Mark your calendar | Fall Guide | Indy Week
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This fall is a season of investment.

Mark your calendar 

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This fall is a season of investment. Area college football teams hope to see on-field results after investing millions in facilities upgrades and new, highly pedigreed coaches.

Similarly, both Durham and Raleigh have major new additions to their downtowns. Raleigh just opened its new $221 million convention center, and it remains to be seen what impact it will have on the culture and commerce of downtown. Durhamites, too, have been eying a building on the rise, the $44 million Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC). Its official opening event is B.B. King's concert on Nov. 30, but the rollout continues with other marquee events in the following weeks.

In the world of big-ticket entertainment, at least, there are signs of a shift in the Triangle's center of gravity. The new DPAC and its management, Nederlander, are luring bigger Broadway shows than have been seen at Broadway Series South at Progress Energy Center, and DPAC's local management staff includes former Raleigh showbiz hands in key positions.

Elsewhere in the Triangle, traditional venues continue their good work, with exciting events to be found at area campuses, museums and clubs. Our writers have scoured the listings for this autumn's entertainment offerings. And, if you don't see your event, add it to the comments section. —David Fellerath

Researched and written Katherine Justice, Neil Morris, Bryan Reed, Zack Smith, Elizabeth Lilly. Edited Grayson Currin, David Fellerath and Denise Prickett.

September

9.11

Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet @ UNC's Memorial Hall: For a whimsical fusion of Chinese folk, old-time, jazz and bluegrass, look no further than claw-hammer banjoist Abigail Washburn, a woman who gives equal regard to the rich heritage of Doc Watson's flatpicking and the mysticism of East Asian folk melodies in the shifting colors of her unorthodox compositions. Tonight, she's joined by esteemed players in the folk/ bluegrass contingent, with banjoist Bela Fleck, fiddler Casey Driessen and cellist Ben Sollee joining her onstage. Washburn and the boys' self-titled album dropped early this summer, and they'll be showcasing material from it as well as some show-stoppers from their summer trip to Beijing. —KJ

9.12

Burn After Reading @ multiplexes: Following up last year's Best Picture Oscar for No Country for Old Men, the Coen Brothers return to their dark comedy stomping grounds with a caper film full of hilarity and greed (natch for a Coens movie). Two gym employees (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) come across a data disc belonging to a former CIA agent (John Malkovich) and try to blackmail its owner. George Clooney plays the CIA operative assigned to recover the disc, and he happens to be carrying on an affair with Malkovich's character's wife (Tilda Swinton). Yep, it's a typical Coens Bros. movie, all right. —NM

9.12-28

'night, Mother @ Raleigh Little Theater: Described by The New York Times as "one of the most moving and thought-provoking plays in theatrical history," this Pulitzer Prize-winning two-hander is a violent fusion of motherly love, salvation from tedium and the fight for life as a daughter listlessly threatens to end it all while casually milling around her mother's house one evening. A potent and powerful drama that veers dangerously close to the horrific happenings of a Greek tragedy, this play should make an excellent addition to your fall theater rounds. —KJ

9.13

Mark Curry @ Goodnights: Star of ABC's TGIF-era show Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, we're most familiar with comedian Mark Curry as a B-ball coach with a shaky romance record and an orator of sage wisdom to high school geeks and athletes. But after all these years, Cooper has created a space for himself as a quiet king of comedy cracking on police profiling and fashion models with equal parts sass and absurdity. Catch him tonight before his regenerated sitcom Hangin' with Mr. Cooper: Warrior's Spirit gunks up the small screen in the spring. —KJ

9.14

The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus @ Lincoln Theatre: Expect the unusual from a circus act that dares to defy modes of normalcy in the mere spelling of its name, this circus-with-a-k is a hodgepodge of titallating, death-defying entertainment with acts that range from vaudeville to burlesque to rodeo. With each Triangle visit, the family of performers adds a new spice to their flavorful stage compositions (this year's gimic is of a political slant), but surefire staples (and crowd-pleasers) are a treacherous walk on the tight rope, sword-swallowing, fire-eating and a heaping helping of sex appeal from the saucy ring mistress. —KJ

9.14

Dish It Up! @ Koka Booth Amphitheatre: Dig into a good cause at this year's annual food-friendly benefit for WakeMed Foundation's Just for Kids Kampaign, where the Triangle's homegrown restaurants sample their healthiest dishes, swap recipes and mingle with like-minded foodies. Each participating restaurant (among the list are Poole's, Citrus, Saffron, Riviera, Evoo and Dos Taquitos) is challenged to present dishes featuring the creme de la creme of fresh local ingredients that are both heart-healthy and pleasing to the palate. Go ahead, grab a fork and dig in. —KJ

9.16

Los Lonely Boys @ Carolina Theatre: There's a long and storied history of brothers starting bands together, from The Everly Brothers to Hanson. Somewhere in between is Los Lonely Boys, the trio of brothers Henry, JoJo and Ringo Garza—son of Ringo Garza, Sr. of the '70s conjunto band Falcones. With their smooth-toned blues rock hoisting countrypolitan harmonies and easy-to-follow lyrics, Los Lonely Boys paved the way for a Grammy winning debut record in 2003's self-titled LP, and a career that is now three studio albums deep with the release of this year's Forgiven. —BR

9.18

Laurie Anderson @ Page Auditorium: Performance artist, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Laurie Anderson performs Homeland, her multimedia reflection on America's place in international politics. —GC

9.18

Brushes With Life: Art, Artists, and Mental Illness @ FedEx Global Education Center: A local screening of Chapel Hill filmmaker Phillip Brubaker's delicate and thoughtful documentary on the artists and artwork populating the third floor of the UNC Neuroscience hospital is a must-see event. Brubaker's sensitive portrayal of mental illness patients and the artwork that stems equally from their disease and creative instincts is both inspirational and informative, with threads of romance, surprise, sadness, joy and hope woven throughout its narrative. —KJ

9.18-9.20

Bull Durham Blues Festival @ Durham Bulls Athletic Park: Though the Triangle, as home to legends like Blind Boy Fuller and Elizabeth Cotton, claims its own stake in the history and evolution of the blues—to say nothing of the Mississippi Delta or Chicago—the genre is anything but geographically limited. And if this year's Bull Durham Blues Festival shows anything, it's that the blues are universal. M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio, a Virginia-based Piedmont blues act, performs in the Festival's opening show Sept. 18 alongside Delta-and-ragtime blues duo Scott Ainslie and Ernie Hawkins. Texan boogie pianist/ singer Marcia Ball follows Muscle Shoals soul singer Clarence Carter (of "Strokin'" fame). Clearly, the festival aims to draw a broad range of performances, but none so clearly states that mission as the festival's keynote performer, the New York-born Taj Mahal, whose name is nearly synonymous with modern blues, and whose explorations in the genre make him a one-man roots-music preservation society. Bringing so many variations of the blues together, Mahal single-handedly unifies rootsy sounds from as far away as Hawaii into a cohesive style: the blues. And that's the same result the festival stands to show its audience: that the blues comes from anywhere and everywhere, that it's not just the dusty recordings of long dead legends like Robert Johnson or Blind Boy Fuller. The blues is alive and everywhere. And for a weekend it calls Durham home. —BR

9.19

Laura @ N.C. Museum of Art: The NCMA's fall film series kicks off with this Otto Preminger-helmed mystery yarn about a bewitching art executive who has been murdered in her New York apartment and the sleuth who must unravel the mystery. As the inaugural film in the Homage to Film Noir series at the NCMA, Laura sets the tone and the soundtrack for an autumn filled with smoke and crimes of passion. Other 35 mm prints will include Kurosawa's Stray Dog, the original Kiss of Death and Fritz Lang's The Big Heat. Indy contributor Laura Boyes curated the series, and Culture Editor David Fellerath introduces Mulholland Dr. Oct. 24. —KJ

9.19-20

Shakori Hills Hoppin' John Old-Time Fiddlers' Bluegrass Festival @ Silk Hope: The 72-acre sprawl of Silk Hope hosts its second annual fiddlers' convention, uniting contra, square dancers and cloggers with music from The Hushpuppies, Carolina Chocolate Drops mentor Joe Thompson and the Local Five and Dime. Look for the band contest, the big dance tent, and banjo, fiddle and guitar showcases, and you'll find a perfect entry into the Carolina autumn. —GC

9.19-20

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Benefit Concert @ Koka Booth Amphitheater: Rock 'n' roll had a baby, and it was called nostalgia: Over this two-day benefit for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the John Entwistle Benefit, Jack Bruce of Cream, Dennis DeYoung of Styx, Joe Lynn Turner of Deep Purple and the current incarnation of Jefferson Starship (including Grateful Dead alum Tom Constanten) convene to do things like "play rock how it was meant to be played" and "show the kids how it's done." Get free, man. —GC

9.21

Mary J. Blige @ Walnut Creek: To pun, here's the only 411 you need: Mary J. Blige is the strongest singer in popular music. You shouldn't miss this. —GC

9.21

Bob Moser at Quail Ridge Books: The longtime Indy editor writes about Southern politics for The Nation these days, and tonight he explains why the Democrats should stop ceding the South to those who bitterly cling to guns and religion. His book is called Blue Dixie, and he also appears at the Regulator Sept. 23. —DF

9.21-1.4.09

Circa 1958: Breaking Ground in American Art @ Ackland Art Museum: The age of Khrushchev and Eisenhower also gave us Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Tom Wesselmann, whose art will be on view starting today. —DF

9.24

Pericles at PlayMakers: Pericles was a Greek orator and warrior who lived 2,500 years ago. Shakespeare wrote a play about him 2,000 years later. And today, the mainstage season of PlayMakers opens with its version of the Bard's tale, with original music by Red Clay Ramblers' Jack Herrick. —DF

9.24

Gretchen Wilson @ Koka Booth Amphitheatre: Branded as a sort-of "bad-girl" of mainstream country, Gretchen Wilson made her name as a part of John Rich's Muzik Mafia, a circle of Nashville songwriters, and with the chart-topping "Redneck Woman," from her debut long-player, Here for the Party. But that was four years ago. Since then, she's released two more albums: 2005's All Jacked Up and 2007's One of the Boys. Lately, Wilson's been promoting the new single, "Don't Do Me No Good," another rowdy song filled to the gills with roadhouse harmonica and Wilson's brash vocals. —BR

9.26

Nights in Rodanthe @ multiplexes: Two things you needs to know about this film: It is adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel, and it is one of about three movies this year that my wife really wants to see. When the final history of Richard Gere is written, his most prodigious film partner probably will not be Julia Roberts, but instead Diane Lane; this is their third onscreen coupling following 1984's The Cotton Club and 2002's Unfaithful. Of greater interest to local moviegoers is that the film is set in the tiny village of Rodanthe on the Outer Banks, with other filming locations reaching from Southport to Wilmington to North Topsail Beach. —NM

9.27

N.C. Pride Parade & Festival @ Duke University's East Campus: Get on the float. —DF

9.28

Garrison Keillor @ N.C. State's McKimmon Center: The superstar of public radio appears in an event hosted by Quail Ridge, hawking his latest novel Liberty. We're sure it's above average. —DF

9.28

Carrboro Music Festival: Musicians and fans will invade 23 locations in downtown Carrboro for the 11th anniversary of the Carrboro Music Festival. Highlights include: experimental indie rocker Dylan Gilbert plays Open Eye Café at 1 p.m., Latincore Razpa plays RBC Centura at 4:15 p.m., Southern death pop Benj-O-Matic plays Open Eye Café at 6 p.m., and roots band Thacker Dairy Road plays Fifth Season Gardening at 8:15 p.m. —EL

9.30

Lucinda Williams @ Memorial Auditorium: The rugged snarl of Lucinda Williams' Lake Charles-born voice is an instrument few can match. As it's aged, it's only gotten better, which also goes for her three-decade career. Her low-cult status star has deservedly risen high, including three Grammy awards and seven nominations. Her country-rock is that of a classic temptress, inviting with a glimmer of innocence and the warning of experience. —GC

OCTOBER

10.1

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas @ NCSU's Stewart Theatre: Dolly Parton's not in this, we don't think. But still, worth a check-out. —DF

10.2

Lloyd Cole @ The ArtsCenter: Thanks to a new generation of songwriters, particularly Scotland's Camera Obscura, embracing his catalog, the former Commotion, cover-song auteur and pop songwriter has enjoyed a revival in interest. You'll understand why. —GC

10.3

Buckwheat Zydeco @ Memorial Hall: Lafayette, La.-born Buckwheat Zydeco's sound is a product of French Creole traditional music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and the rhythm and blues of his youth in the late 1950s. Since then, the accordionist has taken the sounds of his home to wide renown through collaborations with the likes of Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam and Mavis Staples. —BR

10.3

Allman Brothers @ Time Warner Pavilion: For all their influence and ever-presence in discussion on jam bands, Southern rock and classic rock, seeing The Allman Brothers Band (now down to one Allman), in the South, at the onset of fall, seems like it ought to be a regional rite of passage like eating peaches from Georgia, setting off firecrackers from South Carolina and using the word "y'all" in a formal setting. This is, after all, a region where warm weather stretches into the calendar as long as an Allman Brothers set stretches its songs. —BR

10.4

World Beer Fest @ Durham Bulls Athletic Park: Drink up and be somebody.

10.4

Triangle Jazz Fest @ Koko Booth Amphitheatre: A portion of the proceeds from this year's festival support a scholarship fund in the name of Brother Yusuf Salim, the Durham jazz luminary who died earlier this year. —GC

10.5

The Black Keys @ Disco Rodeo: The Black Keys' collaboration with hip-hop producer Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley) lends a soulful sound to the childhood friends' latest, "Attack & Release." Carney's steady drumming provides a rap-suggestive beat to Dan Auerbach's thick vocals, ethereal humming and hints of banjo, crafting a blues-rock hybrid loyal to their signature sound. —GC

10.6

The Candidate @ N.C. State: With presidential debates dominating screens small and large, NCSU's election-themed fall film series packs a one-two punch of timeliness for the month of October. The series kicks off this evening with a screening of Michael Ritchie's The Candidate a gritty chronicle of the new American political process that earned an Oscar for its cynical (and controversial) screenplay. Check out other voter-friendly flicks—Bob Roberts, Election and Street Fight—on Mondays at 7 p.m. in the Witherspoon Campus Cinema for free. —KJ

10.7

Of Montreal @ Carolina Theatre: As part of the now-legendary (thanks, Neutral Milk Hotel) Elephant 6 collective, Athens, Ga.-based Of Montreal built a reputation for layered, euphoric psych-pop, and a flamboyant stage show that, on occasion, has left frontman Kevin Barnes covered by little more than a mic stand. The band's stop in Durham kicks off the tour supporting the brand-new Skeletal Lamping, another slab of playful pop songs with busy arrangements and plenty of room for glammed-out presentation. —BR

10.9-12

Don Quixote @ Memorial Auditorium: Commissioned in honor of the Nasher Museum's knockout El Greco to Velazquez show, the Carolina Ballet presents its version of Cervantes' classic, beginning tonight in Raleigh. —DF

10.9-12

5th Annual Shakori Hills Fall GrassRoots Festival: In keeping with its mission to "provide an environment for community building through arts and education," The Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival offers opportunities for attendees to learn about environmentalism and sustainability, as well as providing activities for families and children. But mainly, it showcases a slew of bands whose music seems as naturally grown and carefully cultivated as the homemade food sold at the festival. There's the mold-breaking folk of Megafaun, Midtown Dickens, Samantha Crain and anti-folk legend Paleface, the old-time songcraft and instrumentation of Holy Ghost Tent Revival and Carolina Chocolate Drops, and the melding of African polyrhythm with Western pop from Toubab Krewe and dub Addis (the latter hails from Ethiopia). And that's just the tip of the iceberg. —BR

10.10

Carolina Hurricanes open 2008-09 season vs. Florida Panthers: Yes, out-of-staters, there's hockey in North Carolina. And in Florida, too! The home season starts tonight at the RBC Center. —DF

10.13

Girl Talk @ Cat's Cradle: Pittsburgh producer Greg Gillis didn't invent the mash-up, but he did put the paddles to its chest. He does it with his touring one-man freak-out dance-party Girl Talk. If you've ever wondered how Biggie Smalls riding over Elton John's hooks would sound, Gillis—who will jump on his laptop, in the crowd and on you tonight—has the answer. —GC

10.15

Armistead Maupin @ Carolina Theatre: The celebrated teller of San Francisco tales returns (close) to his hometown to hold forth in Fletcher Hall, in an event sponsored by Durham County Public Library. —DF

10.16-26

North Carolina State Fair @ the State Fairgrounds: Finally, it's time to sate your annual hankering for deep-fried candy bars, funnel cakes and giant turkey legs. The nightly entertainment at Dorton Arena will include performances by Josh Turner, R&B/ pop singer Mario, Montgomery Gentry, and N.C.'s own Bucky Covington. —NM

10.17

W. @ multiplexes: Like him of not, Oliver Stone traditionally does two subjects right: Vietnam and political tomes. On its face, W. may seem like snarky, election-year propaganda, and perhaps it will turn out to be just that. However, the same criticism was heaped on Nixon, one of the most underrated works in Stone's extensive filmography. Getting past the main players, what always intrigues me in a Stone production is the supporting cast: My personal favs include Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush, Toby Jones as Karl Rove, Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney (although I would have preferred Tommy Lee Jones in a bald cap). —NM

10.17-19

Escapism Film Festival @ Carolina Theatre: The 5th annual edition of the popular festival will include 35 mm print screenings of The Birds and John Carpenter's They Live. Durham's Carolina Theatre will also feature the U.S. theatrical premiere of the director's cut of 1989's The Punisher, which was never actually seen in U.S. theaters prior to its straight-to-video release. Other confirmed titles include Jennifer Lynch's Surveillance and Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western. —NM

10.18

The Magnetic Fields @ Meymandi Concert Hall: The Fields don't put out records on Merge anymore, but Stephen Merritt's crystalline voice still sings tragi-comic love songs with the perspicacity of someone who's been living next door and cataloguing your mistakes. Finally, they return to the Triangle. —GC

10.19

Gymnastic Superstar Tour Featuring the 2008 USA Olympic Team @ RBC Center: You will know them by their medals: Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson and team tumble in today. Get your tickets soon. —DF

10.22-26

Walking with Dinosaurs @ RBC Center: Apparently, hockey players and gymnasts aren't big enough for this facility. Walk with the dinosaurs. —DF

10.23

Alejandro Escovedo @ Cat's Cradle: In "Chelsea Hotel '78," from this year's lauded Real Animal, the veteran rocker looks back at his time in The Nuns, rubbing elbows with punk icons—namely Sid Vicious. With its simple hook, a refrain of "It makes no sense/ And it make perfect sense," Escovedo sheds nostalgia in his reflection of the now infamous murder of Vicious' girlfriend Nancy Spungen (presumably by Vicious), casting a dim light on the event but turning it into a story that resounds even today as young lives still fall to waste. Such is Escovedo's adeptness in turning narrowly focused narratives into universally remarkable songs. —BR

10.24

WXYC Backyard BBQ with Caltrop @ Local 506: These shows are back with one helluva headliner in Caltrop, a quartet driven to fuse heavy psych with down-tuned blues, a thundering low-end and streams of razor-sharp prog-guitar. This summer, Caltrop released the appropriately titled World Class, and now they'll have the opportunity to show the kids (and anyone else in attendance) how it's done. Earplugs sold separately. —BR

10.25

The Squirrel Nut Zippers @ Cat's Cradle: The dudes who wrote "Hell," also known as the reason most people remember our fond and fair Zippers, don't call the reunited swing and jazz band home anymore, but, don't worry, they're almost guaranteed to play it. —GC

10.27

FVD Showcase: Why Democracy? @ Screen Society: A six-film series, consisting of three double features, about the global practice of democracy begins tonight with a screening of Kazhuiro Soda's Campaign! The Kawasaki Candidate and Weijun Chen's Vote for Me, a huge crowdpleaser from this year's Full Frame fest. —DF

10.29

Minus the Bear, Annuals @ Lincoln Theatre: Minus The Bear has long built its base of indie-faithful, but this fall is proving time for Annuals, whose sophomore full-length Some Fun sees its release in early October. Here then is their opportunity to prove some sort of longevity in an era of disposable downloads and rockets of blog-buzz that too often fizzle just before they blow up. But if spring's Wet Zoo EP is any indication, the Raleigh troupe is headed for a more streamlined, and more effective, aesthetic as it takes on the challenges of a major-label—Sony imprint Canvasback in their case—career. —BR

10.31

Zack and Miri Make a Porno @ multiplexes: Kevin Smith, still going strong, after a long, hard 15 years. Heh. —DF

NOVEMBER

11.1

Billy Bragg's Mr. Love and Justice @ Page Auditorium: For a man known so singularly for his protest songs, it's no small wonder to realize that Billy Bragg's strengths lie at least as much in his slice-of-life songs of love as in his political rabblerousers—and most of all when the two coalesce. Witness his career- highlighting anthem "A New England," in which he sings in his raspy cockney, "I put you on a pedestal/ They put you on the Pill." Emotions meet social commentary and, as is true of real life, the two are inextricably linked through small moments and half-conscious remarks. For the characters inhabiting Bragg's songs, life, death, love and loneliness are direct products of the social climate they must endure. Fitting then that the now-50-year-old Bragg titled his most recent album Mr. Love and Justice, somewhat officially giving himself the two-sided moniker he's spent decades earning with wry wordplay and distinctively bashed-out chords. Its title track finds Bragg backed by a full band, noting simply, "I'm looking to an answer to these problems I face." The implication here is that the problems belong to Bragg, not to some faceless Machine. Still, though, rightly or wrongly, Bragg's calling cards are his leftist politics and fearlessness in sharing them. So here he is (appropriately) on the eve of the election bringing his stories of life, love and the world we live in to Duke. —BR

11.1

Ari Picker and Project Symphony debut @ Hill Hall Auditorium: Splitting his time between Berklee College of Music's campus in Boston and Chapel Hill, and between his life as a student and his role as frontman for Trekky Records stable act Lost In The Trees, Ari Picker doesn't have a lot of free time. But in the minute slivers of time he does have, he's managed to compose a symphony and make plans to use it to jumpstart his own classical music patronage organization, Project Symphony. The goal of Project Symphony is to raise funds to commission original works for orchestra from local composers, using the proceeds to make charitable contributions and to support future symphonies. The organization's first event is the debut of Picker's first symphony, Symphony No. 1 in C minor, and will split its proceeds between paying for the next symphony and donating to Chatham County Together. —BR

11.2

Bishop Allen @ Local 506: Last year's The Broken String made a bit of a splash in the indie circuit, though most of its songs were culled from EPs released in 2006. Still, Bishop Allen's brand of indie-pop, bolstered by enraptured rhythms, ecstatically played guitars and big-ole hooks, finds itself nestled neatly near Okkervil River and The Decemberists in that it holds up for more than a year or two. —BR

11.3

Drive-By Truckers & the Hold Steady @ Lincoln Theatre: Nothing less than two of the best r-o-c-k bands in the entire world on the same bill: The Hold Steady's Craig Finn and Drive-By Truckers' Patterson Hood are like dual hawks raised in different times and at different latitudes: Hood's Georgia sneer paints character portraits, just as Finn's Midwest-to-Brooklyn rattle sheds life on the dark cultural underbellies of scenesters, hood rats and girls who are going to go with whoever's gonna get 'em the highest. —GC

11.4 Election Day

11.4-11.9

Rain: The Beatles Experience @ Memorial Auditorium—Back in the 1960s, all you needed for a "multi-media, multi-dimensional" Beatles experience was ... well, it usually wasn't legal. Today, though, the Fab Four's masterworks are available in everything from Cirque du Soleil to oddball jukebox musicals to whatever Across the Universe was. And now the acclaimed tribute band Rain is headed to Raleigh, in a show that covers the entirety of the Beatles' career. Created by Dick Clark, they've spent three decades as John, Paul, George and Ringo. "They look like them and they sound just like them!" raves the description. Have the Beatles officially overtaken Elvis in the race for most impersonators? —ZS

11.6

Branford Marsalis & Filharmonica Brasiliera @ Page Auditorium: The Durham resident and saxophone star celebrates the legacy of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos in the final night of Duke Performance's excellent Brazil 58 series. —GC

11.6-8

Troika Music Festival: For three nights every fall, Durham becomes the focal point of music in the Triangle. Geographically, it suits the city stuck between Raleigh and Chapel Hill, but with an already impressive local-centric lineup, Troika's three-night stand is set to provide an indulgent helping of quality live music for fans of any persuasion. There's pop from The Old Ceremony and The Rosebuds, alt-folk from Megafaun and Olympia, Wash., import Kimya Dawson, Bellafea's bristly post-punk, sludge trudging metal from Tooth and The Curtains of Night, synth-pop from Greenville, N.C., expats Future Islands, booze blooze compliments of Rat Jackson, and then some. —BR

11.7-8

Red Clay Ramblers @ The ArtsCenter: This bluegrass band is a North Carolina institution, more deserving of a bridge than James Taylor. They've been on Broadway and helped build one of the country's most successful roots franchises; for two nights, they come home again. —GC

11.8

The Black Crowes @ Lincoln Theatre: Ever since the release of 1990's Shake Your Money Maker, the same names have been tossed around as obvious influences for The Black Crowes' brand of swaggering blues rock: The Rolling Stones, The Faces, The Allman Brothers. And those name-drops have been so consistently accurate that Maxim felt it appropriate to dole out a 2.5 star review dropping the aforementioned three names to The Black Crowes' latest album, Warpaint, without even listening to it first. Saddest of all, though, is that scandal put the Crowes' name more prominently in headlines than their music has in quite some time. —BR

11.10

L'Avventura @ Duke's Griffith Theater: In 1960, film critic Pauline Kael hand-picked Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni's film about soul-sick lovers as the best film of the year, causing a stir in the film community. Antonioni's masterpiece still retains a pure, stark potency that's a sure-fire conversation starter for film buffs and fans alike. Catch it tonight at the opening of Duke Film and Screen Society's Italian film series. —KJ

11.12-13

The World's Greatest Magic Show @ Memorial Auditorium: Wash away the taste of bad computer graphic effects and weirdly masochistic David Blaine stunts with this celebration of traditional magic, winner of the International Magician Society's "Show of the Year" two years in a row. Magicians include such award-winners as Hobson, Dan Sperry, Roy Shank and Lsoander, along with the likes of Jeff McBride and John Carney. Filled with a combination of traditional hocus-pocus and dazzling effects, it's a showcase that still has people asking "How'd they do that?" —ZS

11.14

N.C. Writers' Network Fall Conference @ RDU Hilton: Whether you're regularly published, eager to learn more about writing, or are just stuck on that stupid novel you said you were going to finish writing two years ago, here's a chance to get to know more about your fellow writers in N.C. The conference, which rotates its location each year, features readings, panels, open mic sessions for participants, a meet and greet session with writers and editors from New York, and opportunities for one-on-one manuscript critiques. —ZS

11.15

The Music of Led Zeppelin @ Meymandi Concert Hall: Flanked by a full, electric rock band, the North Carolina Symphony tries on the ginormo-riffs, mystical obsessions and grandiose rockingness of Page, Plant, Jones, Bonham. Zep's songs always did have a flair for over-the-top bombast, so the full symphonic treatment ought to suit the songs just fine. —BR

11.22

N.C. State visits UNC for a football battle royale @ Kenan Stadium: As Ben Folds might say, is this the battle of who could lose less? —GC

11.26

The Little Prince @ PlayMakers: Last year's production of the famous Antoine de Saint Exupéry story of an aviator lost in the desert who learns the secrets of life from an interplanetary traveler was a huge hit for PlayMakers—so much that they've revived their production for this year. It's a sweet and touching evening of family entertainment that will change the way you look at sheep, snakes, roses and asteroids, among other things. —ZS

11.26

The Road @ multiplexes: Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a father-son odyssey through post-apocalyptic America gets its big-screen adaptation in the able hands of Australian John Hillcoat, director of the superb 2005 neo-Western The Proposition. Viggo Mortensen stars with supporting help from Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, and Robert Duvall. —NM

11.28-30

N.C. Symphony's Holiday Pops @ Meymandi Concert Hall: This annual concert brings seasonal cheer from the state symphony, conducted tonight by William Henry Curry and assisted by the Concert Singers of Cary and the Triangle Community Gospel Chorus. —GC

11.30

B.B. King @ Durham Performing Arts Center: I spent six weeks in London during the summer of 1994, and I had the pleasure to attend much of their annual JVC Jazz Festival. The closing night event was B.B. King and his band, and it was one of the most energetic, virtuoso concerts I have ever attended. B.B. is now 83 years old, and the opportunity to see him perform as the opening act of the brand new DPAC is an experience you shouldn't let slip by. —NM

DECEMBER

12.2-7

Broadway Series South Presents: Chicago @ Memorial Auditorium: There may be a new big box for touring shows over in Durham, but they'll still be bringing it at Raleigh's Broadway Series South.

12.3

Lewis Black @ Durham Performing Arts Center: Merely one month after this year's presidential election, Lewis Black is sure to have a lot to say about it (regardless of its outcome). Come check him out—after all, the former UNC undergrad is still a homeboy, maintaining a residence in Chapel Hill. —NM

12.5

Milk opens @ art houses: In one of several docudramas about elected officials this season, Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk, the martyred, groundbreaking gay politician in San Francisco. —DF

12.9-17

A Christmas Carol @ Memorial Auditorium: Let's face it—if you live in the Triangle long enough, you're going to see this eventually. Ira David Wood III's annual musical extravaganza has taken on a pop-cultural life of its own with its elaborate sets, large casts, original songs and many, many pieces of local satire. Last year had Wood's Scrooge wasting tons of water, being annoyed by the badger from the Johnson Automotive ads, and faced with a Marilyn Manson look-alike as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Will this year reveal that Scrooge owns a few newspapers and likes to make cutbacks? Find out for yourself. Durham audiences, by the way, get to see it first Dec. 5-7 at DPAC. —ZS

12.12

The Day the Earth Stood Still @ multiplexes: Director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) remakes Robert Wise's 1951 Cold War classic. Keanu Reeves plays the alien visitor and Jennifer Connelly is a microbiologist, so prepare for lots of blank stares. —NM

12.14

Triangle Brass Band @ Meymandi Concert Hall: The 38-piece all-amateur, nonprofit, British-style brass and percussion ensemble has been in operation since 1986, competing and performing brass band standards, British folk songs and American patriotic tunes and marches. Here, though, the troupe brings holiday favorites to a hometown audience. —BR

12.19-28

Nutcracker @ Memorial Auditorium: Carolina Ballet's bread and butter, with 14 performances in 10 days.

12.25

Frost/ Nixon @ multiplexes: 'Tis the season for movies about disgraced presidents? Ron Howard directs, Frank Langella is Tricky Dick. —DF

12.26

Valkyrie @ multiplexes: Tom Cruise's much-troubled historical thriller about the real-life plot by Nazi officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler opens today. Directed by Bryan Singer, the film's ever-changing release date was recently moved from February 2009 to the heart of Oscar awards season, the only good news bubbling out of this long-delayed project. On the other hand, any film co-starring Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy and Terence Stamp piques our interest, even if the trailer shows Cruise speaking in an American accent. —NM
  • This fall is a season of investment.

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