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The To-Do List, Feb. 9-15

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by John Tarpley

WEDNESDAY 2/9

KID ROCK

7 p.m., Verizon Arena. $25-$89.

n What the hell is Kid Rock going to be this month? Is he going to be Kid Rock, the greasy-haired goon emcee with a blunt of ditch weed in his hat? Is he going to be Kid Rock, the strip mall pimp? "Rock n' roll Jesus?" The wifebeater-clad hick-hopper groaning into a mic, stomping around in front of the stars and bars? Lately he's tried for what looks like "introspective white trash crooner," but for Wednesday's show at Verizon, he'll probably be an unholy union of all the equally gross above. Now, it's not that I want everyone with a guitar to be, say, Leonard Cohen: It's just that when a singer has the capacity to release one of the best, most sublime country duets in recent memory with "Picture" then returns to being the musical equivalent of KFC's Double Down sandwich with D-list strip club anthem "So Hott" and that godforsaken "Werewolves of London"/"Sweet Home Alabama" mashup "All Summer Long," it gets exasperating. Simply put, there are moments that suggest Kid Rock could be the white trash answer to Beck. And I, for one, would love to hear a white trash Beck. Instead, he's content to be another cog in the fast-food music machine, making Bret Michaels look like Jacques Brel.

FRIDAY 2/11

DIRTY DOZEN BRASS BAND

9 p.m., Revolution. $12 adv., $15 d.o.s.

n Crescent City's most famous and beloved brass band export has become a fairly regular staple on the Revolution stage. In fact, this is its third show in a year and a half. You'll have a hard time finding anyone to complain about it. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, named after the Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club, has made the transition from one of countless other second-line outfits who buck jump, holler and horn through the streets of New Orleans to world-traveling ambassadors of the New Orleans sound, not to mention an instantly-recognizable face of post-Katrina optimism and positivity. Like so many others, I've seen them more times than I can count and I'm never bored with them. Expect hours of in-your-face, relentless grooves from the usual opening number of "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now" (the title track from their 1984 debut) to the rump-shaking gospels ("I'll Fly Away") and Stevie Wonder covers ("Superstitious"). The seven-piece gets opening support from soul-filled area jam band FreeVerse.

INGRAM HILL

7:30 p.m., Juanita's. $12 adv., $15 d.o.s.

n For 11 years, the Memphis act has enjoyed moderate success touring mid-sized venues and festival circuits around the country, spreading its almost-offensively inoffensive easy pop-rock stylings and lovelorn ballads for a bigger fanbase than one might expect. For most, the name Ingram Hill will elicit a shrug and no bother, but I'm willing to wager my meager tax refund that for every sorority house in the South, there's at least one Greek letter-chested lady who pores over the group's easy-listening sentimentality. It's college rock at its easiest. Think Train, Maroon 5 or OneRepublic rock schmaltz with the lightest dose of Southern edge possible. Guys will probably balk, if not at the music, at their girlfriends swooning along to songs like "Your Smiling Face," "Love is Just a Word" and "Something to Cry To." Spokane, Wash., singer/songwriter Jerad Finck opens the night with more touchy-feely, weepy-smiley tunes about girls.

'THE SECOND ANNUAL MEETING OF THE LITTLE ROCK LEBOWSKI LEAGUE'

6 p.m., Market Street Cinema. $10.

n Year after year, the Coen Brothers make it harder to deny that they are the defining American filmmakers of the last 30 years. And with every Lebowskifest, the case for "The Big Lebowski" as "the Biggest Cult Movie of All-Time" gets a bit stronger. Dressing up? Quoting the movie? Swilling White Russians? Beginner stuff. Case in point: I recently wandered into a small corner store called "The Little Lebowski," full of (and dedicated strictly to) everything Lebowski. Shirts, check. Posters, of course. The Time Magazine "Man of the Year" mirror: awesomely, yes. But what slayed me was a book, thick as The Jesus' bowling ball, called "The Year's Work in Lebowski Studies," a send-up of academia, full of essays from the tongue-in-cheek theory of "Logjammin' and Gutterballs: Masculinities in The Big Lebowski" to dense, Barthes-centric criticism in "Metonymic Hates and Metaphoric Tumbleweeds: Noir Literary Aesthetics in Miller's Crossing and The Big Lebowski" and heady deconstructuction with "The Big Lebowski and Paul de Man: Historicizing Irony and Ironizing Historicism." Expect that kind of passion on display around town this weekend for Little Rock's own Lebowskifest, technically "The 2nd Annual Meeting of the Little Rock Lebowski League." Friday through Sunday, Market Street Cinema opens its doors for screenings of the awesomely warped cartoon-noir at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. with trivia and costume contests on Friday and Saturday. Also on Saturday, a 10 p.m. Lebowski Bowl at Professor Bowl.

MIKE JONES

10 p.m., Club Hollywood. $10 early admission.

n In high school, Houston rapper Mike Jones would get regularly kicked out of class for shouting his own name. Apart from being, let's admit it, kind of hilarious, it turned out to be a killer marketing strategy. His first single, "Still Tippin'," is one of the best rap tracks of the aughts, grounded by a wobbly, half-measure violin sample from the "William Tell Overture" and nailed down by, well, you know how it goes: "Mike Jones! Who? Mike Jones! Who?" I won't go into how much fun it is to listen to the Swisha House Man of the Year roll alliteration and assonance into the microphone. "Pullin' tricks, lookin' slick at all times when I'm flippin'/bar sippin', car dippin' grand wood grain grippin'" may not be sublime, but it sounds cool. Since, he hasn't been able to recreate the success and Dirty South brilliance of "Still Tippin' " (although "Drop and Gimme 50" came close), but he's still on the grind, releasing the requisite number of yearly mixtapes, dropping guest verses with everyone from Bun B to Ron Artest and, now, swinging to Little Rock for a club performance as part of Club Hollywood's Friday Night Concert Series.

'MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM'

7:30 p.m., The Weekend Theater. $10 students and seniors, $15 general admission.

n The Weekend Theater celebrates Black History Month with a play of race politics, Chicago jazz and opportunism in the recording studio as written by August Wilson, the late, legendary author of brilliant, Pulitzer-winning plays "The Piano Lesson" and "Fences." "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" premiered on Broadway in 1984, winning the 1985 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play and kicking off Wilson's famous "Pittsburgh Cycle," a 10-part, decade-by-decade exploration of the black experience in 20th century America. The play centers around four jazz musicians waiting for Ma Rainey, the famed "Mother of the Blues," to arrive in the studio to record her new album. They spend the time telling war stories from segregated clubs, trading jazz-era tall tales and soon find themselves drowning in a competitive tension that comes to a head when Ma arrives with her entourage and two dubious, white producers. Few, if any, playwrights ever wrote with as much clarity and insight into the black experience as August Wilson and this, one of his best pieces, is no exception.

TUESDAY 2/15

'ARKANSAWR'N'B: THE STATE'S FORGOTTEN RHYTHM 'N' BLUES LEGACY'

Noon, Old State House Center. Free.

n The Old State House Center's weekly "Brown Bag Lunch Lecture Series" returns for another week of sammiches and learnin' with Stephen Koch, musician, playwright, creator and host of NPR's invaluable "Arkansongs," and the capital-a Authority on Louis Jordan. "Arkansawr'n'b: the State's Forgotten Rhythm 'n' Blues Legacy" is an overview of Arkansas's underestimated R&B legacy from the 1940s to the 1970s, from Camden-born Little Willie John to Hot Springs songwriter Henry Glover and iconic Stax chief Al Bell. A long-time champion of Arkansas's role in the development of rhythm and blues, Koch goes beyond the recordings themselves and takes the music as "a springboard to discuss Arkansas history, politics, social issues, geography – you name it." It's a "must-do" for any music geek worth his or her weight in wax.

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