Play it Back
Playback Memphis, a theater troupe that improvises stories told on the spot by audience members, has two performances this weekend. Funny and sometimes poignant, the stories paint a colorful portrait of our diverse community.
8 tonight and Saturday at TheatreSouth, 1000 S. Cooper (in the basement of First Congo Church). Admission: $15 adults, $12 students and seniors. Call 901-264-0841.
Larry the Chainsaw Guy
Memphis magician/comedian Larry Clark will impale his own "human blockhead," play with running chain saws, crack jokes and otherwise display the talents honed during a career in stage, TV and circus (including stints with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus) when he presents "Larry! the show" at TheatreWorks.
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 2085 Monroe. Tickets: $10.
Accept the Challenge
Billed as "the largest gathering of blues acts in the history of the world," the International Blues Challenge concludes its annual five-day run this weekend, with semifinals and finals events. On Friday, semifinals in the band and solo/duo competitions take place at various Beale Street clubs. This also includes the Youth Showcase, which begins at 4:20 p.m. At 11 a.m. Saturday, the action moves to the Orpheum for finals competitions.
It'll be hard for former Memphian Cory Branan to top last year. The singer-songwriter released probably the best received record of his career, the Bloodshot Records release Mutt, which popped up on several year-end best-of lists; he opened for Todd Snider at the New Daisy on New Year's, and he got married to boot. Branan gets what is, nevertheless, sure to be a promising 2013 rolling with an acoustic show at Otherlands Coffee Bar in Midtown, featuring his former bandmate Mark Edgar Stuart opening.
641 S. Cooper. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. All ages. Cover: $10. For more information, call 901-278-4994, or visit otherlandscoffeebar.com.
Nu is New
Broad Avenue welcomes a new art venue in the form of Nu Gallery. The gallery's first venture is a one-night only exhibition, "CO. Lab: A Collaborative Experiment," which features five pairs of well-known local artists, each of whom adapts, adopts, alters and arranges their efforts on the same surface or page together.
5:30-8 p.m. 2577 Broad. Visit nugallery.net.
AMUM Juried Student Show
There will be a reception for the 30th annual "Juried Student Exhibition" at the Art Museum of the University of Memphis. Independent juror was internationally known ceramic artist Haejung Lee. Awards will be announced at 6 p.m. The show will be displayed through March 16.
5 to 7:30 p.m. 3750 Norriswood, Communications and Fine Arts Building, University of Memphis. Call 901-678-2224.
Three of the city's commercial galleries are hosting opening receptions: L Ross Gallery, "From Dreamtime to This Time," new paintings by Annabelle Meacham, through Feb. 26; Harrington Brown Gallery, new work by Judy Hintz Cox, through Feb. 26; Gallery 56, "Winter Invitational" features pieces by 12 local artists, through Feb. 23.
6-8 p.m., except Gallery 56, which runs 5-8. L. Ross, 5040 Sanderlin, Suite 104; call 901-767-2200. Harrington Brown, 5179 Wheelis, Suite 102; call 901-590-3008. Gallery 56, 2256 Central; call 901-276-1251.
This year's Memphis In May's honored country is Sweden. Getting a jump on things is Swedish hard-rock band Graveyard, which performs at the Hi-Tone Café. The band, whose '70s throwback metal sound has been praised by Rolling Stone magazine among others, recently released their third album, Lights Out. California headbangers The Shrine open.
Doors at 9 p.m. 1913 Poplar. Cover: $12. Advance tickets available online at hitonememphis.com. For more information, call 901-278-8663.
Putting their own twist on the upbeat, folky vibes of Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, and Memphis' own Star & Micey, local four-piece The Reverent Hitchhikersdebut their new EP, To Our Demise, at Newby's. Michaela Caitlin and Among the Cranes open.
Doors: 8 p.m. Show: 9 p.m. 539 S. Highland. Cover: $7. For more information, call 901-452-8408, or visit newbysmemphis.com.
Song Cycle Through Time
Opera baritone Evan Thomas Jones and pianist Richard Masters explore two centuries in the evolution of the art form known as the "song cycle" in concert at the University of Memphis. They will perform four different cycles: "Liederkreis" by Robert Schumann, "La fraicheur et le feu" by Francis Poulenc, "Three Poems by E.A. Robinson" by John Duke and "I Was There" by Lee Hoiby.
7:30 p.m. at Harris Concert Hall, 3775 Central. Free admission. Call 901-678-2541.
The Circus is Coming
Memphis power-pop trio Big City Circus, made up of members of such groups as Signal the Chief, Wrong Color, The Vynals and the Memphis Syndicate, mark the release of their new record, Change Anything, with a show at the Poplar Lounge. Lately David also performs.
9 p.m. 2586 Poplar. Admission: $5. For more information, call 901-324-6550, or visit thepoplarlounge.com.
'WARRIORS' Against Gun Violence
At age 12, Mary Hollis Inboden survived the Westside Middle School massacre in Jonesboro, Ark.. The actress, now living in Chicago, channeled her anger and grief into the play "The Warriors for Newtown."She and other classmates will read from the script at Circuit Playhouse to benefit the Sandy Hook Elementary Victims Relief Fund and the Memphis Gun Down Program.
7 p.m. at Circuit Playhouse, 51 S. Cooper. Donation of $10 at the door.
Dr. Hooks' 'Duty'
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Birmingham campaign, the March on Washington and other key events of the civil rights struggle, the hourlong 2012 documentary "Duty of the Hour" screens at the University of Memphis. The film explores the life and legacy of the late Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks, the Memphis minister who was longtime executive director of the NAACP. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton will introduce the film.
5:30 p.m., Michael D. Rose Theatre, 255 University Center, University of Memphis. Admission: Free. Visit memphis.edu/benhooks.
Gospel According to Stax
The yearlong celebration of the Stax Museum's 10th anniversary begins with "The Sacred Side of Stax," a concert at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts featuring a performance by the Rance Allen Group, the acclaimed gospel trio that was the first act signed to Stax Record's Gospel Truth label in the early 1970s.
7: 30 p.m. 255 N. Main St. Tickets: $10 and $20, available through Ticketmaster. For more information, call 901-576-1201, or visit thecannoncenter.com.
Residencies, extended engagements by an artist at a single venue, have become all the rage lately. Recent weeks have seen the start of limited-run gigs by Chris Milam (Mondays at Newby's), Kait Lawson (Thursdays at the Poplar Lounge) and Nashville roots-rock band Wild Feathers (Mondays at the Hi-Tone). Smoky-voiced troubadour Grace Askew jumps in on the act, beginning a monthlong Tuesday night stint at the P&H Café that promises to be loaded with guest artists.
10 p.m. 1532 Madison. Free. For more information, call 901-726-0906, or visit pandhcafe.com.
In the Lounge
The Poplar Lounge is one of several venues to have stepped up its booking lately in order to fill the imminent void left by the soon-to-close Hi-Tone. The bar features Blue Note Records signees Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, a Detroit group whose sound combines alternative rock with a theatrical pop sensibility that calls to mind a combination of Jack White and Florence & the Machine. Heavy Eyes and Modern Slang also perform.
8 p.m. 2586 Poplar. Cover: $5. For more information, call 901-324-6550, or visit thepoplarlounge.com.