8 p.m. Juanita's. $15 adv., $20 day of.
Lou Pearlman was born in Queens in 1954, the son of a dry cleaner and the first cousin of Art Garfunkel. He writes of his upbringing in his memoir, "Bands, Brands and Billions," recalling that he grew up near the Flushing Airport, where he would often sit and watch blimps landing and taking off. His first business plan was for a helicopter taxi service, but he quickly switched to blimps, founding Airship Enterprises in the 1980s. After the failure of that company, he decided to become a music mogul. (Every generation gets the Colonel Tom Parker or Kim Fowley or Malcolm McLaren it deserves.) He created the Backstreet Boys and later NSync, O-Town and LFO. There was also Aaron Carter, younger brother of one of the Backstreet Boys. Carter's career seemed like a very rich man's revenge on the listening public, a statement that had everything to do with Pearlman's own Mr. Burns-like confidence in his marketing omniscience. He was right to be confident, for a while. Carter's career was meteoric, in that it grew steadily smaller, disintegrated by the Earth's atmosphere as it approached the ground. In 2002, Carter sued Pearlman for racketeering and cheating him out of the bulk of his revenue. In 2008, Pearlman pled guilty to charges of conspiracy, money laundering and fraud. He was said to have sustained one of the biggest and longest-running Ponzi schemes in American history. There is another way to phrase this, which is that he made pop music. He will be released from prison on March 24, 2029, when Aaron Carter will be 41. WS
8 p.m. South on Main. $25-$35.
Rodney Crowell moved to Nashville in 1972, and quickly fell into the orbit around Guy and Susanna Clark, who ran a Gertude Stein-like salon for country musicians in those days. "I started reading," Crowell would later say of this period. "I got real hungry to have something to contribute." Because he had songwriting partnerships with Emmylou Harris and Rosanne Cash (to whom he was also married from 1979 to 1992) and wrote successful singles for Waylon Jennings, Bob Seger, Alan Jackson, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw, among others, Crowell has often been considered a writer's writer. In a 1982 feature, Texas Monthly wrote of his "own particular blend of X-Acto blade vocals with a purist's rock 'n' roll sound, along with a little country picking and pedal steel," but also became the first publication to articulate the dilemma that has trailed him ever since: "Why Crowell the performer hasn't gained as great a following as Crowell the songwriter ... is beyond me." He's had plenty of hits himself — and even a gold record in 1988's "Diamonds and Dirt" — though his reputation as an underrated figure is secure and, at this point, basically a badge of honor. And though he's spent much of his time in Nashville and in Los Angeles, he was born in Houston, and Texas has always claimed him. Thursday's show doubles as a release party of sorts for the Oxford American's new music issue (out now), which focuses on Texas. WS
FRIDAY 12/5-SUNDAY 12/7
ARKANSAS CRAFT GUILD CHRISTMAS SHOWCASE
Statehouse Convention Center. $5.
This weekend brings the annual Craft Guild craftapalooza to Little Rock, with its strolling troubadours, woodworking and wooden tools, weaving, blown glass, brooms, multi-media art, yarns, ornaments, metalwork, jewelry, pottery and more pottery, quilts, candles, soaps and soups and jams — all by Arkansas crafters and artists, more than 150 of them down from the hills to sell their stuff. This year's showcase adds something new: beer and music from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday! That's Art After Hours, and it includes samples of suds from Stone's Throw Brewery for free. Tickets to the Showcase are $5 unless you rise early Saturday morning, put on your best Christmas sweater and your felt antlers and hit the event between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. You can find a guide to the booths at facebook.com/christmasshowcase, where you will also find information on the crafters. LNP
FRIDAY 12/5-SUNDAY 12/7
7 p.m. White Water Tavern. $25-$60.
A three-day music festival presented by Last Chance Records, White Water and Tree of Knowledge Distro, the Holiday Hangout closes out the year with one of its strongest lineups yet: American Aquarium, Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires, Two Cow Garage, Austin Lucas, John Moreland, Kevin Kerby, Slobberbone, Brent Best, Shane Sweeney, Micah Schnabel and many, many more. There will be concerts Friday and Saturday night and a "Breakfast Books and Booze" daytime show on Sunday beginning at noon. Individual tickets are $25 and weekend passes are $60 (available at lastchancerecords.com). A video promoting the show promises that, unlike last year, it won't snow. WS
4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Verizon Arena. $59.50-$89.50.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra would be an ideal name for a Soviet music ensemble dedicated to the principles of socialist realism, but the Orchestra (or TSO, as it is called for short) is something else. "Their path to success was unusual," Wikipedia claims, "in that TSO is the first major rock band to go straight to theaters and arenas, having never played at a club, never having an opening act and never being an opening act." How is this possible? It is possible because the group was founded by a man named Paul O'Neill, whose previous career was as a promoter and booker, setting up festival appearances and Japanese tours for artists like Madonna, Sting, Bon Jovi and Whitesnake. After a few of years of this, O'Neill realized that a more fun and lucrative approach to the industry would be to create a classic rock band of his own. He enlisted a little-known hair metal band from Florida called Savatage and refashioned them into the core of a highly professional and well-funded prog-rock holiday spectacular, like Mannheim Steamroller but with guitar solos and baroque, enthusiastically choreographed live shows featuring lasers and fireworks and dancers and exotic settings and virtuosic keyboard playing. They are also family-friendly and donate a dollar or so of every ticket sold to a local charity (here, that's the music education effort "Play It Again, Arkansas!"). "I wanted to take the very best of all the forms of music I grew up on and merge them into a new style," O'Neill says modestly. "We were very fortunate." WS
9 p.m. Juanita's. $10.
The excitement around Brighton rock duo Royal Blood has reached an interesting level of absurdity. They have been called "rock's new heirs" by the Huffington Post and "the most universally deified emergent UK rock band since the Arctic Monkeys" by Pitchfork. Jimmy Page claims their debut record "has taken the genre up a serious few notches," and next year they're touring with Iggy Pop. They're also in their mid-20s and play blues-rock that sounds a lot like the White Strips or the Black Keys. Front man Mike Kerr was previously in a band called Hunting the Minotaur. "I think the most badass thing you can do is write great songs and put on a great show," he told the Guardian recently, before reconsidering. "That's very Jack Black, isn't it?" WS
CHRISTMAS IN THE QUARTER
2-5 p.m. Quapaw Quarter. $20 adv., $25 day of.
The Quapaw Quarter, with its old Victorian beauties and wide streets preserving 19th century Little Rock, sets the perfect scene for a traditional, plum-pudding and boughs of holly kind of Christmas. The event kicks off at the Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church, sponsor of the event, at 1 p.m., when the church will be open for tours and will sell tickets. Home tours start at 2 p.m. The lineup: The Empress Bed and Breakfast at 2120 S. Louisiana St., also known as the Hornibrook House, completed in 1888; the imposing Foster-Robinson House at 2122 S. Broadway (1904), home of Sen. Joe T. Robinson; the Mehaffy House at 2101 Louisiana St. and the 1881 Villa Marre at 1321 Scott St. The Sweet Adelines "Top of the Rock" chorus will sing at 3:30 p.m. at the Villa Marre. Trolley buses will provide transportation between church and houses. LNP