- Phosphoresent's Matthew Houck
Duke Coffeehouse—The hirsute Matthew Houck lives in Brooklyn these days, but the Phosphorescent bandleader grew up in a small Alabama town before heading north to Athens, Ga. So while his records are spectral, cerebral triumphs of ragtag choirs and chamber ensembles, there's a strong swill of country music in his blood. With songs likening lovers to wolves and a pedal steel's moan pushing his sad-eyed-and-stoned anthems, that much has long been apparent. But on this year's terrific To Willie, Houck takes his oldest allegiances to the next level, giving 11 Willie Nelson tunes reverent but no less inventive treatments. "Walkin'," one of the best leavin'-while-I-still-love-you songs on the books, pushes forward, driving its forlorn narrator out of the door, while a steaming take on "I Gotta Get Drunk" keeps it between the ditches with a bottle in both hands. Houck's covered Nelson before, and lately he's been throwing a Radiohead cover into his sets. Isn't it great when one of the best young songwriters in the country can double so easily as one of our best interpreters, too? The $8 show starts at 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin
- The Gondoliers
Carolina Theatre—The Durham Savoyards is a passionate Bull City treasure, one that keeps a low profile most of the year before emerging every spring with a Gilbert and Sullivan production. These last few years, the shows have been directed by Derrick Ivey, one of the most versatile and talented members of the Triangle theater scene. The Gondoliers was Gilbert and Sullivan's final major success, a satire of class warfare set against the backdrop of Venetian aristocracy. The story concerns two Venetian gondoliers who are so handsome and gallant that they are given their pick of 24 ambitious maidens. The original production of the comic opera nearly ended Gilbert and Sullivan's partnership; for this one, Ivey has a show blog at www.derrickivey.spaces.live.com, and from all accounts, things are going much more smoothly for him. Tonight is the preview, with all tickets priced at $10. The production runs March 27-29 with 8 p.m. curtain Friday and Saturday and a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Tickets are $15-$25; call 560-3030 or visit www.carolinatheatre.org.—Zack Smith
The Long View Center—What is happiness? Is it a warm puppy? Scotch? Reruns of St. Elsewhere? That Walgreens on Capital Boulevard that carries Ne-Mo's snack cakes?
If you, too, are concerned about defining the good life, then you might be interested in Kadampa Center of Raleigh's Inside Happiness series, which explores the nature of happiness and the role we play in creating it for ourselves. This event includes the Inside Happiness Project, a visual and story exhibit and the Inside Happiness Event, a talk and magic show. Speakers include an 81-year-old Hurricane Katrina survivor, a Tibetan refugee, Quail Ridge Books owner Nancy Olson and more. The event starts at 6 p.m. at the Long View Center; tickets are $12. For more information, call 859-3433 or visit www.kadampa-center.org. —Zack Smith
To the Lighthouse
Nasher Museum, Duke Screen/ Society—Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? Not Duke Screen/ Society, which is spotlighting this 1983 adaptation of her novel as part of its Bloomsbury Film Series. Set against the backdrop of the looming World War I, it's the story of a family on holiday dealing with the changing times and values, and the nature of artistic achievement. A young Kenneth Branagh plays Charles Tansley, a student of the family's out-of-touch father. Sponsored by the Nasher Museum of Art and the Film/ Video/ Digital Program, the free screening starts at 7 p.m. For more information, visit fvd.aas.duke.edu/screensociety/schedule.php. —Zack Smith