In puppet interventions

What do the Buddha of Enlightenment and that steel-driving man John Henry have in common with a librarian in Basra, Iraq? Find out this weekend when social activists (and 2005 Indies Art Award Winners) Paperhand Puppet Intervention open their eighth summer season. Their new music/puppet/dance performance piece As The Crow Flies: Tales from Four Directions plays every weekend through Sept. 3 at Chapel Hill’s Forest Theater, on the campus of UNC. Bring lawn chairs, blankets, food–and $10 for admission. Pre-show performances start at 6:30 p.m.; the crow flies at 7. For more information, visit —Byron Woods

In walking wonders

Chapel Hill/Carrboro’s 2nd Friday Art Walk offers Face to Face: Paperhand Puppet Intervention Retrospective representing eight years of community-built masks and puppets. The show will be on display at the ArtsCenter throughout the month of August. From the endearing burlap lion puppet to the great horned beast stretching his leafy arms across the ceiling’s rafters, prepare to be delighted by these creations of humble papier-mâché, cloth and cardboard. In the East End Gallery adjacent to the ArtsCenter, longtime Chapel Hill artist and art educator Hollie Taylor unveils new ceramic work based on vernacular architectural structures such as tobacco barns. Uptown, the Ackland Art Museum hosts Up Close & Personal, an intriguing selection of works in the collection that highlights portraits of artists–don’t miss Richard Avedon’s oversized psychedelic rendering of the Fab Four, on anonymous loan. While you’re there, Czech out the fascinating Books in Costume: The Batcheller Collection of Designer Bindings and Book Objects by the Sobota Family. Loaned by a Pittsboro family, these works prove you can indeed judge certain books by their covers. For a full list of locations on the 2nd Friday Art Walk, visit —Michele Natale

In mouthy dames

The mouth on Margaret Cho would make a sailor blush. This actress/comedienne puts on an outrageous stage show that sings the praises of sex, body confidence and diversity while lampooning racial stereotypes, politics and herself. A gay, lesbian and transgender rights advocate–and self-described “fag hag”–Cho is a natural to kick off the North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival this Thursday, Aug. 10 at the Carolina Theatre in Durham. Cho’s past standup acts have translated successfully to the big screen–including Notorious C.H.O., which screened at the 2002 NCGLFF. Lately, Cho’s been performing a burlesque show called the Sensuous Woman in her hometown of Los Angeles–she’s added bellydancing to her list of talents. Here in Durham, she’ll perform alongside one of her burlesque buddies, LISP, “The World’s Greatest Gay Rapper.” The show starts at 7:30 p.m. in Fletcher Hall. Tickets are $29 or $32 and are available by calling the Carolina Theatre box office at 560-3030. –Fiona Morgan

In Chris’dom

Draw straight lines from points labeled “swampy rock,” “alt-country troubadour” and “commercial country.” At their intersection, you’ll find Kentucky-born-and-raised Chris Knight, quite possibly sitting for the little sketch that accompanies the word “unassuming” in the dictionary. Midwesterner Chris Mills started out as an Uncle Tupelo acolyte, but with each album his love for Spectorian pop and Van Morrison-style soul-rock surfaces more and more. Both Chrises play at The Pour House this weekend. Knight is doing a 7 p.m. solo show on Saturday, Aug. 12 (tickets are $10-$12), while Mills will be on The Pour House stage the next night, also at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8-$10, and Hotel Lights open. And if you want to start your Chris-capade weekend at The Pour House a night earlier, you can catch the Chris Smith-fronted Patty Hurst Shifter on Thursday, Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. (tickets are $6). –Rick Cornell

In awards we give

To no avail, we’ve been scouring the Indy archives trying to find the issue in which we gave Oak City Nights an “Indy Award for Best Late-Night TV-Style Talk Show Not on TV That Happens at Kings.” No one here seems to remember writing it, but Nights founder Brad Bryant swears we did it, and we trust Bryant. After all, he’s the Kings No. 1 stunna, and Oak City Nights is indeed the best late-night TV-style talk show not on TV that happens at Kings. We’re overjoyed that we recognized as much from the start. Nights rolls on strong this month, featuring gay pro-am wrestler T-Dawg HG and rappers Duo. Holla at these boys Monday, Aug. 14 at 10 p.m. at 424 S. McDowell St. in Raleigh. –Grayson Currin

In one-time/man engagements

In May, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche explained the current Wilco dynamic of solid songcraft spun through a web of sonic debris this way: “What are the points of having drums on a song? It might be to help illustrate one of Jeff’s lyrics, because for me that’s the primary ingredient in Wilco. Jeff’s lyrics are what the songs are all about, and that’s what the records deal with.” It’s true: No matter how many microphones producer Jim O’ Rourke puts in a piano to add texture or how much feedback roars through a verse, Wilco songs are just that: Jeff Tweedy‘s understated meditations on life, love, politics and people, painted by one of the most cohesive, edge-approaching acts on the mainstream fringes. At the North Carolina Museum of Art on Wednesday, Aug. 16, Tweedy’s words–and likely those of a handful of his favorite writers, from Newman to Guthrie–come front and center in a rare solo show. Tickets range from $9 to $23. The show starts at 8 p.m. with opener Jennifer O’Connor. –Grayson Currin