Staffpicks for 1-30-8

Jan. 31 & Feb. 2
Mountaintop removal comes to Louisville

    I could offer at this point a long list of reasons you should care about mountaintop removal mining, that most destructive and divisive form of coal gathering that’s ravaging Appalachia as I type into my backlit, plugged-in screen. Alas, there’s not the space here. So instead, check out one or both of these exquisitely important events, both of which will hammer home the point about MTR.
First, Thursday night’s screening of the documentary “Mountain Top Removal” will be accompanied by a chat with its director, Michael O’Connell, which ought to be fruitful. Second, Saturday’s “I Love the Mountains” benefit concert will feature Kentucky’s conscience, writer and thinker Wendell Berry, as well as the Reel World String Band and a host of other musicians to ring and sing about the ills of this kind of mining — which, of course, enables this kind of life. —Stephen George
•“Mountain Top Removal” screening
Thursday, Jan. 31
Clifton Center
2117 Payne St.
$10; 6 p.m.

•“I Love the Mountains”
Saturday, Feb. 2
First Unitarian Church
809 S. Fourth St.
$15 (suggested donation); 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 1
Six Organs of Admittance

    The band playing the Dame might be named Six Organs of Admittance, but they could just as well be called One Point of Continuity. This well-regarded act is whatever singer-guitarist Ben Chasny wants it to be, and he’s taken some fascinating musical turns over the last decade. With latest release Shelter from the Ash, Chasny’s crafted a masterful (if bleak) mood piece. Most of the arc of the set is built on carefully assembled hypnotic drones or repetitions, which are then shook up by the disciplined acoustic guitar leads and judiciously understated vocals. Chasny is no one’s choice for a great set of pipes, but he knows what he wants to express — and if he can’t reach you directly with his lyrics, he’ll turn to Elisa Ambrogio … or maybe just turn the song into an instrumental. Mick Turner is also on the bill. —T.E. Lyons
The Dame
156 W. Main St., Lexington
(859) 226-9005
$8; 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 1
Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble

    The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble says it is all about “Today. Here. Now,” and promises a radical departure from the “same old, same old” concert routine when it appears Friday at the Ogle Center at Indiana University Southeast. Even though members of the group saw on fiddles and honk on traditional horns, the music, they say, is new, “written for the audiences of our time.” Much of the performance is visual, with lighting and choreography designed to enhance the sounds. The concert is part of a visit in which PNME is recording its third release with IUS’ New Dynamics indie record label. —Bill Doolittle
Ogle Center, IUS
(812) 941-2526
$10; 7:30 p.m.

Steve Riley & Mamou Playboys

“In southern Louisiana, accordion is king,” says Steve Riley, a dyed in the wool Cajun ambassador whose Mamou Playboys visit the Bomhard Friday. From age 16, when he first learned the Cajun standard “Sauge Crapaud (Jump Little Frog),” Riley’s trail of diverse, genre-bending style of Louisiana’s most famous export is filled out by Sam Broussard and David Greely, who come from dissimilar music backgrounds.
    “They come from playing other types of music a lot of their lives, and now they’ve come back home and into their culture,” said Riley, who started the band with Greely 20 years ago.
    “For me and for everybody in the band, we’re closer to the place we’ve been trying to get to for 20 years,” he says, because Mamou pays homage to rootsy, traditional Cajun music, without failing to add its own spice.
    “It’s taken 20 years of making records and making music together live to get to the point where we are now,” he says. “We’re Cajuns man. We work slow.” —Mat Herron
Bomhard Theater, Kentucky Center
501 W. Main St.
$25; 8 p.m.

Feb. 1-2
Louisville Ballet Choreographers’ Showcase

    Every year, Louisville Ballet dancers/choreographers present new dance creations in a public showcase, with no boundaries and no holds barred. And every year, it’s a winner. The ballet’s Choreographers’ Showcase encompasses all types of dance, from classical to modern, set to all kinds of music, from Bach to hip-hop. The showcase, now more than a decade old, is Louisville Ballet’s way of fostering choreographic talent from within its own ranks, while giving its dancers a creative outlet and an opportunity to hone their craft as well as push their limits. The entertainment is inspired and the setting is casual. But be forewarned: The two performances sell out quickly. You know what to do. —Kevin Gibson
Louisville Ballet
315 E. Main St.
$18; 8 p.m.

Feb. 1-March 2
‘HOMELESS: telling our own stories’

    The Louisville Metro has more than 12,000 homeless people. A good way to build empathy is to view this exhibition designed to give a sense of what it’s like to be homeless. Largely organized by the Jefferson Street Baptist Center, a location where those without a home can do laundry, take showers and receive mail, it purposely opens during what is traditionally the coldest month of the year.
    Last year, a group of homeless people were given disposable cameras to document their daily lives. The resulting photographs, as well as film interviews, chalk drawings and an installation piece, are included in the show. Louisville’s most famous homeless artist is Mark Anthony Mulligan, who comes with his own rags-to-riches-back-to-rags story. His mental illness has kept him on the streets and in shelters for more than 20 years. He was once represented by Chuck Swanson of Swanson Reed Contemporary, who did his best to take care of him. Back in 2001, one of Mulligan’s regular stops was the Kinko’s in Douglass Loop. He would draw scenes of Louisville for hours, then leave his drawings and walk away. Cameron Deeb, a Kinko’s employee at the time, admired the artwork. He saved the drawings for Mulligan, who didn’t want them. As a result, Deeb now has one of the largest collections of drawings by Mulligan. They are valued in the art world, for his art is now in the permanent collections of the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Folk Art Museum in Morehead, Ky.
    The exhibition will travel to Murray State University in April, with hopes of getting it shown at other college campuses and galleries around the country. —Jo Anne Triplett
930 Art Center
930 Mary St.

Saturday, Feb. 2
Derby City Rollergirls

    As the Derby City Rollergirls skate into their second season, all signs point to this being an even better, kick-ass year for the group of more than 40 women who beat, bash and break their competition on the skate track. The big news this season is the team has relocated its home turf from Treo Roller Rink to the Fairgrounds — each match will now take place in the West Wing of the Kentucky Fair & Expo Center. “We’re looking to become a bigger force in the city,” says DCRG Jessica Carpenter, who goes by “Kimmy Krippler” on the track. “We were looking for more flexibility with our schedule, more seats … and now alcohol can be served.” Bonus.
    The DCRG’s first match, titled “Love Hurts,” is against Evansville’s Rollergirls of Southern Indiana on Saturday. Expect blood, sweat and tears — from the competition, of course. While Carpenter has seen her share of roller-rink injuries, she doesn’t let that stop her from jumping into the game. “It’s all part of the charm,” she says. An after-party at the Monkey Wrench (1025 Barret Ave., 582-2433) should be interesting, nonetheless. Band-Aids and bourbon will certainly be a-plenty. —Sara Havens
West Wing, Kentucky Expo Center
937 Phillips Lane
$10 (adv.), $15 (door); 7 p.m. (doors 5:30)

Through Feb. 16

    I collect, therefore I am. Artists take that statement to heart, using what they collect to send them on their creative journeys. Bruce Linn, assistant director of galleries at U of L’s Hite Art Institute and a painter, came up with the idea for an exhibition illustrating how collecting contributes to creativity. To illustrate the point, the work of eight artists is shown with the collections that inspired them.
    The artists are Don Baum, Chris Ware and the late Roger Brown, all from Chicago; Rennie Sparks of Albuquerque; Prague’s Niels Köhler; and Louisville’s Raymond Graf, Kathleen Lolley and Caroline Waite. Graf is well known as a pack rat and for using his finds as inspiration. An amateur biologist, he collects beetles and butterflies as source material for his realistic sculpture.
    The Cressman Center will be open till 9 p.m. during the Feb. 1 First Friday Gallery Trolley Hop. —Jo Anne Triplett
Cressman Center for the Visual Arts Gallery
100 E. Main St.