Randy Newman with the North Carolina Symphony
Meymandi Concert Hall
One of the country's premier songwriters and the man who penned the most poignant song about a flood in Louisiana arrives for a three-day stint at the Progress Energy Center. Hits and soundtrack songs from Monsters Inc. , Meet the Parents, Seabiscuit, Toy Story 1 & 2 mark the repertoire. Shows are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. $35-54, Sun $28-40.
DJ Spooky's Rebirth of a Nation
DJ Spooky, that subliminal kid, remixes D.W. Griffith's 1915 Birth of a Nation, the film account of North Carolinian Thomas Dixon's book The Clansman. The film would remain a Ku Klux Klan recruitment vehicle for decades. This deconstruction of reconstruction and beyond mixes music, words, sounds and film images. $15-35/8 p.m.
Werner Herzog's most hyped movie in a long time, this documentary tells us what happens when you move out into the Alaskan bush to live among grizzly bears for years and years and years. Helpfully for Herzog's purposes, Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend documented their experiences with their video camera, which they left running right up until the end (but, thankfully, with the lens cap on). --DF
The Funk Brothers and Freda Payne
American Tobacco Theatre
They worked in the Snakepit, the cramped main studio for Detroit's Motown Records. They worked long hours cranking out the rhythm sections for The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder among others, and it wasn't until the film Standing in the Shadows of Motown hit the screen a few years back that most people knew who they are. $55/7:30 p.m.
N.C. Museum of Art
Through early next year, Crosscurrents hosts mixed media work by North Carolina artists in a juried competition. Many of the works premiere for this exhibition, and several events--including gallery tours and weekly talks by artists including Jeff Whetstone, Stacey L. Kirby and David Finn--are scheduled around the exhibit itself. Free.
Nightlight/Manbites Dog Theatre
The stuff one finds in Found magazine is too good to be fake--or, at least, that's what everyone who has ever enjoyed the half-anthropological, half-voyeuristic accidental relics, clues and crooked smiles in the magazine hopes. Discovering otherwise would be a sort of mind-altering, Easter Bunny-fallacy mental discombobulating, for sure. Writer and magazine co-mastermind Davy Rothbart will read from his beautiful new The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas, and brother Peter will play songs structured around his Found favorites. Devon Sproule--a Virginia songwriter with major talent--also plays. --GC
Home Grown Music Festival with Keller Williams
Formed by Lee Crumpton in 1995, Mebane's Home Grown Music Network is a national matrix of bands, venues, stores, vendors and people that work to support the music and musicians they love through merchandising, tour support and promotion. Call them jam bands or hippie relics if you must; more importantly, though, this is a music industry that still cares about its music. And when it's as innovative as that of Keller Williams, D.J. Williams or SeepeopleS, it's hard not to care. --GC
Quail Ridge Books & Music
Former Kansan and Republican Thomas Frank examines the petrifying link between conservatism and the Midwest in the past several decades, detailing and explaining the link between blue-collared workers who submit to the policies of wealthy Wall Street ne'er-do-wells simply because they empathize with the alleged values of the business class' chosen candidates. A New York Times and The Nation columnist, Frank's visit promises to be as provocative as it is entertaining. 7 p.m.
Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival
This annual festival on a farm about 20 minutes from Chapel Hill started in 2002 and has expanded to include a spring festival. Four nights of music and 40 bands--a mix of zydeco, roots, gospel, country and rock are on the bill, with the Avett Brothers, Bio Ritmo, Chatham County Line, Donna the Buffalo, John Anderson, Luminescent Orchestrii, Mamar Kassey, The Duhks, Tift Merritt, Two Dollar Pistols and plenty more. A four-day pass is $65 in advance. Day prices range from $15-30. Camping, kidstuff, plenty to do.
Little Brother CD release party Cat's Cradle Some may find it odd that Little Brother ends its The Minstrel Show national tour in Chapel Hill, but it makes perfect sense. By the time these cats--LB, L.E.G.A.C.Y., Chaundon, The Away Team and Darien Brockington--crawl to the Cradle, they may be the premier buzz of the hip-hop universe. This will be more than a concert. It will be a homecoming, an affirmation, a party, a Justus League victory parade. Get tickets now. --GC
Taylor and Thielemann
At least three artists will hang work in Bickett in October: Allyson Taylor and Thomas Thielemann exploit icons--from angels to architecture, flowers to crows--to reach ends centered on memory, sensuality and spirituality. The show comes down and goes back up late in the month, though, as NCSU master's student Linda Collins presents her opening and closing receptions on Oct. 28 for her final project.
No other movie has teased the pleasure sensors of movie-lovers like this one, and not since Eyes Wide Shut has such a film taken so long to come. Delayed gratification is Wong Kar-wai's M.O., however, as evidenced by In the Mood for Love, that swooning hymn to frustration, longing and propriety. After years of working with Hong Kong actresses, Wong looks to the mainland for his leading ladies, Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi, while returning to the Hong Kong pool for his male leads, the great Tony Leung Chiu-wai (In the Mood for Love, Happy Together) as well as the other Tony Leung (Ka fai, from The Lover). --DF
Best of the South
The Pour House
From Clyde Edgerton and Lee Smith to Scott Ely and Lucia Nevai, Best of the South catalogues the 20 best stories (according to The Accidental Tourist author Anne Tyler) from the last 10 years of New Stories from the South, a prestigious annual gathering of Southern voices in print that Chapel Hill resident Shannon Ravenel began in 1986. Scott Miller--one of 11 artists included on Sugar Hill's companion CD to the commemorative book--plays this book-tour-in-a-rock-club date, and Thomas H. McNeely, Smith, Jill McCorkle and Pam Durban will all read. $10/10 p.m.
The Triangle, it seems, has a special giving spirit. Several of the area's best bills often end with the word "Benefit, and this is no different. Gerty! rocker and Four Corners Cuisine chef Shirle' Hale Koslowski couldn't afford Berklee College of Music, but Marv Savage--whose son, Koslowski's childhood boyfriend, died in a car accident at 15--gave her the money. Savage is now fighting non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and she's giving the music back to him. The bill includes Gerty!, Jett Rink, pulsoptional, Physics of Meaning and 10 others. $5-10/7 p.m. --GC
Devendra Banhart and Hairy Fairy
Devendra Banhart's introduction-at-large came last year, with Niño Rojo and Rejoicing in the Hands, companion albums recorded in the same beautiful session. But he's been writing gorgeous, extroverted reflections for years now, spearheading a re-emergent freak folk scene (referents include Simon Finn and The Incredible String Band) with a fingerpicked guitar, a rangy warble and an enviable beard. Banhart combines wit with whim with wisdom, creating uncanny, unorthodox reflections on people and the cosmos and how the former fits into the latter--or, maybe, vice-versa. Bunny Brains opens. $15/9:30 p. m. --GC
John Vanderslice and Portastatic
John Vanderslice and Mac McCaughan are two of the most important actors on the current indie stage, both for their songwriting and for their businesses--Vanderslice as the owner of one of America's best analogue outlets, Tiny Telephone studio in San Francisco, and McCaughan as the head of Merge Records. Both released fantastic new albums in the past month, and they make companion pieces: Each glimpses the desolation and frustration of modern life, and--though McCaughan eventually finds hope in his new-born daughter--Vanderslice's characters opt, tragically, for a "desk-drawer pharmacy" and "the end of a rope." $10/9:15 p.m. --GC
Dear Jesse director Tim Kirkman has won wide praise (and a Sundance slot) for this restrained film that interweaves three tales of North Carolinians who embark on quests: one tries to find an estranged child, another confronts her lifetime of living within the narrow confines of religious orthodoxy, while a third ventures to the Outer Banks to save the titular turtles. The N.C. Museum of Art will have a local premiere screening with Kirkman in attendance sometime this fall, so watch www.ncartmuseum.org for details. --DF
Next time, Def Jam better not ruin a classic by not dishing out the money for sample royalties: Wu-Tang Clan co-founder Ghostface (he dropped the Killah tag) nearly hit royalty status with his maybe-classic The Pretty Toney Album in 2004, and he would have, if the label would have posted the sample cash. But Pretty Toney establishes Ghostface as a serious artist, dropping puns and sailing deep with a voice and idiosyncratic stop/start/sway flow that sounds like he's constantly spitting with his mouth full. $15-17/9:30 p.m. --GC
Gangbé Brass Band Fletcher Theatre Playing a blend of African jazz and traditional Benin voudoun, this 10-piece ensemble hooked up with a French label and world fusion band Lo Jo and hopped on the world music circuit. Yeah, they wear some pretty snappy suits, but it's how true the beat and the brass feels that sets them apart. $22
Sometime in October
The Krzyzewskiville Tales
The experiences 2005 Duke graduate Aaron Dinin relates in his first book, The Krzyzewskiville Tales, aren't unique. But that's the point, exactly. Borrowing his narrative structure and elevated tone from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, Dinin relates the hilarious, frightening and honorable tales of his fellow Cameron Crazies and their quests for place in one of the landmarks 9,314 sacred seats. Released just in time for the annual Blue-White Scrimage on Oct. 22.
Late October/Early November
Early buzz on this Philip Seymour Hoffman vehicle is somewhere between ecstatic and phenomenal. Despite the comprehensive promise of the title, this film is really the story of Capote's most enduring contribution to American letters: the nonfiction novel In Cold Blood. Famously, Capote--that fey and gay will o' the wisp--formed a close friendship with killer Perry Smith, a bond this film promises to explore. Catherine Keener tags along as Capote pal Harper Lee. --DF
Chuck Davis, Jane Comfort, Duke Dance
Let's call regional modern dance fashionably late: Usually, things don't really start cranking until November. Chuck Davis' African American Dance Ensemble headlines the weekend-long North Carolina Dance Alliance Annual Event, a series of showcases, panels and classes at Meredith College Nov. 4-6 ($5-15), before UNC alumna Jane Comfort's company brings Persephone and the eerie Underground River to UNC's Memorial Hall, Nov. 11 ($28-50). The following week, Duke Dance presents their latest collection of modern, ballet and African works in November Dances, in Reynolds Theater, Nov. 19-20 ($5-10). --BW
"By the end of this record, I'll make sure all y'all know who Sage Francis is," Providence emcee Francis prophesied in the middle of his 2002 masterpiece Personal Journals. He was right: On the strength of that album and his uncanny, seek-and-destroy lyrical panache, Francis signed to Epitaph, scored beats from Sixtoo, Alias, Will Oldham, Danger Mouse and more and released his second masterpiece, A Healthy Distrust. His live shows--provocative and loud, powerful and urgent--are defiance demonstrated. $15/9:30 p.m. --GC
Puchalski creates unique, handmade figures and toys, often exploring long, pallid faces and sad eyes. Her work includes pinup demons, one of which is a deceptive "Winged Batgirl." Be forewarned: Her "Super Deformed Bear" evokes either tears or laughs, and those aren't mutually exclusive. Sam Fout--whose work includes Saturday Night Live's "Ambiguous Gay Couple"--opens his exhibition the same night.
Laurie Anderson's The End of the Moon
This show is a completely new set of compositions by Anderson, drawing on her NASA experiences (she was the space agency's first artist in residence). She explores ethics, loss, war, Buddhism and ontology, consumer culture, hamster cages and the contents of her NASA notebooks through voice, violin and electronics. Smart stuff for smart people. 7:30 p.m.
Okkervil River, Man Man, Charles Bissell of The Wrens
Local 506 Some say that profanity is lazy, that it's a simple out for avoiding a little analysis and eloquence. Don't tell that to Okkervil River head Will Sheff, who dissects life's busted moves with the gravity of James Joyce, then drops in the profanity just to drag his point to the front-and-center, to warn that he's not kidding. Don't believe it? Read "Black," one of the most harrowing tales of sexual assault ever penned. Charles Bissell of the glorious Wrens opens, followed by Ace Fu's Man Man. A fall highlight, indeed. --GC
November 29-December 6
Symposium and Performance: The Cradle Will Rock
Orson Welles and John Houseman were ultimately forced to conduct a contraband premiere of Marc Blitzstein's controversial labor opera, after union-hostile Feds tried to shut down the official WPA production before it opened. UNC-Chapel Hill's History, Music and Dramatic Art departments honor Blitzstein's 100th birthday with a series of events preceding a co-production by the DDA and UNC Opera. A panel on "How the Cradle Rocked the Boat" precedes an open dress rehearsal and discussion Nov. 29. Tim Robbins' 1999 Cradle Will Rock, a film version of the events surrounding the opera's premiere, will be screened Nov. 30. On Dec. 1, students and faculty will compare the music of Blitzstein, Kurt Weill and Stephen Sondheim in a concert "From the Cradle to the Grave," before the DDA/UNC Opera co-production opens Dec. 2, running through Dec. 6. --BW
Good Night, And Good Luck
Most of us aren't old enough to remember Edward Murrow, but his nightly sign-off provides this film's title. George Clooney co-stars, co-writes and directs in a black and white period piece that focuses on the 1950s smackdown between Murrow and the fat, alcoholic, ignorant, bigoted, paranoid and megalomaniacal national security threat named Sen. Joseph McCarthy. David Strathairn plays Murrow while Clooney plays boss Fred Friendly. McCarthy plays himself, courtesy of archival footage. --DF