SMOKE ON THE WATER
5 p.m., NLR Riverside Park, $5.
Very few things have the power to both unite and divide people as instantly and astringently as barbecue. Wet v. dry, mustard v. vinegar v. tomato: for meat jockeys and foodies alike, these are opinions as intensely held as those regarding Roe v. Wade. (Check out the comments section on “Sauce Wars, Cont.” on the Times' Eat Arkansas blog for proof.)? Food sociology aside, this will be a massive gathering of career pitmasters alongside weekend meatmen, all hazing the park with a smoky mosaic of slow cooked swine, poultry and beef. Friday, local cover bands perform in the evening. On Saturday, the festival continues at noon. There's music all day, along with carnival and hot air balloon rides. Saturday night, Jersey Shore by way of Myrtle Beach duo LoCash Cowboys (8 p.m.) and hillbilly rapper Colt Ford (9:30 p.m.) provide a soundtrack to the gluttony. Bring your appetites, your Tums and best shop talk. JT.
'THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED'
7:30 p.m., The Weekend Theater, $10-$14.
Diana, a successful, ball-breaking Hollywood agent, has found a cash cow in her client Mitchell, whose talent and matinee idol looks are soon to carry him to mega-fame. The only problem is that his agent is having trouble keeping him from coming out of the closet and dumping his long-time girlfriend for a male escort. Written by the scribe of cult comedy “To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar,” “The Little Dog Laughed” found itself shuffled from the off-Broadway Second Stage to Broadway proper to London's West End, garnering a Tony nomination for Best Play along the way. The production runs through March 28 with 7:30 p.m. curtain times on Friday and Saturday and a 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinee. JT
JOHN LEE HOOKER JR.
9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz, $8 adv., $10 d.o.s.
There's little doubt that if John Lee Hooker Jr. had focused his efforts on carrying on the stripped-down, Clarksdale talking blues that established his father as an icon, he'd find himself with a built-in fan base from first strum. Instead, JLH Jr. uses the blues as a clothesline on which to hang other sounds — from Bobby Rush's synthesized R&B to what, at times, sounds like Wesley Willis' matter-of-fact prattling. His father's sense of humor has emerged intact in songs like “Goin' Down to Baghdad,” a revenge blues aimed at Saddam Hussein, and his recovering alcoholic's take on “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” in which the old standard keeps on after the credits roll, having the barfly protagonist enrolling in rehab and attending A.A. meetings. And for the fans of his father, his namesake is sure to cover “Boom Boom” and “Boogie Chillen” at the very least. JT
J. RODDY WALSTON AND THE BUSINESS/SWEET EAGLE
9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $7.
J. Roddy Walston and the Business might not yet have name recognition nationally, but in the Little Rock club world, the Baltimore four-piece is a big deal. Justifiably. Think Thin Lizzy channeling Jerry Lee Lewis, with big riffs, big beats and a front man — J. Roddy — who plays rock 'n' roll keyboard like he's trying to break the keys. Plus, unless they've gotten haircuts, there's usually a lot of rocktastic long-maned thrashing. The band comes to town just after SXSW, where it's playing several high profile gigs, including Rachel Ray's annual showcase (along with Dr. Dog, Neko Case and Jakob Dylan). SXSW, paired with the band's forthcoming release on national indie Vagrant Records, could pretty easily propel the band into the next level of indie-stardom, which would be awesome, though perhaps not for folks who've gotten used to seeing J. Roddy and the Biz in town every couple of months. So make this one count, I'm saying. Even more, this marks the return of Sweet Eagle, easily the most buzzed about local band to come along in months. It's made up of current and former members of the American Princes, Smoke Up Johnny and Jonathan Wilkins and the Reparations. Recent Showcase winner Brother Andy shares vocal and guitar duties with former SUJ front man Alan Disaster. See them. LM.
9 p.m., Juanita's, $5 adv., $8 d.o.s.
When Green Jelly formed in 1981, their intent was to form “the world's worst band.” In that regard, they've come just short of the mark thanks to a certain Canadian outfit whose ineptitude is so renowned that you know exactly who I'm talking about. Regardless, if the band was shooting for the sewer, they certainly landed firmly in the toilet. Like Primus without the talent or GWAR without sinister creativity, Green Jelly flaunts their ineptitude in songs like “Misadventures of Shitman,” the video of which shows a janitor eating, drowning in and, eventually transforming into poop. And, somehow, it's awesome. Just like their live shows. They'll have puppets, big, stupid papier-mache masks and the audience shaking it on stage. With Showcase winner Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth on opening act duty, this bill promises to be a wild night. JT
10 p.m., Vino's, $8.
Maybe Awesome Color — while a great name — is a touch misleading. If the chop-heavy Brooklyn power trio has a spirit hue, it's certainly not a fantastical tone as the name suggests; it's the dingy, muddy brown of rotgut whiskey, wet cigarettes and sunburns atop suntans. While undeniably born of Dinosaur Jr., the presence of Detroit, Mich., is ever present in their crunch. With just enough of an intimidating sonic canvas to coax out the occasional fist pump and a constant thread of pop accessibility, they flaunt a swagger like Iggy Pop with a beer paunch or Mick Collins falling off a half pipe. Take “I Know Who Killed Me” for example: the three note bass line, the James Chance sax flailing, the oil drum percussion and the simple, cocksure lyrics have the power to turn garages into monoliths just like they planned. JT.
MILES BENJAMIN ANTHONY ROBINSON
8:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz, $8 adv., $10 d.o.s.
Earning comparisons to modern-day angst peddler Conor Oberst can be both blessing and curse. While the badge garners instant curiosity from a huge chunk of the blog savvy, it also has the power to box a songwriter within the critically defined borders of the Nebraskan's intimidating shadow. What sets Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson apart from his Saddle Creek label mate is that his lyrics of desperation and self-loathing are born of underage alcoholism and past homelessness, not of narcissistic “woe is me” posturing. His triumphant sing-along, “Buriedfed,” and its crux line, “they took her to the doctor to fix her heart and heal her head/she said ‘Goddamn, I'm tired of being black.' ” epitomize his naked, no-excuses exercises in sincerity. The lyric — like the song itself — is a chest-grabber of the highest caliber. And, like the rest of his repertoire, it's done with a signature smirk and a wink. Brooklyn indie-popsters Suckers and Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers share the bill. JT.
10 p.m., White Water Tavern. Donations.
With SXSW in full swing down the road in Austin, the squad of guys who book shows in the area is quick to break out its butterfly nets to nab the talent in transit. Sometimes, it results in odd venue/band pairings, but with the Paleface and The Moaners double bill at White Water, aptness reigns. After ditching the anti-folk sound that made him famous and picking up a lusher, more earnest sound (as well as a lady to play drums and provide harmonies), Paleface operates in ramblin' folk with roadside lyrics, driving tambourines and all. A friend of (and tremendous influence on) Kimya Dawson, Beck and Daniel Johnston, his place in acoustic New York is firmly set. The other two-piece, The Moaners, delivers thick, electric, Hill Country garage in the most direct way possible. Born after the end of long tenures in Grand National and Trailer Bride, respectively, the Chapel Hill band takes The White Stripes' peppermint licks and turns them into peanut brittle. Yeah, they're Southern, but hardly country. And did I mention The Moaners are both women? Femme rock, mud-crusted and porch-bound, this bunch. JT.