Nashville Star

Gillian Welch
Arianna Mercer

WED 3/10

All those women out there jonesing for a bedpost-rattling moment with George Clooney will surely envy Gillian Welch. When producer T-Bone Burnett approached Welch for help with the breakthrough soundtrack for the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, he asked her to co-write a seduction song that three sirens could use to woo Clooney and his fellow prison escapees. Welch's recording of the song "Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby," based on a depression-era field holler, more than did the trick in one of the movie's most compelling scenes.

"I was so thrilled that T-Bone gave my voice to the hottest siren," says Welch, with glee, on the line from her Nashville home. "Especially the one who gets Clooney."

Since she moved from California to Nashville 12 years ago, interviews with Welch have focused either on the serious, timeless nature of her acoustically driven Americana albums (created with longtime songwriting partner David Rawlings), or on her live shows, which attract an interesting mix of traditionalists and younger fans who want to soak up Welch's incisive, emotional lyrics. She'll be road-testing songs for her next album at this week's Houston gig, but her heart is all Nashville -- at least, the Nashville she knows.

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"I finally figured out a couple of years ago that there are a couple of different Nashvilles," Welch says. "The Top 40 one, I never see that. The part of town I live in is where you go to the Opry and talk to guys who played with Bill Monroe, or still get to see Loretta sing." 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 10. Engine Room, 1515 Pease, 713-654-7846, $15. -- Greg Barr

Mandarin Hunan's Screwdriver

With steel drums and zydeco music still ringing in my ears, and an intolerable gumbo-induced heartburn searing my gut, I woke up on Ash Wednesday feeling like a truck had backed over me. So many hurricanes, so little time! I was in the backseat of someone's car, and my tongue was somehow pasted to the upholstery. When I managed to extricate myself, I looked out the window and noticed Mandarin Hunan (777 Walker, 713-224-1212), a place I never knew existed. I needed a drink like I needed a hole in my head, but I wandered over and ordered a screwdriver just the same. The first sip went down rather roughly, due in no small part to the rotgut well liquor some places try to pass off as alcohol. When it was time to order a second one, the entire staff got involved, repeating my request to each other back and forth like I was a monster coming to life. Finally, the old guy who'd made the first one was summoned -- he was having lunch in the back -- and he made me another. I wasn't sure if I should give up booze for Lent or simply stay home more often.

1-3/4 ounces Potter's vodka
2 ounces Minute Maid orange juice

Take any old glass that's not chipped or cracked, fill it with ice and measure out the booze. Top off with orange juice, garnish with nothing more than a swizzle stick and consume. If you throw back more than five in one sitting, call someone for help. -- J.W. Crooker

Killer Keller

SAT 3/6

"No more Keller Williams Realty signs, please!" begs guitarist Keller Williams on his Web site. This Keller Williams has no relation to the realty company in question. He's a one-man jam band, making use of a ten-string guitar (actually, it's just a 12-string with two strings removed), vocal percussion lines and hard-core dubbing techniques to create a sound all his own. Williams plays regularly with jam-band gods the String Cheese Incident, but his solo shows are a little more electronica-based than your typical jamgrass fare. Finally, an artist behind whom both club kids and hippies can unite. 8 p.m. Saturday, March 6. Engine Room, 1515 Pease. For information, call 713-654-7846 or visit $16 to $18. -- Keith Plocek

Do the Time Warp

SAT 3/6

The DJs at Numbers are caught in some kind of angst-driven time warp, but we can't blame them for sticking to a tried-and-true formula. After all, the supply of disenchanted youth is self-replenishing and, in this day and age, apparently never-ending. At "Danseparc" this weekend, the boys and girls in black will spin Fischerspooner, the Faint, PIL, the White Stripes, Gang of Four, Electric Six, the Hives, Underworld, Joy Division, Green Velvet, Future Bible Heroes, the Rapture, X Ray Spex, Lita Ford, the Eurythmics, Cosmicity, Fluke, Blondie, The The, Hong Kong Counterfeit and Zoot Woman. Any questions? 9 p.m. Saturday, March 6. 300 Westheimer. For information, call 713-526-6551 or visit $3 to $7. -- Keith Plocek

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