Unjustly marginalized by label inattention, Epic's interest in Penn's career always felt half-hearted, and he never broke through commercially. Nonetheless, he's built a sturdy following who appreciate his biting, Elvis Costello-worthy wordplay and well-crafted songs. Finally free of Epic, his latest, Mr. Hollywood, Jr. 1947, envelops his heartbreaking odes to failing relationships in the trappings of the period. The show's at 8 p.m. and tickets are $13-$15. --Chris Parker
Dark New Day
It's soon-to-be-has-been Southern nü-metalists meets the Yankee redneck headbangers. Dark New Day possibly chose their name thinking what their next career move might be. DND is more noteworthy for its membership's past lives (Sevendust, Stereomud, Creed) than its dated power ballads and angst-ridden late-'90s rockers. Brand New Sin are Syracuse hard rockers who draw from enough good influences (Corrosion of Conformity, Pantera) to balance their tendency to sound like Nickelback. $12 at 8 p.m. --Chris Parker
Quail Ridge Books
A two-time blackbelt (jujitsu and judo) who speaks five languages (English, Spanish, German, Japanese and Tagalog), Raleigh's Karin Muller immerses herself in foreign cultures without alienating her Western perspective, writing entertaining, fascinating and conflicted anthropologies about the internal harmonies and contradictions found in all societies. Her latest, Japanland: A Year in Search of Wa, is the companion to a four-hour documentary for American Public Television, which details her yearlong stay in Japan trying to learn the culture and customs of Japanese tradition and the rough-and-tumble iconoclasm of its New Human Beings. The reading begins at 7 p.m.
Here's a fine cross-platform lineup to help out a local campaign that works as a nice parallel to progressive politics--independent artists doing their own thing. Feel the autonomy with Jett Rink's debauch groove, the low lonesome of Work Clothes, and a double-up of hip-hop flavors--Kerboki's beer-and-a-bone raps and L in Japanese's head game electronics (recently returned from the Paris scene). This is a benefit for Alex Zaffron, candidate for mayor of Carrboro. Show starts at 9 p.m. --Chris Toenes
A New Hampshire native and second-generation Greek immigrant, ANT claims he's "so gay, I can put a lisp in the word cracker." The host of VH1's Celebrity Fit Club and the only comic to appear on the first three seasons of Last Comic Standing, ANT's 2004 recorded debut sold out in its first week. His comedy is tawdry and irreverent, throwing his sexual preference into every possible awkward situation--to his mother, a native of Lesbos and into a ménage á trois with two women, just wanting to do someone's nails. You'll come out laughing. Tickets range from $5 to $10; the show starts at 9 p.m.
Local faves Analogue played with rock dynamics to great success last decade. In a VH1 version of this, would a sunglass-donning Cantwell emerge from a limo, walk straight to the drum kit, no words? Probably not. Get with this old-style vibe, coalesced by Tim Ross on the decks with prime indie rock. Maple Stave and Noncanon open at 10 p.m. --Chris Toenes
Gadabout Film Festival
"Infinite films in a little room," a British playwright might have remarked about tonight's Gadabout Traveling Film Festival. This itinerant cinerama features two dozen shorts from around the world and is a collective celebration of the possible. It begins at 7 p.m. in Room 116. Admission is free. --David Fellerath
OK, you try to summarize Leon Russell in 60 or 70 words. Student of James Burton, session man extraordinaire, tour hero with Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen, hit songwriter (starting with Cocker's version of "Delta Lady")--and that only covers the Oklahoman's first 28 years. At 63, he's still touring hard and leading a band that features daughters Tina Rose and Sugaree Noel. Russell has cowboy hats older than openers SpencerAcuff. Tickets are $16 in advance, $20 at the door, and the music starts at 9 p.m. --Rick Cornell
Walk for Farm Animals
Weaver Street Market
In 2004, over 1,500 people in 40 cities participated in the Walk for Farm Animals, raising over $100,000 to support Farm Sanctuary, a factory-farm animal protection outfit. Farm Sanctuary runs shelters in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Orland, Calif., for animals rescued from infamous family farms, and serves to educate the public about cruelty-free farming options. The registration fee is $10, and each walker receives a shirt with the logo designed by Bizarro illustrator Don Piraro. Registration begins at 1 p.m. on the lawn.
This three-part series on Rwanda opens Oct. 15 in the Hanks Lobby Gallery of Reynolds Theater with a photography exhibit entitled Rwanda Pilgrimage of Hope and Pain, which documents a voyage by Duke students and faculty to Rwanda and Uganda in 2005. Shake Hands with the Devil, Peter Raymont's look at Canadian Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire and his personal devastation that followed his inability to stop the Rwandan genocide, will be screened Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. in Reynolds, followed by a six-member panel (led by Raymont) discussing the film and its historical context. Jean-Paul Samputu, a rising Rwandan star, performs in Page Auditorium Oct. 18. For details, visit www.duke.edu/web/rightsatduke/calendar.html.
The Pour House
The second annual Gerryfest moves from Asheville to Raleigh, yet another town lucky enough to have been blessed with the late Gerry Livers' passion for music and well-stocked fiddle case. On the bill are North Carolinians Lou Ford, David Childers & the Modern Don Juans, Patty Hurst Shifter, Brown Mountain Lights and Lynn Blakey as well as Cincinnati's Len's Lounge and Nashville's Ed Pettersen--all of whom miss the mayor of Guitartown dearly. They're not alone. A potluck gathering starts at 5 p.m. and the music follows at 6. Tickets are $6. --Rick Cornell
Richard Buckner, The Strugglers
Richard Buckner and The Strugglers' Randy Bickford offer complementary musical approaches and parched voices. Buckner's gruffer vocals are joined to a vagabond stylistic ken. Buckner began in thrall of the Lubbock country school, playing grizzled Texas country-folk, but has proved difficult to limn into a pigeonhole. His decade-long, nine-album collection runs from acoustic songwriter fare to the spare, piano- and organ-driven The Hill (based on the Spoon River Anthology), to the indie of Impasse. Bickford's voice has a timbre like Buckner's, though it's reedier and more prone to crack and break. Similarly, Bickford's compositions feel more fragile, and he has a predilection for delicacy and beauty that gives lift to his songs. --Chris Parker
Shake Hands with the Devil
However nostalgic people may be feeling these days for the presidency of Bill Clinton, it's worth remembering that a less pugnacious foreign policy than our present one also carried risks. We stood by as Bosnian Serbs committed the worst atrocities Europe had seen since WWII, and in 1994 we sat on our hands as 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis were butchered in a mere 100 days. Shake Hands with the Devil is a portrait of Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, who tried and failed to stop the slaughter. Dallaire has been the subject of other films, including The Last Just Man and, in the fictionalized form of Nick Nolte, Hotel Rwanda. In this film, Dallaire returns to Rwanda on the genocide's 10th anniversary. Duke's screening begins at 7 p.m., and is free. --David Fellerath
Talley Student Center
"We live inside an enormous novel," J.G. Ballard has said. "The fiction is already there. The writer's task is to invent the reality." Wise counsel, that, and one held dear by Ray Greenfield, veteran assistant director and screenwriter in Hollywood. Tonight at 7:30 p.m., the film program at N.C. State presents an evening with Greenfield entitled "From Here to Hollywood." Greenfield is a veteran of productions by John Sayles, Curtis Hanson, Tim Burton and Alan Parker, and he'll be sharing his experiences and wisdom gleaned from three decades in the business. Admission is free. --David Fellerath
The Pour House
That roar you hear is the still-echoing jubilation of Slobberbone fans that erupted when they learned that three-quarters of the band (including frontguy/cinematic songwriter Brent Best) would continue making music together in The Drams. Or perhaps it's simply the sound of Slobberbone--the answer to "What if Crazy Horse, Soul Asylum and the Replacements had formed in Denton, Texas?"--living on in The Drams. Detroit trio The High Strung opens. The show starts at 8 p.m., and $10 gets you in. --Rick Cornell
Six Organs of Admittance, The Dirty Projectors
Consider that these two bands--both psychedelic in a very general sense, both more or less avant extrapolations of one off-center savant, both among the busiest in their fields--show up on the same bill below the Mason-Dixon line when they aren't actually touring together, and it's apparent that this show is anything but normal. Ben Chasny's Six Organs of Admittance is a psych-folk fantasy, adding a fine sense of song (derived from age-old traditional and decades-old freak folk alike) to the whim and expanse of such way-out apostates as The Holy Modal Rounders or The Virgin Fugs. His Drag City debut is one of the most intriguing, engrossing albums of 2005. Dave Longstreth's The Dirty Projectors released three albums between November 2003 and January 2004, all guided by the whim of a maligned observer and eclectic eccentric who teases at pop but commands with an unsuspected dissonance. Tickets are $5, and the show starts at 9:30 p.m. --Grayson Currin