Papa Mojo's—Edsel 500 delivers rockabilly with passion like it's going out of style. Appropriate considering the namesake of the band: The Edsel of Ford was a line of cars that failed commercially during its brief run from 1958 to 1960. The sound—solid blues-based rock with boogie woogie bass, snare drum smacking the back beat, and electric guitar solos with a little twang—doesn't break any new ground. It's just good, and, like the Edsel, has appreciated in value. Playing rockabilly like it's contemporary and not some historical artifact, the quartet refreshes the rock soul with a swinging beat and classic braggadocio. Pay $7 at 9:30 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
Quail Ridge Books and Music—Two words: Reynolds Price. His readings are a holiday tradition at QRB. If you've heard him in the past, no elaboration needed. If not, Price is one of the great Southern writers and teachers (at Duke) whose subjects, in fiction and non-fiction, always wrestle with humanity's spirituality. Price is best known for his 14 novels (including Kate Vaiden and The Good Priest's Son). But he's also translated the gospels; pondered how Jesus would respond to our contemporary culture wars (in The Ethics of Jesus Imagined); and, in Letter to a Godchild: Concerning Faith (2006), recounted his own spiritual development from childhood through the paralysis he's lived with for 25 years because of spinal cancer. Price begins at 7:30 p.m. Bruce Emery's acoustic guitar music precedes him at 6:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served; see quailridgebooks.booksense.com for more. —Bob Geary
Will Smith and Seven Pounds
Theaters Everywhere—Celebrity is newsworthy. It drew statewide media and roughly 1,000 fans to a Charlotte multiplex premiere of Seven Pounds—featuring the film's star, Will Smith. It encouraged those fans to stand in line in the rain, some for up to six hours, in hope of getting a ticket. And frankly, it's overwhelming. The lobby of the multiplex, packed to capacity two full hours before Smith's scheduled arrival, had its every vertical surface emblazoned with Smith's visage, giving the actor a Mao-like omnipresence in the room. A DJ played cuts from Smith's musical career—from "Parents Just Don't Understand" to "Just The Two Of Us"—while the crowd clawed at the air for free T-shirts.
The event benefited Second Harvest Food Bank in Charlotte, and when Smith finally walked into the room at 6:40 p.m., he announced he'd be donating 300 Christmas turkeys to local families, setting the tone for the premiere. "Part of playing this character has really shaken up that concept in my mind," Smith said of his stated belief that we're all responsible for helping each other out in hard times. In Seven Pounds, his character gives of himself as a method of atonement. In real life, it's promotion. And it'd be a lot easier to be cynical if Smith wasn't so likeable. But there he was, donning an honorary Panthers jersey and mugging for the crowd, beatboxing at the podium when the masses chanted his name, and greeting the damp thousand with handshakes, hugs and that million-dollar smile. It's the same easy charm that makes all of his movie characters relatable and empathetic to an audience. He's a movie star 100 percent of the time. "I'm very happy to be here," he said, smiling. "We've got a fantastic cause and hopefully a pretty good movie, too." —Bryan Reed
Peyton Reed and Yes Man
Theaters Everywhere—"Buy local" takes on a global context with the release of Yes Man this Friday. Starring Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel, it's the most-hyped film yet from director and Raleigh native Peyton Reed (Down With Love, The Breakup).
A movie whose plot involves an inhibited guy turning his life around by accepting any opportunity that comes his way, no matter how questionable, advances Reed's eclectic career in which he has turned few chances down. Reed double-majored in English and radio, television and motion picture at UNC-Chapel Hill, drove a van on the set of Bull Durham, hosted a radio show and directed music videos, television sketch comedy and an animated series before making Bring It On in 2000, a surprise cult classic that launched a passel of cheerleading movie imitators.
Reed is taking the release of his biggest film yet in stride.
"During the recent presidential race, I really related to Obama's comments about not getting too high on the highs or too low on the lows," Reed said. "Once the movie is done and sent out into the world, you have zero control over how it's going to be received. It may connect with audiences and it may not. And you have to be OK with that."
Though he has yet to make a film based in the South, the Piedmont—and its music—has a profound influence on Reed's work. Before heading to L.A., Reed, who plays drums and piano, was heavily involved in the local music scene, honing his directorial chops with videos for local indie rockers like Superchunk and The Connells.
"Music and movies are inseparable," Reed said. "They both rely on rhythms and flow and dramatic structure."
In Yes Man, Reed turned to L.A. musician E., frontman for the idiosyncratic rock group The Eels, to help create the voice of Carrey's character, and worked in a Superchunk track as well.
Reed said he hopes to make a film set in the South in the near future.
"It's absolutely a creative goal of mine," he said. "I'm currently working on a script that I'd like to shoot in Raleigh." —Sam Wardle
Cyril Lance & The Outskirts of Infinity
Blue Bayou Club—Carrboro's first-rate guitar firebrand oscillates between slow-poured roots music and the blistering reverberations of hard-boiled blues strings, all done with a remarkable grace that lends itself toward a reputation of eclectic cool. Tonight's show at Hillsborough's Cajun joint should have Lance firing its sultry mix of blues, jazz and frenetic funk. With local soul disciple Adrian Duke and his 88 keys (and horns) of smooth blue notes. Groove, rock and shake to the beat at 9:30 p.m. —Kathy Justice