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James Taylor comes to Verizon





9 p.m., Stickyz. $8.

"Actor-Caster," the handsome sophomore album from these NOLA poppers, has been one of my most-spun CDs for weeks now. Well, the active word there is "spun." I've spent hours gorging on the opening track, "Ten-Twenty Ten," with its Francophilic bop and that borrowed "Radar Love" guitar shuffle and John Hughes "aw shucks" vibe. Track two and everything after? Unblemished by lasers until today's morning commute. The verdict: sure, the album's a bit top-heavy, leading off with one of the best singles of 2011 and all, but if you're looking to fine-tune your Molly Ringwald skank, call it a 35-minute drill. It's sweet but never smug, clever without being complicated and, more than anything, super-duper catchy. On first brush, Phoenix springs to mind. Or maybe a state school Vampire Weekend. But the band lines up just as much with everything from Prefab Sprout and Talking Heads to The Easy Beats and that Ramones/Phil Spector fiasco. Also, '00s indie-pop aficionados will want to know that this group is a spin-off of late, design-loving saccharine-rockers The Eames Era. Barely legal Oxford, Miss., trio Young Buffalo opens the night with epic jangle rock covered by a thin shell of white-boy Afrobeat.



8 p.m., Verizon Arena. $45-$69.

On the singer-songwriter menu at American Music Diner, sure, you can order the Sweet Baby James. It's a standard tuna salad sandwich: a meek, colorless thing that's simple to make and unequivocally lacking in anything close to texture. But it's reliable enough. Tastes just like your mom used to make. Heck, it tastes just like everyone's mom used to make. And everyone's mom made tuna salad. It's a constant, unchanging thing: In 2011 it'll rest shapelessly on your plate the same way it did 40 years ago. It'll get you through the afternoon, but not much more. And it's bland enough not to stir up any base desires. I can almost feel my eyes fogging over just thinking about it. Now, you can look down on this Sweet Baby James tuna salad sandwich because of all the things it's not — crunchy, flavorful, hot, meaty or particularly memorable in any way — but dang it, sometimes the only thing that'll hit the spot is a lumpy dump of fish, egg and mayo on white bread.


6 p.m., River Market Pavilions. $25 adv., $30 d.o.s.

Here are 20 reasons to go to Foamfest: New Belgium Lips of Faith, Old Rasputin, Brother Thelonious, Ayinger Weisse Bock, Schneider Aventinus Eis Bock, Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale, Kong Ludwig Weisse, Work Truck Wheat, Rogue Somer Orange Honey Ale, Krebs Signature Belgian Dubbel, Moylan's Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale, Saison Dupont Belgian Ale, Moinette Artisanal Blonde, Joseph James' Hop Box and Red Fox, G.K. Skaggs' Alhambra Especial, Schneider Hepfen Weisse, Le Merle, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and even Sparks. 21: Three hours of all-you-can-sample beer with 140 brews on hand. 22: Diamond Bear will raffle off a year of free beer. 23: Proceeds benefit the Arkansas Arthritis Foundation. Tip your cab driver.


9 p.m., The Underground. $5.

On their upcoming debut album, "Kerfuffle," the local music veterans of the Hi-Balls wear their influences well and square on their gingham, Schlitz-spotted sleeves. Ronnie Hawkins, Hank Sr., whatever band did the theme for "Roseanne" — they're all here. Even a little Steely Dan jazz shimmy finds its way into the album on "Whiskey Groovin'." No doubt about it, this is deck music, Arkansas-styled with a splash of south Louisiana boogie for good measure. Think bug zappers, rice paper lanterns and lake breeze. Or think "Foamfest afterparty." The Hi-Balls are joined by local surf band the Reverburritos and blues-rockers Joe Pitts Band.


3:30 p.m., downtown Conway. Free.

Some of the coolest things around Arkansas were born from benders: Hoo-Hoo (formally The International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo), a lumberman's fraternity based in my dear ol' Gurdon, was conceived over booze, I understand. The larger part of Glenwood. And thanks to a few pie-eyed, riverboating scamps from decades past who would drink during Faulkner County stopovers until they "swelled up like toads," we have — voila! — Toad Suck Daze. In name at least, it's the best festival in all of America and, by default, the whole dang world. You know what to expect: toad races, three-on-three basketball, a golf tournament, a petting zoo, fried food, dudes who want a truck, touching a truck. Ankle-biters armed to the teeth with stink bombs and silly string. Leather belt vendors. People who walk slow. And it's all worth it (particularly since it's free). This year's entertainers include locals Adam Hambrick, Riverbilly and Wes Jeans playing beside Mr. Bojangles himself, Jerry Jeff Walker (Saturday, 9 p.m.), and zomgswoon! Kris Allen (9:30 p.m., Friday).



9 p.m., Revolution. $20.

Nope: Luke's not going to be here. He's busy running for mayor of Miami on a "tax strippers" platform — a stance that would be the stupidest economic plan in America if it weren't for Paul Ryan. In fact, just to spare you the disappointment, the bulk of the "Nasty As They Wanna Be" lineup won't be getting nasty on Saturday, either. But Fresh Kid Ice and Brother Marquis, the two emcees keeping 2 Live Crew alive, will take a break from being the house band for the traveling, adults-only Exxxocita convention to swing to the River Market. All right, let's cut to the chase. 2 Live Crew in 2011 is like rap's answer to Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2011: Yeah, they were great once, but only a tangential fraction of the original crew is touring under the name anymore and it's hard to make a case that they're not half-stepping for the money. Also, when the two-man 2 Live Crew is hitting the stage, Bobby Rush, that be-all, end-all, hump-all master of dirty ass-shakers, will be yards away at the Riverfest Amphitheatre (see In Brief), almost certainly doing it better and with a lot more energy. That said, this show is going to sell out and, hell, it's going to be a lot of fun regardless of who's down the sidewalk.


10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $10.

You may wonder how it's possible that a 91-year- old man recovering from a recent stroke is going to put on one of the most energetic, fun shows of the month, but one, with the rate T-Model Ford is going, he's probably going to live longer than either one of us and two, shut up. To quote the man himself, the Taledragger is "gonna remember you sorry fuckers how it's done." He can summon dirty Mississippi blues out of his totally metal Peavey Razer as well as he can drink whiskey. He can wink as well as he can cuss. The man may not write the bulk of his blues, but he sure can make the classics his own, turning (relatively) courteous standards into slobbering, slurring juke-joint jams. Fellow fans may be worried with a few points during his newest album, which features a nod or two towards death ("I Worn My Body for So Long," "Someone's Knocking on My Door), but as long as he keeps licking his lips towards big-legged women ("Big Legged Women"), I'm going to keep believing those nods are just defiant winks behind big, hard middle fingers.



10 a.m., River Market Pavilions. Free until noon, $10 from noon to 3 p.m., $20 after 3 p.m.

The Cinco de Mayo family fiesta returns for the 13th year on Sunday. The day-long event — and I mean day-long, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. — features homemade cuisine from Mexico and Central America, arts and crafts, games for los ninos and non-stop live music from the Ballet Folklorico Reflejos de Mexico, the Mariachi América, the Band F-5 and the Chicos Style from Dallas. The night ends with headliners Los Marineros del Norte performing its enormously popular brand of norteño, a peppy, rural polka full of guitar, accordion and, in this band's case, saxophone skronk.



9 p.m., Stickyz. $6.

The bookers at Stickyz know their psych/space-rock, treating us to the regular killer band over the last few years. Head-rattling shows from Black Mountain and School of Seven Bells come to mind and we're confident that this gig from monolithic drone rockers White Hills may float to the top of that heavy stack. The latest album, "H-p1," is the band's crowning achievement in a long, messy trail of disparate singles, EPs, vinyl and digital-only releases: all heavy as hell itself. Molding Eno ambience, skewered Merzbow boldness and a head bang that's more Boris than Black Sabbath but long-haired nonetheless, White Hills are, no doubt, one of the premiere experimental acts around. The band plays with another top-notch psych-act, the newly-exploding Sleepy Sun, a six-piece psychedelia collective from California that marries that well-trod Led Zep sound to a new freak-folk earthiness. Opening the night: Iron Tongue. Pysch/metalists in town know Iron Tongue. They're awesome.


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