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Keep a-rockin' that piano with The Twenty Eights

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Even on a sad occasion, there's no happier place to be than a gig by The Twenty Eights, the stellar tribute band that plays nothing but Chuck Berry covers. This Memorial Day, the group (named for Berry's essential 28-song hits compilation The Great Twenty-Eight) pays homage to Berry's legendary sideman Johnnie Johnson, who died April 13. Though he seldom got the glory, Johnson's rollicking boogie piano was as integral to Berry's sound as the maestro's nimble guitar. If Berry had the Great 28, it was Johnson on the great 88 who put them over.

Keyboardist Jack Irwin has the Johnnie Johnson role in The Twenty Eights, whose floating lineup changes according to who's off the road. "You just can't hear those songs without him," Irwin said, and he tips his hat to Johnson at every gig: he pounds his upright piano with such fervor that it literally rocks.

Even on a sad occasion, there's no happier place to be than a gig by The Twenty Eights, the stellar tribute band that plays nothing but Chuck Berry covers. This Memorial Day, the group (named for Berry's essential 28-song hits compilation The Great Twenty-Eight) pays homage to Berry's legendary sideman Johnnie Johnson, who died April 13. Though he seldom got the glory, Johnson's rollicking boogie piano was as integral to Berry's sound as the maestro's nimble guitar. If Berry had the Great 28, it was Johnson on the great 88 who put them over.

That's one reason The Twenty Eights play only clubs with dance floors—until now. Monday's show will be at the Bluebird Café, of all places. But owner Amy Kurland has volunteered to move aside tables at the Hillsboro Road listening room, and Irwin guarantees a "non-shush event." He'd better: the lineup includes Brent Little and Dan Baird on guitar, Dave Roe on upright bass, and Paul Griffith on drums. "It may be the first and last dance ever at the Bluebird," Irwin jokes. But how better to celebrate the 50th anniversary of "Maybelline" than to motorvate? Show time is 9:30 p.m.; wear comfortable shoes.

Kenny Roby, whose fine band Six String Drag was among the best-received alt-country outfits of the late '90s, makes a solo stop here Saturday night at East Nashville's Radio Café. (Thank the Café's Dave Brown, who simply sent an e-mail query to Roby's site and got a direct response from the artist.) Roby's new group The Mercy Filter, said to lean more pop, should have a record out this fall: in the meantime, you can preview tracks at www.myspace.com/themercyfilter. Call 258-2664 for more information.

♦ The in-store shows at Grimey's have become a godsend for the cash-strapped—or at least for those who are able to wedge in, as recent afternoon sets by Phoenix and Lucero left people peering from the far corners of the room. So stake out a spot early for two top-notch acts playing free Grimey's shows this Memorial Day weekend. At 3 p.m. Sunday, the gifted Chicago eclecticist Andrew Bird plays songs from his new album The Mysterious Production of Eggs, to be accompanied on anything from violin to glockenspiel. Consider it a warm-up for his show later that night at 3rd & Lindsley with Over the Rhine. Then, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, cool off after the Memorial Day grilling with a set by striking neo-folk artist Josephine Foster, in advance of her Angle of View show that evening with Cortney Tidwell and The Cherry Blossoms. In both cases, the first hit's free; pick up their records if you like what you hear.

♦ Park early Friday night in Hillsboro Village if you plan to get into the Belcourt, where WCW superstar Jeff Jarrett appears at a screening of the new documentary Lipstick & Dynamite: The First Ladies of Wrestling. The Jarrett dynasty will be well represented: Jeff's dad Jerry, a favorite on the 1970s and '80s Southeastern wrestling circuit, will also be on hand. The screening starts at 7 p.m., with a panel discussion to follow. Call 846-3150 for more information.

♦ Park early Friday night in Hillsboro Village if you plan to get into the Belcourt, where WCW superstar Jeff Jarrett appears at a screening of the new documentary Lipstick & Dynamite: The First Ladies of Wrestling. The Jarrett dynasty will be well represented: Jeff's dad Jerry, a favorite on the 1970s and '80s Southeastern wrestling circuit, will also be on hand. The screening starts at 7 p.m., with a panel discussion to follow. Call 846-3150 for more information.

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