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Hot Springs Jazz Fest, Robert Earl Keen and The Boondogs

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WEDNESDAY 9/14

HOT SPRINGS JAZZ FEST
Throughout Hot Springs. Ticket price varies.

The 20th annual Hot Springs Jazz Fest, which kicked off on Tuesday, continues on Wednesday with Piano-Rama in the Arlington Hotel's Crystal Ballroom (7 p.m., $25 adv., $30 at the door), where local pianists John Puckett, Tony Nardi, Chuck Dodson, Phyllis Emery, Ron Hall and Clyde Pound all perform. Thursday, Shirly Chauvin sings, with support by Clyde Pound on keyboard, Joe Vick on Bass and Paul Shaw on drums, at Quapaw Baths & Spa (6 p.m., $10). The Air Force Shades of Blue Jazz Ensemble performs at Oaklawn Magnet School (7 p.m., free) on Friday evening. Saturday is the big ticket event, "Jazz in the Streets," where the Hot Springs Jazz Society's Scholarship Jazz Ensemble, the University of Arkansas at Monticello Jazz Band, the Latin band Calle Soul, Henderson State's Nufusion, local ensemble Anything That Moves, the Fayetteville Jazz Collective and the Air Force Shades of Blue Jazz Ensemble all perform under the Sky Bridge on Broadway Street in downtown Hot Springs (11 a.m.-6 p.m., free). Sunday, St. Luke's Episcopal Church hosts a "Jazz Mass" (10:45 a.m., free) and the Stardust Big Band closes out the festival at Arlington Hotel's Crystal Ballroom (3 p.m., $8). LM.

THURSDAY 9/15

'RING OF FIRE'
8 p.m. Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

We've plugged the opening of the jukebox musical "Ring of Fire" in the newly renovated Rep elsewhere in the issue (more on page 14 and 20). But it bears mentioning that before the musical officially opens at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, the theater will stage two preview performances. On Wednesday, there's a Gala Preview, which kicks off with a red carpet reception at 6 p.m.; tickets, which were nearly sold out at press time, are $100. Alternately, those on a budget should consider the preview performance on pay-what-you-can night on Thursday, Sept. 15. Tickets must be purchased in person at the Rep's box office the day of the performance. Before that performance, at 6:15 p.m., the Times' Lindsey Millar will serve as a moderator in a discussion about Johnny Cash's legacy in Arkansas with "Arkansongs" host Stephen Koch and Beth Wiedower of the Arkansas Delta Rural Heritage Development Initiative. On Wednesday, Sept. 21, Millar again serves as a moderator for a panel on Cash in Arkansas that includes Christy Valentine with Arkansas State University and Sonny Burgess and Bobby Crafford of The Legendary Pacers. LM.

COUGH
8 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $7.

Back in nineteen eighty-whatever, when St. Vitus was confusing punk rockers and Bobby Liebling was still freebasing in his mom's basement, hearing a new doom metal band usually meant shelling out some considerable dough for a Witchfinder General import. But over the last couple of decades, the seeds of Black Sabbath have blossomed into thousands of ugly, fetid weeds – sub-genres and sub-sub-genres. Doom metal is now fully its own thing, so much so that it can be difficult to stand out. But Richmond, Va., band Cough is one that does. The group traffics in oppressive sludge doom, like a less bluesy Eyehategod, or maybe a scarier Corrupted, but with some classic doom riffage throughout. The band's 2010 album, "Ritual Abuse," was produced by Sanford Parker (who also recorded Rwake's "Voices of Omens" and "Rest") and it sounds incredible – the punishingly slow riffs shot through with wave after wave of crashing cymbals and pounding drums and swirling vocals that are split between singing and inhuman black metal shrieking. This band should be sick live. Opening acts are Black Orchid and Sol Inertia. RB.

FRIDAY 9/16

ROBERT EARL KEEN
9 p.m. Revolution. $20 adv., $25 d.o.s.

Robert Earl Keen wrote his first 15 albums "like a Buddhist monk standing around in a cubicle," he said recently. His latest, "Get Ready for the Confetti," which Lost Highway released in August, came together more like "a truck driver lighting a cigarette in the wind." Considering how much time the Texas troubadour's spent on the road in his 30-year career, that's a bit surprising. Maybe it's a reflection of some mid-life mellowing from Keen, who's 55. A lot of the songs on "Confetti," especially the title track, do have a breezy, driving-with-the-top-down quality. Still, despite the shift in songwriting philosophy, Keen continues to speak to the happy misanthrope in all of us (his greatest hits comp, released several years back, was aptly called "The Party Never Ends: Songs You Know from the Times You Can't Remember"), with plenty of sly puns, dark narratives and love songs about people who can't stand still. In other words, you'll be happy to hear them next to "Amarillo Highway," "The Road Goes on Forever" and all his other songs you know by heart. Cody Canada and the Departed open. LM.

ALISON KRAUSS & UNION STATION
8 p.m. Harding University. $40-$50.

Of all the unlikely yet enduring success stories in pop music, Alison Krauss has to rank up near the top. An angel-voiced child prodigy fiddler who found major success in the early '90s playing pop-inflected bluegrass? Who went on to figure prominently on the massively popular "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack and its resulting tour and concert film? Who then went on to record a collaboration with Robert Plant that sold like a zillion copies to Starbucks customers around the world? Huh. It's safe to say nobody saw that one coming. Hell, it's almost enough to make one not feel so cynical about the soullessness and prefab fakeness of most of the rest of the music industry. This performance includes dobro maestro Jerry Douglas. RB.

ARKANSAS TRAVELERS VS. SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS
7:10 p.m., Dickey-Stephens Park. $6-$12.

Friday marks game three of the Texas League Championship Series. Depending on how the Travs fared in San Antonio — where they went 0-6 this season — Friday's game could be the finale. Or the best-of-five series could continue in North Little Rock on Saturday evening (same time) and even to Sunday at noon. The series is an excuse for local fans to yell longer and enjoy Dickey-Stephens a little while longer in decent weather. But it's hard to get too worked up over the minor leagues, where players often move up as soon as they start to experience sustained success. The Travs lost nine consecutive after outfielder Mike Trout, one of the best players in the Texas League, got called up to the Angels in August. Nonetheless, for a good number of Travs' players, winning the Texas League Championship will be as close as they come to Major League glory. So go Travs. LM.

THE BOONDOGS
* 10 p.m., Browning's. $5.

Little Rock's favorite husband-and-wife-fronted pop-rock outfit launches a fall tour around Little Rock at 6 p.m. Thursday when they play a preview party of the opening of the new Arkansas Arts Center exhibit "Museum School Faculty: Past and Present." It's open only to Arkansas Arts Center members, though those who join at the door get $10 off membership (which ranges from $30-$80). Friday, the Boondogs play Brownings, the Heights' favorite new hangout, where owner Steve Davis' daughter Elise Davis — a standout pop singer/songwriter herself — is regularly booking local music on weekends. Saturday at 6 p.m., they play "Whoop-De-Do," a fundraiser on the lawn of the Old State House for the museum that includes a pie auction. Tickets are $25 per person or $45 for couples. On this mini-tour, look for the band to mix old favorites in with a few songs from co-lead singer/songwriter Indy Grotto's forthcoming solo album. It's already generating a lot of buzz locally among those who've heard bits and pieces. Longtime Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas, who Tom Waits has called "one of the best drummers alive," plays drums on it. The album's currently being mixed, but Grotto's husband and producer Jason Weinheimer said no release date has been set. LM.

*An early version of this entry had the dates for the "Whoop-De-Do" and Browning's confused.

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