- EN ESTE MOMENTO: Chilean vocalist and composer Claudia Acuña joins percussionist Chembo Corniel, flautist Nestor Torres, pianist Elio Villa Franca, bassist Richardo Rodriguez, and drummer Diego Lopez for an evening at South on Main as part of Oxford American's Jazz Series.
LATIN JAZZ ALL-STARS
8 p.m. South on Main. $30-$46.
Here's the bad news. Superstar trombonist Steve Turre unexpectedly bowed out of this show, as well as the ensemble's appearance at Fayetteville's Walton Arts Center scheduled for the following night. The good news? The rest of the Latin Jazz All-Stars are on — including the debonaire Puerto Rican jazz flautist Nestor Torres — and they brought in a hell of a pinch hitter, Claudia Acuña. Acuña, a Chilean-born songwriter and arranger, has a warm, fluid delivery and a sense of her own place within the ensemble that belies stereotypes about vocalists. Saxophonist and bandleader Branford Marsalis said of her, "Claudia has great instincts, and is one singer who is actually a musician — one of us." For a sense of how purely and seamlessly she weaves her line into the texture of a combo (and how colorful the Spanish language can sound when she does it), check out the video recording of Acuña singing "Tulum" at Teatro Municipal de Santiago in 2007, a song she wrote seaside on the Yucatan Peninsula. Acuña or Torres — either way, this show was bound to be a stunner, but if we know anything about jazz musicians, it's that they thrive on the unexpected, right? Expect to be mesmerized. SS
- Shannon O'Rear Palmer
- Twang Darkly
2ND FRIDAY ART NIGHT
5-8 p.m., galleries downtown. Free.
The Historic Arkansas Museum gets people in the holiday mood this December gallery stroll with its "13th ever Nog-off," a contest to see who can make the most delicious and inebriating combination of whiskey, cream and eggs and live to tell the tale, or at least to vote on the best. There's art, too! Before you start seeing double, check out the galleries for work by Daniella Napolitano, Carmen Alexandria Thompson and 19th century artists, the latter work purchased through HAM's Gala Fund. The Butler Center, not to be outdone, will take visitors by the paint brush and send them off with winter-themed art work they've made themselves while listening to Christmas in Space with Chris and Karen (and yes, there's art to see, including the Arkansas Pastel Society's national exhibition and more.) Photographer Margo Duvall has an exhibition of photographs at the Cox Creative Center next door. The Old State House's 2nd Friday attraction is "Twang Darkly," which is not the ominous sound of a banjo coming from the riverside but a group of musicians who play on homemade instruments, in conjunction with the exhibition "True Faith, True Light: The Devotional Art of Ed Stilley." Head south for more art and festivities at Gallery 221, McLeod Fine Art, Bella Vita and club Sway, which is hosting its "Antigallery Xmas Edition." Mariposa Gallery on Capitol, Nexus Coffee on President Clinton Avenue and the Copper Grill are also 2nd Friday participants on the free trolley route that will transport you — nogged perhaps — between venues. LNP
- Candise Kola
- 'START WITH THE SOUL': Alvin Youngblood Hart returns to the White Water Tavern Friday night.
ALVIN YOUNGBLOOD HART
9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.
The world could use more musicians like Alvin Youngblood Hart. An Oakland native by way of Mississippi, he's often lumped into the blues genre, but AYH seems more a seeker of knowledge, a musical pilgrim willing on a Friday night to share his journey with congregants of the White Water Tavern for 10-buck tithes, a church where the balcony has pool tables. Here we have a man steeped in the sacred texts of Leadbelly and Little Rock native Jim Dickinson who can credibly participate in a tribute to jug band hokum kings the Mississippi Sheiks while also paying respects to such unrespected 1970s fuzz bands as the Flamin' Groovies and Black Oak Arkansas. "I have a great disdain for genre segregation," AYH explains in a simple declarative style evocative of more modern translations of the New Testament. "I try to avoid that practice." Preach on, Mr. Hart. Preach on. SK
- J. Fusco
- DRAGON LIGHTS: Tianyu Arts & Culture brings an elaborate Chinese lantern installation to the Arkansas State Fairgrounds.
FRIDAY 12/8-SUNDAY 1/14
ARKANSAS CHINESE LANTERN FESTIVAL
5:30 p.m.-10 p.m. daily. Arkansas State Fairgrounds. $10-$15.
This outdoor walk-through experience with colorful lights, acrobats and crafts at the State Fairgrounds appears so impressive it could capture everyone from the toddler set to the stoner set. The festival ups the ante with a 200-foot-long dragon and a lantern pagoda three stories high. If you still have retina function after the more than 30 lantern displays, check out the folk dance and acrobatic show, where jars will be balanced, plates will be spun and faces will be changed (?! Don't get too close, apparently.). Wind down with the handicraft showcase displaying calligraphy, wire weaving and such — and, why yes they do have these crafts available for purchase. When having strangers/family in your house for the holidays becomes just too much of a good thing, you've always got the Arkansas Chinese Lantern Festival. Even on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. SK
CHRISTMAS WITH THE ANNIE MOSES BAND
7:30 p.m. Maumelle Performing Arts Center, 100 Victory Lane. $25-$35.
Six Juilliard-trained siblings dress up in gorgeous formal wear and play lily-white, unshakably wholesome renditions of Yuletide fare, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "O Holy Night" with harp and cello and viola. That's mostly what you need to know about the Annie Moses Band, and maybe that their collaboration was inspired not only by their fieldhand great-grandmother — for whom the band is named — but by a divine vision the siblings' mother, Robin, received in college, as she told the Christian Broadcasting Network's "The 700 Club:" "We had some Suzuki violinists that came and played in our music survey class. There was a little-bitty girl from Asia, and she was so tiny and cute. She had a violin. ... God spoke to me at that point and said, 'When you have a little girl, they should do that.' " Well, they did, only with mandolin and electric guitar, and maybe you don't necessarily need to agree with the biblically rigorous tenets extolled on the band's website under the sub-tab "Exceptional Living" to dig their sound. SS
7:30 p.m. Vino's. $8.
As the two Johns of They Might Be Giants sang, "Youth culture killed my dog." It was commentary, John Flansburgh said in a 1985 interview with Spin Magazine, on the exclusionary nature of culture clubs: "It isn't about whether we feel we're on the inside track or the outside track. It's about the horrible feeling you get from other people telling you you're on the outside track. That's the whole point of 'scene' — all these things are meant to make people feel bad. That's the problem." I think it's maybe some notion of "scene" that keeps lots of us in our respective comfort zones when it comes to entertainment venues, keeping the thirtysomethings from, say, attending an all-ages show at Vino's. If you're feelin' froggy about venturing out of that safety net, this is a pretty sure bet. Sabine Valley is comprised of four musicians, two of whom are students at eSTEM High School — drummer Will Caig, guitarists Oliver Lorgen and Mayra Velazquez, and vocalist Favi Alba — with smart lyrics and a fiercely energetic, steamrolling sound. Alba can wail, as you learn in the span of the steamrolling six-second excerpt at the top of the band's Facebook page, and the band summons angst in the track "The Temple" that makes me wanna break out L7's "Smell the Magic" and everything I own by The Breeders. They're joined by Lydia Solis and the Vilonia-based Wild Yam, a metal quintet whose biography states, "Our goal is to be as wild as a yam can be." SS
BOB BOYD SOUNDS
8 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. Free.
How sparse are our experiences of the American Songbook these days, let alone unironic ones, and how thankful we probably ought to be for the archival tendencies of artists like Nellie McKay and our own Bob Boyd, who preserve and interpret tunes like "Pennies From Heaven" and "Stompin' at the Savoy" without contempt or innuendo. Tunes that might otherwise get dropped off the set list in favor of cutesy, twee takes on Bon Jovi or Radiohead stick around. In fact, as far as I can tell, "I Just Called To Say I Love You" is the most contemporary song on the Bob Boyd Sounds playlist, and where other vintage jazz acts might have skimped on the swing era's affinity for (or appropriation of, depending on whom you ask) Latin American rhythmic structures, the quartet has a spot for "Samba de Orfeo" or "Watch What Happens." There's another thing, too; it's not even accurate to describe Boyd's work as "vintage;" after all, dude was born in the Dust Bowl era. Boyd is the genuine article, a childhood pianist who got his teaching career started at Rosen Music Studios and ended up founding the Boyd Music Center, a store and school that he ran for 38 years. He's an incredibly charming and witty performer who's been doing it since 1955, and here's your chance to see a true Arkansas treasure at work. SS
- Joshua Black Wilkins
- 'C'MON C'MERE': Blues guitarist Patrick Sweany plays an early Sunday show at the White Water Tavern.
6 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.
Everyone knows the blues is all right; it's even a song refrain. It's a safe bet there are more blues practitioners in the world right now than at any of the historical times that blues music was at a popular commercial peak. Rarer are the acts that can pull blues out of its amber preserves, where most prefer it confined, and attempt to scratch a new groove in an old 78 rpm record. That's Patrick Sweany. A White Water Tavern veteran, in town for an early Sunday show, Sweany seems to prefer his blues hill-country style. But your typical groover wouldn't notice such mundane detail, so well blended is the Sweany sound with the funky country of Bobby Charles and The Band. The Ohio native's not going to beat you over the head with genre. Sweany doesn't wear old timey clothes, his amp doesn't look like an old radio, and he didn't buy his guitar just 'cause it looked beat up. This is music informed by the blues, and information is power. SK
7:30 p.m. Reynolds Performance Hall. $30-$50.
Thanks to AETN, you can stop trying to pause that video of "Classical Gas" at just the right moment to take note of Tommy Emmanuel's finger placement and just enjoy the man himself, in person, as part of his "Classics & Christmas" tour. The Australian guitar god seems to have no wrong answers when it comes to the question of how many strings on a guitar may be plucked at once and how expressively the guitar can function as a percussion instrument. Chet Atkins, his mentor, called him "fearless," and his recording career of nearly 40 years testifies to that attitude. Tightrope walkers typically have but one taut wire to navigate; Emmanuel does his daredevil act with six. See aetnfoundation.org for tickets. SS
- The Obsessed
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
If you're in bad need of an antidote to silver bells and the saccharine strains of "Jingle Bell Rock," I can recommend no salve more healing than the doom metal riffs of Scott "Wino" Weinrich and The Obsessed. The band started up under the name Warhorse around the time of the United States Bicentennial, and has since released intermittent but potent records in the neighborhood of Sabbath, full of demented but catchy rock refrains, some of which leaned heavily on the band's context as a Washington, D.C., outfit: "Does the pope shit in the wood? He might be damned/hoarding all his ill-got goods with Uncle Sam." The Obsessed in its current formation, a Wino-fronted trio with bassist Reid Raley and drummer/vocalist Brian Constantino, returns to the White Water Tavern for some holiday metal cheer; think less "Sleigh Ride" and "All I Want for Christmas," more "Tombstone Highway" and "Concrete Cancer." SS
LUCIE'S PLACE HOLIDAY PARTY
6 p.m. Lucie's Place, 300 S. Spring St., suite 715. $5 donation or wish list item.
In just a few short years, Penelope Poppers and her crew at Lucie's Place have made thousands of patient, deliberate moves whose sum equates to a major impact on the lives of displaced and homeless LGBT young adults in Little Rock. The organization operates out of this spot on Spring Street, a three-room drop-in day center, and is on the cusp of opening and outfitting a second transitional home elsewhere for its clients. To that end, Lucie's Place is inviting folks to drop in for some Lost Forty beer and check out the work they do, and to lend a hand to the housewarming effort by donating something from the Lucie's Place Amazon wish list; things that, in the words at the top of the inventory list say, "help folks feel more human and get back on their feet," like underwear, socks, sheets, combs and a lockbox to keep personal items. Or, if your pockets are a little deeper, you could gift the new house a bed frame, a coffee maker for the new shelter's kitchen or a Chromebook for Lucie's Place folks to study and to fill out job applications. And, if you can't go to this particular drop-in shindig but wanna support the work Lucie's Place does, check out Yoga in the Rock's "Om for the Holidays" at Capitol View Studio 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 9, an all-levels, no-experience-required 90-minute yoga class led by Samantha Harrington; the $15 entry fee ($20 at the door) benefits Lucie's Place. Oh, and there will be live music from The Admires and John Burnette, which should definitely help you relax, breathe and reach your way into that downward dog. SS