SITAR SOLO! The Birmingham Museum of Art isn’t exactly known for its live music performances, but the visit from the Calcutta Quartet this week is no surprise to me. The Museum may be interested in visual arts first and foremost, but much of the time that interest dovetails with a deep appreciation for international cultures. Most of the events organized by the BMoA deal in some way with exploring other traditions and cultures, whether they be European, Asian, African or what have you. And because the Museum’s exhibits are divided by region, each one is updated regularly with new information and insight into how other nations have run themselves up until now. Though the Calcutta Quartet has almost nothing to do with visual arts, they are still symbols of their country, and that is what the BMoA wants to bring us. The Quartet is very well known in India for their fusion of Northern and Southern Indian musical traditions. The group is composed of: Subhen Chatterjee, on the tabla; Pandit S. Sekhar, widely known as “India’s leading Mridangam player”; and Dev and Jyoti Shankar, two of the country’s top violinists as observed by names like Ravi Shankar and Satyajit Ray. The concert is presented by the Indian Cultural Society as part of the Indian Classical Music Series. It starts at 7 p.m., and is free. For more information, call (205) 254-2565 or visit www.artsbma.org.
MASSIVE MOMMA’S DAY: Sunday is the oh-sosacred Mother’s Day, but why not spend all weekend celebrating? Forest Park and South Avondale are no stranger to block partystyle events, so I can think of no better place to take your mother than “Love Your Mama Fest” this Friday and Saturday. The event is essentially a giant open house, spread across more than a few blocks. Each area merchant will submit a portion of their profits to the North Central Alabama Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the fight against breast cancer. The sheer amount of activities is a list too long to adequately summarize. Participating businesses include Zoe’s (mother & daughter fashion show on Friday, and live entertainment on Saturday), Silvertron Café (specials on shrimp and crab, cobbler and ice cream cake), Little Savannah (crawfish boil in the heart of Forest Park on Saturday), The Pink House (free “Love You Mommy Classes,” karaoke for kids, moonwalk and drum circle), V. Richard’s (wine and cheese tasting), Spring Street Fire House (benefit concert with Grandaddy Ghostlegs, And, Mooninites and Rain Man), Parkside Café (mimosas for $5), Bottletree (live music from Coliseum) and Naked Art Gallery, whose new exhibition, “The All-Star Book Fair,” I’ve written more about down below. This is to say nothing of the main live music schedule, which will see perfor- mances by the “Random” Accordion Trio, Robert Huffman, the Erynias Tribe and Zion Fyah. The festivities go from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free. For more information, call (205) 595-3553.
HAPPY HOMEWOOD: Like “Love Your Mama Fest,” there’s just too much going on at this year’s “We Love Homewood Day” for me to really give you a sense of what it will be like. Taking place in Homewood Central Park, the activity list is staggering. For one, there will be live music played throughout the day. While you listen to that, you’ve got virtually endless places to visit—a sidewalk chalk expo, a bake sale, a barbeque tasting, an arts & crafts expo, 5k and 10k runs, inflatables and other games for kids, a silent auction, a dance party, etc. etc. The day starts at 10 a.m. and goes until 9 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (205) 332-6705 or visit www.homewoodparks.com.
HOPPITY HAPPENING: My absolute favorite stories are the ones that take place entirely in reality, except for one thing. That is, some surreal element that throws normal logic out the window. Mary Chase’s 1944 play, Harvey, isn’t exactly what I’d call surreal, but it might ride the line better than anything I’ve seen. While the story is about a man who swears on the existence of his best friend, an invisible six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey, the story never resorts to actually showing the creature he refers to. So while all the dialogue and scenery remain pleasant throughout, there’s always a sense of unease underlying everything, that feeling that “something’s not right.” May 6 marks the beginning of ACTA’s (Trussville’s community theater) second week of performances of Harvey. Each starts at 2:30 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information about prices, call (205) 655-3902 or visit www.actatheater.com.
SECRETLY BLUE: There’s always something to be said for consistency. Wellington’s Bistro, located downtown on Second Avenue North, refers to itself as “one of Birmingham’s best kept secrets.” Given their downtown location, you might not expect for this to be the case, but I’ll say this—until I heard the name of the venue, I not once noticed it as I was driving by. But regardless of how popular it may be, they certainly put up a good enough schedule to keep the regulars coming back. And the result is a venue that’s outlasted plenty of others. Every Monday, Wellington’s Bistro puts on a “Soul, R&B, Blues Open Mic.” These genres are what you’ll typically find at Wellington’s, and for those who make a habit of visiting, watching the Open Mics each week gives them a sense of how far the scene has come in our city. The night starts at 10 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/wellingtonsbistro.
CAPITOL IDEA: Bottletree will hold a special screening this Tuesday of the 2005 documentary Fighting for Life in the Death-Belt. The film follows the efforts of Stephen Bright, easily the leading attorney on anti-death penalty cases. Bright has worked for over 20 years, most of the time without compensation, for death row clients awaiting execution, 90 percent of which are in Southern states. In the film, Ani Difranco narrates Bright’s struggle to save two of his clients in the 11th hour. The screening has been commissioned by the Alabama Women’s Resource Network. It starts at 7 p.m. General admission is $10, but students can get in for $7. For more information, call (205) 533-6288 or visit www.thebottletree.com.
GET BOOKED: The art of making a book is one of the more underrated artistic practices. Maybe the sole reason I believe the printed word will never go out of style is because of the way the books actually look and feel. It’s like anything else, really: You’re going to appreciate a record over a collection of Mp3s, an authentic piece of art over a digital print. It’s also not too often that people who create art from these books are recognized—but I’m not surprised to see that Naked Art Gallery is one to do so. Their exhibit opening in conjunction with Forest Park and South Avondale’s “Love Your Mama Fest” is called “The All Star Book Fair.” It is comprised of pieces made from or inspired by books. Hollie Chastain is the primary artist on display, but there will be more “functional art” by Colleen Casey, Kristie David, Katy DeMent, Peyton Glanton and Elise McClellan. The exhibit will run through June 4. For more information, call (205) 595-3553 or visit www.nakedartusa.com.
BECAUSE THEY NEVER FORGET: Given their history in this country and elsewhere, there will always be something creepy about circuses. Sure, there’s nothing all that odd about a Barnum & Bailey’s show these days, but that’s such a grand evolution of what circuses used to be. Terrific New Theatre’s production this week, Elephant’s Graveyard, takes a look back at a time when there were still struggling, traveling circuses. The play looks at a small town in Tennessee, and how they react to one circus’ presence. Set in 1916, it chronicles the only known lynching of an elephant. Totally creepy. Performances start at 8 p.m., and the play goes through June 4. All tickets are $20. For more information, call (205) 328-0868 or visit www.terrificnewtheatre.com.