This Saturday at the Mercy Lounge, artists translate the audible into the visual at “The Soundtrack of Our Lives.” Yes, this is the name of a Swedish rock band, but the subtitle of the event captures the sentiment: “an evening of art, music and influence.” Twenty local artists, many professors or Untitled group members, render favorite songs and musical ideas into works of art, in media ranging from painting and printmaking to graphic design and jewelry. Those exhibiting include Alesandra Bellos, Mark Hosford, Lesley Patterson, Ally Reeves, Chris Scarborough, Julie Sola and Lain York. Meanwhile, this should also be a fun opportunity to experience several of the city’s various music scenes on one stage. Record store owner Mike Grimes emcees the event, and deejay Doyle “DFunk” Davis will spin some deep funk in celebration of his birthday. Pop guitarist/songwriter Daniel Tashian starts the live music at 9 p.m., followed by guitarist Derek Hoke and singer Jen Cohen performing sultry R&B numbers. Then local garage-rockers The Taste will warm the stage for the undisputed heavyweight champion of Nashville rock ’n’ roll: David Cloud, who has been called everything from a conceptual genius to a broken-down troubadour to a half-crazed professor of rock 'n’ roll. Such descriptions should come as no surprise to anyone who’s heard his primal guitar chops and heeded his call to ball. For Cloud, “ballin’” is a randy, rock 'n’ roll-induced trance wherein physical reality is an endless tip rail and couches are for dancing. In this spirit, his “Soundtrack” performance will be highlighted by three of Anthony’s Showplace’s finest. A 21-and-over event, “The Soundtrack of Our Lives” starts at 7 p.m., and there’s a $10 cover charge.
Nicole Pietrantoni/Chris Davis
Matt Haimovitz Israeli-born, Harvard-educated cellist Haimovitz is in the midst of his 50-state tour, playing in populist venues including the ’70s new wave shrine CBGB. Though the 32-year-old was recognized as a child prodigy by the classical establishment nearly 20 years ago, he has chosen a distinctly different career path than, say, Yo-Yo Ma. You won’t see Haimovitz collaborating with Bobby McFerrin anytime soon. Instead, he’s bringing his message directly to the people in listening-room settings like the Bluebird. While his 2002 tour centered on his post-Romantic interpretations of Bach’s solo cello suites, Haimovitz’s current engagement is in support of his self-produced release of works by living composers, Anthem, and each night’s set ends with a stirringly skewed adaptation of Jimi Hendrix’s “Star-Spangled Banner.” Though his imagination could take this piece in any number of directions, Haimovitz’s recorded version eerily segues into “Taps,” and in general, he selects or commissions works that reflect upon the troubled political climate at home and abroad. Add to this a cagy eclecticism that embraces humanity through “world musical” forms, including Arabic melodies and an elegiac suite that builds on John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” In all, the solo cellist renders his own fanfare for the common man or woman. Bluebird Cafe
Charlie Louvin A year ago, a hip venue like Radio Cafe probably would have seemed an unlikely place to find this Grand Ole Opry star. But the younger, surviving member of country music’s greatest brother duo since the 1930s has undergone a career renaissance of sorts, prompted in part by the Louvins’ 2001 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. As part of the “Unlimited Sunshine 2003” tour, he made a set of mind-bending appearances with the likes of Cake and Cheap Trick, and by all accounts, he enjoyed himself and was enjoyed by audiences all along the way. His reemergence was ratified (if that were needed) by the success of the Grammy-winning tribute album Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’: Songs of The Louvin Brothers. Though he didn’t appear on the record, Charlie backed the project with an enthusiastic endorsement, and its emphasis on the songs drew attention to the fact that he’d contributed to many of them, not just as a singer but as a writing partner. Time has had its way with his husky voice, but in the right setting, the veteran can still move listeners by his intimate, careworn command of what will always be one of the music’s greatest songbooks. Radio Cafe
Buddy and Julie Miller It’s hard to say if the Millers write great songs that are deceptively simple, or if they write simple songs that are rendered great by the intensity of their performances. It doesn’t matter. So never mind that the Millers employ familiar images like crying children and running rivers, or that their arrangements accurately can be termed generic roots-rock. Instead, be glad their songs eschew the clever lyrical hooks that dominate country radio, and focus on the sound: the way those arrangements simmer with a soul made sturdy by craft, propelled by Buddy’s barbed guitar licks; and how those well-worn images, transubstantiated by the pair’s harmonies, become deeply spiritual expressions of longing and peace. In the end, the couple’s presentation invests their performances with the emotional complexity that their plainspoken words only seem to be without. Mercy Lounge
Jackie-O Motherfucker Where some artists meld varied ingredients into one unified sound, multi-instrumentalists Tom Greenwood and Jef Brown and their cast of rotating guests reinterpret their influences so that they sound just as disparate as they did on their own. Within Jackie-O Motherfucker’s dense aural hodgepodge, you’ll find noise, free (and other strains of) jazz, Appalachian folk, electronica, surf, bluegrass, soul and industrial. Each is slightly misshapen but still recognizable, knocking against the others and refusing to dissolve. Despite such far-flung reference points, Brown and Greenwood display a knack for balance and manage a cohesion that only thickens upon repeated listening. In places, they create a sense of sedation within the chaos; in others, they draw catharsis out of restraint. Springwater
The Mountain Goats John Darnielle’s low-fi alt-folk collective The Mountain Goats have lost a lot of their early hiss and crackle over a decade-plus existence, in part because of a maturing aesthetic and in part because clean recording technology has become more affordable. The change has been hard for some longtime fans to take, since without the sonic distortion Darnielle tends to sound like just another coffeehouse troubadour with a flat, nasal voice and more ideas than hooks. On the other hand, the simpler presentation allows Darnielle’s plainspoken stories to develop like the literate character pieces they are. The Goats’ latest, We Shall All Be Healed, is an energetic acoustic-guitar-and-percussion run through the memory of a time of great despair, considering what the past might teach us about the present. Exit/In
Elvis Costello with Steve Nieve & The Brodsky Quartet For music fans of a certain age, it may well be that Costello’s deepest, most enduring influence will be as an introduction to artists other than himself and to genres other than his own. His role as a musical gatekeeper was first hinted at with 1979’s Stax-inspired Get Happy!, but it hit full stride two years later with Almost Blue, a country album that turned college rockers onto the likes of George Jones and Loretta Lynn. He’s since performed similar favors for the pop music of Frank Sinatra, Burt Bacharach and Tony Bennett, and Costello has even collaborated at album length with contralto Anne Sofie von Otter and with the contemporary classical act The Brodsky Quartet. In each of these cases and plenty more besides, he’s sent hordes of the previously skeptical down roads they never might have traveled on their own. Of course, he’d never have had any credibility as a tastemaker if his own work hadn’t been so distinctive and strong for so long. On this trip to town, he’ll be accompanied by The Brodsky Quartet and his longtime keyboardist Steve Nieve. Together, they’ll once again walk the line between pop song and chamber music, and likely send not a few audience members straight to those sections of their favorite record stores. Ryman Auditorium
Janis Ian Ian’s talents include composing sturdy, balanced melodies that stand up under the emotional weight she packs into her lyrics. Despite all the great work she’s done in the last 30 years, she’s still best known for sensitive classics like “Society’s Child,” “At Seventeen” and “Jesse.” A Nashville resident since 1988, Ian continues to create songs that delve boldly into the tenderest aspects of life, both personal and societal. Her new CD, Billie’s Bones, returns to spare (but not always gentle) acoustic songs after a couple of albums with harder, denser edges. It includes a duet with Dolly Parton and an instrumental that shows off Ian’s command as a guitarist. But the best songs“When I Lay Down,” “Mary’s Eyes”speak powerfully of faith, tragedy, individuality and living on one’s own terms. Ian’s a brave and intimate performer, so as good as the album is, its songs will carry more impact live. Tower Records, West End
Kenny Chesney “Listening to people in the Nashville music industry talk about Kenny Chesney is like overhearing a group of 13-year-old girls gossip about a classmate wearing a no-brand outfit,” Brian Mansfield wrote in USA Today after the release of the Luttrell, Tenn., native’s last CD. There’s little reason to think the cattiness will disappear with the release of his new chart-topper, When the Sun Goes Down. But if the lack of props bothers Chesney, he’s done a good job of hiding it, taking comfort instead in the loyalty of millions of fans from country music’s heartland. His new album may not quite measure up to its predecessorthere’s nothing on it with all the reflective strength of that CD’s “A Lot of Things Different.” But it confirms what none of his detractors and but a few of his fans seem to realize: There’s a persistent, deliberate tinge of melancholy to his music that gives it a largely unacknowledged depth. The sadness and realism can’t be found in every cut, but it underpins songs like “I Go Back,” dragging its nostalgia-laden verses to a place Mark Willis’ wildly popular “19 Something” assiduously avoided. And when Chesney matter-of-factly starts the redemptive “Some People Change” with the tale of a racist saved by the grace of God, you know there’s something going on. This Most Wanted Live appearance isn’t the best place to hear just what that is, but give the album a listen: The sound you hear is that of a singer struggling, with growing success, to become an artist. Wildhorse Saloon
Romeo & Juliet Vanderbilt University’s Fred Coe Artist-in-Residence program is designed to give students an opportunity to work with theater professionals in an instructional setting. Members of Actors From the London Stage, a Shakespeare initiative operating out of the University of Notre Dame, will be on campus through Feb. 22 to share their expertise with young Vandy thespians. Their visit culminates in Neely Auditorium on Feb. 21, when the five-member company presents two public performances of the Bard’s classic tale of ill-fated lovers. Show times are 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 322-2404.
Lower Your Standards: Improv Theater at The Basement Paul Bellos’ Ideaprov company offers this evening of adults-only comedy at The Basement, 8 p.m. Feb. 21. The material comprises spontaneous scenes based on mature themes and fueled by audience suggestions. Set in a club atmosphere, the event will offer patrons a full bar, drink specials and giveaways, and karaoke after the performance. Since the fall-off in local improv troupes, Ideaprov’s emergence helps to fill a void in the Nashville comedy scene. For more info, phone 347-2001.
Gabriel Ajayi/Premier Art Decor and Designs For the past four years, Premier Art Decor and Designs has vigorously pursued a mission to bring internationally recognized artists to Nashville. The mission continues with a rare opportunity to see the work of Gabriel Ajayi, whose contemporary wood marquetry is highly sought after by collectors. Born in Nigeria, Ajayi came to the U.S. in 1980 to pursue a career first in advertising and then as a professional artist. Using rich earth tones, he creates simple, affecting works; there is a restrained dignity in the featureless faces and simple geometric forms of his subjects. Indeed, it is perhaps the very anonymity of his subjects that allows them to speak so freely. The show runs Feb. 21-March 27, with an opening reception 3-8 p.m. Saturday.
Martin Weinstein/The Parthenon Weinstein clearly delights in overturning any presuppositions his audience might hold about traditional landscape painting. His works in “Illusion and Certainty,” opening Saturday at The Parthenon, cheat and subvert time in a delightfully ingenious way: The artist revisits the same subject on two or three separate occasions, each time armed with a sheet of Plexiglas and oils. The resulting triple-layered painting allows the viewer to glimpse the landscape under three different atmospheric, weather and lighting conditions. Rain, snow or shine, the viewer experiences it all at once, and the results are luminous and magical. Weinstein’s layering technique also allows him to transcend the two-dimensional restrictions of his mediumthese limpid oils have a tangible, living and breathing depth to them. Stylistically, the artist’s breadth of vision has been described as recapitulating “the history of modern Western painting in reverse.” Expressionism, Fauvism, Abstraction, even photo-assisted compositionhe borrows from them all freely and liberally, yet sustains a highly personal creative vision. The show runs Feb. 21-April 17, with an opening reception 5:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Illustrators: Vintage and Contemporary”/ The Arts Company This downtown gallery shows the work of three gifted illustrators: Robert Grossman, Ernest Hamlin Baker and Thomas Allen. If you’ve ever read a magazine, chances are that you’ve already seen one of Grossman’s cover illustrations. He’s done more than 500, including covers for Time, Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated. Baker is commonly held to be the originator of what is known as the “journalistic portrait.” Between 1939 and 1970, he produced close to 300 covers for Time, although he is represented in this exhibition by his prewar commercial and governmental advertising work. A Nashville native, the prolific Allen has illustrated just about everything, from children’s books to magazines to record covers (17 for Flatt and Scruggs alone). His contributions to this show draw from his drawings and paintings of celebrities, musicians and politicians. His original photographs of Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, taken on the set of The Misfits, will be on sale as well. The show opens with the Arts Company’s latest “Salon Saturday” offering, 2-6 p.m. Feb. 21. Grossman, Allen and Baker’s granddaughter June Williams will all attend the opening.
Reed Arvin Nashvillian Reed Arvin, whose last novel The Will put him on best-seller lists and had reviewers comparing him favorably to John Grisham, returns with another thriller. Starring Jack Hammond as a corporate lawyer turned down-in-the-dumps defender of drug dealers and junkies, The Last Goodbye is at once an homage to the city of Atlanta and a page-turning thriller. Attempting both to piece his life together and solve the mystery of his college buddy’s unexpected death, Hammond searches for a truth that leads him into the most disparate of Atlanta’s cultural circles, from high opera to housing projects. In between are forays into genetics, pharmaceuticals and computer hacking, where a teenager self-named Nightmare shows Hammond the dark side of cyberspace. Once again, Arvin provides plot twists galore. Arvin reads at Davis-Kidd Booksellers 6 p.m. Feb. 19 and 7 p.m. Feb. 27 at Borders Books. Pablo Tanguay
The Fog of War Errol Morris’ cryptic, endlessly fascinating interview with former defense secretary Robert McNamarathe efficiency expert who presided over the escalation of the Vietnam Warextends a line of inquiry from Morris’ previous documentary, Mr. Death (about a naive maker of electric chairs), to a global scale. The filmmaker lets his subject dance cagily around matters of culpability and threat assessment, and the dance is compelling. Still, the pall of guilt hangs, even if McNamara, hyperarticulate to the end, can’t admit to it. Do not miss this. The film opens Friday at Green Hills.
In My Skin French screenwriter Marina de Van’s bold psycho-horror debut is definitely the stuff of nightmaresnot the supernatural kind, but the disturbingly familiar sort, at least to anyone who has mindlessly worried a hangnail or a scab. De Van herself plays a young, corporate up-and-comer who, after suffering a fall during a party, begins to obsess over the deep gash in her leg. Fascination leads to more cutting and the blackest horizons of self-destructiona place where the squeamish will not want to go. (Consider this fair warning.) But for all takers, In My Skin is an unforgettable plunge and the announcement of a major talent. See the review on p. 61.
Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War A weapon of mass instruction, assembled by director Robert Greenwald (Steal This Movie) to assess the truth and rightness of the Bush administration’s case for war. If Ron Suskind’s book The Price of Loyalty didn’t leave you sufficiently steamedlet alone scaredthis should do the trick. It screens at the Belcourt one day only, next Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. For more information, see www.truthuncovered.com.
Spellbound Producer Sean Welch will appear Thursday at Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Cinema to discuss his crowd-pleasing 2002 doc, a portrait of the national spelling-bee circuit and the kids who rise to its heady final rounds. Call 343-6666 for more information. Jim Ridley
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen Lindsay Lohan distanced herself quite nicely from the Mallrat Pack with an unexpectedly deft comic turn in Freaky Friday; here’s hoping her luck holds out for this Disney vehicle about an urban teen transplanted to the ’burbs. The director is Sara Sugarman, whose indie musical Very Annie Mary was well-received a few years back. The movie opens Friday at area theaters.
Welcome to Mooseport A small-town mayoral race turns butt-ugly when local plumber Ray Romano squares off against former U.S. president Gene Hackman, in a farce from former Nashvillian Tom Schulman (Dead Poets Society). It opens smack in the middle of February doldrums, opposed by Meg Ryan in the long-delayed Against the Ropes and the comedy Eurotrip.