Full previews:
Visual Art|Theater|Dance|Film|Books|Music

Visual Art
Jan. 20
Branch Gallery opens in Durham

Durham’s third Friday Culture Crawl just got one venue cooler now that Branch Gallery has moved from Carrboro to 401 Foster St. You’ll be able to see their new artist-run space and works by Katy Clove and Joshua Abelow during the Jan. 20 opening. Branch shows local and national contemporary emerging artists and is part of the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), a collective that encourages collaboration and nontraditional approaches to exhibiting and dealing art. See www.branchgallery.com for updates. –MB

Feb. 10
Nakanari and Bloo Empire
Wootini, Carrboro

Tony Shiau (aka Nakanari) works with artists worldwide to create his vinyl visions. He’s collaborating with Charlotte-based artist “Bloo Empire” for the upcoming show at Wootini. –MB

March 12-May 6
Deborah Johnson
Rebus Works, Raleigh

The multi-media artist who has toured with Wilco, Calexico and Iron & Wine designing and performing interactive video backdrops has created works based on the rich layered visuals she used on tour. So in addition to Radio City Music Hall, The Fillmore in San Francisco and Madison Square Garden, she can add Rebus Works to her travel diary.

See www.candystations.com for a taste of her visual candy, and meet her at the gallery talk happening on May 6.

This spring, you’ll also get a taste of sardonic surrealism when Winston-Salem painter Tiffany O’Brien’s series of small, quaint paintings arrive. Check www.rebusworks.net for details. –MB

May 19-June 23
David McConnell
Bickett Gallery, Raleigh

The multimedia venue that is Bickett Gallery would naturally host a kindred spirit who is also unattached to genre limitations. David McConnell is a record producer, instrumentalist and composer who has worked on albums with the likes of Folk Implosion, Wilco and Elliott Smith. His prolific work in music and his experiments in film and live performance represent a cross-section of his creative process. He now lives in Asheville, and he’s bringing his oil paintings, film and music down the hill for a five-week installation this spring. See www.bicketgallery.com for information (coming soon) on his evening of live performance. –MB

Jan. 13
The Leopard
N.C. Museum of Art

Like so many Italian filmmakers of his generation, Luchino Visconti moved easily between the gritty neo-realist dramas of the streets to the lush, continental sophistication of Europe’s tenacious upper classes. With The Leopard (Il Gattopardo), Visconti made an elegiac farewell to an aristocratic way of being. Burt Lancaster is the titular figure, a benign minor noble who sees the inevitable collapse of his class in the masses of volunteers fighting under Garibaldi in the 1860s. The film is taken from a 20th century novel by Giuseppe di Lampedusa who based the tale on his own erstwhile genteel family. Visconti’s reasonably faithful adaptation is never less than ravishing, not least when Claudia Cardinale–playing the beautiful daughter of an ascendant commoner–makes her big entrance. The museum follows this film with another Italian masterpiece, L’Avventura, the following week. –DF

Feb. 2
1970s pulp at NC State

Moral ambiguity was never so well played in American cinema as it was in the Nixon era, and the film faculty of NCSU have booked a month-long series of 1970s pulp classics organized around justice and vengeance. Boasting 35mm prints, the series begins Feb. 2 with William Friedkin’s justly celebrated The French Connection, which stars Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider as world-weary, disillusioned cops trying to crack a heroin ring. If you haven’t seen this film, with its celebrated car chase, now’s the time. The series continues with the cross-country chase film Vanishing Point, the Pam Grier high-water mark of Coffy and, finally, Hackman again in Arthur Penn’s Night Moves. Screenings are free. –DF

March 1
Helen’s Babies
N.C. Museum of Art

A curatorial highlight of the N.C. Museum of Art’s Winter Film Series, this recently restored 1924 silent film stars Clara Bow, Edward Everett Horton and Baby Peggy Montgomery in a film about a confirmed bachelor’s efforts to care for his two unruly nieces. In those days, Baby Peggy Montgomery was one of Hollywood’s hottest child stars, receiving a million and a half fan letters a year. Montgomery is known today as Diana Serra Cary, and the museum’s film curator–and Indy contributor–Laura Boyes has engaged her for an in-person appearance. This screening is free. –DF

Caché (Hidden)
select theaters

The severe Austrian formalist Michael Ha has been a provocative and controversial figure in art film circles for over a decade. One of his earliest films to receive wide notice was Funny Games in 1996, a story of a bourgeois family that finds terror and violence waiting for them at their vacation home. In ensuing years, with films like Code Unknown, The Piano Teacher and Time of the Wolf, Haneke continued to explore the secret terrors and violent undercurrents of cosseted high society. His latest film is Caché, and once again, a prosperous modern couple (played by Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil) find themselves vulnerable to sinister but unidentifiable adversaries. Early reviews have been ecstatic, and this film may turn out to be Haneke’s highest profile film yet. –DF

Jan. 25
Son Volt & Tift Merritt
Disco Rodeo

It’s difficult to write about Jay Farrar’s Son Volt without mentioning Uncle Tupelo, his early-’90s partnership with Jeff Tweedy that recorded four of alt.country’s most crucial documents in four years. It’s tougher still to neglect Tweedy’s commercial–peaking at #8 on Billboard’s Top 200–and critical success–two Grammys–with the rock envelope-pushing Wilco while pontificating over Farrar’s tough inroads in staying the course with semi-confessional and occasionally topical country cascading through punk blasts. Son Volt returns with Farrar as the only original member on the heels of an excellent, highly political revival, Okemah and the Melody of Riot. Local boy Brad Rice (Finger, Ryan Adams) will be on guitar, and Tift Merritt splits the bill. –GC

Feb. 2
Wu Man
Nasher Museum of Art Auditorium
Duke University

Perhaps the most best known pipa player to the Western World, Boston-based Wu Man has commanded a noteworthy influence after relocating stateside from China in 1990: Her presence has prompted a surging interest in the four-string, three-and-a-half octave instrument also known as the Chinese lute, and Terry Riley, Philip Glass and Lou Harrison. She is touring with a multi-media event this year, playing percussion-and-pipa pieces to accompany projected images of Chinese calligraphy. This concert also features Zhou Long’s Quartet for String Quartet and Pipa the Ciompi Quartet. $5-20/7 & 9 p.m. –GC

Feb. 16-18
Branford Marsalis & The NC Symphony
Carolina Theatre & Meymandi Concert Hall
April 29
Wynton Marsalis & The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
Memorial Hall, UNC-Chapel Hill

Two of the six Marsalis brothers–all descended from jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis–will take two marquee Triangle stages this season: Branford joins the NC Symphony Durham’s Carolina Theatre and at Raleigh’s Meymandi Concert Hall for a program that includes Ravel’s Bolero and Escapades for Saxophone and Orchestra by film score heavyweight John Williams. Wynton arrives with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Ghanian drummer Yacub Addy and his Odadaa! Ensemble to perform works based on Congo Square, a New Orleans convocation grounds where musical slaves laid the groundwork for the birth of jazz. –GC

Feb. 24
Cat’s Cradle

It’s been said that hip-hop is the new kid’s music, meant to titillate and tantalize with tits, toys and tokes: If you’ve been listening at all, you know that’s less than half of the true story but most of the lie as seen on MTV and heard on Clear Channel. Take Dalek, for instance, a New Jersey hip-hop trio led by Will “MC Dalek” Brooks, who rhymes “I drop the fist and guns and use this tongue to cop back” over a noise-driven beat that moves closer to My Bloody Valentine’s grate than Public Enemy’s pounce. Dalek’s 2005 album, Absence (their second for Mike Patton’s Ipecac label), is as immediate and compelling as anything released last year, a riot rouser inscribed on a plastic platter. Shock and awe. Meat Beat Manifesto headlines. –GC

Feb. 25
Vusi Mahlasela
Stewart Theatre, NCSU

Notably, 40-year-old Mamelodi, South Africa resident Vusi Mahlasela performed at Nelson Mandela’s presidential inauguration in 1994. In part, the invitation was an ode to the triumphant spirit of the man and his music; it was also an acknowledgement of the role Mahlasela’s music played in the ant-Apartheid movement, as captured on 2002 documentary Amandla!. Mahlasela–a folk writer singing to the world–possesses masterful vocal control, a smooth, high-pitched saliency that leads through the verses with a gentlemanly fervency and joins choruses with a call to join in what he describes as “the people’s music, the people’s culture.” $21-26/8 p.m. –GC

March 17
Emmylou Harris
Meymandi Concert Hall

The one key to Gram Parsons’ lock. The one making Dylan sound so good on Desire. The one whose Hot Band opened the world’s curtain to Rodney Crowell and Ricky Skaggs. The one-third of the Willie Nelson and Daniel Lanois collaboration that gave Teatro needed ballast. The one erstwhile Carolina Kid responsible for making Ryan Adams’s “My Sweet Carolina” the state’s nostalgic anthem. As collaborator Dave Matthews told an audience of 20,000 largely uninformed teenyboppers at the AmSouth Amphitheatre outside of Nashville after a melting down of the “Long Black Veil,” “It’s Emmylou Harris, y’all.” –GC

March 18
Mavis Staples
The Artscenter

Mavis Staples proves the rule that no rules decide who will be a memorable vocalist: Ostensibly, most would argue her force and range leave plenty to be desired, but it’s the pure persuasive passion and the unbridled temptation lurking in her multi-hued voice that has made her legendary since the ’60s. For evidence, The Staple Singers’ take on
Mr. Tambourine Man.” She gets Dylan-sized results through a reverse lens. –GC

Jan. 27
McIntyre’s Fine Books

Asheville native and National Book Award nominee Gail Godwin will host a reading and discussion of her two latest books: Queen of the Underworld and The Making of a Writer. The former tells the story of a North Carolinian woman who becomes a reporter at the Miami Star, and the latter is a collection of Godwin’s thoughts culled from personal journals that shed light on her struggles to launch a literary career. –MS

Feb. 1
Quail Ridge Books & Music

With The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster, local icon Kaye Gibbons presents the sequel to her beloved first novel, Ellen Foster, the semi-autobiographical tale of a girl who loses her mother to suicide and her father to alcoholism at the age of ten. –MS

Feb. 22
Quail Ridge Books & Music

Kristin Henderson’s While They’re At War: The True Story of American Families on the Homefront, tells the story of military spouses whose husbands have gone to war in Iraq. A military spouse herself, Henderson gained unusual access to two women at Fort Bragg. –MS

March 6
UNC-Chapel Hill

Frank Rich, the New York Times columnist whose weekly essays unravel the messy intersections of popular culture and American politics, will discuss his work in a talk called Art, Culture and Politics. –MS

April 5
Regulator Bookshop

Apex Hides the Hurt, Colson Whitehead’s new novel about a town council that hires a “nomenclature consultant” to choose their town’s new name, mocks our culture where the meaning of language has been taken over by marketers and pollsters. –MS

Jan. 16
Burning Coal staged reading of Stoned
Swain Hall, UNC

Word has it this is the turnaround year for Burning Coal’s staged reading series. Looks like they’ve got the right people for the job: Joseph Megel directs program coordinator Kelly Doyle’s play in a one-night stand at UNC’s Swain Hall. –BW

Jan. 18-Feb. 12
Playmakers Rep

This 2004 Tony nominee chilled New York audiences both off and on Broadway. As a prison psychiatrist and a guard looks on, a mother confronts the man who brutally murdered her daughter. Bundle up. –BW

Feb. 2-19
The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen
Manbites Dog Theater

The Chicago Neo-Futurists–of two-minute theater fame–are responsible for what’s billed as a comic flip-through of Ibsen’s oeuvre. Joseph Megel directs.

Feb. 9-12
Loyal Women
Duke Theater Studies
Sheafer Theater

According to the London Guardian, Gary Mitchell’s harrowing chronicle of the Protestant community in North Belfast “shows how women are not simply victims of a brutal male ethos but actively replicate it.” Vanessa Rodriguez directs. –BW

Feb. 17-21
Edward II: A Chronicle Play
Lab! Theatre
Old Playmakers Theater, UNC

Bertold Brecht’s rarely performed work lowers Marlowe’s elevated chronicle to the realm of the common man. A Berlin reviewer called Brecht “the fairground barker with his invisible pointer” in this controversial work. –BW

March 16-April 2
The Fall to Earth
Manbites Dog Theater

Jeff Storer directs a very strong cast–Cheryl Chamblee, Dana Marks and Marcia Edmundson–in Joel Drake Johnson’s comedy/drama about parent-child relationships. –BW

March 23
Anytown–Stories of America
Shapiro and Smith
Reynolds Theater, Duke

This quirky but razor-sharp duo were witty, inventive and simply marvelous the last time they were here. The company has grown, and on this outing, they’ve adapted the music of Bruce Springsteen into a lyrical, amusing–and haunting–dance theater suite. –BW

April 19-23
New Works Festival
Duke Theater Studies

Tomorrow’s playwrights today? We’ve seen good–and occasionally brilliant–work from Duke’s student playwrights in recent years. Martin Zimmerman, Tiffany Webber and Judd Schlossberg bring out their best. –BW

May 18-21
One by One by Once Upon a Time
Killian Manning
Manbites Dog Theater

In the 1990s, Manning staged a series of evening-length dance/theater works at Duke, UNC and other venues. One Ph.D later, she’s back, and this is her first full-length work, a reunion with one-time colleague Derrick Ivey, in which they “croon, carouse, waltz and whine their way” through a group of famous and quotidian relationships. Can’t wait. –BW

contributors: Grayson Currin, David Fellerath, Byron Woods, Mosi Secret and Maria Brubeck