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Celebrate Juneteenth

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LIGHT UP: Alan Disaster fronts local punk rock outfit Smoke Up Johnny.
  • LIGHT UP: Alan Disaster fronts local punk rock outfit Smoke Up Johnny.

THURSDAY

KEVIN FOWLER

8 p.m., Revolution Room. $10.

Kevin Fowler has taken a fairly circuitous path on his way to becoming a country star in the Lone Star State. At 20, the Amarillo-native took off for L.A. to study at the Guitar Institute of Technology. Soon after, he returned to Austin, first to play in the metal band Dangerous Toys, then to form his own Southern hard-rock outfit, Thunderfoot. But Fowler couldn’t shake his West Texas roots, and by the late ’90s, he was playing self-described “working-class country music.” He named his first album, and the title of perhaps his biggest hit, “Beer, Bait and Ammo.” Late this summer, Fowler will put out a new album, which will feature a duet with George Jones. “What I Wouldn’t Give For Your Love,” the album’s lead single, is a feint of a weepy love ballad that turns into a honky-tonk stomper with Fowler listing off all the things he wouldn’t give up for love — a rusty old pick-up truck, leavin’ the toilet seat up, dippin’ snuff, a baseball glove, beer, Playboy and a few more things.

FRIDAY

JUNETEENTH

4 p.m., Riverfest Amphitheatre. $15.

After 10 years, organizers for Power 92.3 FM’s annual Juneteenth celebration seem to have finally bowed to their key demographic. This year’s line-up is all about the kids. Just about everyone who’s got a novelty rap song out now is on the bill. Perhaps none bigger, at least in the South, than Atlanta’s Da Shop Boyz, who’ve somehow managed to make a massive radio hit out of “Party Like a Rockstar,” which features, in an affected rocker voice, one of the rappers yelling on the chorus, “Totally, dude!” Also on the bill: Mims (“This is why I’m hot/I’m hot ’cause I’m fly/you ain’t ’cause you not”); Rasheeda (“I’m type of girl you wanna chew all of my bubblegum”); Huey (“Pop, Lock, And Drop It”) and Jibbs, who took the melody from the minstrel era mainstay “Turkey in the Straw” — more recently heard chirping out of ice cream trucks and as backbone of the kindergarten favorite “Do Your Ears Hang Low” — and made it into a song about his low-hanging gold (or is it platinum?) chain. Also in the line-up: T-Pain, the dreadlocked R&B flavor of the moment, who’s resurrected the vocoder from Roger Troutman; the Atlanta collective Crime Mob; North Little Rock’s own rap diva XXzotic; and Devin the Dude, a Houston-based MC who raps so slyly and soulfully about sex you could call it grown folks’ music.

“WORKING”

7:30 p.m., Weekend Theater. $18

Studs Terkel has spent more than half of his life chronicling the plight and joys of the common man. Over the course of dozens of best-selling books, Terkel has captured the words of everyday people through oral histories. Now, the Weekend Theater has revived the musical adaptation of “Working,” one of his most successful books. The musical features 26 workers — among them a parking lot attendant, sailor, waitress, housewife and fireman — singing and talking about their daily routines and their aspirations within or beyond the working world. Terkel’s interviews will feature prominently. The musical runs through July 1. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

SMOKE UP JOHNNY

9:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $6.

“Hey, smoke up, Johnny.” That’s what Judd Nelson’s character in “Breakfast Club” recalls his father telling him one Christmas after giving him his sole present, a carton of cigarettes. The dudes in Smoke Up Johnny, the Little Rock punk-rock act, have managed to cultivate a Judd-Nelson-in-“Breakfast Club” kind of collective look — lots of cut-off shirts, permanent scowls and circles under eyes. Gradually, over the last year or so, the band has earned the reputation as the best live, balls-to-the-wall rock outfit in town. S.U.J. members are alumni of dozens of formidable local acts. Bassist Matt Floyd, particularly, has experience looking tough and playing wild-out rawk as a member of Go Fast. But it’s the lanky, bespectacled, sleeve-hating lead singer, Alan Disaster, who deserves a lion’s share of credit for the band’s success. He writes pop-punk hooks catchy enough that the audience usually sings along. A regular highlight: the band’s cover of O.V. Wright’s (and more famously, Otis Redding’s) “That’s How Strong My Love Is.” The song usually comes late in the set, when Disaster’s voice has gone hoarse. It’s a sweet, earnest, shambolic mess. The Kerby brothers, Josh and Kevin, lead San Antokyo, which has a harder edge than Kevin’s typical output. Big Boots also plays in support.

THE SALTY DOGS

CD RELEASE PARTY

9 p.m., Whitewater Tavern. $5.

Little Rock’s honky-tonk heroes the Salty Dogs have a new record, “Autoharpoon,” and national distribution through Big Bender Records. The album, the band’s third, finds it honing its Western swing/classic country sound to near perfection. Lead singer Brad Williams was born in Marked Tree, but he leads the Dogs like he’s a natural heir to the Bakersfield sound of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Even twanged up, Williams has a clear, booming voice. He writes heartfelt songs about love and love lost, and on the band’s new record, a fuzzed-out, menacing blues about walking the line between heaven and hell that country shuffles towards redemption. Expect the Dogs to pull out covers familiar and obscure, including Percy Sledge’s “Take Time to Know Her” and Johnny Darrell’s “Why You Been Gone So Long.”

“THE MEDIUM”

8 p.m., Wildwood Center for

the Performing Arts. $20-$40.

Wildwood closes its season out with Gian Carlo Menotti’s haunting opera. The tragedy tells the tale of a fortune teller who rigs a room with moving lights and furniture to fool paying customers, but amidst a fake seance, feels a spectral hand grasping her neck. The medium is convinced that she’s the victim of a prank by either her daughter or the mute boy living with them who helps with the regular rouse. A subplot develops as the mute and the medium’s daughter fall in love. Menotti, who passed away earlier this year at 95, started composing songs when he was just 7 years old. Perhaps his best-known work is the 1951 Christmas classic “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” At 6 p.m. Saturday, June 16, Wildwood will host its annual founders’ celebration and fund-raiser, “A Summer Evening in the Garden.” The event will feature hors d’oeuvres, dinner, a live auction and dancing. Tickets are $150. A second performance of “The Medium” is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, June 17, at Wildwood.

SATURDAY

MOTHER’S BEST MUSIC FEST

10 a.m., Cherry Street Pavilion

and the Delta Visitors Center,

Helena-West Helena. Free.

Alvin Youngblood Hart headlines the second annual Mother’s Best Music Fest, named in homage to the Helena radio show broadcast on KFFA throughout the region in the 1940s. Hart was born in Oakland, Calif., but summers spent in northern Mississippi with grandparents shaped his blues sensibility. His latest album, 2005’s “Motivational Speaker,” features so much deep, riff-heavy blues-rock it could be a tribute to Led Zeppelin. R.L. Burnside called his longtime guitarist Kenny Brown, who recently appeared in and played on the soundtrack to “Black Snake Moan,” his adopted son. Rockabilly man C.W. Gatlin rounds out the line-up along with former Squirrel Nut Zipper Jimbo Mathus; William Lee Ellis, a classically trained musician turned bluesman; Memphis cigar box guitarist John Lowe and South Carolina bluesman Little Pink Anderson.

TUESDAY

THE EASYS

10 p.m., White Water Tavern. Free.

The Easys often get forgotten amongst its members’ other projects. Lead singer Isaac Alexander also heads up Big Silver and plays solo and together with three of the four other members in the Boondogs and the Libras. Somewhat quietly, the band put out “Blood Capsule” on Max Recordings earlier this year. A bittersweet pop-rock gem, it’s easily in the early running for local album of the year. The release’s roomy arrangements afford guitarist Charles Wyrick, who’s lately played in pop-rock bands even though he’d probably be more comfortable making noise-rock, a lot of room to make space noises on his guitar. And Alexander has never been sharper lyrically. Look out for “As the Vampire,” fast becoming the band’s signature track. The vocal hook “I could use your love/just like a vampire uses blood” leads into a shimmering, tailing guitar run that’ll be in your head for days. Rising Americana rockers the Only Children also perform, along with Fayetteville’s the Counterlife, a new project from members of Kings of New England.

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