Photographs by Titus Brooks Heagins
Durham Arts Guild—Up-close portraits of East Durham residents stare back at you as you linger over the expressions on their faces, defiant, proud and real. Titus Heagins has wandered the streets asking those he encountered not to pose, but to just be who they are. Some of their stories come to life in videos as they discuss hardships, losses, love and perseverance. One subject, Tammy Keith, tells the story of how her parents married after they found out her mother was pregnant; how her father did not love her mother at first, but eventually learned to; how her sister was shot and paralyzed as she tried to escape a man with a gun in a tavern when she was only 19. The video plays next to a photo of Tammy and her domestic partner, Eleuterio, sitting across from each other at a long table topped by a flower-printed tablecloth with groceries, an ashtray and a hairbrush between them. Tammy's long blonde hair hangs down her back as she looks into the camera with a sad expression; Eleuterio looks tranquil.
The photos break the stereotypical image of inner-city America. They show the bonds between races as they depict the mix of ethnicities that live, struggle and share pride in the place they call home. Heagins, a Durham resident, has traveled to far-off locations for work and mainly focuses on photographing people of color from around the world. Durham Stories: Not Hell But You Can See It From Here runs at the Durham Art Guild Gallery at the Durham Arts Council through Feb. 1. Admission is free. —Kelly Behling
Vicki Lawrence: A Two-Woman Show
Carolina Theatre—One of my all-time favorite Onion headlines is "Man with complete Mama's Family video library never going on eBay drunk again." Yes, Mama's Family is one of those odd mainstays of television syndication that has outlasted many better-known shows, even if it's difficult to recall the plot of a single episode. I dimly remember watching part of one in which there was a gag that Bubba had stolen a Stop sign for some reason, and then Vint came in and complained a car had nearly run him down. That wacky Bubba!
At any rate, Mama creator/ star Vicki Lawrence has had a fruitful career that encompasses far more than her high-strung "Mama" character, including a talk show, a long run on The Carol Burnett Show and the 1973 hit "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia." Now she and Mama are reprising Vicki Lawrence: A Two-Woman Show, a variety act that combines "storytelling, humor and a few songs." Is "Georgia" among them? Incidentally, you can find the superior 1982 special Eunice, which predated Mama's Family, on YouTube. If the series had been that good, I might remember it better. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $37-$42. —Zack Smith
Schoolkids Records—By the standards of the Web 2.0 buzz cycle, terrific Atlanta quartet Howlies is getting nowhere fast. But relative to the old model—friends make band, band makes demos, band tours, band makes record with cool old dude, band tours, wins fans—Howlies is a rock 'n' roll rocket. Four Florida friends who became a band one state north in 2007, Howlies quickly made a fan of iconic eccentric Kim Fowley, who recorded the band's debut, Trippin' with the Howlies, at "the edge of the California desert" during a two-day junk-food binge. The result is unequal parts straight rock and psychedelic substance, doo-wop charm and New York menace, woebegone poetics ("Maybe I'm just meant to be all alone/ conversing with myself on the phone.") and smutty shit-talk ("Girl was a man so threw her out/ Made me sad, wanna scream and shout."). It's the year's first absolutely charming rock record. Figure that out before Hype Machine does. The band plays the first in-store at the new Schoolkids Records location, 2114 Hillsborough St., in Raleigh at 4 p.m., followed by a 10 p.m. gig at Slim's and a Monday show at Local 506 at 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
- Airiel Down
Lincoln Theatre — Whether you loved or loathed Nathan Asher & the Infantry, the Springsteen-ian Raleigh big band that broke up last year understood spectacle: From the window-display billboard on Hillsborough Street to the backstage passes that granted VIP access at its first CD release show, Asher and his soldiers staged marathon events, rock star parties on a local band budget. In Asher's absence, we recommend Airiel Down. The Raleigh quintet, popular at city-sponsored outdoor events, trades Asher's hyper-literate, hyper-aware reflections for pedestrian positivism and pirate tales, and the modern rock riffs and rhythms are nothing if not dated. But frontman Beaux Foy—a towering, groomed-and-sculpted frontman willing to smile and whoop to beguile his audience—preaches this stuff like it's a sacred script. He's a spectacle every time he's on stage, but tonight, in celebration of the band's second album, some friends come along to make this a big event: With Untold, Frank Hazard, BOB and Beggar's Caravan. $7-$9/ 8:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin