See & Do 

This week's coolest events

Live music
Americana seal of approval
Negative hype initially consumed STEVE EARLE's latest release, Jerusalem, thanks to "John Walker Blues," his sympathetic pat on the back to American Taliban John Walker Lindh. But when the media flak subsided, fans of the grizzled twang-rock icon were left with a fair-to-middling effort after a string of superb post-rehab albums. Fortunately, Earle's roller-coaster life (lowlights include six marriages to five different women, a crack habit that cost him a multi-million-dollar recording contract and, temporarily, his freedom) makes for a great yarn in the new biography, Hardcore Troubadour: The Life and Near Death of Steve Earle (below), written with the full cooperation of Earle and his family by British journalist Lauren St. John. Joining Earle & the Dukes FEB. 22 in Atlanta, Mississippi-born roots rocker GARRISON STARR (left) has had her share of personal and professional bumps in the road as well. And she sings about them with streamlined confessional aplomb on her latest release, Songs From Take-Off to Landing, which features production help from Earle. $25. 8:30 p.m. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. 404- 524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com.
-- Hobart Rowland

Singing
Banned!
The cover of the Clermont Lounge's in-your-face 2003-2004 calendar is too racy for publication even by CL standards. It features owner Kathi and longtime bartender Ginger shooting the bird; and Ginger is wearing a T-shirt with multiple expletives. Sorry, the black-and-white photos don't feature any nudity -- just the dancers being themselves. The CLERMONT LOUNGE CALENDAR SIGNING PARTY features the club's legendary dancers. And yes, Blondie will be there. $5; calendar $10. 9 p.m. Clermont Lounge, 789 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-874-4783. www.clermontlounge.net. (JP) -- Jerry Portwood

Nightlife
Great head (but don't knocky the sake)
You can start drinking as early as you please. But if you want to be a part of the largest simultaneous toast in the world, you'll have to wait until 11 p.m. FEB. 21 for the annual GREAT GUINNESS TOAST. While Buckhead's Fado is the "official headquarters" (more than 300 drinkers are expected), feel free raise a pint of the dark, frothy beverage at your bar of choice. Free. 8 p.m. Fado Irish Pub, 3035 Peachtree Road. www.fadoirishpub.com.
-- JP

Grape wine is fine, but rice is also nice. Go East when Atlanta Wine Brats and 5 Seasons Brewing Company host the "Some Like It Hot!" SAKE TASTING FEB. 24. The evening includes one hot and two cold sakes as well as good ol' Sauvignon Blanc paired with gyoza (filet dumplings), cheese kari kari (crab and cheese dumplings) and ahi tuna canapes. $25-$35. 7 p.m. 5 Seasons Brewing Company, 5600 Roswell Road. 404-255-5911. atlanta.winebrats.org.
-- Jane Catoe

THE SHORT LIST

Feb 19 - Wednesday
IMAGE Film & Video and Out On Film present AFTER SCHOOL SPECIALS, a collection of five gay-centered shorts. Though the title film comes off like poorly made soft-core porn, the hilarious No Prom for Cindy or Clay Pride: Being Clay in America redeem the evening. $5, free for IMAGE members. 8 p.m. Red Chair Restaurant and Video Bar, 550-C Amsterdam Ave. 404-352-4225. www.imagefv.org. (Tray Butler)

Feb 20 - Thursday
A bad economy can't keep a good venue down -- or so predict the folks behind VINYL, a new bar and music venue located inside EarthLink Live. For the grand opening, BAIN MATTOX (ex-Maple Yum Yum) performs in support of his new solo album, Technicolor Dream. The venue will feature local and regional artists every Thursday night. Free. 9 p.m. VINYL, 1374 W. Peachtree St. 404-885-9198. (JP)

Feb 21 - Friday
The granddaddy of the Big Top, RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY CIRCUS, takes up residence at Philips Arena. The 132nd Barnum spectacular features the requisite lions, tigers, bears, elephants and horses, along with personalities such as Sara the Tiger Whisperer and T.M. the Gator Guy, and a cast of white-caked, red-nosed funny-makers. Through March 2. $12-$85. Tues.-Thurs. 7:30 p.m.; Fri. 10:30 a.m., 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Philips Arena, One Philips Drive. 404-249-6400. www.ringling.com. (JP)

Feb 22 - Saturday
V-103's Joyce Little hosts the Alliance Theatre's second LATE NIGHT LOUNGE: THE SPOKEN WORD. The slam event begins after the evening's Alliance production and features an all-star cast of artists including Ayodele, Karen Wurl, Jon Goode, Chezon Jackson and Daniel Roop. $10-$12. 10:30 p.m. Hertz Stage, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-5000. www.alliancetheatre.org. (JP)

Feb 23 - Sunday
Folk poet/spoken-word artist ALIX OLSON returns for a one-night stand. A little fireball of wit and energy, the Brooklynite's Atlanta following continues to grow. So expect to see the lesbian luminati out in force. $7. 8 p.m. the Red Light Cafe, 553 Amsterdam Ave. 404-874-7828. www.redlightcafe.com. (JP)

Feb 24 - Monday
Local playwright and author PHILLIP DEPOY reads and signs copies of his new mystery novel, The Devil's Hearth, with help from some special mystery guests. Free. 8 p.m. Horizon Theatre, 1083 Austin Ave. 404-584-7450. (TB)

Feb 25 - Tuesday
Atlanta-born mezzo-soprano BRENDA BOOZER comes home for a solo concert that includes arias by Handel and Bizet, compositions by Canteloube and Strauss, and a song cycle by her husband and accompanist, Dr. Ford Lallerstedt. $10. 8 p.m. Conant Performing Arts Center, Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road. 404-364-8447. www.oglethorpe.edu. (JP)

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