THURSDAY, AUGUST 27
Mark W. Winchester Trio
Norm’s River Road House
7695 River Road Pike
The band pedigree of acclaimed doghouse “slap” bassist Mark W. Winchester runs the gamut from stints with rockabilly cult favorites the Planet Rockers to Emmylou Harris’ Nash Ramblers. For many years, Winchester was the bassist for the Brian Setzer Orchestra, where he played on the Grammy winning “Jump, Jive an’ Wail.”
But Winchester is also an excellent singer and songwriter in his own right. He penned multiple songs with Setzer, as well as a Top 20 country hit for Randy Travis titled “Would I.”
Two recent album releases showcase that songwriting ability, as well as Winchester’s skills as a singer. “All These Young Punks” is his first solo effort. “Songs From Haywood County,” a collection of country, bluegrass and folk songs written and performed by Winchester, Buddy Melton and Milan Miller (Miller is in the trio that will play Thursday night), provides a historical anthology of significant events that took place in that North Carolina county, which recently celebrated its 200th anniversary.
Thursday’s gig will be more jump blues/rockabilly in flavor, with Planet Rockers’ Bill Swartz on drums. However, expect a few songs off the Haywood County album, (somebody request “For the Pigeon River”).
Voted Nashville’s top new songwriters’ club by Nashville Scene voters in 2008, Norm’s River Road House is nestled down on the banks of the Cumberland River in West Nashville. Seating is limited so come early.
— Drew Ruble
THURSDAY, AUGUST 27-SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5
71st annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration
National Celebration Grounds in Shelbyville
931-684-5915 ext. 109, www.twhnc.com 
7 p.m., $7-$20
Tennessee’s state horse will display its exaggerated high step starting this weekend for the breed’s signature National Celebration on the historic celebration grounds in downtown Shelbyville.
Famous for their flashy movement, thousands of the industry’s best of the best will show off their characteristic head bob and trademark “big lick” during 10 nights of glitz and glamour.
Over the last 71 years, the majestic Tennessee Walking Horse has become synonymous with the city of Shelbyville. Million dollar horse farms spread across the Bedford County landscape.
The world-championship equine event dates to 1939, and includes a trade fair, cookout, dog show, equine clinics, stable decorating contests, parties and parades.
Want to know the difference between the flat walk and the running walk and what in the world it means to show the “rocking chair” canter? Then high step it to the Walking Horse Capital of the World and find out what fans from more than 40 states — and even a few foreign countries — already know.
— Sherry Phillips
FRIDAY, AUGUST 28, and SATURDAY, AUGUST 29
Music City BBQ Festival
Friday 5-11 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
$10/One-day general admission
$15/Two-day general admission
$50/Smokin’ Hot One-Day Pass
$80/Smokin’ Hot Two-Day Pass
Hog lovers rejoice. This Friday and Saturday, downtown Nashville’s Riverfront Park will be the site of the first Music City BBQ Festival benefiting both the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and the Shriners Hospitals for Children. More than 70 cook teams will compete on what Gov. Phil Bredesen has declared “Music City BBQ Fest Day,” with the winner to be crowned by executive decree as the Tennessee State Barbeque Champion. Yes, it will be quite the honor.
In addition to sampling some of the South’s best barbeque (actually some of the world’s best), you’ll be treated to a stellar lineup of musical talent featuring headliners The Dirt Drifters and DADDY (with Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack, who will also serve as guest BBQ judges).
If you’re possessed of a cast-iron stomach and lots of stamina, a Smokin’ Hot Pass includes unlimited food, beer and soft drinks, entrance into a covered pavillion and a premier music site.
— William Williams
SATURDAY, AUGUST 29
Nashville Storm vs. Indy Tornados
Stratford High School
Buster Boguskie Stadium
1800 Stratford Ave.
7 p.m., $8
The Nashville Storm host the Indianapolis Tornados this Saturday in a high-profile North American Football League matchup at Stratford High School.
The Storm are 8-0 following consecutive victories over a team from Arkansas. They have scored more than 30 points in all but one game, and all of the team’s victories have been by a margin of at least 10 points.
Indianapolis, the reigning NAFL champion, is 7-0 and features a stout defense that has yielded a mere seven points per contest. The Tornadoes did not allow a point until their third game and have given up more than seven just twice.
The teams did not meet in 2008, when Nashville won its first 12 contests (10 in the regular season and two in the postseason) before it lost in the third round of the NAFL playoffs.
The Nashville Storm is an amateur team designed to create professional and collegiate opportunities for its players. The NAFL is a conglomeration of 124 franchises.
DJ Lil Les, the Nashville Storm Dancers and the Stratford High School marching band will provide in-game entertainment.
Children 14 and under are admitted free. On-site parking is available.
— David Boclair
SATURDAY, AUGUST 29
Ugly Tomato Festival and Contest
Nashville Farmers Market
900 Rosa Parks Blvd.
11 a.m., Free
Though perhaps not as wacky or beloved as East Nashville’s Tomato Arts Fest, the Ugly Tomato Festival and Contest nonetheless commands as much attention as a ketchup-stained white T-shirt.
Billed by coordinator Nashville Farmers Market as the city’s “biggest tomato tasting,” the festival will feature a serious variety of locally grown heirloom tomatoes for contestants to submit for tasting. Then a panel of mater testers will revel in the red-fruit glory in the Friends of the Nashville Farmers Market Tomato Tasting Booth (which would make for a great name for a punk band). Festival organizers ask that participants bring their “ugliest” tomatoes to enter to win a Farmers Market gift pack, including a NFM T-shirt and bag, gift certificate and a basket full of the North Capitol facility’s freshest offerings. Customers and vendors will have their own categories.
Contestants are asked to complete an entry form and drop off their tomatoes by 1 p.m. at the tasting booth in front of Farm Shed No. 1. The panel of judges will begin promptly at 1 p.m. Of note, participants must enter eatable tomatoes. On this theme, rotten fruit will be frowned upon and could, rumor has it, elicit a tomato shower aimed at the guilty.
— William Williams
SUNDAY, AUGUST 30
Predators Day at Nashville Zoo
The zoo’s Festival Field
3777 Nolensville Road
1-5 p.m., free with zoo admission
It may be a bit alien for Nashville’s hockey team to go predator vs. predator, but that is what’s on tap Sunday at the zoo. Caged animals may be no match for some of the fiercest Predators, some of whom — including Alexander Sulzer and Wade Belak — will be on hand (from 2-3 p.m.) to meet visitors and sign autographs at the Jungle Terrace Pavilion.
Fans should get their fang fingers out and head over to the zoo’s Festival Field, which will be slammed with games, giveaways, inflatables and other goodies, including a saber-tooth tiger slide and a giant obstacle course, in anticipation of the upcoming hockey season.
Predators mascot Gnash and Zoo mascot Twiga also will be in the area meeting guests, but for fang-fingers sake try not to confuse the zoo’s Bengal tiger, cougar or clouded leopard with Gnash.
Nashville Zoo is an accredited and nonprofit organization open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, so drop by this fall and winter when the Predators have an off day, because the zoo’s predators play every day.
— Vincent Troia
SUNDAY, AUGUST 30
The Wallflowers with Butterfly Boucher
The Cannery Ballroom
One Cannery Row
8 p.m., $22
Despite that whole son-of-the-greatest-songwriter-of-all-time burden, Jakob Dylan and his band the Wallflowers have faired better than expected.
When the group splashed into the scene with their lukewarm debut in 1992, many critics expected Dylan to follow the brief plodding footsteps of other rock star progeny such as Sean Lennon – immediate attention and subsequent silence. However, after the bland debut the Wallflowers put out a hit follow-up record anchored by two songs – “One Headlight” and “6th Avenue Heartache” – that are currently still spun daily on adult contemporary radio.
Nor has the band slowed down since. The Wallflowers continue to tour and make music as strong as their popularized early work, despite the radio blockage on any of the group’s post-1996 output. Producer Brendan O’Brien, who has worked with Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen, oversaw the Wallflowers’ latest record, 2005’s Rebel, Sweetheart, and added an invigorating layer of muscle to the group’s sound.
The band remains true to the sound of its perceived height, producing roots rock that doesn’t redefine the wheel but works well within the traditional rock and folk patterns.
— Kyle Swenson
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2
410 4th Ave. S.
294-8003 or 782-6858
8 p.m., $5
Former longtime Nashville resident and singer/songwriter Keeley Valentino returns to Music City for the regional release of her latest CD, <I>Three Cities</I>. The Green Wagon, Nashville’s first eco-friendly general store, will sponsor her show at The Rutledge.
Valentino reunites with Matt Mangano (John Mayer, Darrell Scott) on her newest release. Mangano, in turn, enlisted the help of mix engineer Brandon Bell, a Grammy nominated assistant engineer with Gary Paczosa. He has worked with the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Alison Krauss, Yo-Yo Ma, Tim O’Brien, The Duhks and Mindy Smith.
The album is a musical topography of lessons lived and learned in places where Valentino served her artistic residencies — San Francisco, Nashville and Los Angeles.
There are also guest appearances by Matt Wertz and Gabe Dixon. In addition, the CD features a collaboration (“Hosea”) with Radney Foster, one of Nashville’s prominent songwriter/artists.
— Drew Ruble