- Lisa Mac
- SWAMP SOUL: Marcella Simien brings her zydeco band to Mosaic Templars Cultural Center on Thursday night to raise funds for the 2017 ACANSA arts festival.
MARCELLA AND HER LOVERS
7 p.m. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. $35.
Since we last spoke with zydeco heiress Marcella Simien in November 2016, she's taken her frottoir and accordion savvy to the Beale Street Music Festival with an outsized, horn-enhanced version of her swamp soul outfit, filmed covers of The Strokes' "Someday" and Frank Ocean's "Self Control" with vocalist Brennan Villines, and hustled around Memphis doing "singing telegrams" to raise funds for her band's upcoming LP. All that's to say that an increasing number of listeners are falling head over heels for Simien's earthy, tongue-in-cheek delivery and barefoot joie de vivre, and I suspect the audience at this show — a fundraiser for ACANSA's 2017 arts festival, to be held Sept. 20-24 — will do the same. ACANSA's lineup this year includes The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, pianist Tatiana Roitman Mann, Secret Sisters, an exhibit of Will Counts' photography of the 1957 Central High School desegregation crisis and many other events. Check out the full schedule at acansa.org, and if you've got some cash to throw toward the organization's efforts, catch Marcella and Her Lovers.
TIM MCGRAW AND FAITH HILL
7:30 p.m. Verizon Arena. $70-$120.UPDATE: Verizon Arena has announced that Thursday's Soul2Soul show featuring Faith Hill and Tim McGraw has been canceled to give Hill two days of vocal rest, as ordered by her doctor. Tickets will be refunded at the point of purchase, Verizon said. Folks in Nashville won't be so unlucky; The Soul2Soul tour will resume there Friday.
It was 2007 when the so-called "King and Queen" of country music last went out on tour together. About 10 years before, McGraw proposed, and Hill responded with an all-caps "YES" graffitied in Sharpie on the mirror that hung in McGraw's dressing room. They've got three teenagers now, and they've made the rounds on talk TV the last several months in anticipation of this "Soul 2 Soul" World Tour, playing adorable, G-rated games of "Never Have I Ever" (spoiler: they've used each other's toothbrushes) and showing off cellphone shots of McGraw's drawer of Ellen DeGeneres-branded underwear. If you cooed at any of that, or if you still know the words to "This Kiss" (don't lie), this show's for you. Lest you worry that "Live Like You Were Dying" didn't make the set list and your high-dollar ticket will be for naught, don't. McGraw's so tired of the tune he nearly cut it, but Hill and thousands of fans have convinced him to keep it around.
- Gregg Roth
- MAKE THE KILL: Elise Davis performs tunes from her latest, "The Token," at South on Main Thursday night.
8 p.m. South on Main. $10.
For those who claim country music as their jam but would wrinkle their noses at the prospect of Thursday's night's Verizon Arena offerings (see below), Elise Davis is bringing tunes from last year's Make the Kill Records/Thirty Tigers release "The Token" to South on Main (and if her prolific songwriting in the past is any indicator, probably some new ones, as well). Recorded in a cabin in Maine last January with Sam Kassirer — a producer who's fine-tuned albums for Erin McKeown, Josh Ritter, Elephant Revival and Lake Street Dive — "The Token" is "a sort of diary, a collection of stories/feelings centered on the friction between a more modern path against that of a traditional sort," Davis told Vice Magazine's music blog. "The record also speaks to females being in more control than they are given credit for in many instances across the human spectrum. And that's not a matter of body. It's a matter of prowess." Davis' 2016 release has prowess in spades, accented with lots of electric guitar, heavy echo, cigarette smoke and melodies captured with enough clarity to boast all the colors of Davis' voice. For these reasons and many more (not the least of which is the aching, tender "Married Young"), count me among the crowd that was elated to discover that the Little Rock native is back in the studio, and that there are violins involved.
607, $ME, TSUKIYOMI, DJ DOOLEY
8:30 p.m. Vino's. $5.
"You won't come." That's the text that scrolls across a poster detailing the lineup for 607's upcoming show(case) at Vino's, and it's a line in the sand the rapper, whose given name is Adrian Tillman, has grown accustomed to drawing. More broadly, though, it's Tillman's way of daring audiences who might not typically show up at rap showcases to step out of their own comfort zone. For the many Little Rock residents who have expressed a desire to counter a rising level of violence in the city, it's a challenge to make good on those intentions — not with a feel-good fundraiser or "stop the violence" picnic, he says, but by showing up and absorbing some of what the city's up-and-coming rappers and producers have to offer. For starters, there's Tsukiyomi, a prolific 19-year-old rapper who does all his own album art and taught himself Japanese (check out the second verse of his track "Kyoto" on SoundCloud). Tsukiyomi is joined by DJ Dooley, Phatte400 and Self-Made Entertainment and 607 himself. If you can't make it, here are 15 hip-hop artists with Arkansas connections to cue up on Spinrilla, Spotify, YouTube or elsewhere: Bazi Owenz, Bilayshia, QuarterPiece, Fresco Grey, Ferocious, Feezi Redd, King Dyl, DMP Jefe, Beedy, the prolific Yuni Wa (catch him at White Water Tavern Tuesday, Aug. 8, with Joshua Asante), Wuda, Big Piph, Goon des Garcons, Solo Jaxon and SA (SoloAct). To check out my full conversation with Tillman, visit our entertainment blog, Rock Candy.
- AXL, DUFF, SLASH AND STURGILL: Country maverick Sturgill Simpson opens the highly anticipated Guns N' Roses show at War Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
GUNS N' ROSES
6:30 p.m. War Memorial Stadium.
In the words made famous by Dionne Warwick in 1968, "Promises, promises, this is where those promises, promises end/I don't pretend that what was wrong can be right." Two decades ago, the members of Guns N' Roses swore they'd never tour together again, and, well, here we are. The reunited Duff McKagan, Slash and Axl Rose doubled down on the reconciliation routine with a stop in St. Louis last Thursday, a city they avoided after a 1991 performance of the song "Rocket Queen" ended in destruction (hey, the words "Appetite for Destruction" were right there in the album title!) and was thereafter known as the Riverport Riot. Since then, they've torn through Minneapolis, where they played for three hours and left enough time for Axl to drop in on an adjacent Billy Joel concert. Now, the tour is headed for the storied War Memorial Stadium, where GNR will perform with country music rabblerouser Sturgill Simpson. Simpson, a GNR fan since childhood (his mom threw away copy after copy of "Appetite" after seeing the album art, he told Marc Maron on the comedian's "WTF" podcast last May), is returning from Japan to join the tour in Denver, Little Rock and Miami, where he'll likely confound the uninitiated by ripping out tunes about spirit molecules and psilocybin mushrooms. If you were scratching your head when you heard a country artist was slated to join GNR on the War Memorial bill, check out Simpson's January performance of "Call to Arms" on Saturday Night Live. Things might make a little more sense. P.S.: Unlike at Razorback football games, War Memorial will be selling beer for the concert.
- Jerry Moran
- 'VOICE OF THE WETLANDS': When he's not performing, guitarist Tab Benoit advocates for wetland conservation in coastal areas like his native Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.
8 p.m. Revolution. $20-$25.
Guitarist, songwriter and activist Tab Benoit has come to be nearly synonymous with his home state. Born in Baton Rouge, a resident of Houma in Terrebonne Parish and now a champion of coastal preservation through his nonprofit Voice of the Wetlands, Benoit plays with a percussionist's adherence to the beat, finding ways to make familiar blues tunes sound weird and wild again and avoiding the pitfalls that tend to make listeners like me flee from anything labeled "blues rock." He's been honored year after year at the Blues Music Awards, was named Conservationist of the Year by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation in 2009 and has set up shop in his own hometown with a club called Tab Benoit's Lagniappe Music Cafe. When he's not performing, Benoit's a tireless advocate for the swamplands, showing up in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere to discuss the ins and outs of arcane stuff like levee failures, coastal oil rigging and dredging policy. Whether a white guy can expect to be an ambassador for blues music is a complicated question, and one that asks the inquirer to look deeply at the tradition's origins, to examine the logistics and consequences of the slave trade in states like Benoit's native Louisiana. If you asked Benoit's mentor and sometimes-collaborator Buddy Guy, though, don't expect a history lesson; he may well respond as he did when speaking about blues star Quinn Sullivan to an audience at his Chicago blues club: "I don't bite my tongue when I hear shit that I don't like. ... And I get a fuckin' stupid question asked of me a lot, and it's that, 'Can a white person play the blues?' And I say, 'I don't [have an] advantage over a white person. I've only got five fingers. If I had six fingers, I could answer you differently. Now, this young man can play."
- Jeremy Scott
- 'ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM': The Ben Miller Band, complete with members from Arkansas's Tyrannosaurus Chicken, lands at Four Quarter Bar Saturday night.
THE BEN MILLER BAND
10 p.m. Four Quarter Bar. $8.
Time heals all wounds, and we now know that pretty much the only thing that could successfully assuage the mudstompers who follow The Ben Miller Band after washboard maniac Doug Dicharry's 2016 departure was a giant dose of Tyrannosaurus Chicken. The band in its current iteration, with multi-instrumentalists and mad string scientists Smilin' Bob Lewis and Rachel Ammons, lands at Four Quarter Bar this weekend. That's a lot of band in a small space, especially considering Miller and co. evidently have zero problems projecting major energy and panache to enormous stadium and festival crowds elsewhere. For a taste of what the quartet can do without any amplification, check out the video for "Hurry Up and Wait" the group filmed in Amsterdam for Paradiso Sessions last September. For the full, amped-up, harmonica-through-a-telephone-receiver effect, check out the band's mashup of "Black Betty" and "John the Revelator."
7 p.m. 21c Museum Hotel. $5 suggested donation.
If, like a lot of Central Arkansas denizens, you've heard rumblings of cultural and culinary leaps in the Northwest corner but have yet to head up to check it out, add ArkansasStaged to the list of groups to keep on your radar. With a museum-hotel hybrid as a primary venue and a slightly left-of-center take on theatrical programming, Artistic Director Laura Shatkus and her team have been putting plays by, about and directed by women at the forefront. They performed Lauren Gunderson's "The Taming" on Inauguration Day with proceeds benefiting Planned Parenthood, and on Mother's Day, the company staged George Brant's "Grounded," about a fighter pilot who gets reassigned to directing drone strikes after she becomes unexpectedly pregnant. For this Sunday's experiment, ArkansasStaged puts up Donald Margulies' "Collected Stories," a story about a relationship between mentor Ruth Steiner and protegee Lisa Morrison that becomes strained when Morrison crafts an award-winning novel based on Steiner's secrets. The reading has a run time of around two hours, features actors Emily Riggs and Lauren Halyard, and is directed by Morgan Hicks.