THE GOODTIME RAMBLERS
9:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $5.
Fans of the venerable local rock outfit the Munks, take note. A month before the Munks put out their new record, three-fifths of the band teams with local singer/songwriter John Lefler, as the Good Time Ramblers, to celebrate the release of a new CD at Sticky Fingerz on Thursday. For the last year or so, the collective has been playing out around town, working through a hearty lot of covers of roots rock and country standards. Their debut CD, “Sinners Welcome,” features a cover of Gram Parsons' “Las Vegas” and a host of originals that could easily be mistaken for classic country. Lefler sings with an effortless charm and comes by his sharp, infectious songwriting naturally. His mom is Kat Hood, the local folky singer/songwriter who's been in Little Rock for years. A free copy of “Sinners Welcome” comes with admission.
9 p.m., Juanita's. $15 adv./$18 d.o.s.
nn the early 1990s, Helmet was poised to be the next big thing. Founded by Page Hamilton, an Oregon-born musician who came to New York to study jazz but found more inspiration in the city's post-punk scene, Helmet blended jazz-style time signatures and harmonies with (unusual at the time) drop-D tunings. In 1991, on the heels of Nirvana's mammoth commercial breakthrough, nearly 20 labels reportedly vied to sign the band. Two albums and three years later, the band was a critical favorite, but a commercial flop. Still, enough fledgling musicians were taken with the band and its aggro-rock that, by the time Helmet disbanded in 1999, most of the biggest acts of the day could trace their sound back to the group. Three years ago, Hamilton revived the band, albeit with a new line-up. But as the new material's grinding-gear riffs and melodic touches attest, it's still Helmet. Philly hard-rockers Burning Brides open along with Totimoshi, from Oakland.
WILLIE HEATH NEAL AND THE DAMNED OLD OPRY
8:30 p.m., Vino's. $7.
Willie Heath Neal doesn't have to look too far to find material to put in his rough-hewn country songs. According to his bio, he was born in Georgia in the back of a cop car in 1971, and grew up with four siblings and a single mom who spent many a night shooting for stardom on the stages of honky-tonks. After landing in foster care, Neal hell-raised through his teen years before enlisting in the Navy. While stationed in Asia, he formed a punk rock trio with two other servicemen and landed gigs in Hong Kong and Singapore. Once back stateside, the trio tried to make their way in the San Diego punk scene, but when success didn't seem forthcoming, Neal moved back to Georgia. There, his roots pulled him into country music, albeit with a heavy dose of punk spirit. With greased-back hair, a sleeve of tattoos, a beat-down voice and sharp, heartfelt songs, Neal and his band, the Damned Old Opry, come to Vino's with the Salty Dogs, Arkansas's kings of the honky-tonk.
ARKANSAS VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE
1 p.m., War Memorial. Sold out.
After last weekend, a lot of dyed-in-the-wool Razorback fans might rather stay home and rake leaves than see the Hogs take on the Dogs on Saturday. In anticipation of that apathy, here are five reasons to swallow it and go cheer: 1. Drinking and eating copious amounts of grilled meats is fun no matter how much the Hogs under-perform. 2. Watching football in short sleeves in mid-November makes for a good anecdote about how crazy Arkansas weather is. 3. Even though Mississippi State is dramatically improved since last year, we'll still probably beat them. 4. It'll probably be our last win of the season. 5. Unless you're a super-fan, it'll be your last chance to catch Peyton Hillis, Marcus Monk, Felix Jones (fingers crossed after that deep thigh bruise) and the greatest running back to ever don Razorback red. Even if they might serve as a reminder for what could've been, an I-was-there image of their individual brilliance might come in handy in the next two years, when, even without Nutt, we're still likely to suck. At this point, I'm just hoping for one last muscle-man pose from McFadden.
9 p.m., Downtown Music. $5.
Man Man is a five- and sometimes six-piece from Philly, whose members favor accoutrements like painters' whites, Indian feathers and handlebar mustaches. Their music is a merry, cacophonous mishmash of dozens of genres that should be incompatible. Front man Honus Honus sings lead in a gruff Tom Waits-style baritone and pounds out a barrelhouse on a Rhodes organ. The other members, who go by names like Pow Pow and Chang Wang, ornament the music with antic, campfire-style harmonies and a trunk full of instruments like the clavinet, euphonium, melodica and xylophone. Seeing them perform is exhilarating, if a little exhausting. They play uninterrupted, like a DJ working through his set, without small talk or even a break for tuning. An A+ Set-Up, from Fort Smith, gets the crowd warmed up with bouncy, dramatic post-punk.
Arkansas Arts Center and Gallery 26.
In time for the holidays, here are two big annual art sales: The Arkansas Arts Center's Museum School Sale and Gallery 26's Holiday Art Show and Sale. The Arts Center event will feature work in all media by Museum School faculty and students on sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The theater lobby and atrium will be packed with two-dimensional art, woodwork, jewelry, fused glass and more. The Gallery 26 show and sale features work in all media by more than 65 artists, including top area artists. The gallery will host a public reception for the artists from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. The show runs through Jan. 12.
9 p.m., Revolution. $5.
In the last several years, few locals have done more for Arkansas hip-hop than a 44-year-old white woman named Debbi Tedder. Over the last decade or so, Tedder has built up a veritable DJ empire in Central Arkansas through her T's Tunes collective. Just about every night of the week, you can find DJ Debbi T or one of her cohorts working the decks in a local nightspot. As she's developed this presence, Tedder has made a point to support the local rap scene. Her regular showcase, “Tha Rock Underground Show,” which floats, weekly, among local venues, has become the place to go to see an assortment of rising and established local talent. On Monday, local collective Grim Muzik will be the draw. Sixteen rappers strong, the camp crowds the stage, but never the mic, always managing to make their menace sound cool. Rising local diva Gina Gee might have the strongest, most compelling voice in town. Lately, she's been performing with Epiphany and One Night Stand, while working on her solo material. She rounds out the line-up with Hot Springs R&B crooner Lil Robb and rapper Loko, from Fayetteville.
9:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $5.
For the eighth year in a row, Sticky Fingerz and Wild Turkey team up to present the “Turkey Wigout,” a night-before-Thanksgiving getdown with lots of prize giveaways, a frozen turkey dinner, Wild Turkey (of course) and three fine indie-rock bands. Former VHS or Beta guitarist Zeke Buck leads People Noise, a Louisville-based indie rock act that recalls the spindly guitar workouts of Smashing Pumpkins and the feedback-laden shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine. Local indie-rock band Big Boots rose from the ashes of Sugar and the Raw. The new act follows in the footsteps of its forebear with ambitious arrangements, though with a sharp, pop-rock sensibility rather than the alt-country SATR dabbled in during its later years. Mason Maudlin's big, mournful voice leads the way. Mammoth Orange is a group of young North Little Rockers, several of whom played in the popular band Tin Fire Radio. They play moody, experimental instrumental rock.
9 p.m., Afterthought. $7.
Rodney Block is smooth. Even with all the forceful breath needed to play the trumpet, he always manages to look cool and collected when he's blowing his horn. Which is even more impressive since his tone is probably unmatched in Central Arkansas. Block usually gets pegged as a jazz artist, but you'll also hear traces of hip-hop, bebop, funk, soul and gospel in his music. The native Arkansan honed his talent in Kansas City, playing in most of the city's premier venues, before returning to Arkansas several years back. Block gigs regularly, but often for private events and benefits. This Thanksgiving eve performance will be a rare chance to see him in a cozy, intimate space away from the brouhaha of socialites mingling.