BETTYE LAVETTE Lavette was one of the dozens of minor soul divas whose voice towered over her recorded legacy until this year, when she hooked up with long-departed Robert Cray cohort Dennis Walker. A roots obsessive with a gift for taking old tropes to the far reaches of emotional possibility, Walker got something like a classic album out of her. So now we get to see why roots obsessives rave about her live shows. FRIDAY AT 7:30, Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, 212-239-6200. (Christgau)


JOHN MELLENCAMP His "brave" new all-covers Trouble No More, despite tossing an obvious bone to ye olde O Brother grannies, is nonetheless the least tired-sounding album he's done since Lonesome Jubilee in 1987—and not just 'cause "Death Letter" and "John the Revelator" register as White Stripes numbers by now. For instance: "To Washington" updates Charlie Poole's "White House Blues" for Dubya's age, just like Coug's 2001 "Peaceful World" did with Nelly! Otherwise, he's got plenty of classics about scarecrows and chili dogs. And he's a real good dancer. THURSDAY AT 8, Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street, 212-840-2824. (Eddy)

She sits by the seashore: "By the Sea," a group show at Yossi Milo, includes Loretta Lux's haunting Paulin (see Photo).
photo: Loretta Lux/Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery
She sits by the seashore: "By the Sea," a group show at Yossi Milo, includes Loretta Lux's haunting Paulin (see Photo).

ERIC REED TRIO He's a soul man, meaning feel is perpetually prominent in the very elaborate and very enchanting spins the pianist puts on his base material. Sometimes that material is overtly soulful itself: His last disc was full-on hymnal. And sometimes it's so redolent of bop's groovy exclamation—check "Roller Coaster" from his new album—its swagger is unmistakable. This cozy club is a great place to catch his rhythm section doing their well-lubed downshift maneuvers. FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AT 9 AND 11 P.M. AND 12:30 A.M., Smoke, 2751 Broadway, 212-864-6662. (Macnie)

SPARKS+JUNIOR SENIOR Trends come and go, but the lyrical, musical, and performance genius of the Mael brothers—art-pop's most idiosyncratic pair—has rarely faltered in a 30-plus-year career that's outlasted most of their haters. Denmark's Junior Senior duo are nearly as dynamic, and their dance/garage-punk hybrid is the closest pop gets to achieving originality without sacrificing a smidgeon of accessibility. More importantly, they totally rock out in the flesh. SUNDAY AT 7, Central Park SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, mid-park, at 72nd Street, 212-360-CPSS. (Walters)

CLARK TERRY QUINTET Clark's rubbery flugelhorn sound has grown breezier and wiser, even more so since he etched himself into Ellington's playbook years ago. There's so much emotional warmth in his solos now, as then—from thick sustain to rounded slur—that it's fair to assume James Moody, the driving saxophonist on the bill, will contribute laughs as well. WEDNESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY AT 8:30 AND 10:30, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY ALSO AT MIDNIGHT, Iridium, 1650 Broadway, 212-582-2121. (King)


TINDERSTICKS & STRINGS After their recent soul-man dalliances, the new Waiting for the Moon finds these baroque depressives inching back toward the volatile romanticism of their first two self-titled LPs. Despite the impeccably cultivated air of hangdog melancholy, they've always been an incendiary live act—even if chief 'stick Stuart Staples is in a mumbly funk, violinist Dickon Hinchcliffe can be counted on to sex it up (especially on aptly named set-list fave "Jism"). With an 18-piece string section and an open night sky, expect fireworks. With Flux and David First. THURSDAY AT 7, Central Park SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, mid-park, at 72nd Street, 212-360-CPSS. (Lim)


'BY THE SEA' The least you expect of a group show is a broad array of strong, unfamiliar work in unexpected juxtaposition, but the key test of its success is how much of that work sticks in your mind. "By the Sea" is both immediately satisfying and memorable; virtually every photo clicks (especially those by Richard Misrach, Greg Miller, Rineke Dijkstra, Massimo Vitali, and Bill Jacobson) and many prompt a return visit. Among the latter: Loretta Lux's digitized shot of a strangely alien little beauty posed doll-like on a painted beach and Richard Renaldi's large-scale nude portrait of his boyfriend in a wittier, more soulful version of the iconic Dijkstra bather. THROUGH FRIDAY, Yossi Milo Gallery, 552 West 24th Street, 212-414-0370. (Aletti)

CHARLES SHEELER Since both photographers devised a similar sort of muscular modernism—rigorous, refined, and as elegant as it is tough—it's appropriate that Sheeler and his contemporary, Ansel Adams, have overlapping museum shows now. Sheeler, whose primary focus was painting, has a smaller body of photographic work, and his subjects (with the notable exception of some sculptural nudes of his wife) are mainly from the man-made, rather than the natural, world. But his studies of urban and industrial architecture, especially the Ford plant at River Rouge, are every bit as awe-inspiring as Adams's mountains and are far more in tune with the living spirit of modernism. THROUGH AUGUST 17, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, at 81st Street, 212-535-7710. (Aletti)


'THE MYOPIA' Multiple Obie winner David Greenspan must love to travel; this spring he's been to Shakespeare country with She Stoops To Comedy, then zipped off to 13th-century China for The Orphan of Zhao. Next stop: The 1920s, with a play about Warren G. Harding, the most corrupt U.S. President before George W. Bush. But Greenspan wears the layered look when traveling. The hero of this new work is a playwright whose latest opus is about his father, who's writing a musical about Harding. Somehow Carol Channing, 16 U.S. senators, and a grandmother named Yetti get involved. Don't miss Greenspan's rendering of the famous smoke-filled room. OPENS WEDNESDAY, THROUGH SATURDAY, Ohio Theatre, 66 Wooster Street, 212-966-4844. (Feingold)

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