Cool John Ferguson
Slim's—Yes, cool. John Ferguson is a self-taught guitarist—first song was "Just a Closer Walk with Thee"—with a unique way of playing in several senses. He's a lefty who trained on a righty guitar, and there's also what he calls "his own private tuning." Jimi Hendrix was a great inspiration to him, and, says Ferguson, vice versa. His history and heroes meet in a boundary-free zone where blues, rock, jazz, gospel and even country come to bathe in the cool, a congregation that turned Durham's All Peoples Grill into the Saturday-night spot a few years back. It works in Raleigh, too. This one has an 8 p.m. start, and the cost is $15. —Rick Cornell
Carolina Theatre—E.T.A. Hoffman's fairy tale The Nutcracker has achieved a sort of cultural immortality as a ballet, inspiring countless productions, several films, and even parodies featuring everyone from the Care Bears to Tom and Jerry. From the "Nutcracker Suite" to the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," it's perhaps the most beloved ballet of all time, and a Christmas tradition for countless families. I confess I always sort of liked the Mouse King better than the Nutcracker, though.
There are many productions going on in North Carolina this year, but to see The Nutcracker presented by its intended audience, you might want to check out the Triangle Youth Ballet's production at the Carolina Theatre. The nonprofit, volunteer-driven Triangle Youth Ballet has performed the work for 13 years and is composed of more than 100 top ballet students in the area. This year, the show will include a live orchestra, conducted by Andrew McAfee of UNC-Chapel Hill. For more information, visit www.triangleyouthballet.org. —Zack Smith