Quirky, prolific singer comes to the Ryman

Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 12:00am


Umbrella Tree CD/DVD Release Party
Mercy Lounge
One Cannery Row
251-3020, mercylounge.com
9 p.m., $5

Nashville freak folkies Umbrella Tree take the stage at the Mercy Lounge this Thursday for a CD/DVD release party. The trio's new album, The Letter C, continues in the same vein as their previous work--loose and off-beat compositions held down by the distinct vocal dueling between guitarist Zachary Gresham and keyboardist Jillian Franklin. The latter's angelic voice feints and weaves around Gresham's spooky warbling, creating an odd balance of abrasive intonation and harmony. New tracks like album opener “His Majesty Grows Suspicious” and “Souls Are Warm Like Eskimos” are each a mixed bag of country, chamber pop and noise and would easily fit on the group's strong debut What Kind of Books Do You Read? or follow-up The Church and The Hospital. But the band's third release is also an ambitious jump from the norm. In addition to the audio component, the band has coupled the record with a collection of videos, which will be shown on Thursday night as well.
— Kyle Swenson

Buddy Jewell and friends
Nolensville Elementary School gymnasium
2338 Rocky Fork Road, Nolensville
7 p.m., $10

Country artist Buddy Jewell had been in Nashville for a decade writing songs and working as a top demo singer before he won the inaugural 2003 season of the television show <i>Nashville Star</i> (edging out Miranda Lambert).

Not only did the down home, family-focused, southern gentleman Jewell win the competition (and the hearts of middle America in the process), he also earned a record deal and the chance to perform his songs for millions of Americans via radio, TV and tours. His self-titled debut album on Columbia Records was certified gold, and garnered two back-to-back top five hits with “Sweet Southern Comfort” and “Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey’s Song.)” Jewell debuted at #1 on the Top Country Album charts, and was recognized by the ACM, CMA and CMT Awards with multiple nominations.

On Friday night, Jewell and some of his songwriter friends will gather for an intimate “in the round” session at Nolensville Elementary School in east Williamson County. Proceeds from the event will benefit the nearby Greystone neighborhood pool. The pool is an aging but beloved community asset for many people living in the bucolic town of Nolensville that Jewell calls home. (In fact, Jewell’s oldest son, Buddy III, formerly served as a lifeguard at the pool.)

Joining Jewell for the benefit are Ray Scott, Phillip White, Neal Coty and Amber Leigh White.

A tip: while in Nolensville, stop for dinner at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, whose owner Patrick Martin, recently profiled in The City Paper, served as pitmaster at New York City’s seventh annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in June.
— Drew Ruble

Science of NASCAR
Adventure Science Museum
800 Fort Negley Blvd.
862-5160, adventuresci.com
free with museum admission, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To me, NASCAR is at its best when parodied by Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights, but seeing as how the Adventure Science Center is hosting their biggest event of the year in honor of car racing, I concede maybe there really is more to the sport.

Saturday’s “Science of NASCAR” will explore the physics, aerodynamics, engineering and other extraordinary forces at work behind racing cars.

“What [spectators] may not realize is how much science plays a role in every thrilling [NASCAR] win,” said ASC’s president and CEO Susan Duvenhage.

Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, who interviewed race shops, crew chiefs, pit crews and mechanics for her book The Physics of NASCAR, will give a peak into the car garage in her 1 p.m. presentation while Zaxby’s No. 9 Ford Race Car crewmembers will give demonstrations every half hour on how race cars run and how they are different from ordinary cars.

Other perks include a NASCAR simulator; NASCAR Jeopardy; workshops on emerging technologies for cars and fuel sources; a “design your dream car” booth; an aerodynamics lab that examines the three D’s of NASCAR (drag, drafting and downforce); a 30-yard track where the participant wears a mini-parachute to experience the effects of “drag;” and more.
— Alexa Hinton

Summer Crush
Lane Motor Museum
702 Murfreesboro Road
742-7445, lanemotormuseum.org
11 a.m. to 4 p.m., $2-$7 (kids under 5 free),

For the first time in two years, the Lane Motor Museum's 1959 LARC-LX — an amphibious military landing vehicle that can carry up to 200 people — will put its 194,000 pounds to work to flatten a car.

The LARC, one of the largest vehicles ever built by the U.S. military, will highlight the Lane museum’s Summer Crush at 2 p.m. by flattening the shell of a DKW Sedan. Before and after, visitors can take rides in rarities like the 1925 Tatra Targa Florio or tour the museum’s usually off-limits basement.

Also part of the festivities will be demonstrations of the world’s smallest car, the 1965 Peel P-50 and the 1929 Wind Wagon, which runs on a four-stroke, V-twin Harley-Davidson and can reach 60 miles per hour in a whopping 43 seconds.

You can take part in the crushing fun by bringing items to be crushed as long as they don't contain glass or any flammable or toxic substances. But be prepared to take home your crushed items as souvenirs. Hey, at least they’ll be smaller than when you brought them.
— Geert De Lombaerde

Neko Case
Ryman Auditorium
116 Fifth Ave. N.
458-8700, ryman.com
8 p.m., $25, $27.50, $32.50

She's made such memorable music with the Canadian band the New Pornographers that Virginia native Neko Case has sometimes been misidentified as a Canadian. But there's no mistaking the striking blend of country, folk and rock influences that have honed and shaped her sound, both as a writer and vocalist whose presence has been central to the effectiveness of many groups. Her strongest country-flavored work is evident on the discs she made while part of the band Neko Case & Her Boy Friends. Here, she focused mainly on honky-tonk and hard country originals and covers, plus some occasional rockabilly numbers. But Case's covers also run to the compositions of Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Randy Newman, and her wit and humor also are major parts of her live show. Other groups that have featured Case's quirky voice include The Sadies and The Corn Sisters. Case has even lately done some voice acting, being featured in episodes of Aqua Teen Force on Cartoon Network. She'll be appearing Saturday at The Ryman Auditorium (8 p.m., 116 5th Ave. N., $25, $27.50, $32.50) along with Jason Lytle of Grandaddy.
— Ron Wynn

Steve Hofstetter’s Ad-lib Circus
12th and Porter
114 12th Ave. N.
254-7250, myspace.com/12thandporter
7 p.m., $10

If you ever thought you had a better punchline than the comic you were watching, then don't miss Steve Hofstetter's Adlib Circus this weekend. The author and comedian, coming fresh off appearances on CBS’ Late Late Show and VH1’s Countdown expertly weaves material around crowd interaction — making you part of a hilariously unique experience.

The New York City native’s brutal tour schedule consists of more than 100 colleges and dozens of clubs every year and is “fueled by an immense online popularity, tons of press and a Prius with great gas mileage,” according to his bio. A journalist who has worked for print, Web and satellite radio, Hofstetter has comic material that effortlessly shifts from college life to social commentary and from crystal meth to Jesus Christ.

Even though Hofstetter has been working feverishly since 2004, just releasing his third album (Steve Hofstetter’s Day Off) and his third book (National Lampoon's Balls! — don’t worry, it's a sports book), Sunday will mark his Nashville stand-up debut.

With frizzy red hair and blue eyes, Hofstetter knows he was born to be a New York Mets fan, which he is, and if that doesn’t motivate you to go see him, he wants it pointed out that he also looks a great deal like Michael Rappaport.
— Vincent Troia

Paolo Nutini, Erin McCarley and Matt Hires
Cannery Ballroom
One Cannery Row
252-3020, mercylounge.com
9 p.m., $20

The Cannery Ballroom will be the host of a pleasant pop music smorgasbord when Paolo Nutini, Eric McCarley and Matt Hires take over. Theirs is the kind of music that would soundtrack an episode of Grey's Anatomy, for whatever that might be worth.

Taken together, the trio offers a pretty good deal to concert-goers. Nutini, just 22-years old, has displayed considerable talent since he emerged three years ago. His new album is called Sunny Side Up, so you know he’s trying to illicit smiles, and on his best efforts he does just that.

McCarley’s MySpace page shows her most popular songs have been played in excess of a million times, so the Nashville-by-way-of-San Diego singer/songwriter has a well-earned following.

Hires, the opener, doesn’t own quite the name recognition, but that could easily change soon. He very well might be the best of the bunch.
— Nate Rau