'SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME'
7:30 p.m. Hendrix College. Free.
When it comes to the awful historical truths about our nation, you can't always count on your high school history book to give it to you straight. Sometimes, you have to turn to comedians. Take Chris Rock and Louis C.K. — for my money, the two finest comic minds in America. In a bit on Affirmative Action and the lingering effects of slavery, from his 2004 special "Never Scared," Rock said, "When I talk about slavery, I'm just talking about a period of time when black people had no rights. So you talk about the 1600s to about 1964, you know, give or take a year, depending on when your town decided to act right." Back in 2010, Louis C.K. talked to Jay Leno about the general lack of historical perspective when it comes to race relations in America. "I've heard educated white people say, 'Slavery was 400 years ago.' No, it very wasn't. It was 140 years ago," he said. "That's two 70-year-old ladies, living and dying back-to-back. That's how recently you could buy a guy. And it's not like slavery ended and then everything has been amazing." Of course, there are a handful of good-old-fashioned, capital "J" Journalists who'll bring to light the unpleasant, often neglected or whitewashed bits of our nation's history. Hendrix alum Doug Blackmon did just that with his Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II." The book concerns those first several decades after slavery — when the owning and forced labor of human beings was illegal on paper, but continued across the south, affecting millions. In an interview on the Georgia Weekly public affairs TV show, Blackmon noted that it was "not until 1941 that the federal government finally takes an absolute position that when whites are holding blacks as slaves in the South, we will investigate and fully prosecute," he said. "That's not the position of the federal government until 1941." Blackmon first wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2001 about black men in Alabama being arrested on bogus charges and then forced to work in coal mines in the early 20th century. He researched the subject for another seven years for his book, which has been made into a documentary that will air on PBS on Feb. 13. When he returns to his alma mater, Blackmon will discuss the book and screen portions of the film.
8 p.m. Maxine's. $8 adv., $10 door.
Do you have, somewhere amongst the forgotten flotsam of your youth, a dusty old shoebox from Nineteen-ninety-something that you painted a black and white checkered pattern on? Is it full of worn-out Specials or Mighty Mighty Bosstones cassettes, a Ben Sherman button-up shirt, skinny tie, porkpie hat and maybe a pair of suspenders? Did your friend you haven't seen in 12 years recently upload some scanned photos to Facebook of you skanking it up to Reel Big Fish at the 1996 Warped Tour in Kansas City? In other words, do you have any ska-letons in your closet? Ouch. Sorry. I tried, but I just couldn't finish writing this without including at least one terrible ska pun. I guess they're not really even puns, more just the replacement of some syllable in a word with "ska," no matter how much of a stretch. Why do ska bands do that? I can't figure it out. The practice seems to date back to the very beginning of the genre, with The Skatalites, the original ska act that emerged from the Jamaican scene in the 1960s. So while New York ska-lwarts The Toasters weren't the first ones to do that, with their 1987 album "Skaboom," they were likely among the first to engage in this practice. Anyways, The Toasters have been at it for nigh on three decades now, hence the band's ongoing 30th Anniversary Tour. Ska Brewing Co. of Boulder, Colo., which is an actual real thing, has even created a Toasters 30th IPA to commemorate the occasion. Fusing Second Wave Two-Tone ska with punk rock, The Toasters were one of the bands that kicked off what's generally referred to as the Third Wave of ska, which has been going on for quite some time now. The opening act is The Last Slice, a Third Wave/Two-Tone hybrid that hails from Tulsa, Oklahom-ska. Sorry, sorry, couldn't help it.
CODY CANADA & THE DEPARTED
9 p.m. Revolution. $10 adv., $15 d.o.s.
After the amicable breakup of Cross Canadian Ragweed back in 2010, singer and guitarist Cody Canada got together with the band's bassist Jeremy Plato, guitarist Seth James and pianist Steve Littleton, who make up his band The Departed. While Ragweed fans were probably bummed about the band's breakup (drummer Randy Ragsdale wanted to spend more time with his family) Canada has made it apparent that there were no hard feelings. And his tour schedule has made it obvious that he's still intent on burning up millions of miles of asphalt playing raucous Red Dirt rock 'n' roll in bars across this great land. But some things have changed, as he told The Quad City Times last year. "We thought, 'We're not running from the past, we're just looking toward the future,' " he said. "We're still going to honor a few songs [from Ragweed], but we're going to do mainly new stuff to let everybody know we're still writing, we're still creating."
ARKANSAS RIVER BLUES SOCIETY FUNDRAISER
8 p.m. Cornerstone Pub & Grill. $5.
Back in late October, The Arkansas River Blues Society held a contest to determine which blues acts would represent the Natural State at The Blues Foundation's International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Jan. 31-Feb. 4. The winner in the full band category was David Kimbrough Jr., whose Mississippi hill country blues style is a continuation of the tradition pioneered by his father, the legendary Junior Kimbrough. (An aside: Please tell me you've listened to Junior Kimbrough. If not, put this down and immediately go get your ears on "Meet Me in the City" and "You Better Run" and just keep listening from there.) Kimbrough's band includes Little Rock native Stacey Mackey, who's played in many bands over the years, including the late, great Fuyu. The winner of the solo/duo category was Lucious Spiller, who's been a live-music fixture in the state for many years, playing everything from Delta blues to Prince tunes. This show is a fundraiser to help cover travel expenses for the blues challenge in Memphis. Kimbrough and Spiller also perform Thursday night at White Water Tavern, 10 p.m., $7.
8 p.m. Verizon Arena. $40.
Evanescence comes to Little Rock hot on the heels of its latest album, a self-titled effort that debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The group's previous album, "The Open Door," was released back in 2006 and it debuted at No. 1 as well. Band leader (and former Arkansas resident) Amy Lee recently discussed the album with Billboard senior correspondent Mitchell Peters, noting that "there's experimentation and new ideas and new attitude, but at the same time I think a lot of just great Evanescence music. I think it's an album that our fans will love." Lee also said that the band's current tour is going to be its most extensive yet, hitting several places Evanescence hasn't played before, including China, Indonesia and Ireland. The opening acts are Electric Touch and Rival Sons.
BILLY JOE SHAVER
7:30 p.m. Revolution. $15 adv., $20 d.o.s.
We've written about Billy Joe Shaver in this publication just about every time he's come to town, and as long as he's touring and playing Little Rock, we'll keep that up. If you're any kind of country music fan, you should be well aware of the legendary Shaver. The man more or less invented Outlaw country and wrote a long string of timeless hits, including "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal," "Black Rose," "(I've Been To) Georgia on a Fast Train," "Willy the Wandering Gypsy and Me," and many others. His last show at Revolution, back in August, was one of the best concerts I've ever seen. Shaver sang, danced, shadowboxed, told jokes and rambling, hilarious stories and even offered just a bit of political commentary when prompted. Some dude in the audience asked him about Gov. Rick Perry, of Texas. Shaver paused for a few beats then said, "Aw, those guys are all right. They just shouldn't be running for nuthin'. They should be running from something." Now, I'm not saying that a witty dismissal from Billy Joe Shaver is, by itself, enough to derail a nascent presidential campaign, but it certainly can't hurt. But regardless of your feelings about Rick Perry, I promise that this will be one of the best shows you'll see all year.