It's competitive eating day at the State Fair, and at Dorton Arena at 11:45 a.m. the big event is the World Sweet Potato Casserole Eating Championship. North Carolina is tops in the country in production of sweet potatoes. Find out who's tops in consumption--at least this year. Information at www.ncstatefair.org/2004fair. More on our state's sweet potato industry is at www.ncsweetpotatoes.com (there's even an anthropomorphic potato named Spencer who has his own jingle).
Negro League Talk
Ever wonder about the time not-so-long ago when sports teams were separated by both color of uniform and color of skin? Artis Plummer, former Negro Baseball League player, stops by the Tosca Ristorante, 604 W. Morgan St., to talk about his experiences. The event is presented by the Historic Preservation Society of Durham as a Lunch and Learn Program. Admission is $15. Information at 682-3036.
Gomez emerged in 1998 with the Mercury Prize-winning Bring It On, whose eclectic style and clever use of blues tropes stood out against the Beatles-inspired Britpop of the time. But the hippy vibe inherent in their psychedelic blues shuffle began to predominate, culminating with 2002's turgid In Our Gun, which went overboard with the laconic, stoner grooves, creating a trip-hop alternative to Phish. Their latest, Split the Difference, dials back those bad habits and impulses, bringing back the energy and shambling rock bounce. The band's secret weapon remains Ben Ottewell, whose gruff vocals recall Joe Cocker and make his tracks album highlights. --CP
Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's, will visit the UNC-Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School to discuss "Social Responsibility, Radical Business Philosophy and Ice Cream" as part of the Dean's speaker series. The lesson, and the subsequent ice cream reception, will take place in the school's Koury Auditorium, free of charge. For more info, call 843-7787. durham David Sedaris Page Auditorium --Him talk funny most days. See the best selling author, radio commentator and sibling in one of the wilder households in Raleigh as he returns home to the Triangle for an appearance at Duke. Tickets are $20. www.tickets.duke.edu.
The Dresden Dolls, The Butchies
"You'd rather be a bitch than be an ordinary broken heart," wails Amanda Palmer, the vocal banshee half of Boston's cabaret punk caterwauls, The Dresden Dolls. Palmer pounds out major chords in piano clanging chunks, throwing dissonant sharps into these hammered-out, high-energy philippics like slaps in the face of the boys, beauties and bastards that have broken her heart, screwed her over and mocked her emotional effrontery. This is loud, moody, provocative, flighty, confused, forget-the-assumptions girl power played with a here-and-now middle finger rather than a historic crutch. --GC
Ricky Scaggs, Steep Canyon Rangers
Amphitheatre at Regency Park
Eight-time Grammy recipient Ricky Skaggs jumps in with a few local bluegrass bands for this Bluegrass in the Park benefit for the Special Olympics. On the heels of the release of his newest album, Brand New Strings, Scaggs will be headlining this show at the Amphitheatre at Regency Park with Kentucky Thunder and local bluegrass pickers The Steep Canyon Rangers. Tickets are $27.50, $10 ages 6-12 and free for children under 5. More information is at www.amphitheatreatregencypark.com .
Big Rick & The Bombers
From the title, you might think they're a rock band, but Rick Nunez and The Bombers' message is blues. Nunez says that he's tried other kinds of music, even doing a little bit of Latin music when he first started, but "it just wasn't me. I first started the blues around 1994 and I just fell right in. What I'm singing most of the time is what I'm feeling inside." --GB
Although it sounds like they could be tag-team wrestling partners, the issues Bitch and Animal wrestled with for over a decade were feminist politics. Part performance art, part political rant, the duo rocked audiences on their heels with their odd instrumentation: Animal on djembe and Bitch on violin and ukulele. Now separated, Pussy Manifesto author Bitch is still on a rampage, breaking your heart while she busts your chops. --GB
Joe Flake Benefit
Mr. Flake has a lot of friends. "It's a benefit for a friend who has cancer of the esophagus, and he and his wife could use some economic help with it, and we're throwing a benefit," says Joe Flake benefit organizer Terry Morehead. Farmville's favorite export, bluesman Mike "Lightnin" Wells opens, backed by The Boomers, one of Raleigh's most venerable garage bands led by guitarist and Urban Hiker reviewer Willie Painter, joined for this outing by Benny Brooks on bass and surprise guests. The show also includes Rocky Stone, Kitty West and harpist Mike Wesolowski with Blues World Order. This worthy cause starts at 2 p.m., and a $10 donation is requested. --GB
the Pour House
It's hard to argue with any band that boasts two of a town's best voices, but that's what you get with Kennebec, the acoustic big band of Troy Smith, a boy raised in the "suburbs" of Raleigh suburb Fuquay-Varina. His smooth, comfortable country drawl is as wide and welcome as his smile, and his songs--floating around like little laughable memories--are a perfect fit. Rob Watson, a dangerously good songwriter with a compelling take on melody, forms the second half of this tandem, backing Smith in quintet form. --GC
Sister Hazel, Virginia Coalition
Like Hootie before them, Sister Hazel managed a huge top ten hit with 1997's "All For You," whose ubiquity was nearly enough to impel a Van Gogh maneuver. Nice mellow music with a pretty melody? Sure it is, and Barney's just an overgrown plush toy until he sings that damn song again, that vein in your forehead starts to pulse, and.... --CP
65 Minutes of Terror
A quartet of amazing actors (Roman Pearah, Nicole Quenelle, Nan Stephenson and David Klionsky) will frighten you with the stories of Jack Ketchum--a modern-day outlaw in horror writing, "well known for the most extreme of extreme horror" (Cinescape)--and a cult figure that Stephen King singled out in his National Book Award speech as having "remade the face of American popular fiction." Showtime is 7:30; tix are $5 a pop. --BW
Matt Nathanson is a 12-string smart-ass. Audiences come to his shows for his acerbic wit as well as to witness his guitar work. Nathanson amuses with his song choices as well, inserting Madonna and Bon Jovi sing-along sessions between his emotionally charged songs. --GB
Mouthus, Mowing Lawns, Antennas Erupt
Mouthus grinds the keyboards, drums and guitars at will, spewing out a thick, caustic and grating aural assault that ranks as one of the loudest in a New York City underground that loosely includes Black Dice, Squaw and Double Leopards. Among those, Mouthus is considered to be perhaps the loudest, a savage sonic trip to be avoided by the faint of heart and to be relished by the truly adventurous. Locals Mowing Lawns take to the noise frontiers with acoustic instruments, and four-piece Antennas Erupt is on tour from Sacramento. --GC