EAT WELL, SLEEP WELL, THEATER WELL: I Got Sick Then I Got Better was first on stage at Martha’s Vineyard with director James Lapine.
Since the first show four years ago, I Got Sick Then I Got Better has been seen in theaters, hospitals, universities and cancer conferences across America. The onewoman show features Jenny Allen, a writer from Manhattan’s Upper West Side, who, when diagnosed with stage-two ovarian cancer, had a realization. She told Ben Brantley of The New York Times, “Everyone feels compelled to say something, and nobody knows what to say.” I Got Sick Then I Got Better is what Allen has to say about making sense of the senseless illness. After her diagnosis, Allen began to write— about her cancer and the ways in which people responded to her or didn’t respond to her, her mood swings, grief and anger. Her essays appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York, Vogue, Esquire, More, Huffington Post and Good Housekeeping. From these essays, I Got Sick Then I Got Better was born, a compilation of her written works adapted for the stage. Jenny Allen takes the stage at The Alys Stephens Center. 7 p.m. $85. Check it out: alysstephens.uab.edu .
BEANS AND CORNBREAD: No, the Carolina Chocolate Drops won’t be in the city to sing-song their starchy ode, “Cornbread and butterbeans and you across the table.” No, no, Eric “Butterbean” Esch, the butterball boxer who dons American flag britches, won’t be wrecking lives against the ropes or one-twoing any fools. No, no, no, your grandmother isn’t having you over for dinner after Sunday’s service to grub on a vat of goodness. Guessed yet? It’s better. It’s Pinson’s 6th Annual Alabama Butterbean Festival. The free festival celebrates the Southerner in us all by honoring our tables’ staples, beans and cornbread. The festival is the largest butterbean festival in the nation, featuring an antique car show, a 5k race and food venders a’plenty. Live music featured on country gospel stages and contemporary stages allow for light dancing, the best way to digest. Dogs are welcome in the Tail Waggin’ Pageant. If you’re on the hunt for something a bit dirtier, check out the greased pig contest; a bit prettier, the Mr. and Miss. Butter Bean competition. Gather your meanest cooks and enter them in the beans-and-cornbread cooking contest. Not convinced yet? The festival boasts the world’s largest pot of butterbeans. Do you have the world’s largest bean hankering? Pack the Beano and head to downtown Pinson. Through Sept. 3. Free. Check it out: albutterbeanfestival.com.
FAT JOKES: Nobody likes it when a skinny bloke tells a fat joke, but everyone loves a good, big boned laugh. Opening a fiveminute set with a story about a 25 piece chicken mix-up, heavy-set comedian Lavell Crawford tells a good fat joke, but isn’t a one-trick pony. Crawford’s jokes may be, on occasion, self-deprecating, but never embarrassingly so. He slides gracefully from me to us, implicating us all in what’s silly about the world. During his boyhood days in St. Louis, Crawford began entertaining with encouragement from his mother, who lauded his big imagination. As an up and comer in the age of the open mic, Lavell honed his set and hit it big. The Comedy Club in Hoover hosts Crawford for fives sets. Through Sept. 4. $28. Check it out: www.stardome.com.
WINING AND CHEESING: Picture it: a checkered blanket against the warm earth, you pressed against someone warm, your fingertips keeping the music’s rhythm on the spine of the one you love. By your hips, a picnic basket—a fresh loaf and some brie, a pear. A couple of red Dixie cups reflecting the gold light of Sunday’s sun setting in the distance. Cicadas and the hum of traffic quieted by the smoothest of smooth jazz. Jazz started here in the artistically fertile dirt of our part of the Southern U.S. End your summer with The Neo Jazz Collective as it plays the last Jazz in Park of the season at Railroad Park. Food vendors are available if your picnic basket runs empty. No alcohol venders, so bring your drink. 3 p.m.–6p.m. Free. Check it out: www.magiccitysmoothjazz.com.
FOOD BABY: It’s 6 p.m. on Labor Day. You’re American. You’ve been eating for approximately six hours in true holiday fashion. You’ve got the bloat, the food baby bloat. And although there’s a Tupperware bin on the kitchen counter with blue and white sprinkled cookies beckoning you, there’s another call, off in the distance, like the strong, low whistle of a locomotive, demanding: Get crunk! Get crunk! No, friends, this isn’t Look Who’s Talking: the Coors. Down in Railroad Park, your fellow Americans are stretching, are making preparations to do it, to get crunk. Crunk Fitness is a fun, high-energy hip-hop dance workout for crunkers of all levels. Haven’t danced since DDR was removed from the mall’s arcade? Don’t sweat it. Former captain of your high school’s step team? Step to the front of the class. You’re all welcome here. Jammie Morginn, master trainer, created Crunk Fitness Hip- Hop Dance Workout in the basement of her church. Now the owner of JAM Dance Beans, beans, good for the heart. Also good for the heart: cornbread, doggie pageants and greased pig contests. Photo by Sleepyneko.
Fitness, Morginn sells sensationally crunk DVDs for living room crunking. The Crunk Fitness Workout on Mondays is one of six free fitness classes offered weekly at Railroad Park. Others include zumba and yoga. Put on your sweat pants post-Labor Day grub fest and get downtown for Crunk Fitness. 6 p.m. Free. Check it out: www.railroadpark.org.
O IS THE SHAPE YOUR MOUTH MAKES: Make an “o” with your lips and blow a kiss, whistle, sing. Say, “How now brown cow.” Whoa, Joey. Like a good yeast roll? O’Charley’s used to be the place to go. Oh, oh, oh, it’s magic. You know? The “O.” I like an “O” before everything— (o’everything, jokes)—even death. The band O’Death takes its name from a traditional American folk song from Western North Carolina. O’Death, from New York, calls itself an American Gothic Country band. Simple song titles like “Bugs,” “Home” and “Lowtide” give a listener a sense of nofrills, no thrills, but each track contains its own exciting bite—whether it be a Charlie Daniels-style break down or a sweet Simon & Garfunkely melody. Drawing influences from Bill Monroe, Prince, Neil Young, The Microphones and The Misfits, the band creates its Americana sound, a mixed pot of traditional folk, bluegrass, punk, gypsy music, metal, swing and jazz. (If that ain’t a list.) Give their set list a listen at the Bottletree Café along with Why Are We Building Such a Big Ship and local band The Banditos. Doors open at 8 p.m. Show at 9 p.m. $10. Check it out: www.thebottletree.com.
FARM-RAISED: Art is a farmyard, made of things living and inert. Mud is a hog’s paint. Canvas is a slop bin. Creativity, chicken feed. Starving artists are chickens, pecking, picking: to paint, to eat, to paint, to eat. Artist Andrea Marty draws from all things old, folk-inspired, %u2028tattered or dusty. Like the soil of a garden, she takes it all in. Family and organic farm-life inspirit her new show, “Barnyard Bandits.” Comprised of transposed photos, recycled wood and acrylics, the show is on display at Naked Art Gallery. Marty often begins with a photograph of an animal or portrait of a human face and layers transferred pho tos with other materials to create her bandits.
Give a bandit a good home or a good showing. Don’t let one of Marty’s bandits end up at the artwork slaughterhouse. Through Oct. 1. Check it out: (205) 595-3553, www.nakeartusa.com.
SECOND HELPINGS: Too much of a good thing isn’t bad—especially when that good thing fills up your spirit gut and gives you a feel-good, warm satisfaction, a satisfaction so life confirming, so damn joyous and intoxicating, you become the you you’d always expected you’d be, and you find yourself writing in your journal “I feel good,” and you know your future self will turn to this page someday for inspiration, and then, sadly, when the last dregs of the satisfaction slip effervescently from your shining pores, you’re forced to face the hunger, the emptiness, the end. More. You need more... Well, if the flicks at Sidewalk filled you up in such a way, or if you’re not into being hyperbolic, and you simply dug the whole film festival thing, then you (and your need-to-feel-good gut) are in luck. WorkPlay is hosting The Wild & Scenic Film Festival. The festival, which is the largest environmental film festival in the United States, is organized and hosted nationally by the South Yuba River Citizens League in Nevada City, Calif., and locally by the Alabama Rivers Alliance and the Alabama Environmental Council. (Whew. If that ain’t a mouthful.) Here’s how it works: the national sponsor and its funders partner with a local sponsor in order to take the festival on a country-wide tour, reaching as many audiences as possible. Like a circus, except important. (No letters, please, humancannonball man.) The festival, housed at WorkPlay for four years going, guarantees satisfaction, and more importantly will send you from the screen to streets with a newfound inspiration to make a difference in your community. Film previews available at www.alabamarivers.org. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. $25 VIP admission (includes complimentary food and beverage and a year membership in the Alabama Rivers Alliance and Alabama Environmental Council); $20 student VIP (discounted VIP membership for students with ID); $10 general admission. Check it out: (205) 322-6395.