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Denny and Wilde weekend

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CHRIS DENNY: Rising talent.
  • CHRIS DENNY: Rising talent.

There seems to be little debate over the idea that Chris Denny has the talent to become nationally known. The 23-year-old North Little Rock native has the voice of a young Roy Orbison, a high warble that makes the hairs stand up on your arm. But the music business is notoriously fickle; talent doesn’t guarantee anything. So it’s heartening to hear that Denny will release his sophomore album on Brooklyn’s 00:02:59 Records in August and that one of New York’s most influential PR agents, whose clients include Björk and Emmylou Harris, will represent him. Before he heads east in a couple weeks to start prepping for his release, he performs with his backing band the Old Soles, a two-man outfit that includes longtime supporter Marcus Lowe on drums and stand-up bass aficionado Chris Atwood. Denny and the Soles will mix originals and standards and a lot of the time you won’t know which is which. The fledgling experimental act Wester Meds features a trio of local celebrities: former gubernatorial candidate Rod Bryan, Localist publisher TJ Deeter and perhaps Little Rock’s best guitarist, Charles Wyrick. Together, they’ll mix experimental elements, including CD and phono turntables, samplers, keyboards and guitars.

9:30 p.m. Friday, May 11. White Water Tavern, 2500 W. 7th St., LR. $5. 375-8400

A MAN OF NO IMPORTANCE

From the creators of “Ragtime,” “A Man of No Importance” follows the life of Alfie Byrne (Duane Jackson), an Oscar Wilde-obsessed bus driver in Dublin in the ’60s. In his off hours, he directs an amateur theater group called St. Imelda’s Players, who aim to stage Wilde’s play “Salome” — scandalous severed-head-kiss scenes and all — at the local Catholic church. The ensuing conflict over the meaning of art brings to the fore an inner conflict within Alfie that forces him to take a stand. With spirited Irish melodies, the musical was one of the best-reviewed Off-Broadway productions when it debuted in 2002.

7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 11 and 12 (and for the next three weekends); 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 13 and 20; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 24. The Weekend Theater, 7th and Chester. $18. 374-3761.

WILDWOOD WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL

A fund-raiser for the Wildwood Education Fund, the 11th annual Wildwood Wine & Food Festival will feature more than 350 wines from around the world and food from 15 area restaurants, including Aydellotte’s, Blue Agave, Bouldevard Bread Company, Cafe 42, Capriccio Grill, Gauchos, Lilly’s and Terrace on the Green. The fund-raiser will also offer a cigar bar and music by pianist Stratsimir Pavlov.

6:30-9 p.m. Friday, May 11. Wildwood Park, 20919 Denny Road. $50.

For reservations call

821-7275, ext. 232.

THE MUSIC OF JOHN WILLIAMS

There’s surely no contemporary composer more well-known than John Williams. The author of such classic film scores as “Star Wars,” “Schindler’s List” and the “Indiana Jones” trilogy, Williams is a five-time Oscar winner and the second most Oscar-nominated individual (with 45 nominations). On Saturday, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will perform a selection of the composer’s scores and test the audience’s knowledge with a “Movie Trivia Game.”

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 11 and 12. Robinson Center Music Hall, Markham and Broadway. $16-$70. 666-1761 ext. 21,

www.ArkansasSymphony.org.

VIOLENCE AT THE VILLAGE

There won’t be any fish-hooking, eye-gouging, small-joint manipulation, headbutting, attacking the groin, back-of-the head striking, spitting or rabbit punching. But just about everything else is fair game in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), the all-embracing style of combat that’s quickly becoming one of the world’s most popular sports. Driven by the incredible rise in popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a once almost clandestine sport that’s now sanctioned all across the country, MMA seems on its way to overtaking wrestling and boxing as the country’s most popular combat sport. The gist: Fighters trained in often wildly different fighting styles battle it out. Like, say, someone versed in the ways of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu takes on a Greco-Roman wrestler. A successful MMA fighter, however, employs a broad combination of fighting styles. Fights end when one participant taps out, is knocked out or when the referee stops the fight.

Through his company Modern Ringsport, local promoter Danny Dring is putting on an amateur bout at the Village. Dring is bringing in a cage, similar to the one used in UFC matches, and he says the venue will remove its stage to accommodate it. At least 24 fighters from MMA gyms across the mid-South will be on hand for a full-card of fighting. If that isn’t enough for any red-blooded fight fan, there’ll be ring card girls, too.

7 p.m. Saturday, May 12. The Village,

3915 S. University Ave. $20 general, $40 VIP

570-0300, www.thevillagelive.com.

ROBERT EARL KEEN

Like many of his Lone Star state forebears, Robert Earl Keen works a lot of tones into his songwriting. As well as anyone, he can do noir-ish narratives, sensitive, contemplative numbers and raucous drinking songs — sometimes in the course of one song. Birthed from the same Texas folk scene that produced Nanci Griffith and Lyle Lovett, Keen emerged in the early ’80s in Austin, briefly tried his hand in Nashville, and for the most part, has called Texas home since. Impressively prolific, the alt-country hero toured more than 200 dates a year for a good chunk of the ’90s. Fittingly, his signature song is “The Road Goes on Forever,” a song with a chorus made for shouting: “The road goes on forever/and the party never ends.” On his latest studio album, “What I Really Mean,” Keen covers Arkansas legend Jimmie Driftwood’s song “Long Chain.”

9 p.m. Saturday, May 12.

Rumba-Revolution, 300 President Clinton Ave.

$22 ADV/$25 DOS. 823-0090.

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