He's got a sunny, sublime cover of "A Pirate Looks at 40," a friendly disposition and a sing-song, breezy chorus way, but Jack Johnson is not the next Jimmy Buffett, and I've never been happier to report such a thing. True, the successor draws heavily from the progeny of the former's fans, but--unlike Buffett--Johnson won't make the same album a dozen times just to keep touring. "If I can't think of enough good songs for number two, I'll just go back to surfing and making movies," Johnson told me when he was still playing small South Carolina bars in 2001. Luckily, his latest, In Between Dreams, is better than his second, straddling sunshine alongside some serious songcraft, more inspired by "One Love" and "Simple Twist of Fate" than "Margaritaville." --Grayson Currin
The World of Art
N.C. Museum of Art
This museum lecture series tunnels through 5,000 years of art history and is the equivalent of a university-level survey. But here's the selling point: Instead of taking field trips, you just show up at school, a museum that teaches a curriculum tailored to the exhibits in its hallowed halls. The cost is $115 for both sessions or $65 for one, and--with 27 classes spread over seven months--that's art theft. Each lecture begins at 10:30 a.m. and one class is $6. For the schedule, visit www.ncartmuseum.org.
Pro-L, Free Sol
The Pour house
Memphis' Free Sol delivers a Dirty South attack for fans of Three 6 Mafia and Juvenile, a fresh, young and hot swagger talking trash over basic beats and a live band. Oddly enough, they go sour when they combine it with neo-soul on acoustic guitars, which sounds like it could be nu-metal if played with an electric. But, rest assured, they also play nu-metal. Well, at least one-third of their set should be great. Raleigh's Pro-L mixes sitars, beats, drums, guitars and a two-MC rhyme-slingin' attack to remove you musically from those really, really comfortable Pour House couches. Beats knock at 10 p.m., and all you need to drop is $6. --Grayson Currin
Five regional talents come together for pop dark: works of wit and wisdom in what appears to be one of the best Raleigh openings of the year: Casey Porn's gridwork exploits characters like astronaut and octopup, and Kristin Matwiczyk's Raleigh Hatchet logo--a teddy bear in overalls--faces the world, one in situ cliché at the time. Julia Martin looks at emotion through gray shades, and David Eichenberger's fascination with psyched-up dogs continues. For an example of Gus Fink's fascinating work, see the A&E Calendar starting on page 46. Melvin Brown of Goldteeth plays. The opening is from 7-9 p.m., and the show runs until Oct. 1.
Coldplay, Rilo Kiley
Two days before the release of the band's third album, X & Y, Jon Pareles made the "Case Against Coldplay" in The New York Times, describing the starry English quartet as "the most insufferable band of the decade." Funny, yes; ultimate, yes; accurate, no--apparently, Pareles, whose Times criticism of late doesn't really focus on this decade, hasn't heard The Caesars, Staind (who play Alltel Friday) or Incubus. But here's where the truth comes in: After sidestepping imposing sophomore slumps with the indie classic The Execution of All Things--equal parts sass and sweet--and the amped-up A Rush of Blood to the Head, opener Rilo Kiley and closer Coldplay, respectively, sunk to safety's doldrums with their recent thirds, softballing albums that sound more like over-produced, over-thought debuts than "more adventurous" outings from two of the best melody makers in the world. Show up at 7:30 p.m. ; pay from $20 to $69.50. --Grayson Currin
REd Hat Headquarters
Linux is for lovers. Those who use the open-source Linux operating system love, obsess over, tinker with and proselytize for it. They come together in Triangle Linux Users Group--cutely, TriLUG--for the arrival of their George Lucas, their fountainhead: Red Hat founder Bob Young, who currently runs Lulu and who will discuss the open-source potentials of the Internet, "The Wild West." Get techin' at 7 p.m on NCSU's Centennial Campus.
The Pour House
One would imagine that, by this point, Fort Worth native Turner Stephen Bruton wouldn't worry so much about making records: After all, since the '70s, he's played with Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt, Delbert McClinton and T Bone Burnett and produced albums by Marcia Ball, Alejandro Escovedo and a score of others. But, at 55, Bruton's fifth solo album, From the Five, is the work of a dedicated songsmith, pouring his decades into four-minute reflections on the muck life can put you in and the toil it may take to get out of it. It's a bit like Tom Waits dressed up in post-Dire Mark Knopfler slickness, taking hard-line pity on the freaks and pariahs, seeing them for what they are and maybe what they could (or could never) be. The show starts at 7 p.m. and costs $10. --Grayson Currin
"Did you ever get an itch in your mouth that only a gun barrel would scratch?" A rockabilly fan with a mean ol' pompadour, Lord Carrett is a comedian that the average Southern male could identify with, but he loves to rib racists and joke NASCAR. The Bob & Tom regular makes his last stand in town tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.
Hollingsworth served some time in the late-model version of Verbena, and his music exhibits as much promise as his old Alabama mates. The guitar chime has a similar combination of rootsy Stones raunch and garage swagger, while Hollingsworth's feckless vocal sneer recalls a boozed-up Rhett Miller (particularly on "Duct Tape Heart"). If he can seize the promise of Verbena's 1997 debut Souls For Sale (Merge), as Hollingsworth's similarly-toned initial releases suggests, he'll have a bright future. Rick Monroe's a rather strange pairing, as the California-based singer/songwriter has veered uneasily over the years between jazzy pop in the vein of Duncan Sheik and bland rootsy pop reminiscent of John Cougar Mellencamp. --Chris Parker
The Web site reads "Sultry Americana" and the album's called Low In Paradise, but O'Connor's an enigma wrapped in onion layers. On record, the music lopes over a dusty road through stretches of parched country, tangled backwoods bluegrass and gentle rolling folk, but catch her live, and you're as likely to catch some of the sass that lurks in the corner of her songs. Her band performances in particular seem to get her blood flowing, emanating both the sound and attitude of rock 'n' roll. Where the truth resides--in the homespun traditions or the fiery glint of the eyes--only she knows. --Chris Parker
Jump Little Children
They don't want to call it the final tour, but the quintet--which was born at the North Carolina School of the Arts in 1994--has decided to collectively move on and pursue other projects. Their decade-long run has been an adventurous one, from their upstart self-released debut through a major label release, including the haunting minor pop hit "Cathedrals," a label hassle regarding the second release after being dropped, and finally a well-received if somewhat overlooked final album, Between The Dim and The Dark, accompanied by a name change (to simply Jump) that apparently didn't stick. One-time classical musicians, they began playing Irish folk, progressed into baroque pop and finished somewhere between the two. --Chris Parker
Taylor, one of the creative figures behind Georgia's softly sad Azure Ray, has moved on to slightly brighter themes in her work, with a recent solo record on the emo-punk label Saddle Creek. The Birmingham, Ala. native's quivering voice is most familiar in a forest of minor chords. Now she's taking things to a forthright folk and pop vibe, still confessional but with hope springing among the gloom. Show's at 10 p.m. and costs $7. --Chris Toenes