The Americana Music Association Conference returns to Nashville this week; in support of its third annual meetings, the advocacy group behind this would-be radio format has assembled its strongest, most eclectic lineup yet. Every act is sure to be “too something-or-other”too bluesy or brainy, too retro or rockin’, too old, unusual or soulfulfor easy assimilation by that homogenization machine known as mainstream country radio. Almost every bill this weekend includes something you might expect, alongside something rather unexpected. On Thursday night, for example, 12th & Porter presents some classic-minded country, notably the understated swing of Roger Wallace, along with the rootsy a cappella jazz of the Southern Fly-By-Night Singers. The same evening, The Station Inn explores the acoustic crevices of Down From the Mountain, ranging from the gripping narratives of Darrell Scott and the genre-defying bluegrass of headliner Dale Ann Bradley to the originals of Norwegian troubadour Henning Kvitnes and country singer Precious Bryant (see separate critic’s pick below).
Your best bet Thursday night, though, is at Slow Bar. Expect Mike Ireland and his band Holler to deliver a set of country-soul originals as smart, melodic, passionately sung and radio-ready as any you’ll hear all weekend. As if that weren’t enough, local country-rocker Buddy Miller closes the night by showcasing his new Midnight and Lonesome, an album that might be his best yet.
That one-two punch is tough to beat, but Friday night’s lineup at the Belcourt Theatre is almost as impressive. California honky-tonker Heather Myles has been mixing pop ballads in among her shuffles of late, and Austin’s Kelly Willis has finally been writing songs worthy of her poignant voice. Closing out the night is Nashville’s own Bobby Bare Jr., who, working in an alt-rock singer-songwriter mode, will offer strong musical evidence that “The Beatles used up all there was to be found” even as he wryly demonstrates there’s still plenty to do with the leftovers.
One problem with having these events spread all over town, of course, is that the better the festival is, the harder the choices become. On that score, Saturday night promises to be the most frustrating night of the weekend. If you choose one favorite soundsay, the neo-honky-tonk of Jim Lauderdale at 12th & Porter, or the muscular pop of Scotland’s Lush Rollers at Slow Barthen you’ve inevitably missed something worthwhile elsewhere, such as Tim Easton’s brooding roots-rock at The End, or Tim O’Brien’s incisive singer-songwriter fare back at 12th & Porter.
If you want to avoid at least some of that running around on Saturday, plan to stay at the Belcourt for back-to-back performances by Americana hopeful Tift Merritt and old five-and-dimer Billy Joe Shaver. Then keep your fingers crossed that Merritt spends most of her set behind the keyboards, where her too-often-rote roots rock gives way to uniquely soulful balladry that proves what all the fuss has been about. No finger-crossing required for Shaver. Whether he shows up solo or with a band, he’s known for decades now that to reveal his distinctive soul is what Americana is all about.
This week’s picks by Todd Anderson, Eric Babcock, Martin Brady, David Cantwell, Chris Davis, Steve Erickson, Bill Friskics-Warren, Paul Griffith, Barry Mazor, Noel Murray, Jim Ridley, Jason Shawhan, Jack Silverman, William Tyler, Angela Wibking and Ron Wynn.
Precious Bryant This 60-year-old country blues singer from Talbot County, Ga., grew up singing in church and listening to her cousins and uncles play fife and drum music à la Otha Turner. She plays guitar and sings, however, in the tradition of Blind Willie McTell and others associated with the lyrical, ragtime-inflected Piedmont school of blues. She also isn’t averse to seasoning her blues with gospel, soul or even scraps of fatback R&B. Bryant released her long overdue debut album in February, and it’s a down-home revelation, something of a missing link between Memphis Minnie and a young Bonnie Raittor Lucinda Williams. Persistent health problems tend to keep Bryant from venturing far from her trailer in west-central Georgia, so fans of unvarnished country blues won’t miss her set at The Station Inn.
Demolition String Band/Phil Lee/Kevin Gordon Rockin’ honky-tonkers from Hoboken, the Demolition String Band have been wowing audiences up and down the East Coast and across Europe with frontwoman Elena Skye’s tough yet vulnerable vocals and the duo’s semi-secret weapon, electrifying flat-picker Boo Reiners. The DSB jump across genres, crisscrossing from classic country to Skye’s bluesy ballads to a bluegrass rendition of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” Joining Skye and Reiners at The Basement are the similarly eclectic pub rocker Lee and the soulful Gordon, who might have been John Fogerty in a different time and place. This is a bill that knows its roots well enough to play around with themand play hard.
Lynette Vantreese Vantreese’s highly literate, thoughtful and often striking lyrics, as well as her energetic, disciplined vocal style, set her apart from many other area singer-songwriters. In addition, her influences reflect equal amounts of folk introspection, rock edge and pop sensibility, something that’s even more evident on her fine self-titled debut CD. Vantreese appears at Bongo After Hours Theatre.
.38 Special/Molly Hatchet Hopefully, the folks at the Tennessee State Fair have allotted enough parking for biker gangs, because this Thursday, two of Jacksonville’s finest pay us a visit. Molly Hatchet (who took their name from a murderous prostitute) and .38 Special (who took their name from a handgun) typify everything grand and tragic about ’70s Southern rock bombast: bad boogie shuffles, long solos, at least six or seven band members and vocals derivative of Ronnie Van Zandt. (In the case of .38 Special, the last of these is justified, since Ronnie’s brother Donnie is the band’s singer.)
Suzette & The Neon Angels A singer who describes herself as a “legitimate honky-tonk queen,” Suzette Lawrence’s sound isn’t as angelic as her band’s name might imply. Together with her band The Neon Angels, she plays a gritty and appealing mix of rockabilly, blues and hard country. Although obscure compared to Lucinda Williams or Rosie Flores, with whom she shares this bill, Lawrence has a wide following in Europe. Also appearing at The End are Davis Raines, Nancy Apple & Her Back Door Men, The Swindlers, Dodd Farrell, Ten Fold Stars and Uncle Lightnin’.
Morris Day & The Time Minneapolis cohorts of Prince’s, Day & The Time emerged as one of the ’80s’ definitive funk bands, although the group went through some early downsizing after charter members Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis got booted out for allegedly being more interested in outside production than group participation. Day and the remaining members have enjoyed highly erratic careers, with periods of great creativity followed by subsequent breakups and reunions. Still, when inspired, Day’s personality and exuberant, sometimes surprisingly flexible vocals can spark the magic that made The Time an early ’80s sensation. They play the Grandstand Stage at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.
P!nk More punk than the unjustly under-sung Shea Segerwhose beatwise pop P!nk’s latest record at times resemblesthis kid from Philly and former teen idol may sing of wanting to be somebody else, but, at 23, she’s already got a voice of her own. She’s also got a great album under her belt, last year’s collaboration with LA Reid and Linda Perry (ex-4 Non Blondes)a smart, tortured, bottom-rich record that suggests what Garbage would sound like if they were from Motown...or Philly. P!nk opens for Lenny Kravitz (see below) at AmSouth Amphitheatre.
George Strait Concert In the Round Can it really be more than 20 years since Strait made his debut with “Unwound”? He can thank his perpetually youthful looks for keeping him successful in the age of beefcake country, though of course good songs and his smooth, mellifluous tenor haven’t hurt either. Onstage, his secret weapon remains The Ace in the Hole Band, a versatile and hard-swinging outfit who’ve only improved with age. In an earlier era, they’d have long since earned comparison to the Texas Playboys. Nowadays, you can just call them the best in the business. Jo Dee Messina opens for Strait and his band at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.
Lenny Kravitz Kravitz has won multiple rock Grammies and scored substantial radio and sales hits, yet he’s still widely regarded as more a triumph of image and marketing than substance. That said, his music nicely mixes idiomatic references from arena rock to funk and soul, while his taste in covers includes everything from The Guess Who to Curtis Mayfield. He headlines at AmSouth Amphitheatre.
DJ Julian Marsh The nation’s preeminent circuit DJ brings his inimitable blend of trance and energy to the Connection. The vibe should be on the uplifting side, and Marsh knows how to work a keyboard oscillation like few others. It’s been three years since an A-list circuit DJ turned it out at a local event, and fans of high-energy music should not let this one slip by; it could be three years or more before anything close to another circuit event comes here.
Electric Lounge presents Nigel Richards Local promoter the Electric Lounge continues to bring new sounds in electronic and body music to town, and this week it takes over eXceSs/Orbit with Philadelphia-based master of electro and acid house DJ Nigel Richards. Expect Roland 303 acid noises tweaking alongside aggressive beats. Judging by his recent mix CD A Dedication to the Whistle Party, as well as his masterful work on the legendary Acid Experiments EPs, house heads should be in heaven.
David Olney/Iain Matthews/Ad Vanderveen/Henning Kvitnes Is Olney hosting an EU summit? No, but the esteemed Nashville singer-songwriter welcomes to Douglas Corner three European tunesmiths with whom he has written, recorded or shared bills. Englishman Iain Matthews was a member of Fairport Convention in the ’60s, Norwegian Henning Kvitnes has topped the charts in Scandinavia and Dutchman Ad Vanderveenwho recorded a disc in Nashville with Al Kooper and Flaco Jimenezhas built a considerable overseas following. Of course, the show would be worth it for Olney himself. (Townes Van Zandt was once quoted as saying his favorite musicians were Bob Dylan, Mozart, Lightnin’ Hopkins and David Olney.)
Centro-matic w/The Bigger Lovers The shredded psychedelic indie country-rock of Centro-matic would be reason enough to visit The Slow Bar, but it’s also worth coming early to check out fuzzy Philadelphia power-poppers The Bigger Lovers. On their winning sophomore LP Honey in the Hive, the Lovers haul out all the old rock ’n’ roll baggagejangly guitars, sunny melodies, “ooo-eee-oo” vocals and rhythms as steady as a railroadand then they cover their sound in a light layer of haze, allowing their classic, straight-ahead songcraft to pass as neo-garage or dream-pop in a pinch.
Billy Don Burns A brilliant songwriter and compelling, if at times unorthodox, vocalist, Burns has never been a household name in country circles despite writing definitive hits for artists ranging from Connie Smith to Willie Nelson. However, his latest release, Train Called Lonesome, contains stark, piercing ballads, heartfelt lyrics and superb singing and production. Burns hasn’t done many club dates in recent years, but is now touring more regularly and appears at Radio Cafe.
Ramsay Midwood Versions of this itinerant’s Shoot Out at the OK Chinese Restaurant have been circulating for years, and it’s a ragged little gem, one that will finally be released domestically in November. Pushing country and folk signifiers toward the edge of incoherence, the album is rootsy the way Raindogs or Safe as Milk is rootsy, its ringing guitar and scratchy fiddle stringing along with unhurried rattle-trap drums and shambling in the general direction of swamp pop. Midwood’s delivery is so laconic he makes J.J. Cale sound shrill by comparison. He’ll spin his free-association homilies and winningly twisted understatements of purpose at 3rd & Lindsley.
Asschapel Asschapel are hands-down the best exponents of aggressive black metal in Nashvilleand the most fun to watch. This may very well be your last chance to genuflect to the Asschapel before they embark on a two-month U.S. tour that includes a detour through Tijuana. Stop by and wish them well at Red Rose Coffee House.
The Clutters The Clutters are anachronistic in the best sense. With ’50s rockabilly swagger and ’70s punk brashness, they bash out rock ’n’ roll with the glee and rebellion the latter genre demands, but without descending into faux angst. They play Springwater with Bumper Crop.
Pak Da Park The final installment of Hadley Park’s summer concert series offers a wide range of rap and R&B acts, most notably Iayaalis, a gifted Nashvillian whose enlightened mix of rap, performance poetry and singing created quite a buzz a few years back and is beginning to do so again. Also of note is local rapper Lady Choppa, whose in-your-face delivery and rhymes recently have earned her praise in the pages of The Source. Rounding out the bill, among others, are N.S.E.W., Messenger, Pistol Chyle, Fyste, Joe Montana, Iroquois, real-time gangstas Die-N-Breed, Franklin hustla Cadence and Clarksville rappers Mr. Byrd and V Smooth. The show is free and begins at 3 p.m.
Pere Ubu The not-so-homey synths, blips, skronk and other noise that define their sound might mask the fact, but this band of quixotic populists from Ohio just might be the greatest exponents of Americana in the past 25 or 30 years. Ubu’s mongrel din doesn’t just tap sources ranging from Ernest Tubb, Lead Belly and The 13th Floor Elevators to dub reggae, creature features and the sound of breaking glass (and hearts). Frontman David Thomas reanimates a century’s worth of heartland iconography like a post-industrial Whitman, writing latter-day songs of ourselves and yowling the body electric. Forget the new neo-jug- and stringband set; if anyone is heir to the recombinant genius of the late Harry Smith, it’s Pere Ubu, who play The End on a dream bill with former collaborator and Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome. See the story on p. 54.
Joanna Connor Thankfully, we’re past the point where female blues singers routinely get noticed on the basis of gender. Connor’s been around since the early ’80s, and her outstanding slide guitar playing has been featured on albums since 1989. Her new disc on Blind Pig showcases a voice that’s gotten not only stronger but more declarative with age, while her instrumental prowess remains uniformly impressive. Connor returns to Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar.
Wishbone Ash British prog-rock band Wishbone Ash have long traded in two of rock’s most enduringand, some would say, tiringeffects: the twin-harmony lead-guitar solo and the slow beginning/fast ending rock anthem. Only guitarist Andy Powell remains from the group’s ’70s heyday, but despite an ungodly number of lineup changes, he’s managed to keep Ash on the road and recording. The band’s latest album, Bona Fide, is the same as it ever wasGibson Flying V guitars turned up to 10 and good ol’ British vocal and instrumental bombast that seems downright charming when compared to Europe’s current garage-rock infatuation. Wishbone Ash play at 12th & Porter.
The Wailers/NRBQ It’s a drag that The Wailers’ Web site is more of an apologetic for original bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett’s current legal action against Island Records than it is a source of information about the Kingston band that spawned the careers of Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley. Barrett’s claim to The Wailers’ songwriting and production royalties notwithstanding, his playing is as singular as that of such bottom-end legends as James Jamerson and John Entwistle. Even if The Wailers now consist largely of a fluctuating band of journeyman Jamaican musicians, the presence of Barrett, along with guitarist Al Anderson and keyboardist Earl Lindo (both longtime Marley sidemen), makes their set at Uptown Mix worth catching. Also appearing are barroom slop maestros NRBQ, whose bassist, Joey Spampinato, is exemplary in his own right.
Glasseater A night of metallic modern rock at The End, featuring The Suicide Machines, From Autumn to Ashes, Love Is Red and this Miami quartet, who typify the bill with their brat-punk whine, booming drums, buzzsaw guitars and bleeding-from-the-gut lyrics. Nothing new, though the extra guitar in Glasseater occasionally gives them the ability to stretch their pop-punk into more abstract post-hardcore realms.
VHS Or Beta Louisville hipsters forge an ironic real-band piss-take on the non-hit instrumental disco tracks that bloated the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to double album length. They’ll provide the soundtrack to an evening of fashion and dancing at the Red Rose Coffee House.
Rushmore The best cheap date in town just got better. If you weren’t among the several hundred visitors who turned out for the Watkins Institute’s ribbon-cutting a few weeks ago, this weekend offers an opportune time to check out the school’s exciting new MetroCenter facility converted from the old Fountain Square 14 megaplex. The film school kicks off its semesterly Friday-night video screenings with a showing of Wes Anderson’s cult sensation, which is shaping up as the DVD generation’s The Catcher in the Rye. The presentation is in Watkins’ excellent new refurbished theater, which sharp-eyed moviegoers will remember as Fountain Square’s Bijou screen, the only place in the city you could see art movies in the late 1980s. Best of all, the screenings remain free and open to the public, and the schedule is as always impressive. Coming attractions include Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat, Raoul Walsh’s White Heat and Akira Kurosawa’s beautiful Ikiru. Thanks to several generous gifts from Regal Cinemas, including a 35mm projector, future screenings may actually be on film. And dig those German-expressionist doorways to the film department. Rushmore screens 7 p.m. Friday.
The Mystic Masseur In this comic adaptation of the novel by Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul, a Trinidad schoolteacher tumbles into a career as a seer, healer, publisher and ultimately politician. Ismail Merchant (of the Merchant Ivory production team that made The Remains of the Day and Howard’s End) directed the film, which co-stars the great Indian actor Om Puri. It opens Friday at the Belcourt.
One Hour Photo Get double prints of terror when photo-booth manager Robin Williams develops an unhealthy obsession with a suburban family that regularly drops off film. Mark Romanek, who made visually dazzling videos for Madonna and Nine Inch Nails, wrote and directed this arthouse hit. It’ll be ready for pickup at area theaters on Friday.
Happy Times A lonely bachelor, a blind suicidal girl, some eccentric retirees and an abandoned bus turned into a “Happy Times Hotel” for trysting lovers form the center of the new comedy from acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern). The movie starts Friday at Green Hills, along with the Robert Evans doc The Kid Stays in the Picture.
Irish Eyes Two Irish-American brothers (Daniel Baldwin and John Novak) wind up on opposite sides of the law in Daniel McCarthy’s indie crime drama, which premieres Saturday night at Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Cinema. (A descendant of the Sarratt family was involved in the production.) A screening will be held for the public after the 7 p.m. private showing. Did we mention it co-stars Wings Hauser?
The Transporter Asskicker-for-hire Jason Statham is contracted to deliver a valuable item, on the condition that under no circumstances is he to look inside. Guess whathe looks. Hong Kong action specialist Corey Yuen directed this high-octane shoot-’em-up co-written by La Femme Nikita director Luc Besson; it opens Friday, along with Ice Cube in Barbershop and Tom Green and Jason Lee in Stealing Harvard.
Cat People One of the kinkiest major-studio releases ever, Paul Schrader’s wild 1982 reworking of the Val Lewton-Jacques Tourneur horror classic replaces the original’s eerie black-and-white atmospherics with hot colors, explicit gore, throbbing Giorgio Moroder soundscapes and a swampy, perverse overlay of French Quarter decadencetypified by a feline Malcolm McDowell seeking to relieve sister Nastassja Kinski of her virginity, lest she morph into a panther and devour her sex partners. There’s only one word for this sort of brazen sickness: cool! Better than its reputation, the movie comes to DVD with a Schrader commentary, documentary extras and the video for David Bowie’s dynamite theme song, “Cat People (Putting Out Fire).”
The Notorious Concubines A 13th century temptress sets her sights on her rice-merchant husband’s brother in this little-seen 1969 feature by cult director Koji Wakamatsu (Go Go Second Time Virgin), a noted practitioner of the softcore “pink movie” that’s a disreputable staple of Japanese underground cinema. The movie arrives on DVD courtesy of Something Weird, which packs the disc with its usual embarrassment of extras: a second feature, several saucy Asian shorts, and trailers such as Nanami: The Inferno of First Love and The Weird Lovemakers.
Natya Jugalbandhi Sri Ganesha Temple and Hindu Cultural Center hosts an instructive dance concert entitled “Natya Jugalbandhi”which means “a dialogue of dramatic dances”designed to introduce local audiences to the respective dance traditions of North India (Kathak) and South India (Bharatanatyam). Mekhala Devi Natavar, a Duke University Hindi professor and master dancer in the Jaipur style of Kathak, will explain the history of North India’s expressive dance technique, which exposits a narrative through a complex vocabulary of hand gestures and body movements. Vanderbilt University professor Monica Cooley will dance and provide historical context on the Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam, a dramatic expression of body, mind and soul. Kalakshetra seeks to restore the grandeur of this spiritual dance form, which was misinterpreted as bawdy by British colonialists because of its rich costumes and sensuous movements. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, at the temple, 521 Old Hickory Blvd. For information, call 356-7207.
Conversations in a Time of Terror Some of Nashville’s finest actors come together to offer this evening of thought-provoking monologues reflecting on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, their aftermath and the national response. Material derives from well-known writers and commentators such as Lance Morrow and Noam Chomsky, but there are a few original pieces as well, all representing a variety of points of view. BroadAxe Theatre is the sponsoring organization. The program is under the co-direction of Sara Sharpe and Rene Copeland, and it runs for one performance only, 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Belcourt Theatre.
The House at Pooh Corner Nashville Children’s Theatre kicks off its 71st season with this adaptation of A.A. Milne’s classic tale featuring the beloved denizens of the Hundred Aker Wood. The excellent cast, under the direction of Scot Copeland, includes Evelyn Blythe, Jeff D. Boyet, jeff obafemi carr and Misty Lewis; the singular Henry Haggard plays everyone’s favorite Pooh bear. Opens Sept. 16 for a four-week run at NCT’s Cooney Playhouse. Call 254-9103 for scheduling and tickets.
The Royal Family ACT I’s inaugural production of 2002-2003 is this vintage comedy from the gifted team of George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. Written in 1927, The Royal Family offers a witty view of the private lives of a well-known American theatrical family. Testament to the script’s endurance and historical interest, none less than Chicago’s esteemed Steppenwolf Theatre Company mounted an acclaimed production of the play earlier this year. Brian T. Hill directs the show, which opens Sept. 13 for a three-weekend run at the Darkhorse Theater. Call 726-2281 for reservations.
Waiting For the Parade Big Bawl Baby Productions is one of Nashville’s more interesting recent theatrical experiments. The company, under the founding guidance of talented actress Arita Trahan, grabbed local attention with last season’s Women of Manhattan. BBB’s second offering is this adult-themed drama by John Murrell, which profiles the lives of five women living in Canada during World War II. Michael Killen directs the cast, which includes Trahan, Holly Butler, Stacy Shaffer-Bishop, Sheri Lynn DiGiovanna and Amanda Bailey. Running Sept. 13-28 at Religious Science of Nashville; for tickets and information, phone 385-2266.
The Parthenon Forget Austin Powers in Goldmember. How about a 42-foot-tall goddess covered from head to toe in pure gold? Alan LeQuire’s monumental sculpture of Athena has been encased in scaffolding all summer long, as workers applied gold leaf in an effort to duplicate the look of the statue that once stood in the original Parthenon in ancient Athens. Now that the gilding is complete, everyone’s invited to a free celebration in honor of the golden goddess, 2-4 p.m. Sept. 15. There will be storytellers relating myths about Athena and an opportunity to have your own face painted gold.
Cumberland Gallery This Green Hills gallery kicks off its fall season with a group show that covers the ins and outs of artliterally. Gallery owner Carol Stein has invited an impressive array of emerging and established artists to present their individual takes on interiors and landscapes. Interpretations range from John Baeder’s photo-realistic paintings of small-town Southern diners and Charles Carraway’s dreamy interiors of a Mississippi farmhouse to James Lavadour’s abstract visions of the Oregon mountains and Charles Basham’s super-saturated landscapes inspired by the woods surrounding his Ohio home. The opening reception is 6-8 p.m. Sept. 14.
totally ArtCentric The 14th annual “totally ArtCentric” wraps up a week of art and fundraising with a Kids’ Art Fair Sept. 14 and an art exhibition/sale Sept. 14 and 15 at Bethlehem Centers of Nashville, 1417 Charlotte Ave. Among the featured artists this year is Adrienne Outlaw, a Nashville sculptor who was profiled recently in Southern Living and whose installation art is now on view at The Parthenon. Other participating artists include Terry Adkins, Lorna Simpson, Sammie Nicely, Alicia Henry and Donald Earley. The event benefits Bethlehem Centers and builds awareness for the centers’ arts programs. Admission is free.
Plaza Artist Materials More than 50 Middle Tennessee artists including James Threalkill, Ronald Baldwin, Michael Manley, Donald Earley, Jody Thompson and Anne Hakala display new works for sale in a benefit show at this downtown art supply store, Sept. 16-20. There’s a reception and silent auction, 6-8 p.m. Sept. 19. Art sales benefit the Comprehensive Care Center, one of the nation’s largest freestanding HIV/AIDS clinics. For information, call the store at 254-3368.
12th on 12th Just a few short years ago, the most prominent dining and shopping options along 12th Avenue South were Becker’s Bakery, Corner Music and 20th Century Christian Bookstore. Then the portion of the street between Linden Avenue and Sevier Park got fresh landscaping, sidewalks and street lamps, and a new moniker12 South. New eateries and shops soon followed, and the area has now reached the sort of critical mass that demands an annual street festival. Some 30 merchants are throwing open their doors 6-9 p.m. Sept. 12 for the event. Eye the art at Rumours Gallery, and shop for gifts at The Emporium, collectibles at The Iron Gate or hand-painted furniture at 12South Mercantile. Pick up a hip new outfit at Serendipity and drop by Art & Soul to find out more about the art, movement and voice classes offered there. Or learn to place your body in challenging, pretzel-like poses at 12South Yoga. If you’re hungry or thirsty, get a caffeine boost at Portland Brew, a frosty fresh fruit Popsicle at Las Paletas or a meal at Mirror. All along the way, there’ll be music (and maybe even dancing) in the street and free refreshments. So slow down on your way home from downtown and spend a little time at one of the city’s shining examples of urban revitalization.