David Olney and Sergio Webb at White Water Tavern

| January 02, 2013
INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE: J.R. Martinez speaks at Philander Smith College Thursday.
INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE: J.R. Martinez speaks at Philander Smith College Thursday.
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WEDNESDAY 1/9

DAVID OLNEY & SERGIO WEBB

8:30 p.m. White Water Tavern. $7.

We've been digging on David Olney and Sergio Webb for a while now, and if your musical tastes run toward the dark end of the folk/country/blues genres and you haven't checked them out yet, what are you waiting for? The late, great Townes Van Zandt gets trotted out a lot when it comes to grizzled singer/songwriters, but Olney is one of the few who you could honestly say could be heir to the throne of good ol' TVZ. The latest Olney album, "Robbery & Murder," is the third in a trilogy, available individually or as a set called "Body of Evidence." The songs include new numbers and new versions of classic Olney cuts like "Jerusalem Tomorrow," which was on his 1989 album, "Deeper Well." That track was the standout on Emmylou Harris' 1993 record "Cowgirl's Prayer," which is really saying something considering the fact that the album also boasted compositions from such heavies as Leonard Cohen, Lucinda Williams and Tony Joe White. Olney and Webb have played Maxine's several times, but this will be their first visit to the White Water Tavern. Also on the bill is Mark Currey, of roots-rock faves Monkhouse. RB

THURSDAY 1/10

BLESS THE MIC: J.R. MARTINEZ

7 p.m. Philander Smith College. Free.

After his truck rolled over a landmine in Iraq in 2003, J.R. Martinez suffered severe burns over more than 30 percent of his body and over the course of his recovery he's had 33 different surgeries. So yes, I understand that we all get bummed out about stuff, like how work sucks or nobody understands us or the Internet is being slow. But the vast majority of us will never experience anything as painful as what Martinez has gone through. If you could use a bit of hopefulness and a heartwarming story of overcoming adversity to start off 2013, here you go. Because Martinez didn't let his terrifying injuries stop him from getting out there and living. He became an activist for veterans, an author and motivational speaker and an actor as well. You might be familiar with Martinez from his role as veteran Brot Monroe on "All My Children" or his victory on Season 13 of "Dancing with the Stars." The key, as he told Ellen DeGeneres: "If I have a good attitude, if I stay positive, if I continue to smile every day, something good will happen to me and all of this will make sense." Arkansas connection: Martinez lived in Hope for a while as a youngster. RB

THURSDAY 1/10

JUSTIN BIEBER

7 p.m. Verizon Arena. $52-$94.

One of my favorite tracks of 2010 was Justin Bieber's hit "Baby" slowed down 800 percent and stretched to nearly 15 minutes. I've never listened to the normal speed version, but the slow one is maybe the most gorgeous thing I've ever heard, like Brian Eno and Sigur Ros playing God's own personal synthesizers and blissing out in a floating castle made out of dreams. It was a hit as far as quasi-joke Internet thing-ies go, generating all sorts of parodies and copycats. One dude took a 10-minute Sigur Ros song and sped it up 800 percent to see if it sounded like Justin Bieber (it didn't). It's ancient history as far as memes go, but it was kind of a big thing at the time. The song still sounds great though. I guess Justin Bieber's done some other stuff since then. Put out another massive hit album; became a man; went through a voice change; went to a party where he maybe tried out one of those funny-smelling cigarettes, if photos published Monday on TMZ are to be believed. A paparazzo died last week while trying to get a picture of him. That was weird and sad. Some dudes got arrested last month in a bizarre scheme to kidnap the Biebs and harm him in a brutal fashion that I will not describe here. That was plain crazy. But, it's all just part of growing up, I suppose. He'll make it through these awkward years just fine, and I predict he will have a rewarding acting career later in life, starring in a buddy cop movie in 2022 with Marky Mark, Justin Timberlake and a 3D hologram Dennis Hopper. RB

'BABY' NO MORE: Pop megastar Justin Bieber returns to Verizon Arena Thursday.
'BABY' NO MORE: Pop megastar Justin Bieber returns to Verizon Arena Thursday.
LOCAL ROAST: Chef Travis McConnell hosts a pig roast Sunday at Dunbar Community Garden.
LOCAL ROAST: Chef Travis McConnell hosts a pig roast Sunday at Dunbar Community Garden.

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