Thursday, Dec. 7
R. Keenan Lawler
R. Keenan Lawler is receiving much critical acclaim for his latest album, Music for the Bluegrass States, released on Xeric Records. Said Pitchfork Media: “His fertile playing, amplified by the resonator’s ringing tone, evokes the avant-folk of John Fahey, the minimalist drone of Tony Conrad, the backwoods blues of Charley Patton, and the outsider chill of Jandek. But ultimately Lawler is a lone, restless artist charting his own crooked path to the outer reaches of guitar invention.”
Descriptions like that alone make Lawler hard to ignore. Show openers are Clark Smithy and Cilia. —Mat Herron
Lisa’s Oak St. Lounge
1004 E. Oak St.
$4; 10 p.m.
IUS Theatre Improv Showcase
Since last year, Dru Pilmer has taught what is probably the area’s only college class focused solely on improvisational acting. This weekend, her nine students from the fall semester put their skills to the test in the IUS Theatre Improv Showcase, a culmination of their class study. During the three performances, these thespians will interact with audience members to construct characters and stories with distinct styles — for example, by having audience members give them a movie or theater genre and one audience member describe his or her day, the actors will meld to produce a-day-in-the-life story. Pilmer says she teaches improv by stressing that actors not act with the intent to be funny. Instead she stresses that they use creative thinking to develop true characters and situations — that, she says, creates a genuine humor that appeals to a broad audience. —Elizabeth Kramer
Robinson Theater, Ogle Center
4201 Grant Line Road, New Albany
$5; 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 7 & 14
Parents’ Night Out
E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park wants your children. Or better yet, they want you to have an evening free of making dinner, helping with homework, shuttling from here to there and buckling down for bedtime. The Park will take your children for a mere $15 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. while you shop, run errands, get a manicure, catch up with friends or just hide out under your covers without interruption (hint, hint). They’ll keep your kids busy with crafts, holiday activities, games and snacks. The program is for kiddies ages 5-10 — so if you have teenagers, just give them a few bucks and shove them off to the movies. Make this night your own! —Sara Havens
E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park
3000 Freys Hill Road
$15 (per child); 5:30-8:30 p.m.
‘The Laramie Project’
Atherton’s River City Players present the first Kentucky high school production of “The Laramie Project,” a controversial play about a town’s reactions to the homophobic hate crime that ended in Matthew Shepard’s brutal murder in 1998. Written by Moisés Kaufman from interviews and research by members of the Kaufman’s Tectonic Theatre Project, this challenging play contains more than 60 characters portrayed by 18 actors in scripted “moments” instead of traditional scenes.
Kaufman says, “There are moments in history when a particular event brings the various ideologies and beliefs prevailing in a culture into sharp focus … By paying careful attention in moments like this to people’s words, one is able to hear the way these prevailing ideas affect not only individual lives but also the culture at large.” Focusing on the townspeople’s reactions instead of on the horrific crime itself forces us to examine the nature of irrational prejudice and how to confront it. —Sherry Deatrick
Atherton High School Auditorium
3000 Dundee Road
$7; 7 p.m. (w/ Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.)
Friday, Dec. 8
The holiday season is shaping up to be a big month for The Ladybirds. The band is gearing up to release its debut album, Whiskey and Wine. Until then, they’re gonna tide you over by sharing a bill at Lisa’s Oak St. Lounge with locals The Pet Pervs, who list their influences as “adult bookstores and amateur porn.”
The Coke Dares, from Bloomington, Ind., round out the bill. They serve as the backing band for Jason Molina, known for his work in Magnolia Electric Co., and are touring in support of two upcoming releases, The Slow EP and Feelin’ Up. —Mat Herron
Lisa’s Oak St. Lounge
1004 E. Oak St.
$5; 10 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 9
Pianist Emile Pandolfi & comedian James Sibley
Popular pianist Emile Pandolfi appears in two concerts Saturday at the Ogle Center at Indiana University Southeast. Pandolfi’s recordings have sold more than 2.25 million copies, but his lush arrangements and good-humored style on stage make him a fan favorite on the concert circuit. Comedian James Sibley joins Pandolfi for the performances of holiday and popular music — promising to tickle the ivories, and the funny bone, too. —Bill Doolittle
IUS Ogle Center
4201 Grant Line Road, New Albany
$20 for 4 p.m. show, $25 for 8 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 11
Heidi’s HOWsE Party
A year removed from her lengthy stint as host of her One Night Stand Songwriters Showcase at Clifton Pizza, local singer-songwriter Heidi Howe — who took a break to become a mom — is back with a new monthly showcase: Heidi’s HOWsE Party. The series will take place on the last Monday of each month at the Comedy Caravan in Mid-City Mall beginning in January 2007, featuring musicians, comedians and a variety of other acts. The kick-off event, however, is Monday, as part of a fundraiser for Dare to Care. The show will feature the music of The Troubadours of Divine Bliss, Alan Rhody and Sean Hopkins, as well as the comedy of Rich Ragains. “It’s going to be a total hoot,” Howe said. —Kevin Gibson
1250 Bardstown Road
$2 or a jar of peanut butter; 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 12
‘Masters of the Air’ author
Author Donald Miller wrote quite a nice book this year. “Masters of the Air” documents the history of the Eighth Air Force and, specifically, the 100th Bomber Group that was made up of quite a motley crew. At one time or another, the “Bloody Hundredth” — so named for the heavy casualties it sustained — included Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, William Wyler, Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart. Miller skillfully tells his story mainly through the eyes of squad leader Robert “Rosie” Rosenthal, but also through the use of diary entries, interviews and unpublished letters. If his speaking skills are anything like his writing ability, it seems safe to say that Miller’s talk will be inspiring. —Paul Kopasz
Louisville Free Public Library (Main Branch)
301 York St.
Free (tickets required); 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 13
‘Sue Mundy: A Novel of the Civil War’
Was the War Between the States also a war between genders? Maybe it just made good press for Louisville newspaper editor George Prentice, but in early 1865 he made a point of pushing stories about a female guerilla leader who seemed to strike with impunity at the heart of the Union’s martial law. Eventually, a long-haired, fair-featured young man was arrested and sentenced to hang for Sue Mundy’s exploits. Former Kentucky poet laureate Richard Taylor has fashioned a novel that looks into these events, and he’s giving a signing at the Filson Historical Society.
Any retelling of this fascinating historical footnote has built-in interest factors, as when the margins fill up with classic American outlaws: the James Brothers, Quantrill. Taylor’s definitely picked a fine subject on which to look into dividing lines of legality, ambition and retribution. Where he begins to fictionalize, and whose account of history he believes, are just two of the good questions you can ask him on Wednesday. —T.E. Lyons
Filson Historical Society
1310 S. Third St.