COME ON DOWN AND STEP RIGHT UP: There’s this song I’ve loved for a long-time called “Sharon” by a bluesman/folk singer named David Bromberg. It’s about a trip to a carnival—“No big deal, Ferris wheel, same old stuff, you know”—except for this one little tent. Outside the barker described the goings-on inside in this manner: “She walks, she talks! She crawls on her belly like a reptile!” Inside the tent, there’s basically a belly-dancer strip show—Sharon walks out “in a scarf in a sneeze,” and dances “like her back had no bone.” That song was really the first piece of art that, for me, lent any sensuality to the circus/carnival circuit, but now I appreciate the sensuality and the sensuousness—the art, if you will—of such alternative entertainment, and am greatly looking forward to the burlesque and sideshow entertainment at The Coney Island Cockabilly Roadshow. And yes, there will be a real-life sideshow, courtesy of Jelly Boy the Clown and The Squidling Bros. Sideshow. Of course, elements of sideshow entertainment have always been present at The Nick (which is one reason why I love—LOVE—The Nick), which will be hosting this musical carnival. But the music in the Cockabilly Roadshow is the primary draw and the reason for the tour—to introduce to the world the punkabilly stylings of Jason & The Punknecks, Guitar Bomb, Viva le Vox, Hickry Hawkins and The Holy Roller Sideshow. We’ll excuse all but the Charlotte-based Hickry Hawkins for being from the North (well, this includes Viva Le Vox from Florida, which is not really Southern) and purporting to play country and hillbilly-rock infused with punk, as they all do it very well despite the places they call home. The whole show is worth the $7 price of admission. It starts at 10 p.m. For more information call (205) 252-3831 or visit www.thenickrocks.com.
NOT DREADING IT AT ALL: Continuing our theme of citing portmanteaus featuring the word “hillbilly,” our suggestion for Friday night entertainment features a band that calls its modern bluegrass “hipbilly.” The band, Dread Clampitt, is known for their Sunday night doubleheader live shows at a famous Grayton Beach establishment called The Red Bar. (I say it’s famous because I know people from Mountain Brook, and upon establishing residency there you are granted three things: first, you get a lifetime supply of pills that make your bowel movements smell like lavender, then you get a secret map that explains how to navigate the Tiny Kingdom, and third you receive a t-shirt from The Red Bar. I can’t explain how or why this happens, but I have confirmed it with a former Brookie who will remain anonymous, fearing that his or her pills will be confiscated and t-shirt and map burned by a horde of latte-clutching old-money pyromaniacs.) The four-piece has been rocking that bar with their gypsy-grass blue-funk for the better part of a decade now, and is touring in support of their third album, Learning to Live, which features the legendary Sam Bush on mandolin. If Bush’s endorsement of their work isn’t enough to draw you out to WorkPlay, then you’re a punk. The end. Tickets are $12.35, fees included. The show starts at 9 p.m. For more information call (205) 879-4773 or visit www.workplay.com.
A STORY OF SUCCESSFUL MARKETING: The story of how country music singer Eric Church made it is quite simply a classic tale. See, Church didn’t grow up rich. He grew up in a country-ass, middle-class, 92-percent white North Carolina suburb called Granite Falls, which has similar demographics to the Birmingham suburb of Homewood. Then he went to a public university, Appalachian State in Boone, which is one of the pot-smokingest colleges around. There he got a degree in marketing, which he quickly put to good use after sensing some trends in Nashville songwriting. For one, it was no longer necessary to be country to sing country music. Second, in order to avoid confusing metaphors or any such hoity-toityness usually associated with art, songwriters simply needed to string together a set of facts about nature or obvious observations about life and call it a song (for an example, see Luke Bryan’s groundbreaking hit, “Rain is a Good Thing,” which features a proof that begins with “Rain makes corn, and corn makes whiskey,” and concludes with “rain is a good thing”). Church moved to Nashville to capitalize on these trends. But he had no job and no money of his own to live on, so his dad paid his way for six months while he made contacts in the music business. These tough times eventually led to his hit blue-collar anthem, “How ‘Bout You,” in which Church sings “I punch the clock tryin’ to make it to the top, how ‘bout you? / I ain’t got no blue-blood trust fund I can dip in to.” He concludes this true-to-life song by asking, “Hell, I’ll make it on my own, how ‘bout you?” His marketing has worked—he’s now on a national tour and coming to Sloss Furnaces. Tickets are $31.25 including fees, and the show starts at 8 p.m. For more information visit ericchurch.com.
HOW FASHION IS FASHIONED: The kimono is, generally-speaking, a decorative robe traditionally worn in Japan by women as well as men. I’ve never worn a kimono, but I always imagined them to be extremely comfortable, if not particularly practical. In that sense, I guess I think about the kimono like I do the toga, but they’re very different. For one, 20th-century Parisian designers like Chanel, Poiret and Vionett were obsessed with togas. The Western world’s importation and revisioning of the kimono is the subject of a new exhibition at the Birmingham Museum of Art, called Fashioning Kimono: Art Deco and Modernism in Japan. The exhibition opens Sunday with a lecture by independent fashion curator Annie Van Assche. She’s been a curator for a number of exhibitions of Asian fashion, and is an expert on the subject. Her free lecture begins at 2 p.m., and will be followed by a reception. For more information call (205) 254-2571 or visit www.artsbma.org.
BINGO RILEY WON’T TOUCH: What’s better than bingo? Nothing really, but bingo for charity makes you feel good about gambling, so maybe that’s better! Well, unless Milton McGregor is handling the charity. But that’s only a problem with electronic “bingo,” but we’re not talking about that crap. This is the real deal—cards, drawn numbers, everything. If you enjoy a fine game of random number selection, come support Birmingham AIDS Outreach and play a game of bingo! This almost 500-year-old game can get you a whole lot of coin—prizes at BAO Bingo range from $50 to $250 a game. If you can’t make it this Monday, catch BAO Bingo the first Monday of every month. The entrance fee is $15, and game cards are $1 a piece. The game starts at 7 p.m. (doors at 6), and it’s held at 205 32nd St. South. If you’re under 19, stay at home. For more info call (205) 322-4197 or visit birminghamaidsoutreach.org.
ALL VENUES SHOULD HAVE SUMMER RESIDENCIES: This summer, one of Birmingham’s best songwriters has taken up a residency at The Bottletree, playing there frequently and hosting the kinds of talented musicians he admires. That songwriter is, of course, Jon Black, who has shared the stage with the likes of Ani DiFranco and Alejandro Escovedo. He’s just released a new EP, The Wrecking Ball (Up From The Ground Vol. 2), which all are encouraged to check out. He’ll be playing at Bottletree Tuesday and playing host to The Greenleaves. This up-and-coming songwriter and guitar player was born in Starkville, Mississippi, where he still plays frequently, but now lives here with us in the Magic City. And we’re lucky to have him, his delightful Americana music and his moving lyrics. You can check out Black, who will be joined by his band The Winter Hearts, and The Greenleaves for free at 9 p.m. For more information call (205) 533-6288 or visit www.thebottletree.com.
TALK ABOUT RICKWOOD, LEARN ABOUT BASEBALL: Birmingham’s own Rickwood Field is the oldest ball park in America, and it’s also one of the former homes of the Birmingham (Coal) Barons and the Birmingham Black Barons. Greats like Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Dizzy Dean, Satchel Paige and Willie Mays all swung bats at Rickwood. In all, more than 57 members of the baseball hall of fame have played at our very own stadium. When the park opened in 1910, businesses closed and the entire city came out to watch the opening pitch. Chances are your place of employment will remain in operation through this Birmingham Public Library Brown Bag Lunch event, but it’s at noon so you should be off for a bit anyway. You can learn from the wisdom of author, sportscaster and journalist Ben Cook, whose father inspired his long and abiding love of Rickwood. It’s free, so pack a lunch and head down to the library. For more information call (205) 226-3742 or visit www.bplonline.org.
[INSERT NAME HERE], COME ON DOWN: You are the next contestant on Game Show Night at Crestwood Tavern. Join host “Barb Barker” for a series of “low tech, social, creative, intuitive Game-Show-Style Games” for your right brain. And probably your left brain too. There are all kinds of games, from “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire,” in which you guess which stories are fake and which story is real, to “Who? What?,” in which contestants match answers to those that gave them. There’s also “Human Scrabble,” “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz,” and several more games that you’ll just have to see to believe. Game Show Night starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 9:30, when Game Shows for Drunk People begins. It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s worth it. So get on out to Crestwood Tavern and win yourself something. For more information call (205) 510-0053.