9 p.m. Stickyz. $13.
Before a few days ago, I didn't know anything about Elizabeth Cook, but I do now and I'm here to tell you, this gal is a genu-wine country charmer and a fine singer and songwriter as well. She hails from the Sunshine State, but not from the Real Housewife-and Lamborghini-infested climes of Miami. No, she's from Wildwood, a "total pit cow-town; it's not like Disney World," she told Craig Ferguson. She got started playing music young, accompanying her parents. Her mother was a West Virginia native and a mandolin picker and guitarist and her daddy a musician and a welder by trade, one he learned while incarcerated for running moonshine. Her folks met after he'd served eight years. Cook moved to Nashville after college and wasted no time at all, releasing five albums, making hundreds of appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and hosting her own radio show, "Elizabeth Cook's Apron Strings," on SiriusXM's Outlaw Country channel. Her 2007 album "Balls" was a welcome shot of real country, sure to please everyone who prefers Dolly and Loretta over So-and-So or Whatshername or whoever's on top in the pop-oriented world of mainstream country. Those two legendary country ladies are name-checked in Cook's paean to working women, "Sometimes It Takes Balls to be a Woman" (which, as certain Internet pundits have conjectured, is sure to be immortalized as a drag-show standard). Her latest long-player, 2010's "Welder," includes the playful "Snake in the Bed," and "Yes to Booty," but also takes some heart-wrenching turns with "Mama's Funeral," a tribute to her mother, and the lilting tale of "Heroin Addict Sister."
THURSDAY 5/17 AND FRIDAY 5/18
ARKANSAS NEW PLAY FEST 2012
7 p.m. Oxford American. $7 per reading, $20 full pass.
This marks the second year that The Arkansas Repertory Theatre has teamed up with TheatreSquared of Fayetteville to host a Central Arkansas production of The Arkansas New Play Fest (the Northwest Arkansas dates for the festival are May 18-20 at Nadine Baum Studios). "The collaboration is designed to introduce promising new works for the stage to audiences in Northwest and Central Arkansas and to encourage conversation about the themes of these new plays," according to TheatreSquared. This year's lineup includes readings of "Uprooted," a family drama by Clinnesha Dillon Sibley about a successful actress returning to her small hometown for her mother's funeral; "The Football Project," the story of a high school football team that becomes enmeshed in controversy and the reaction of the team's hometown, by Samuel Brett Williams; Robert Ford's "The Spiritualist," about a school cafeteria cook and self-proclaimed psychic who communes with dead composers; and "The Ballad of Rusty and Roy," the tale of two brothers — both musicians — whose careers follow different paths after they move to New York City, by Troy and Jonny Schremmer.
8:30 p.m. Revolution. $15 adv., $20 d.o.s.
Back in 1954, when Hank Thompson heard that girl's singing coming over the radio there in Oklahoma, what must he have thought of that sassy voice, springing out of a singer who wasn't yet out of high school? What must the young men of the era have thought of the stunningly gorgeous belle who shook her hips and strummed a guitar, fringe and frills flailing, singing in that hiccupping, early rock 'n' roll style, "Don't stop, honey bop." Lord, have mercy. And then she went country. And then Christian. And then rockabilly revival. And then Jack White. And it was all good. What a career Wanda Jackson has had. Don't squander this opportunity to see a for-real living legend, one who still has it and is making good music now, more than five decades after getting her start.
HINDER, TRAPT, THE DREAMING
9 p.m. Juanita's. $25 adv., $30 d.o.s.
SEPT. 12, 2057, NORMAN, OKLA.: Despite multiple hip replacements, two-and-a-half liver transplants, full-scalp hair plugs and innumerable facelifts and paunch-abatements, Austin Winkler is as devastatingly studly as ever. The Hinder frontman still cuts an intimidating figure, even at age 81 and even though he is swathed in what can only be described as a huge-ass pile of scarves. He sits at the bar of O'McFlannagin's Irish College Pub on a quiet weekday afternoon, stirring his drink with a bejeweled pinky finger. "You know these guys used to sponsor us," he says, referring to his Jägermeister and Kombucha spritzer. Winkler is feeling reflective, sharing anecdotes from his many decades as a rock 'n' roll wildman. "Our first album was called 'Extreme Behavior,' " he says. "But were we really that extreme?" He pauses, lost in thought, as the fading afternoon light from the window glints off of one of his five pairs of sunglasses. A slow half-smile creeps across his unnaturally taut visage as he begins to answer that rhetorical query. "I once had a 43-way. It's like a three-way, only with 43 people instead of just three. It's like, 40 times more awesome." More tales of tour debauchery followed at some length, including an episode at a "Malaysian albino colony" that left this reporter both dumbfounded and deeply shaken. But the fast times caught up with him eventually. There were the normal inner conflicts and ego clashes, sure, but there were also hang-gliding mishaps, boating disasters, international incidents of various sorts. So in the end, was it all worth it? Winkler takes a deep breath, a faraway look in his eye. Suddenly the door swings open and a bleached-blonde, black-leather-clad crone walks in and sidles up to the bar, a few seats down from Winkler. He eyes her discreetly, then whispers to the bartender: "Skyler, hey, Skyler!" The barkeep looks up, Winkler nods to him and then he fiddles with the stereo. A moment later, the Hinder classic "Lips of an Angel," comes on over the speakers. The wizened old hag begins to sway, her lips mouthing the words to the bombastic power ballad hit: "I gotta whisper / 'cause I can't be too loud." Winkler sees his opening. "Was it worth it?" he chortles, getting up to take a seat next to the geriatric enchantress. "You tell me."
GLOSSARY, AUSTIN LUCAS
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
This is probably the archetypal White Water Tavern show. Glossary and Austin Lucas have an intimate connection with the storied venue and with Travis Hill's Last Chance Records, which has issued several releases from both acts, including Lucas's "Live at the White Water Tavern." Glossary's latest, "Long Live All of Us," is the band's seventh full-length album, and boasts fantastic playing, with warm-sounding horns and jazzy piano touches. Lucas was recently in town for a house show that Times reviewer Joe Meazle wrote up. "Lucas sings with a great set of finely-tuned pipes that have that high-lonesome sound in spades," Meazle wrote, "and his lyrics are full of piss, vinegar and adolescent angst." Also playing this show is Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, out of Birmingham, Ala. The band just released a full-length called "There is a Bomb in Gilead." The group's bio describes them as being "as much Wilson Pickett as Fugazi, as much the Stooges as the Allman Brothers," and that sounds like a right-on description to these ears. All three acts will also play the Lucero Family Picnic on Saturday (see page 49).
8TH ANNUAL BUZZ-B-Q
10 a.m. North Little Rock RV Park. $10.
How could you make tender, delicious smoky, barbecue any better? How about by combining it with a bunch of live entertainment and it's all to support a good cause? Because that's what's in store at the 8th Annual Buzz-B-Q, where 90 teams — roughly split between pro and amateur — will compete in several categories to see who has the best, most delicious, tender, smokiest, fallin'-off-the-bone-est chicken, pork and beef. And get this: it's only $10 to get in (or $10 for two tickets if you buy them before Saturday), you'll sample all kinds of 'cue and hear music from a ton of local bands (including Jeff Coleman and The Feeders and Jeff Green) and hear commentary from 103.7 The Buzz personalities and the proceeds benefit Camp Sunshine, a four-day retreat especially for pediatric burn survivors that's funded by The Arkansas Professional Firefighters and is hosted at Camp Aldersgate every year. This is definitely a To-Do.
REAL COWBOY ASSOCIATION RODEO
7 p.m. Arkansas State Fairgrounds. $24.
I suppose that this needs to be said, because there are probably still a lot of folks who aren't in the know: Yes, there are black cowboys and black rodeos. Black folks have a long history of riding and roping going all the way back to the legendary cowboy Bill Pickett, who literally took the bull by the horns and invented the bulldogging technique of bringing down a steer. It's just one of the many, many parts of the African-American story that gets overlooked in history class. The Real Cowboy Association is one of the premier black rodeo organizations and comes to town on its "Baddest Show on Dirt" tour. In addition to all the calf roping, bull riding, barrel racing and all the rest, there will be a tailgate party starting at 3 p.m. outside the fairgrounds, as well as live music from Lafayette, La., R&B singer Cupid (known for the hit song "Cupid Shuffle" and the dance of the same name) and Michael Cooper, co-founder of the funk legends Con Funk Shun.