- Chris McCoy
- NOTHING SHINES LIKE NEON: After 15 years touring with his band, Randy Rogers announced he'd buy the railroad venue where they met and began playing together. They perform at Rev Room 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, $22-$25.
RANDY ROGERS BAND
8:30 p.m. Revolution. $22-$25.
For somebody who reportedly grossed $2.5 million from touring in 2007, Randy Rogers seems to have successfully staved off any industry pressures to make him twangier, more chiseled, shinier or hyper-Texan. He and his band play mainstream-radio country music, and it's delivered with backward baseball caps, fiddle and not a whole lot of gimmick. The group's latest, "Nothing Shines Like Neon," features a love letter to the cultural stew that makes up the San Antonio nightlife, and Rogers has matched that artistic nod to South Central Texas with his pocketbook: A few times each year, the band departs from its big-budget stadium routine to play the ramshackle railroad bar where they met and began playing together, San Marcos' Cheatham Street Warehouse. And, when the honky tonk's founder and longtime owner Kent Finlay died in 2015, Rogers, a San Marcos native who'd cut his teeth there on open "songwriter nights," bought the venue himself. SS
ARKANSAS TIMES MUSICIANS SHOWCASE
8 p.m. Stickyz Rock 'N' Roll Chicken Shack. $5-$10.
We're closing in on the finals for the 25th annual Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, and two bands have already cemented a spot: Tom Petty-inspired Southern rockers DeFrance and self-described "girl gang" Dazz & Brie with their band, The Emotionalz. The third round promises to be just as eclectic as the first two, featuring John Macateer and the Gentlemen Firesnakes, whose "Monterey Canyon" — recorded in 2015 at Fellowship Hall Sound — caught our ears with melodica and surfy organ sounds and songs about something called "chroma rock." There's Fayetteville's The Inner Party, a smart post-punk outfit whose "1984"-inspired name is possibly more terrifying and relevant than when the band began in 2007, and who has experienced an astounding rate of drummer turnover over the last decade. ("Whenever we do find one, they are without fail always heavily involved in at least one other band, and we're always like the mistress they never leave their wife for," co-founder Dave Morris told the Fayetteville Flyer.) After that, Age of Man shows us all what it sounds like when crunchy Dirty Streets-style blues rock springs fully formed from El Dorado. Finally, there's Rah Howard, a harmonica player and hip-hop artist who flexes his videography muscles (and impeccable taste in shoes) to great effect in videos like "Everything," where he's deposited himself backward through time, into a hypothetical live performance at the Apollo Theater. SS
- Brian Chilson
- Graham Gordy
ARGENTA READING SERIES: GRAHAM GORDY
7 p.m. 421 N. Main St., North Little Rock. Free.
If you're a fan of Sundance's "Rectify" or Cinemax's "Quarry," or if you're just wondering what the hell all those cameras were doing over in Argenta last October, check this guy out. He's the writer behind those acclaimed shows and
director screenplay writer for Daniel Campbell's "Antiquities," Mortuus Pater Pictures' feature-length adaptation of Campbell's short film of the same name. The film, a comedy set in an antique mall (played by Galaxy Furniture), was inspired by Campbell's and Gordy's shared experience of having lost their own fathers — and of finding that pain poignantly expressed in a Loudon Wainwright song called "Sometimes I Forget." Gordy's talk for this new series is preceded by a nonfiction piece from author Ben McVay. Come early and catch a set from singer/guitarist Phillip Rex Huddleston, the composer behind the 2016 "White Nights" soundtrack, 6:30 p.m. SS
- Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
- Wilwood Park for the Arts' Swan Lake.
FRIDAY 2/10-SUNDAY 2/12
LANTERNS! WINTER FESTIVAL
6 p.m. Wildwood Park for the Arts. $5-$12.
I suspect that a great deal of "Lanterns!" patrons have elected to attend based solely on having seen a photo of the festival. That's what got me there, anyway. The calendar-ready images of Swan Lake jeweled with luminaries of all sizes creates a magical scene, particularly after the sun goes down, and the lantern-lined paths beg to be explored. Now in its ninth year, the festival takes place under the first full moon of the lunar new year. It's sort of a downsized Little Rock version of Epcot's World Showcase, in which each vista features theater, song, craft or dance inspired by a particular culture. "Once you come in, you're gonna walk in and be met by — who knew? The Canadian Embassy," Artistic Director Bevan Keating (a Canadian transplant himself) said in an interview on 94.9 TOM-FM. Two Mounties, Keating reported, will greet guests in what he called " 'Dudley Do Right' outfits," moving guests into an area featuring something called "Canadian Karaoke," and then out to wander the indoor and outdoor vistas, each of which features cultural touchstones from a different region: the Caribbean, China, France and the United Kingdom. Corresponding food and beverages characteristic of each of those places are available, which must be purchased with the festival's "Wildbucks" currency — available in exchange for actual bucks at four locations inside the park. Admission for children under 5 is free; shuttles run from Cafe Brunelle on the southwest side of the Promenade at Chenal. There is an ATM available inside the park, but it's a good idea to bring some cash along. SS
- Grace Mikell Ramsey
- "Lovely, Dark and Deep."
2ND FRIDAY ART NIGHT
5-8 p.m., downtown galleries.
In synch with Art Night, symbolist works — paintings by Grace Mikell Ramsey and mixed media sculpture by Luke Amram Knox — go on exhibit at the Historic Arkansas Museum in a show called "Modern Mythology"; Vino's Brewpub is supplying the beer. Ramsey was featured in a 2015 cover story in the Arkansas Times about emerging artists; Knox is an installation artist inspired by Jungian psychology. "Bruce Jackson: Cummins Prison Farm," photographs that are part of Jackson's work documenting prisons in Arkansas and Texas, opens at the Butler Center Galleries. Jackson, the Samuel P. Capen Professor of American Culture at the State University of New York at Buffalo, has been called the "dean of prison folklore" by the Wall Street Journal. "Subtle and Bold," fabric art by Sofia Gonzalez and paintings by Susan Chambers, both of Little Rock, continues at Arkansas Capital Corp.; Gonzalez will give a talk and demonstration about how she makes her dyes. The Old State House Museum is showing a movie for Art Night: "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," released in 1954. The movie begins at 5:30; soft drinks, beer, pizza and popcorn will be available. For other Friday night openings, see the In Brief column. LNP
- Foul Play Cabaret
SPA CITY SWEETHEARTS
8 p.m. Low Key Arts. $15.
For seven years running, the women behind the Foul Play Cabaret burlesque troupe have been putting on a striptease variety show incorporating magic, comedy, bare skin and lots of tassels for the benefit of Low Key Arts — namely, to benefit the arts organization's Valley of the Vapors Music Festival, now in its 13th year. Although you'd never know it by the stale, sluggish vibe that too often surrounds Oaklawn's slot machines, the Hot Springs gambling scene was downright wild back in the day, a rowdy mix of high rollers, hush money and booze laced with whatever-trips-your-trigger. Much of that scene's been traded in for big boxes and the corporately sanctioned sin over at the track, making touches of rowdy old Hot Springs like this worth relishing. When the Arkansas Times went to press, a Saturday night performance had sold out, but there were a few tickets left for the Friday night performance from the Spa City Sweethearts, billed as the "largest burlesque revue in Arkansas." (If there are any challengers to that title, we'd love to know.) So, act fast. SS
- Joseph Llanes
- Esme Patterson
8:30 p.m. Revolution. $20-$25.
Little Rock fans of Ben Nichols' rustic brand of roots rock will be giddier than Batman with a throat lozenge to know Lucero is in town this Friday night. The Nichols brothers (Ben, rock star, and Jeff, exalted director of "Mud" and "Loving") have forged a great, glowing path in American pop culture, with raw talent, hard work and determination. Lucero's many successes notwithstanding (the band is adored among the multitudes, including one Rachel Maddow — Rolling Stone reported that Lucero was her favorite artist), the band still occasionally plays smaller, more intimate venues. Along for the ride at Revolution is Esmé Patterson, whose new record, "We Were Wild," has been making the rounds among critics and fans since its release last summer. (Ahhhh ... last summer. Remember the innocence?) Patterson is a veteran of the music biz, having spent a decade toiling in it with her criminally underrated folk outfit, Paper Bird. Four records deep into that band, and after years of exhaustive touring, Patterson decided to forge ahead as a solo artist. She had a brief partnership with millennial catnip Shakey Graves. The press kit says, "You might remember her collaboration with Shakey Graves, which accrued over 15 million streams and landed TV performances on Letterman, Conan and Leno." I don't, but if you say so, press kit. Then, in 2016, Patterson released the "subtly charming" (Rolling Stone again) "We Were Wild," and it was off to the races, or the cold, lonely highways, as it were. The Rev Room is known for its live sound, so with these two outstanding acts, this should be a hell of a good show. AS
- Rett Peek
- Kevin Kerby
KEVIN & GUS KERBY
8 p.m. The Undercroft, Christ Episcopal Church. $10.
"Science is for those who learn; poetry, for those who know." That's the axiom that concludes a call-to-action Facebook page titled "Make Kevin Kerby the Poet Laureate of Pulaski County." One of the driving forces behind Ho-Hum, Battery and Mulehead — and therefore, behind the Little Rock songwriter scene in general — Kerby's metaphoric turns of phrase and deceptively standoffish wit keep some of us reaching for "The Secret Lives of All Night Radios" or "Apostle's Tongues" at predictable intervals. (At least 97 of us, if that Poet Laureate page represents an accurate count.) According to the words of "It's Not Needing What You Want, It's Wanting What You Need" from Kerby's 2012 release, "the way grows more confusing every day, day, day," and "you'll get no help from poets or philosophers you read," but anyone who's ever found a salve in Kerby's poems knows that last bit isn't entirely true. He's been around long enough to have gone and produced offspring, one of whom, Gus, plays violin like a dream. Gus joins his dad for this show in the basement-turned-brewery below Christ Episcopal Church, The Undercroft. SS
- I Was Afraid
I WAS AFRAID, HEADCOLD, ATTAGIRL, COLOUR DESIGN
9 p.m. Vino's. $7.
If delicious Americana rock melancholia steeped in stadium-quality sound isn't your thing, rather than seeing Lucero and Esmé Patterson at Rev Room, you have one more good option for live music on Friday night. Oh wait. Did I say good? I meant jaw-droppingly good. Little Rock's beloved I Was Afraid is releasing a 7-inch on San Antonio's Sunday Drive Records. Numerous times across social media, and for quite a while now, I have seen people randomly post a version of this: "I Was Afraid is my favorite band." I earnestly report to you that these posts were not made by band members, nor by flunkies. These posts are being made by friends and acquaintances of mine who know from good music. Not naming names. Unfortunately, I have not seen I Was Afraid live. However, I will probably be doing so this Friday night, in part because of my friends' recommendations, but also because of the freakishly good line up, which also includes Colour Design, Headcold and Attagirl. I played each of those artists when I was the host of Shoog Radio, and I am here to tell you that they are all excellent. If you like hard rock, and I mean cinder block hard rock crashing through your face like the apocalypse, you should make it a point to be at Vino's. Carve Friday night at Vino's into the back of your hand with a box cutter, or, if you're a soft, spongy, product receptacle, put it in your iCal. Just be there. AS
- THE MAN I WAS: Ahead of some time in Texas and California, Lucero returns to Little Rock on tour with Esme Patterson for a show at the Rev Room, 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, $20-$25.
'THE ERNEST GREEN STORY'
6 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. Free.
The violence and vitriol evident in the photos taken outside Central High School during the desegregation crisis give us an idea of what happened Sept. 25, 1957, but the Little Rock Nine had to contend with what isn't as photographically evident — a school year looming ahead of them, to be spent with fellow students and teachers who resented their presence. Ernest Green was the only senior in the group, the de facto leader, and was subjected to a daily ritual of harassment, about which he was reticent when he was interviewed by Life Magazine in 1958: "It's been an interesting year. I've had a course in human relations first hand." Despite the difficulty of that "course in human relations," Green earned his credentials as an Eagle Scout and graduated from Central High, accompanied at the ceremony by his family and by Martin Luther King Jr., who was in Arkansas to speak at a commencement ceremony in Pine Bluff. He's played in this film — shot mostly on location at Central High — by a young Morris Chestnut, fresh off his breakout role as Ricky in the 1991 film "Boyz n the Hood." Asked what he thought about the 1993 Disney film, Green said, "I was generally pleased with the movie. It had, as you can imagine, about an hour and a half to tell a set of events that took nine months. But I thought they captured the high points and the low points of my senior year." Admission to the film is free, but Central Arkansas Library System encourages audience members to register at the screening's site at eventbrite.com. SS