Weekend Best Bets: Dancing, DJs and Durham History

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McKinney's band, Blackwell, performs at last year's Triangle Corporate Battle of the Bands. Catch them once again at Saturday's concert.
McKinney’s band, Blackwell, performs at last year’s Triangle Corporate Battle of the Bands. Catch them once again at Saturday’s concert.

Nina De Gramont – Thursday, 7pm – In “Last September,” when Charlie is found murdered, his wife Brett is devastated. But, if she is honest with herself, their marriage had been hanging by a thread for quite some time. Brett is determined to understand how such a tragedy could have happened, and whether she was somehow complicit. This award-winning author takes readers inside the psyche of a woman facing down the meaning of love and loyalty. Enjoy a discussion and reading from the author. The Regulator Bookshop, 720 Ninth St.; Free; 919-286-2700

Lula Pena – Thursday, 8pm – The Portuguese singer-songwriter and guitar player sings in four different languages and draws inspiration from Portuguese folk music of the ’60s and French chanson. She’s known for her hushed, intimate performances and intricate musical compositions. Nelson Music Room, 1304 Campus Dr.; $15-$22; 919-684-4444

George Benson – Thursday, 8pm – With a career spanning nearly four decades, this jazz guitarist and vocalist prides himself on his ability to transport listeners to another place when he sings. He will perform music from his latest album, Songs and Stories. The Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St.; $47+; 919-560-3030

Pavelid Castaneda – Friday, 5-8:30pm – Enjoy live music under the gazebo from this Colombian harpist, then check out the museum’s newest exhibit, Durham A-Z: G is for Geography and Growth, which highlights how Durham’s unique geography influenced how and where people traveled and settled in Durham County. Museum of Durham History, 500 W. Main St.; Free; 919-246-9993

Clouds Never Fail – Friday, 6-9pm – Enjoy an opening reception with local artist Andy Berner plus enjoy electronic dance music with Patrick Aris and Ariel Fox and partake in kid art activities. Spectre Arts, 1004 Morning Glory Ave.; 919-213-1441

Celebrating Birds Reception – Friday, 6-9pm – This ornithologically centered show integrates the work of two longtime friends of curator Dave Wofford. Ben Galata’s birdbaths are rusted steel dishes atop conical solid concrete bases with forged branch elements as landing perches. The dishes rotate and are removable for cleaning. As an alternative to the traditional concrete birdbath shapes, these birdbaths are inspired by modern design and architecture. Bryant Holsenbeck, a Durham-based environmental artist, has been watching birds all her life and has been inspired to make sculptures of them (using a largevariety of materials) both to guide and to inspire her. Tom Merrigan, a.k.a. the Durham Street Piano Player, will be playing his piano on wheels just outside our door during the early part of the evening. Exhibit runs through Sept. 25. The Upfront Gallery at Bull City Arts Collaborative, 401-B Foster St.; Free admission; 919-949-4847

Confluence Opening Reception  – Friday, 6-9pm – Artist Rosalie Midyette is inspired by the natural and infinite sculpting of the earth, specifically the geologies of this state, from Eastern to Western coast. As eons of water gradually sculpt rocks, she creates smoothed recessions that nod at these geological wonders and the passage of time. The ceramic installation will be on view till Sept. 26. The Carrack, 111 W. Parrish St; Free admission

Pauli Murray: Imp, Crusader, Dude, Priest – Friday, 6-9pm – This exhibit celebrates the life and legacy of Durham human rights activist Pauli Murray. This Third Friday, the Cameron Gallery hosts Maine artist Robert Shetterly, who will unveil his newly painted portrait of Pauli Murray. Shetterly created the “Americans Who Tell the Truth” painting series, a traveling exhibition of 200+ painted portraits of significant historical figures in American history. The evening’s festivities include light snacks and drinks, a short speech by artist Robert Shetterly, a public collage-making activity that corresponds to the “Americans who Tell the Truth” painting series and free art-making in the Make-and-Take room. The exhibit is on display until December 12. Cameron Gallery, The Scrap Exchange, 2050 Chapel Hill Rd.; Free admission; 919-688-6960

Captain & The Keels – Friday, 7-9pm – Serving up the very best of West Coast smooth “yacht rock,” this local band will have your dancing the night away. With five horns, a half dozen vocalists, and percussions galore, this is the most authentic yacht rock revue in the country, and you’ll recognize every note. Brightleaf Square, 905 W. Main St.; Free; 919-682-9229

Racing Extinction – Friday, 7pm – Oscar-winning director Louie Psihoyos assembles a team of artists and activists on an undercover operation to expose the hidden world of endangered species and the race to protect them against mass extinction. Spanning the globe to infiltrate the world’s most dangerous black markets and using high-tech tactics to document the link between carbon emissions and species extinction, this film reveals stunning, never-before-seen images that will change the way we see the world. Stick around for a post-film Q&A with Dr. Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation ecology at Duke University. Full Frame Theater, 300 Blackwell St.; Free, ticket required

L. Subramaniam – Friday, 8pm – The award-winning Indian violinist is considered a master of the instrument in the Carnatic classical music tradition. He’s joined by two other Carnatic musicians, one being his son, also on violin. Baldwin Auditorium, 1336 Campus Dr.; $15-$34; 919-684-4444

Gaspard&Dancers – Friday and Saturday, 8pm – Experience the expressive modern dance forms of this Durham-based company as they premiere “Tota Pulchra Es – You Are All Beautiful.” Distinguished composer Bill Banfield will craft a score to partner with this piece, created by choreographer and dancer Gaspard Louis, which celebrates the universal bonds of humanity. The Mallarme Chamber Players perform the work, making their first stage appearance with the dance company. Reynolds Industries Theater, 125 Science Dr.; $12-$27; 919-684-4444

Nasher Creates: Saturday Sketch – Saturday and Sept. 26, 10am-noon – Join local artist Laura Frankstone for a three-week sketching series. Each session will be in the museum’s galleries and will build upon one another, focusing on various techniques. This series is appropriate for all skill levels, including beginners. The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, 2001 Campus Dr.; Free with museum admission; 919-560-2722

Train History Pop-up Exhibit – Saturday, 10am-1pm – Railroad historian Tony Reevy and others will display their collections of train artifacts and talk about Durham’s railroad history. The exhibit will cover the five railroads that served Durham: Durham & Southern, Norfolk Southern, Norfolk & Western, Seaboard Air Line and Southern Railway plus learn about the vanished Durham trolley system, and the late, lamented Durham Union Station. Museum of Durham History, 500 W. Main St.; 919-246-9993

Fall Craft and Vendor Fair – Saturday, 10am-3pm – Food, jewelry, apparel, baked goods, homemade decor, personalized gifts and much more. Carrington Middle School, 227 Milton Rd.; Free; 919-560-3916

Harvest Festival – Saturday, 10am-4pm – Join in a fun-filled day featuring tours, traditional craft demonstrations, children’s activities, mule cart rides, food trucks and a pie and cake auction. Historic Stagville, 5828 Old Oxford Hwy.; children, $3.23 and adults, $5.38; 919-620-0120

CenterFest – Saturday, 10am-6pm and Sunday, 11am-5pm – Now in its 41st year, the street arts and community festival features paintings, photography, sculptures, jewelry and crafts from 140 visual artists as well as live music, entertainment, food and fun. City Center; Free admission; 919-560-2722

Neighbor Day – Saturday, 2-8pm – Join in a neighborhood cookout with $3 hot dog combos (hot dog – vegan ones, too! – chips and a slice of watermelon); $3 beers from Bull Durham Beer Co.; free haircuts courtesy of Great Clips; free face painting; free ELF Organic Transit rides in the parking lot; and a City Council candidate meet and greet at 3pm. Also, music all day! DJ PlayPlay spins vinyl soul, R&B, motown and more till 4pm, then reggae band The Original King Ayoola takes over at 5pm. All varieties of N.C. apples will be on sale for $0.99/pound. Plus, organic N.C. winter squash is $1.49/pound. Durham Co-op Market, 1111 W. Chapel Hill St.; Free admission; 919-973-1707

Rick Bragg – Saturday, 7pm – Pulitzer-prize winning author will read from and discuss his new book, “My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South.” Keenly observed and written with his insightful and deadpan sense of humor, the book explores enduring Southern truths about home, place, spirit, table and the regions’ varied geographies. Collected from more than a decade of his writing, with many never-before-published essays written specifically for this edition, the novel is an entertaining and engaging read, especially for Southerners (or those who feel Southern at heart). The Regulator Bookshop, 720 Ninth St.; Free; 919-286-2700

Triangle Corporate Battle of the Bands – Saturday, 7pm – Various bands created by employees of local companies showcase their musical talent to help raise money for a local nonprofit. Each band will battle it out, and judges will decide which performance best fits the “Rock and Roll Fairytale” theme. Local advertising agency McKinney has organized the event for nine years, raising just shy of $1 million thus far for area charities. Book Harvest, a nonprofit that provides books to Triangle-area children in need, will receive the proceeds of this year’s Battle. American Tobacco Campus Amphitheater, 318 Blackwell St.; $25, $10 for students with ID

Bettye Lavette – Saturday, 8pm – The soul music veteran has toured with Otis Redding and James Brown, and will perform songs from her newest album, Worthy, as well as favorite tunes from her 50-year career. Baldwin Auditorium, 1336 Campus Dr.; $15-$42; 919-684-4444

Party Illegal Dance Party – Saturday, 10pm-2am – The monthly dance party returns featuring area DJs new to Illegal. Dusty Tech is a wide-ranging DJ, producer, composer and vocalist based in Durham. Composer, producer and DJ Direwolf, a Chapel Hill native with a Ph.D. in music composition, brings his hard-hitting mix of techno, house and bass. For the night’s final two hours, Carrboro’s MikeD and Sponge Bath will treat the Illegal crowd to a back-to-back all-vinyl DJ set. Must be 21+ to attend. The Pinhook, 117 W. Main St.; $5 before 11pm, $8 after

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