Staff Picks

Thursday, Nov. 30
Ray LaMontagne
    On LaMontagne’s debut record, most tracks were quiet and rural; for this second time around, they’re hushed and universal. The difference between the two styles makes for a marketing gamble — Americana sells respectfully among the pop-rock racks, but folk purity could get a disc exiled to the specialty aisles. Wherever you have to look for LaMontagne, though, go seek him out to hear an honest and intense pursuit of a very personal muse.
    “Be Here Now” is the Maine man’s inspired take on one of those not-as-meandering-as-it-first-seems lengthy openers that Van Morrison does well. Soon enough some tracks are lit by a modest but precise horn section, but most are simply a couple of acoustic instruments framing LaMontagne’s wonderfully expressive voice, which now betrays a soupcon of Nick Drake. The slight jazziness and openness of some songs decays from quietness into emptiness, but we can hope that his songwriting will grow richer with age — his voice is already maturing that way. —T.E. Lyons
Brown Theatre
315 W. Broadway
$27-$32; 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 30-Dec. 9
‘Language of Angels’
    How do angels communicate? Dionysius speculated, “They need neither tongue nor ears but without the help of any spoken word they exchange with each other their thoughts and their counsels.” Walden Theatre Conservatory Program explores this conundrum in “The Language of Angels,” by noted playwright Naomi Iizuka, in a ghost story told in the Japanese Noh tradition. In North Carolina’s cave country, an investigation of the mysterious disappearance of a girl leads the audience on a sensory adventure in a search for answers — What is truth? And how can a story told so many times take on the ring of truth? Can anyone ever really know the secret language of angels? Aficionados may remember Iizuka’s “At the Vanishing Point” from the 2004 Humana Festival. This play contains adult language and may not be suitable for children. —Sherry Deatrick
Kentucky Center, MeX Theater
Times and prices vary

Friday, Dec. 1 & Dec. 8
Free poetry readings
    Before you have to put up with the sludgy, saccharine and over-familiar verse of holiday greeting cards, here’s an opportunity to savor what poetry really can do. The Women’s Center at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary is presenting a pair of readings to start off December. On Friday night, seminary alumnus Robert Randolph shares from his award-winning book “Floating Girl (Angel of War),” which focuses on children living in combat areas. On the following Friday (Dec. 8), Mary Cartledge Hayes will read from the recent “Semi-Sweetness and Light.” Admission for these events is complimentary, but donations are encouraged. —T.E. Lyons
Louisville Presbyterian Seminary
1044 Alta Vista Road
Free; 7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 1
First Friday Gallery Hop events
    First Fridays are always bustling, but it looks like the one in December is going to be a little busier than usual. Two events can help you with holiday shopping: the Butcher Block Gallery at 931 E. Main St. (544-2043, is having a “It’s All About the Jacksons” $20 art sale from 6-10 p.m. The Great Gift Shop Get-Together, featuring items from various historic homes and museum gift shops, is being held this year at the Frazier International History Museum at 829 W. Main St. (753-1037,
    Some of the galleries along the trolley route are having openings that night. The Gallery at the Kentucky Center at 501 W. Main St. (562-0159, is featuring paintings by Ewa Perz through Jan. 19; her opening is 5:30-7:30 p.m. Mixed media artist Phyllis Free will be at Wayside Expressions Gallery at 800 E. Market St. (584-3711); her work will continue to be on view Dec. 2-3 from 2-4 p.m. River Bend Winery at 120 S. 10th St. (540-5650) is presenting paintings by Clarence Allen through the end of December.
    “Off the Wall” at Pyro Gallery, 624 W. Main St. (, 587-0106), is a mix of sale and exhibition. The show will feature work by gallery members that will change daily as people buy, and leave with, the art. —Jo Anne Triplett
Main and Market streets
Free; 5-9 p.m. unless otherwise stated

Friday, Dec. 1
Jonah Smith
    Jonah Smith’s music is for damaged souls looking to recoup sanity and purpose in a mixed-up world. Or maybe, on a less profound level, he’s just playing simple rock ’n’ roll you might come across in the neighborhood bar. However you want to describe him, there’s little denying Smith’s lush harmonies and dependable poetry on his self-titled album. Writing about experiences and emotions that are natural and universal, Smith paints a musical portrait for everyone trying to get by. Treat this show as a welcome break from your routines, because, as Smith wails on “Killing Time,” This is not time for a heartbreak. —Mat Herron
Headliners Music Hall
1386 Lexington Road
$12 adv., $14 door; 9 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 2
Kit Armstrong
    Fourteen-year-old “whiz kid” pianist Kit Armstrong performs in concert with the Louisville Youth Orchestra Saturday night at the Brown Theatre as a part of the Gheens Great Expectations Concert Series. Armstrong has performed in Carnegie Hall, appeared as a guest on the “David Letterman Show,” and was featured at the 44th Grammy Awards in a tribute to Van Cliburn, a piano prodigy from an earlier era. On Saturday, Armstrong performs the Mozart Piano Concerto in C-Major among other works. Jason Seber conducts. —Bill Doolittle
Brown Theatre
315 W. Broadway
$16.75, $5 students; 7 p.m.


Saturday, Dec. 2
JCC Orchestra’s 90th Anniversary
    The Jewish Community Center Orchestra celebrates its 90th season with a “Broadway Pops” concert Saturday night at the Center Auditorium. The JCC Orchestra was founded in 1916, and was a predecessor of the Louisville Orchestra. Music Director Aaron Boaz will lead the symphony in a program highlighting famous Broadway hits of such composing legends as Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein and Irving Berlin. The program is part of an “On Broadway Gala” that features a dessert buffet and champagne. (And those desserts might be very good.) —Bill Doolittle
Jewish Community Center
3600 Dutchmans Lane
Gala: $35; 6:30 p.m.
Concert only: $14; 8 p.m.


Dec. 5-6
‘Haunted by God: The Life of Dorothy Day’
    In cooperation with Still Point Theatre Collective of Chicago, actress Lisa Wagner will perform this dramatic one-woman show — a portrait of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, from her days as a Greenwich Village bohemian, through her middle years as a social activist and journalist, to her later years as an elderly, wise leader. Day spent 47 years caring for the poor and leading the Catholic Church to a more active concern for the needy. Wagner breathes power and passion into Day’s character, while highlighting her lifelong struggle to reconcile her faith with the suffering and poverty of the people among whom she chose to live. The price of admission can’t be beat. —Sherry Deatrick
Dec. 5: Cathedral of the Assumption
433 S. Fifth St.
Free; 7 p.m.
Dec. 6: St. Michael Catholic Church
12707 Taylorsville Road
Free; 7 p.m.

Through Dec. 30
Artist Richard Francis
    Richard Francis is an artist-about-town with two series at three different locations. His “latex-skin” images are art history lessons; he describes them as a combination of the art of Pollock, Picasso, Matisse, Warhol and Klimt. These works are at Mad About Art (625 Baxter Ave., 568-4916) and Diamante Bar & Grill (2280 Bardstown Road, 456-1705; with a Dec. 3 reception from 1-5 p.m.).
    The paintings at the Buzz Worx (718 W. Main St., 583-4004) exhibit were inspired by a different source. Based on quilts, it features 12 paintings that were made from previous work that he cut into geometric shapes, then arranged into 24-inch squares. The opening is during the First Friday Gallery Hop. —Jo Anne Triplett
Free; hours of operation vary