COSBY, THE COO COO BIRDS
9 p.m. Stickyz. $5.
Just FYI — if one of your buddies asks you this week if you're going to the Cosby show, he or she is (probably) not having a stroke or a flashback or something. There's a new band called Cosby, formed by local vets Mitch Vanhoose and Chad Conder. They've got three tunes up on their bandcamp that sound very promising. Probably my fave so far is "I Think You're Cool," which kicks off with a vintage Kinks-kinda guitar riff followed shortly by a twisted gnarl of tortured guitar, which pops up later on in the tune. On first blush, the song comes off like a garage rock number, but other elements begin to weave in and out and that original riff gradually gets slowed down as the song falls apart. It's a fresh and creative take on an established sound, and I think it points to more good stuff to come from these dudes. They recently added some more members to the live lineup, including Ryan Hitt, Isaac Alexander and Jordan Trotter, so you know it's gonna sound good live. Headlining are The Coo Coo Birds out of San Francisco. They've got the reverb-soaked garage rock vibe down heavy and speaking of heavy, check this: Steve MacKay played sax on one of their tunes. If you're not familiar with him, you need to get your mitts on a copy of an album called "Funhouse" by a little rock 'n' roll combo called The Stooges.
9 p.m. The Afterthought. $7.
Here's a heads-up for fans of earnest, honest Americana that's a bit on the darker side: Rouxster will be playing an album release show Friday at The Afterthought. The band features Wade Derden and Mark Wyers on guitar and vocals, Chris Michaels on guitar, Dane Clement on bass and Dave Hoffpauir on drums and vocals. The album is called "Hardpan" and it was produced by Jason Weinheimer. I checked out a few of the tracks and they hit all kinds of country-rock sweet spots: twangy guitars, world-weary singing, a lively mandolin, some killer guit-solos, a perfect-sounding snare drum. "Gone Away" is particularly good, with some very good harp-blowing and that mandolin rising to the surface occasionally. The album cover (by Isaac Alexander) is also excellent. They got this rooster to smoke a cigarette, which in my experience is a very tough thing to arrange.
ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
7:30 p.m. Statehouse Convention Center. Free.
You've probably heard by now that Robinson Center Music Hall will be undergoing some pretty major renovations throughout next year. In addition to hosting a variety of other programming, Robinson is home to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Of course, the ASO will need to find another suitable venue for its next season, thus this free test run for the Wally Allen Ballroom at the Statehouse Convention Center. The ASO wants to find out what audiences think of the building and how the symphony sounds in there. To that end, they've put together a diverse array of music, including Rossini's "Barber of Seville Overture," Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite," and Strauss' "The Blue Danube," among several others. It's free, but you need to RSVP to email@example.com or call 501-666-1761 ext. 114.
MACARTHUR UNLEASHED GRAND OPENING
12:40 p.m. MacArthur Park. Free.
Is there anything the people love more than their dogs? Maybe ... . Actually, no, there's probably nothing the people love more than their dogs. That's why pet care is like a multi-gazillion-dollar industry and there are entire parks just for dogs to run around in and frolic with other dogs and so forth. This weekend, Saturday to be specific, we'll see the opening of MacArthur Unleashed, a new dog park situated in Little Rock's MacArthur Park downtown. If you've been to the Murray Park dog park, you dog owners know what to expect, as the rules are pretty much identical (among others, no dogs without people or vice versa; clean up after the dogs; updated shots and tags; no children younger than 10; no aggressive dogs; no pit bulls or other "dangerous breeds and mixes" and so forth). Also on Saturday at MacArthur Park, there's going to be The 8th Annual Dog-Gone Easter Egg Hunt, an Easter egg hunt specifically for canines. Registration starts at noon and there will be more than 5,000 treat- or prize-filled eggs stashed in the area around MacArthur Park Pavilion. There's going to be a dog parade (so dress up your furry friend), contests, prizes, food, photos and music from — who else? — the great country band The Salty Dogs.
MACHINE GUN KELLY
8 p.m. Juanita's. $20.
Machine Gun Kelly is the handle of Ohio-based rapper Colson Baker. He goes by MGK for those into the whole brevity thing. He recently won the MTVU Woodie of the Year Award, which is a thing. Last year, MGK was the Breaking Woodie winner. There's a video game that you can play on MGK's website. It's called "Nun Puncher," and the player controls a pixelated version of MGK as he helps nuns feed and clothe the poor. Just kidding, in the video game the nuns are trying to kill MGK and so he has to punch nun after knife-wielding nun (really, though, shouldn't they be wielding nunchucks?). You might have seen MGK about a year ago, when he played with Tech N9ne at Juanita's. He seems to be on the verge of blowing up big-time, though, so if you want to see him perform in a smaller venue, better take this opportunity. Also on the bill are Worldplay, T.Jay and Flint Eastwood.
25TH ANNUAL COMMUNITY EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE
7 a.m. Riverfest Amphitheatre. Free.
For 25 years now, people in Central Arkansas have been gathering together in Riverfront Park to observe Easter at sunrise. The service is ecumenical, which means it's open to all branches of Christianity. Participants will include news anchor Donna Terrell, Gov. Mike Beebe, former Miss Arkansas Sharon Bale, former Razorback football player Anthony Lucas and singers from Philander Smith College, Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church and North Little Rock High School. Offerings will be collected and the money will go toward the University of Arkansas for Medical Science's Cord Blood Bank of Arkansas. People are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets.
HOT 8 BRASS BAND
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern. $15.
Ask a music lover from New Orleans about the city's best brass bands, and in addition to Rebirth, Stooges, Dirty Dozen and probably a few others, you'll undoubtedly hear about how great The Hot 8 Brass Band is. I've not had the pleasure of watching those other bands, but in summer of 2006 I did get to see the Hot 8 absolutely smoke a roomful of people, many of whom just could not seem to figure out how to dance to that beat. That might be because it was at a convention for public radio fundraisers. But they were having a blast trying anyway. As has been pointed out by many others, The Hot 8 have faced a great deal of adversity since the band was founded by Bennie Pete in 1995. Trombonist Demond Dorsey died of a heart attack. Trumpeter Jacob Johnson was found shot in his home in 1996. In 2004, trombone player Joseph Williams was shot by police in disputed circumstances. In 2006, trumpeter Terrell "Burger" Batiste nearly died in a car accident, which cost him the use of both legs. Snare drummer Dinerral Shavers, who was interviewed in Spike Lee's documentary "When the Levees Broke," was murdered in December 2006. But the band has kept at it, touring the world and releasing albums on the U.K. label Tru Thoughts. In addition to the band, Joshua, of Velvet Kente, will do DJ sets. This show will probably go down as one of the most raucous nights in White Water Tavern history, so don't skip it.