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With the amount of improv happening on any given night in this city, it was only a matter of time before the scene evolved to the next step -- sketch. Della Cole, Bob Harter and Jen Kelley have formed SKETCHWORKS, a creative outlet for the comedy that erupts from their "sick, twisted brains." After the acclaim generated by their first performance at Stage Door Players, the troupe went on hiatus to regroup. The pack has since swelled to over a dozen, and is now ready to deliver MAY 9-18 at the Art Farm. $15. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun. 6:30 p.m. Art Farm, 835 Wylie St. 404-377-5552.

-- Jerry Portwood

Live Music
Pavement lib

As the frontman for Pavement, Stephen Malkmus emerged as one of the most original and intelligent voices in '90s indie rock. Now he starts his second act with Pig Lib. Though it's actually the second release from his post-Pavement band, STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS, it's just the kind of break from the past ol' SM's been needing. Not that it's miles removed from Pavement's blend of prog-friendly/post-grad post-punk, but it does have its own identity -- more mature, more prog than punk, and fully comfortable in the new skin of the Jicks (see Vibes). How it all works live will be revealed MAY 8, when the band comes to town. Prospects are good. $15. 9 p.m. Echo Lounge, 551 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-681-3600.

-- Roni Sarig

Gospel royalty

Being asked to fill the shoes of gospel great Mahalia Jackson might scare lesser vocal talents. But it seems the right fit for Bernardine Mitchell. The local diva always impresses, whether she's singing in a smoke-filled nightclub or for an audience of thousands. MAY 7-JUNE 15, she shows what she's got in Theatre in the Square's production of MAHALIA. Directed by Carol Mitchell-Leon, the play is a tribute to the life of the Queen of Gospel Music. $22-$32. Continues through June 22. Tues.-Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun. 2:30 and 7 p.m. Theatre in the Square, 11 Whitlock Ave., Marietta. 770-422-8369.

-- JP

Live Music
She's back, baby

ANITA BAKER's nuanced blend of R&B, pop and jazz may have kicked off the "quiet storm" sound piping through small radios in office cubicles everywhere, but her rangy, emotional alto defies such insipid categorization. Baker has been mostly silent for the last eight years, raising two boys and wrestling with her record company. But now that her recording contract is up, she's back in business. Rumors of a new album are circulating; in the meantime, she's embarking on a small tour that brings her to Atlanta for two shows MAY 9-10. So pack a bottle of bubbly, bring your sweetie, and prepare to feel that ol' "Sweet Love" magic. $40.50-$75.50. 8 p.m. Chastain Park Amphitheatre, 4469 Stella Drive. 404-249-6400.

-- Bill Addison

May 7 Wednesday
A guitar geek's guitar hero, RICHARD THOMPSONalso manages to appeal to the fret-less majority. Highly skilled and eccentric to boot, Thompson founded seminal late-'60s folk-pop outfit Fairport Convention as a teenager, and he has an uncanny command of melody and a relentless quirky streak. Let's just say he's no Joe Satriani (thank God). $22.50. 8 p.m. Variety Playhouse, 1099 Euclid Ave. 404-524-7354. (Hobart Rowland)

May 8Thursday
Ah, to be 18 again. AVRIL LAVIGNE says she wrote most of the music on her Grammy-nominated debut, Let Go. She also says you can still be punk and not know who the Sex Pistols are. And she denies she ever raided her dad's tie rack (OK, so we made that one up). Uh-huh, and Britney is a natural bleach-blond. $25-$35. 7:30 p.m. Gwinnett Center Arena, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth. 404-249-6400. (HR)

May 9Friday
The High Museum's Festival of India, BOLLYWOOD AND BEYOND, continues with Ravi Shankar: Between Two Worlds, the documentary about the sitar master. The following evening features Fearless: The Hunterwali Story, a revealing tale about 1930s Bollywood heroine Nadia (in Hindi with English subtitles). Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m. Rich Auditorium, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-4570. (JP)

May 10Saturday
All you virgins get another chance to do the "Time Warp" when Onstage Atlanta presents the live stage version of the ROCKY HORROR SHOW. The cast mimics every move made by Brad, Janet and Dr. Frank-N-Furter. May 8-June 28. $18-$20. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun. 4 p.m. Onstage Atlanta, 2597 N. Decatur Road, Decatur. 404-897-1802. (JP)

May 11Sunday
Oscar Wilde's scandalous Salome is certainly en vogue. If you don't catch New American Shakespeare Tavern's production, then try the Atlanta Opera, which performs Richard Strauss' version of the erotic, exotic tale (see Arts). Opens May 8. $21-$143. Thurs. 8 p.m.; Sat. 7:30 p.m.; Sun. 3 p.m. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. 404-881-8885. (JP)

May 12Monday
BENT FREQUENCY, a new group featuring Atlanta musicians Robert Ambrose, Nickitas J. Demos, Stuart Gerber and Alexander Mickelthwate (assistant conductor with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra), hopes to get orchestral music lovers to change the way they think with its all-contemporary musical agenda. Their inaugural concert, "Rust to Dawn," features works by John Adams, Anthony Davis, David Lang, Karlheinz Stockhausen and more. $5. 8 p.m. Eyedrum, 290 MLK Jr. Drive. 404-522-0655. (JP)

May 13Tuesday
PushPush presents AN EVENING OF PLAYS RELATED TO WAR. Lauren Gunderson's "Steel" was inspired by a suicide bomber; "Tamam" is the work of Palestinian writer/performer Betty Shemiah; Harold Pinter's "American Football" offers a satirical look at the Gulf War; and Murphy Guyer's "Loyalties" tackles patriotism and military triumph. May 13-June 8. $12. Tue.-Wed. 8 p.m.; Sun. 5 p.m. PushPush Theater, 1123 Zonolite Road. 404-892-7876. (JP)

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