Readers, it was a long and drunken Nerd Nite and also the most packed event yet in the Star Bar, likely due to the collaboration with Read Across Lawrence for this special "Down Home" edition (inspired by Winter's Bone). Here's what we remember.
New "co-boss" Becky offered a funny take on the Nerd Nite "origin story," complete with a bizarre clip from a Japanese documentary about Nerd Nite, which you can view here .
Boldly flouting the Nerd Nite time limits, Susan and Sean defined the "grit-lit" genre (violent, usually Southern, showcasing society's marginal characters) and led us through some seminal works ranging from Faulkner's Sanctuary (of course) up through contemporary masters like Woodrell and Tom Franklin and Donald Ray Pollock. Glad to see the late great Harry Crews popping up! (notable omission: the late-great Larry Brown).
Best Sean line (on Flannery O'Connor): "I like her because I think she's mean."
Best Susan line (screamed): "FILL YOUR HANDS, YOU SON OF A BITCH." (Charles Portis/True Grit quote).
Head to the LPL tonight for an even-longer (though almost certainly less vulgar) "grit-lit" discussion with Susan and Sean.
Sadly, Bryan didn't actually cook a batch of blue meth on stage (motherfucking Walter White-style!), but his fact-filled presentation nonetheless gave us a good sense of the different methods of "synthesis" (Shake-and-Bake remains our favorite). He also forced us to visualize someone shooting meth into their urethra. Thanks, Bryan!
Banjo and Fiddle Presentation:
James Brown's lecture/demonstration was a perfect end to a "Down Home" evening if you can dig a little "Piney Woods" and "Shady Grove." We sure can. The banjo gets a bad rap sometimes, but Bryan made a strong case for its importance from the days of minstrelsy to its use as a parlor instrument to the "cosmic genius" of Bela Fleck. Brown also explained that the difference between a fiddle and a violin is the attitude with which you play it (though we've always heard a different punch-line growing up down South: The difference is that one of them is carried in a "gunny sack.").
Important announcement of the evening: Nerd Nite is slated to (finally!) move into the much larger space of the ballroom at Pachamama's in October. Sure, we've been told this before, but this time it seems true! Sadly, the October meeting (an LFK-centric edition in cooperation with KU's Natural History Museum) is scheduled on the same night as the Sarah Vowell lecture at KU (Oct. 10). Talk about competing interests for history nerds! That big space may not be necessary in October after all.
Kick your weekend off tonight at the Bottleneck as The Melvins breeze through on their record-setting 51 shows in 50 states in 50 days tour. Is this more or less awesome than the Lips' recent effort to play the most shows within a few days time? Let's go with more awesome.
Also, keep in mind that this show is so important it's forcing all of LFK's little "Goombas" to reschedule their Goomba Rave for Friday night at the 'Neck. Get the details here.
The Sluts seem to play every weekend in LFK, but an appearance by The Devil is too rare in our opinion. She pops up as the opener for The Sluts on Friday at Replay. Here's the pic we like to post any time the opportunity arises:
And the ever-popular Audio-Reader sale is at the Fairgrounds all weekend featuring "Over 7,000 vinyl records, 300+ pieces of vintage and modern audio equipment, musical instruments (including bagpipes)."
We will push and shove you out of the way to get those bagpipes!
More info at the official site here.