terry Lynn have been doing everything together since they were infants. Now 24 years old, the twin brothers from Memphis are still doing things togethernotably creating striking expressionistic salutes to blues and jazz musicians on canvas. Works by the duowho sign their collaborative paintings “Twin”are featured in the latest show at this new gallery near Music Row. Enjoy some live jazz and meet these talented young artists at the opening reception, 6-10 p.m. June 29.
Watkins College of Art & Design/Area Artists’ Studios The Second Annual “Nashville Artists’ Studio Tour” kicks off with an exhibition at Watkins of works by participating artists 6-9 p.m. June 29. Pay close attention to the pieces you find especially intriguing, because on June 30 and July 1 you can drop in and see the artists that created them in action in their own studios. Sponsored by the Visual Arts Alliance of Nashville, the self-guided tour of artists’ studios is noon-6 p.m. Jun. 30 for northeast area artists and July 1 for southeast area artists. The geographically far-flung tour includes the Madison Art Center studios north of downtown, Fugitive Arts Center and the Chestnut Building studios just south of the city center, and all parts in between. Artists range from sculptors Alan LeQuire and Steve Benneyworth to ceramic artist Tim Weber, photographer Carlton Wilkinson, installation artist Annie Freeman, and painter Myles Maillie.
Cumberland Gallery Each summer, this Green Hills gallery offers a changing display of works by gallery artistsand a chance to meet a few of those artists and learn about their creative process in a series of informal gallery talks. Artists Bob Durham and Mike Smith discuss their work at 2 p.m. June 30.
Independence Day Celebration Braving the crowds and the heat for this Fourth of July celebration at Riverfront Park is a tradition of well over a decade. The fun lasts 3:30-10:30 p.m., with music of all kindsincluding the patriotic and classic sort performed by the Nashville Symphonyfood and drink concessions, and a fireworks display that can be seen (and heard) throughout much of the city.
Celebration Under the Stars For many area residents, this Murfreesboro celebration is a closer and less crowded alternative to the July 4 party in downtown Nashville. You’ll still hear an orchestral salute to Independence Day (from the Tennessee Philharmonic) and enjoy a fireworks finale, 6-9:30 p.m. at the MTSU Intramural Field.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum The museum kicks off its new monthly series of family programs with “Creative Costuming,” 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. June 30. The workshop is led by local costume designer Katy K and includes hands-on outfit creating for the kids as well as lunch. Participants will also learn a little about country styles through the designer’s eyes and use different forms of music to inspire their own designs. That’s quite a deal for the cost of just $5 per child (and no charge for up to two accompanying adults). For reservations, all 416-2001.
Picks written by Todd Anderson, Chris Davis, Noel Murray, Jim Ridley, Jack Silverman, Angela Wibking, and Ron Wynn.
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