Issue November 29, 2011

Staffpicks

12 things you should know about this week

<THEATER>

Nov. 30-Dec. 4

‘Mad at Miles’

U of L Thrust Theatre

2314 S. Floyd St. • 852-6814

louisville.edu/theatrearts

$8-$12; 8 p.m. (plus 3 p.m. Sun.)

Though Miles Davis’ music was nothing short of legendary, he hit some painfully wrong notes in his marriage to Cicely Tyson. Atlanta-based author Pearl Cleage explores this story of abuse and others in her book, “Mad at Miles: A Black Woman’s Guide to Truth,” which U of L African American Theatre Department director and professor Deana Thomas has adapted for the stage. “Cleage’s stories of women speak out to the age-old mystery as to how men can love us and still hurt us,” Thomas says. “Women grapple with how to survive after reality shatters the idealism of love. The play speaks frankly of the qualities women desire in their men.” On Friday at 2 p.m., Cleage will speak about her work and sign books at The Playhouse, 1911 S. Third St. —Jane Mattingly

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Thursday, Dec. 1

Malcolm Holcombe

Rudyard Kipling

422 W. Oak St. • 636-1311

malcolmholcombe.com

$10; 8 p.m.

To promote his latest album, To Drink the Rain, grizzled country blues folk vet Malcolm Holcombe is hitting the ol’ Rud for a night of tuneful songs and some drinking opportunities (but, hopefully, no actual rain). The native of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains is now eight albums into a career and relatively new into an exploration of his faith. Lucinda Williams, also an older troublemaker, called him “an old soul and a modern day blues poet.” Rolling Stone’s David Fricke said, “Holcombe’s music is a kind of blues in motion, mapping backwoods corners of the heart.” And what have you done lately? The album is his first for Music Road Records, an Austin label founded by singer/songwriter Jimmy LaFave, and includes performances by ex-Johnny Cash bassist Dave Roe alongside fiddle, dobro players and more. Fellow ex-Nash Vegas exile Mickey Clark opens. —Peter Berkowitz

<THEATER>

Dec. 1-11

‘Gays in Toyland’

Pandora Productions

Victor Jory at Actors Theatre

316 W. Main St. • 216-5502

pandoraprods.org

$18-$20; 7:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. Sun.)

One of my favorite nontraditional holiday tunes is Pansy Division’s “Homo Christmas,” so consider me already favorably inclined toward the particular brand of, shall we say, less-than-subtle Christmas kitsch Pandora Productions mounts (ahem) during the holiday show season. This year’s original production is “Gays in Toyland,” a musical comedy conceived by Pandora producing director Michael Drury and written by Derby Dinner regular Jim Hesselman that explores the loving dynamics of a misfit toy workshop full of broken, discarded and otherwise off-kilter toys who don’t know that they’re considered damaged goods by normal toy standards. When a vandal threatens their idyllic existence, the toys must dig deep to summon the true and fabulous Christmas spirit. With glitter bombs and a kick-line? I can only hope. —Erin Keane

<ART>

Dec. 2-3

U of L pottery sale

Studio Arts Building

2314 S. Floyd St., room 136 • 852-6796

8 a.m.-8 p.m. (Fri.), 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Sat.)

It’s that time of year again when U of L’s ceramics department shows us what’s behind the curtain and in the kiln. This annual sale is a crowd-pleaser, with student- and faculty-produced vases, teapots and sculpture in the coveted $2-$100 range. “We will have seven kilns firing back-to-back up until the day of the sale,” says recent graduate Jennie DiBeneditto. “We have unique handcrafted art … along with one-of-a-kind showstoppers.” Proceeds go to the Ceramic Art Organization, student travel and workshops led by nationally recognized ceramic artists. Parking is available on Friday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium (no pass needed), with the university shuttle running back and forth to the sale. On Saturday, the blue lot south of the building is available. —Jo Anne Triplett

<OPERA>

Dec. 2-3

U of L Opera

Rudyard Kipling

422 W. Oak St. • 636-1311

Donations suggested; 7 p.m.

No gold. No frankincense. Definitely no myrrh. And it looks like just one adult Christmas song — as the University of Louisville Opera Theater presents a program of lively operetta tunes and Broadway show hits in performances Friday and Saturday night at the Rudyard Kipling. The revue’s tunes hail from the “Frank Loesser Songbook” and “Here’s a Howdy Do — An Operetta Review.” Loesser was the composer of such famous shows as “Guys and Dolls” and “How to Succeed in Business,” and the U of L troupe will include among its selections the delicious movie hit song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Admission is available at the door, with patrons having the option of making a donation for the performances. Dinner reservations also available. That’s the fun way to go. —Bill Doolittle

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Dec. 2-3, 9-10

Va Va Vixens

Headliners

1386 Lexington Road • 584-8088

$20; 8 p.m.

I suspect you’ve been a little too nice this year. Sure, that might get you a few extra presents under the tree from Mr. Claus, but wouldn’t you rather have a memory to look back on that makes you blush? Perhaps you snuck your own candy into a movie theater, or maybe you made out in the Flanagan’s bathroom — either case, doesn’t it feel good to be naughty sometimes? If you don’t think your naughty numbers are where they ought to be, I suggest checking out the Va Va Vixens’ “Va Va ReVue: Naughty & Nice” burlesque show Friday night at Headliners. Expect a slew of half-naked dancers, singers and acrobats … all there to wet your whistle. There’s been a kissing booth at past shows, so pucker up and enjoy. —Sara Havens

<BENEFIT>

Saturday, Dec. 3

‘Pancakes for a Purpose’

Expressions of You Café

1800 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd. 584-6886

kyjwj.org

$12; 9 a.m.

Justice will be served … for breakfast. While that might sound like a David Caruso line from “CSI: Miami,” it’s merely a LEO pun alerting you to this glorious benefit. Sure, giving is not always the most fun activity. No matter how much you might think about doing something to help others, it’s rarely as much fun as doing something actually fun. Which is why my ears perk up at the mention of free pancakes; sure, it’s not a complicated or expensive breakfast, but have you ever had a bad pancake? So if I can lovingly caress a scrumptious bit of p-cake while also benefiting organizations like Women in Transition and Kentucky Jobs with Justice, then surely justice will prevail. (Other “Southern-style” foods, juice and tea will also be offered, if you’re not into the whole pancake thing.) —Peter Berkowitz

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Saturday, Dec. 3

IUS’ ‘Clean Fossils’

501 Pearl St., New Albany

cleanfossils.tumblr.com

Free; 6-10 pm.

Meanings of words often leave little room for interpretation; however, art leaves nothing but room. Students at IU Southeast bring the meanings of words to realism in works of art. “Clean Fossils: Organic Conservations of Fragility and Undecided Cathartic Sentiment with Awareness of Hierarchal Spatial Interconnectivity” is the title of this collaborative exhibit. The long title is somewhat overwhelming until the artists’ respective perspective is considered. Imagine what would come if people took words and made them art. The diversity seen in this collection represents the diversity of each senior in the BFA program. Each artist takes an element of the title and transforms a word from print to life using mixed media. —Allison Ray

<MUSIC>

Sunday, Dec. 4

R. Ring

Zanzabar

2100 S. Preston St. • 635-9227

rring.us

$6; 7:30 p.m.

Ampline’s Mike Montgomery and The Breeders’ Kelley Deal met at his recording studio, Candyland, where they were both working on a song with Cincinnati’s Buffalo Killers. Deal (from Dayton, Ohio) and Montgomery (from Dayton, Ky.) realized they had similar ideas and tastes and began working together on songs. Their melding of guitars and voices is more Breeders-esque (spooky, inventive) than Indigo Girls-ish or Everly Brothers-y. It’s a very simple set-up, but because they don’t live in the same town, when the duo comes together, they put a lot into it. Both have solo songs, and they’ve worked up some covers — and because Deal’s a twin, it’s kind of like getting a Pixie for under $50 (if you squint). With The Fervor and an acoustic set from The Black Swans. —Peter Berkowitz

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Sunday, Dec. 4

Jason Isbell

Headliners Music Hall

1386 Lexington Road • 584-8088

jasonisbell.com

$15; 9 p.m.

Jason Isbell, the former Drive-By Trucker, has perhaps the most defined voice in all of Southern rock. The Muscle Shoals native, born and raised in the soil of a music mecca, wears genres like a chameleon wears colors, ranging from haunting blues to longing country and soulful R&B. Throughout three Truckers albums and his three solo albums, Isbell has become a premier storyteller. His lyrics spin tales of wounded characters — factory workers, star-crossed lovers, military veterans — all set against the background of an often misunderstood culture permeating Southern ground. Isbell will be doing a rare solo acoustic performance at Headliners this weekend with the lovely Alana Fugate opening. To read LEO’s full interview with Isbell, go to bluecat.leoweekly.com —Brent Owen

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Through Dec. 23

‘Airway to Heaven’ by Kyle Fokken

Garner Narrative

642 E. Market St.?• 641-8086

garnernarrative.com

This exhibition is Toys R Us for artists. Kyle Fokken’s mixed-media sculptures, although inspired by toys, have a message. He asks the viewers to add “re-examine” (our belief system) to the green slogan “reduce, reuse, recycle.” “My work is based on a love of antique toys as viewed from a modern perspective,” Fokken says. “I’m not a junk sculptor, because my focus is not on the found object itself, but on how I can use objects to fulfill my vision. I employ this technique as a metaphor implying the bond between generations ‘making do’ with available materials and the cultural legacy of values and ideals … to emphasize that these beliefs have been long-established, but are decayed and in need of renewal or examination.” —Jo Anne Triplett

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Through Jan. 1

Dayton Castleman

The 930

930 Mary St. • 338-3857

the930.org

daytoncastleman.com

Among Dayton Castleman’s many impressive titles such as multi-modal artist, writer, educator and curator, “choreographer” instantly jumped out at me. While we won’t be seeing any of Castleman’s dance work this time, (though please do take a peek at some on his website), his impressive mixed-media sculptures in his “Rabbit Trails” exhibition demonstrate his understanding of movement and his eclectic perception of his environment. Whether it’s a traditional painting on canvas or a majestic sculpture made with materials like cardboard, wood, fabric, rhinestones, pipe or a paper shredder, his work isn’t limited to specific genres, and the statements his work makes might be humorous, deeply psychological, or both. Holding an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Castleman’s work has been exhibited all across the United States and Europe. —Jane Mattingly