Downtown Live at Moore Square—With hooks as huge as a Rhett Miller crush, a couple of songs from the Old 97's most recent releases—and more than a couple on Miller's solo discs—make clear that the band could have forged a nice career as power and radio poppers. But the band's calling card remains the rockin' shuffle as embodied by "If My Heart Was a Car," "Victoria" and, from the new Blame it on Gravity, "The One." That last number tells a little inside story about the band—part myth, part mirth—offering insight into how the 97's stuck it out. Hey, hey we're the Old 97's, you know? The Connells, Balsa Gliders, Sleepercar, Richard Bacchus & the Luckiest Girls, The Poonhounds and Russ Thompson open. The 97's hits the stage at 9 p.m. And the whole deal's free. —Rick Cornell
Saxapahaw Rivermill Music Series—The original plan for Hank Sinatra was for the band to play swing-a-ding-ding versions of classic country songs, hence the Luke the Drifter meets Ol' Blue Eyes moniker. Instead, the Jeffro Holshouser-led Hanksters ended up worshipping at the altar of another American music icon: Phil Lee. Really. And it's rock 'n' roll time at the honky-tonk. This free show starts at 6 p.m. —Rick Cornell
N.C. Museum of Art—The summer outdoor film series at the North Carolina Museum of Art continues in full swing with a weekend double-feature. To both its credit and detriment, director Todd Haynes' Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There (Friday, July 25, 9 p.m.) is a cinematic manifestation of its subject—elusive and surreal, yet strangely calculated and manipulative. Six actors, each cast under a different character pseudonym, portray distinct stages of the singer/ songwriter's life. Cate Blanchett—in a near tour de force that should have won her an Oscar—offers an ethereal take on Dylan's mid-1960s struggles with fame and his folk persona. And, while the rest of the world marvels at Heath Ledger's final film performance in The Dark Knight, check out Ledger's terrific portrayal of a James Dean-esque countercultural actor embroiled in a tumultuous romance.
The only radical thing about Hairspray (tonight at 9 p.m.) is something that started 20 years ago as a John Waters black comedy could now be called a "throwback." This is a bouncy, buoyant celebration of song and dance for those who do not like their movie musicals too intricate or overcomplicated. The most celebrated casting is John Travolta in the iconic, rotund role of Edna Turnblad. For my money, however, the most delicious turn belongs to Michelle Pfeiffer, who portrays TV producer Velma Von Tussle as somewhere between the vamp of Pfeiffer's Susie Diamond in The Fabulous Baker Boys and the camp of Cruella de Vil.
Visit ncartmuseum.org for more info. —Neil Morris