Ira takes on America
You love sausage. Now see how it's made. On APRIL 19, IRA GLASS, host and producer of public radio's "This American Life" (which airs locally on WABE-FM Sundays at 4 p.m.) gives fans of the show a behind-the-scenes look at how it's made. With tape players, disc loaders and microphones in tow, Glass demonstrates how he and the show's contributors can take subjects as mundane as answering machine messages, or as esoteric and potentially controversial as a yacht that once belonged to Adolf Hitler, and turn them into compelling, provocative and (usually) very funny radio shows (see Arts, p. 67). In five minutes, you'll see why Time magazine once called Glass the best radio host in America. $20-$40. 8 p.m. Rialto Center for the Performing Arts, 80 Forsyth St. 404-651-4727. www.rialtocenter.org.
-- Andisheh Nouraee
First, the bad news: PEARL JAM, one of last decade's most influential rock bands, is becoming increasingly irrelevant with each passing year. Meanwhile, lesser outfits (e.g., Creed) keep cashing in on a shrill derivation of the stadium-grunge formula Pearl Jam helped perfect. The Seattle group comes to HIFI BUYS AMPHITHEATRE APRIL 19 in support of its latest, Riot Act, an album that isn't much to shout about. But Pearl Jam is doing its best to compensate for a frightening drop-off in catchy material by stirring up controversy on stage -- as when Eddie Vedder impaled a mask of President Bush on a microphone stand during an April 1 show in Denver. Now for the good news: When everything clicks, Pearl Jam is still a powerful live act. When it doesn't, keep your eyes and ears peeled for the train wreck. If you roll the dice, remember to scream "Jeremy!" and "Audioslave rocks!" at the top of your lungs during the quiet moments between songs -- the band loves that shit. (But, please, keep the pro-Cheney chants to yourself.) $42-$46. 8 p.m. HiFi Buys Amphitheatre, 2002 Lakewood Way. 404-249-6400. www.hob.com.
-- Hobart Rowland
Yes, she is
You might say ELLEN DEGENERES is entering a new phase in her turbulent, oft-chronicled career. First was her rise as Standup/Sitcom Star, which led to the Most Famous Lesbian in the World phase. That was quickly followed by the Can We Please Stop Talking About the Gay Thing? era. Now Degeneres takes a twirl back to her roots on the standup circuit before launching her next endeavor: hosting a daytime talk show. Expect plenty of Degeneres' trademark self-deprecating wit APRIL 20, and hopefully some good-natured jabs at her own rocky road to stardom. Karen Kilgariff opens. $32-$45. 7:30 p.m. Atlanta Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-249-6400.
-- Tray Butler
Forget Music Midtown, Roger Ruzow wants to help build Atlanta's local music scene. He's doing it with ATLANTA ECLECTIC IMPROV FEST APRIL 18-19 at Eyedrum, where he staged a similar festival last year. Ruzow's handpicked selection of musicians represents jazz, electronic, rock and various other styles often overlooked by the community -- from the cabaret leanings of Twittering Machine to the 21st-century compositions of Ann Richardson & Dr. Nick Demos (see Vibes, p. 102). Ruzow's own jazz ensemble, Nu South Subterraneans, performs a spontaneous soundtrack to the twisted films of local artist R. Land. How's that for variety? $10 (each night). Fri. 8 p.m.; Sat. 7 p.m. Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery, 290 MLK Jr. Drive. 404-522-0655. www.hob.com.
-- Jerry Portwood
April 16 Wednesday
A one-time neo-blues poster boy, CHRIS WHITLEY has gone from major-label pet project to impulsive global transient. Most recently he's taken up residence in Germany, the recording site of Hotel Vast Horizon, the latest addition to the guitarist's willfully obtuse catalog. A strange sort, Whitley is an American original -- and his unorthodox approach to his instrument must be seen to be fully appreciated. Johnny Society and Rich Price open. $10. 8 p.m. Smith's Olde Bar, 1578 Piedmont Ave. 404-875-1522. www.smithsoldebar.com. (HR)
April 17 Thursday
Justin Welborn and Bernard Clark conceived the WIDE OPEN BEAVER FESTIVAL as a response to estrogen-focused, gender-specific festivals and their counterparts. The result is a cross between vaudeville, sketch comedy and Monty Python, employing live music, political propaganda, staged combat and more to provoke discussion between the sexes. The lineup includes cavemen, cheerleaders, dancing, singing and a "10-foot puppet that you've never imagined in your wildest dreams." Through May 10. $12-$15. Thurs.-Fri. 8 p.m.; Sat. 8 p.m. and midnight. Dad's Garage Top Shelf Theatre, 280 Elizabeth St. 404-874-7462. www.wideopenbeaverfest.com. (JP)
April 18 Friday
To celebrate its opening, the eight-screen art-house venue MADSTONE THEATERS PARKSIDE, opens its doors for three days of free films. Crowd-pleasers Gone With the Wind and Steel Magnolias are scheduled, along with hit indies Amelie, Pulp Fiction, Gosford Park, Y Tu Mama Tambien and the granddaddy of all independent films, Citizen Kane. Free. See website for times and tickets. Madstone Theaters Parkside, 5920 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. 404-252-2000. www.madstonetheaters.com. (JP)
April 19 Saturday
SPEAK is gonna strip for you -- metaphorically, that is. The all-female collective presents STRIP POETRY, a spoken-word evening for both sexes, featuring Amir Sulaiman, kimotion, Yohannes Shariff, Tamara Madison-Shaw and more. $10. 8 p.m. Apache Cafe, 64 3rd St. 404-247-1106. www.apachecafe.info. (JP)
April 20 Sunday
You know that bright-green synthetic grass you find in your basket on Easter Sunday? Well, forget about it. The Coalition for the Abolition of Marijuana Prohibition presents the 10th annual GREAT ATLANTA POT FESTIVAL. Guest speakers and musical acts speak their minds, with live entertainment from the Peter Tosh Legacy (featuring Andrew Tosh) and Lil Jon & the Eastside Boyz. $10 donation. Entertainment and speakers start at noon. Piedmont Park. 404-522-2267. www.worldcamp.org/local.htm. (JP)
April 21 Monday
WWE's "RAW" has returned some old favorites to its homoerotic wrestling circus to raise its ratings. Atlanta's hometown hero, GOLDBERG, has returned to sissify the THE ROCK, and Big Poppa Pump SCOTT ST EINER's been out-muscling TRIPLE H. That's all the convincing we need. $15-$45. Philips Arena, One Philips Drive, 404-249-6400. www.ticketmaster.com (Heather Kuldell)
April 22 Tuesday
You can't go wrong with a scrumptious name like THE COSMIC SLOP SYMPOSIUM -- though it helps to have DJ SPOOKY as your headliner. The multimedia event features a screening of the 1994 flick, Cosmic Slop, which imagines a hypothetical fate for the world's minorities. Less, er, spooky segments focus on the evolution of art and digital media, and their ties to DJ culture. Free. 7 p.m. King Chapel, Morehouse College. 404-507-8631. www.darktowerproject.org. (HR)