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The To-Do List, Dec. 9-12

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THURSDAY 12/9

PAGANS ON BOBSLEDS XIX: THE SPAWN OF SANTA

8 p.m., Public Theater. $8-$10.

It's a seasonal tradition almost two decades old. Red Octopus Theater, Arkansas's longest-tenured sketch comedy group (old enough to vote and buy porn this year!), pokes fun at the holidays with a revue it calls "Pagans on Bobsleds." This year's edition, number 19, features seven new faces in the cast. Longtime Octopi Josh Doering, offered a preview: "The 3 Wise Men (as portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke and Frankenstein for some reason) are packing heat in 'The Magi-ables.' Santa's elves share their skin-care regimen in 'Palm Balm.' And Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh are given the Perfume Commercial treatment." Doering also promises plenty of songs, including "The All-Nut Choir," "The Pudding Choir," "Gleeful Grilling" and, the theme song, "Pagans on Bobsleds." And that's just scratching the surface. The performance continues through Saturday; same time and price every night. LM.  

T-MODEL FORD

9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $8.

T-Model Ford is the spryest 90-year-old you'll ever see. He sits onstage now, but he stays in motion — constantly swaying, smiling big between lyrics and winking at all the pretty girls dancing close to the stage. His voice is ragged but vital — his hollers still have punch — and he's still leading the way with his oddly tuned Peavey Razer (metal!) guitar. Most impressively, his short sets are nearly two hours. When he's feeling it, which may or may not have to do with the cup of whiskey he keeps within reaching distance, he can go three hours. Backed these days by Seattle blues-rockers Gravelroad, Ford returns to White Water after last playing the tavern in March. A little more than a month after that gig, he suffered a mild stroke, but by mid-summer, he was back on the road for a 14-date swing through the West Coast tour and a performance at All Tomorrow's Parties in New York. Normally, we'd implore you to drop what you're doing to see one of the last true, raw bluesmen before it's too late, but I'm pretty sure T-Model Ford is going to live forever. Go because it's going to be a damn good party. LM.

FRIDAY 12/10

ARKANSAS CHAMBER SINGERS: "BACH TO CHRISTMAS"

7:30 p.m., Trinity Presbyterian Church. $10-$15 adv., $12-$18 d.o.s.

The 55-member ensemble touts itself as "the premiere chamber choir in Central Arkansas" and we doubt it gets much guff about that title. Since 1979, the Arkansas Chamber Singers have been the go-to choral group for everything from memorials to inaugurations and everything between. But the yearly Christmas concerts hold a special place in Little Rock's holiday soundscape. This year, members of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra join the Arkansas Chamber Singers as they close out their concert season with "Bach to Christmas," an evening of excerpts from "Christmas Oratorio" and, notably, "Uns ist ein Kind geboren," a cantata originally attributed to Bach, but recently suggested to have been written by Bach contemporary Johann Kuhnau. Since the piece's authorship has been under suspicion, it has fallen out of favor with a number of choral groups as of late, making this presentation a rare treat. The Arkansas Chamber Singers perform the program again at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, in the Pulaski Heights Methodist Church. For tickets, call 377-1121 or visit ar-chambersingers.org. JT.


SATURDAY 12/11

BALLET ARKANSAS: "THE NUTCRACKER"

$20-$52, Robinson Center Music Hall. 7 p.m.

What's Christmas without the graceful surrealism of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Rat King and a brigade of tin soldiers? Not the same, that's what. It's a tradition of the highest caliber that's kept alive for another year by the Ballet Arkansas company, who once again turn the Robinson Center Music Hall into a gilded, 19th-century parlor for another trip to "The Nutcracker." On its surface, the Tchaikovsky-scored classic is a puzzling trip down the rabbit hole with mice, magic, Russian rats and wolves. But the famous, elegant balletic movement within is what keeps the crowds coming and the eyes wide. "The Nutcracker" cracks again the next day at 3 p.m. after a "Nutcracker Tea" at the Peabody Hotel at 1 p.m. For tickets, call the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra box office at 666-1761 or visit arkansassymphony.org. JT.

"THE JAM SESSION"

9 p.m., Mediums Art Gallery. $10

Few emcees are smoother than Epiphany, the Pine Bluff-born, Stanford-educated purveyor of literate hip-hop. Even fewer rappers can sound on task over grimy street beats one minute and fresh over smooth, jazzy tracks the next. We like it all, but prefer the latter, which is why we're keyed up for "The Jam Session," a night at the new Mediums Art Gallery that has Big Piph on a mic alongside Gina Gee, local soul diva extraordinaire, and marks the return of their always-tight backing band, One Night Stand. Stacey Avery, another great R&B songbird, opens. It's being billed as "live music for a mature, kickin' it crowd." Sounds right down our alley. JT.


SUNDAY 12/12

GLEN CAMPBELL

2 p.m., Reynolds Performance Hall, University of Central Arkansas. $10-$40

His vocal mastery overshadows his brilliance on guitar, his indiscretions have overshadowed his vital place in pop music history and the fact he's a living legend has obscured the fact that Glen Campbell is, simply, something of a genius. If you've ever had any doubt — and if you'll pardon my latent record-store geek screaming at you — please, please get to a record store and pick up "Wichita Lineman," his essential 1968 album that sidles the boy from Delight, Ark., next to French chanson territory and my pick for the greatest album ever made by an Arkansan. That album alone should give him a lifetime pass to the Brilliant Musicians Circle. But if you dig into his oeuvre, it's hard to dodge pieces of countrypolitan gold like 1978's "Basic" or endearingly catchy curiosities like "It's the World Gone Crazy," his synthy shot at '80s cred that's due for a rediscovery. The septuagenarian is keeping at it, turning his skill at interpreting songs to classics by The Velvet Underground ("These Days") and new standards by Green Day ("Good Riddance," believe it or not). But with the Rhinestone Cowboy nowadays preferring to fine-tune his golf game rather than tour, this show marks a rare homecoming appearance for Campbell. I, for one, wouldn't dream of missing it. And with this being the holidays, I predict a few choice picks from his Christmas albums sprinkled in the setlist. This being a college appearance, ticket prices are tiered: $30-$40 for adults, $27-$37 for senior citizens, $25-$35 for UCA alumni, $23-$33 for UCA faculty and staff, and $10 for UCA students with a current student I.D. JT.

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