Back in the day, Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles used to pack the house at The Uptown Tap for her alternative/blues/rock music. The girl-to-guy ratio was swayed way in my favor, as she'd built a following by playing The Lilith Fair. Of course, the straight girl to guy ratio wasn't so good, but oh well.

So seeing her head up Sugarland in concert at the Columbus Civic Center will be a little nostalgiac, even if there are more guys with cowboy hats than girls in Birkenstocks in her audience these days. Little Big Town and Jake Owen are also on the bill. (8 p.m. today, 400 Fourth St. Tickets are $39.50. 706-653-4460)

On Saturday, Mojo: Saint returns for one of the band's frequent visits to Broadstreet Blues in Phenix City. Near-legendary songwriter Billy Earl McClelland heads up the band, which plays old-school rock and soul music. (10 p.m. showtime, Broad and Dillingham streets. $5 cover. 334-297-3200)

Sunday I'll wind down by catching a screening of "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" — the art-house movie showing this week at the Peachtree 8 theater. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marissa Tomei and Ethan Hawke in a story of a botched store heist. ($6. 1, 4, 7 and 9:40 p.m. showtimes. 706-571-3456)

—Brad Barnes


This weekend is your chance to live out all those Shakira fantasies you've been harboring for the past year.

The ones that involve dancing, at least.

Saturday, Atlanta belly dancer Tara will perform during a dinner at Mario's Restaurant & Pop, 1010-B Broadway. The show starts at 7 p.m., and also includes an entree, dessert and non-alcoholic beverages. It's $30, and you must make a reservation. Call 706-571-9830.

If your attempts to dance with Tara result in a threatened restraining order, rather than a moment of hip-shaking glory, don't worry.

Cut your losses and head to Rumors, 1107 Broadway, where you're almost guaranteed to hear Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" on the DJ's playlist.

While you're there, ask the bartender for a Columbia, a cocktail that contains vodka and curacao — mirroring the colors of the Columbian flag. That's Shakira's home country, in case you're not a stalker like me.

Finally, end the weekend with dinner at El Vaquero, 2976 North Lake Parkway in Columbus. Sure, it's not Columbian food, but you can show off your linguistic prowess by boasting that the restaurant's name means "the cattle tender."

— Sonya Sorich

GOT COTTONMOUTH? I’ve been trying to get you slackers in the Christmas spirit for the last few weekends now, and I’m not sure I like the results. This means it’s time to visit the gym of Christmas tidings and good cheer. That’s right, I’m talking about the Springer Opera House’s very own rendition of “A Christmas Carol” – the perennial tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and ghosts and whatever. See it 7:30 p.m. Friday or Saturday or 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are as cheap as $8, so don’t cry about how you don’t have the money. And stop yelling at homeless people. That’ll put you on the naughty list. Saturday, enjoy a burger and a beer for $25 at the Columbus Cottonmouths game. The game costs as little as $11, but you’ll be handing over the benjamins for every Milk Dud you buy at this cash cow. The hockey starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Columbus Civic Center. You know, the big building at the end of Veterans where they had the fair. On Laundry Day, hop online and try to do some Christmas shopping from the ease of your computer. Sure, you could battle crowds at Columbus Park Crossing, or you could visit and save yourself the icky, dry taste you get when associating with the commoners.— Alan Riquelmy