BROTHER'S KEEPER BENEFIT SHOW
8:30 p.m. Revolution. $10.
This is a benefit show for longtime local horn player Gerald Johnson, who has incurred significant medical bills for treatment of an infected spider bite. This show was put together by Butterfly of New Orleans to raise money not only for Johnson's medical costs, but also the day-to-day expenses of life, so that he can get by long enough to recuperate. Besides being a benefit, it's also a chance to honor a stalwart musician who's played with many local performers. There's a ton of folks playing this show — a who's who of local musicians, including Butterfly and Irie Soul, Nicky Parrish, Tawanna Campbell, Velvet Kente, Tim Anthony, Tufara Waller Muhammad, First Impressions, Tanya Leeks, Yvette Preyer, Julia Buckingham, Steve Huddleston, Steven Bailey, Twylite Jones, Clifford Hawkins, Saabor Saalam, Dave Williams, Steve Coldy, Darril Harp Edwards and more.
LAUNDRY FOR THE APOCALYPSE
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern. $5.
Laundry for the Apocalypse might be relatively new in the Central Arkansas musical milieu, but the band has wasted approximately no time in carving out its own sonic territory. The group's blend of dramatic rock and catchy, buzz-saw pop earned it a spot in the finals at the 2012 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase. Frontman Aaron Sarlo is a veteran of many other fine Arkansas rock acts, and the rest of the guys in the band (Matt Rice, John David Hilliard, Drew Wilkerson and Adrian Brigman) are all excellent players who have an intuitive grasp on that whole quiet-loud-quiet dynamic that The Pixies pioneered. LFTA has already recorded several tunes for their debut album, "I Killify You," which should be out sometime soon. The opening acts include the melancholic, minimalist rock of Collin vs. Adam and the catchy post-punk trio Color Club.
Noon. Mulberry Mountain. $109-$194.
This is year No. 4 that the music and camping extravaganza known as Wakarusa has been hosted up on Mulberry Mountain, just outside Ozark (the festival started in 2004 outside Lawrence, Kan., but moseyed south a bit in 2009). The four-day festival has always generally favored the extended noodlings of scores of jam bands, but like some of the headliners in years past (Wilco, Flaming Lips, Black Keys, My Morning Jacket) some of this year's marquee acts fall more toward the indie rock side of things. The lineup is heavy on the digital end of the jam spectrum, with DJ/producer Pretty Lights, mashup maestro Girl Talk, the glammed-out electro rock of Ghostland Observatory, the glitchy dub-trance of EOTO, and lots more rave-y thumping. But there is also no shortage of good ol' fashioned folk, blues, country, rock, neo-soul, reggae, bluegrass, impossible-to-categorize weirdoes and more. Some of the headlining acts this year are the Weir, Robinson, Greene Acoustic Trio (that'd be Bob Weir, Chris Robinson and Jackie Green), Primus, Slightly Stoopid, The Avett Brothers, Umphrey's McGee, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and Fitz & The Tantrums. There'll also be many Waka veterans: Matisyahu, Perpetual Groove, Keller Williams, Railroad Earth, Tea Leaf Green, Split Lip Rayfield, Animal Liberation Orchestra and, well actually there are just way, way too many more to list. Personally, I have a strong suspicion/hope that many, um, herbally loosened minds will be blown away by Malian Tuareg group Tinariwen, whose desert blues are some of the most hypnotic, haunting and gorgeous guitar music ever made. Surely they'll get the "who-came-from-farthest-away" award. Point of Arkansas Times pride: The excellent Little Rock four-piece and 2012 Times Musicians Showcase finalist War Chief is kicking off the whole shebang, with a set at noon on Thursday. Also, just as a side note and presented with no commentary whatsoever, I must point out some of the band names I wasn't familiar with that jumped out at me while I was perusing the Wakarusa schedule: Dank Sinatra, Dangermuffin, Lance Herbstrong, Papadosio, SunSquabi, Dumptruck Butterlips.
9 p.m. Revolution. $10 adv., $12 d.o.s.
Valient Thorr took the bluesy swagger of ZZ Top, the whisky-blistered vocals of AC/DC and the triumphant fist-pumping-ness of Van Halen and combined them with the melodic shredding and galloping guitars of the best of the NWOBHM (new wave of British heavy metal for those not in the know) bands, creating a magical hybrid that's nod-and-a-wink funny while also being utterly dedicated to mindlessly rocking the eff out. "One Tough Customer" is a prime example of this: It's an unhinged rager, reminiscent of Angus and Co.'s blistering "Riff Raff." The video for "Sleeper Awakes" is pretty metal (points for the "Dune" reference) and its depiction of the heavy metal lifestyle seemed pretty realistic until it showed one of the guys taking a shower, but it's still a good tune and a good video. I guess this is my takeaway after listening to a whole bunch of Valient Thorr songs: Remember how "Kill 'Em All" ruled because it was kick-ass, take-no-prisoners thrash metal, and many of the songs were about being in a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners thrash metal band? Well Valient Thorr keeps that proud tradition going in the 21st century. Opening acts are The Kickass and The Holy Grail.
WALK OFF THE EARTH
8 p.m. Juanita's. $13.
The Ontarians in Walk off the Earth are probably best known for their cover of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know," which was a bona fide viral hit on YouTube. It featured the five young musicians performing the song on a single acoustic guitar, with each member plucking, strumming, slapping, tapping or fretting a different part of the instrument. They took this act on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" back in January. The affable host seemed blown away by the 30 million YouTube views the video had garnered in just a couple of weeks. As of Tuesday, it was just shy of 113 million views and back in February the group announced it had signed a deal with Columbia Records. It's even earned all kinds of spoof versions with one quintet of smart alecks doing the act on a ukulele. In April, the band uploaded a video of a cover of Adele's "Someone Like You" that had the members switching off instruments on the fly. So is Walk off The Earth simply a very talented novelty act? I'm inclined to think no, but we'll get a better idea after its debut full-length is released.
DON'T STOP PLEASE
After the game. Dickey-Stephens Park. $6-$12.
These Central Arkansas up-and-comers have probably gigged around as much or more than any of their peers. There's no better way to get good than by playing all the time, and Don't Stop Please has certainly been putting in the hours, including making it to the final round of this year's Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase. The six-piece traffics in a folksy kind of indie rock that reminds me quite a bit of the Philadelphia retro-pop experts Dr. Dog, whose Beatles/The Band amalgamation has proven to be influential. DSP's everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach to instrumentation lends an eclectic air to the proceedings, but it doesn't bog down the songs, which shuffle and shamble along charmingly. For example, a stray trombone line adds a woozy punctuation to "Long List of Numbers," rather than feeling like an unnecessary flourish. This show kicks off the Post Game Concert Series at Dickey-Stephens Park (hey — DSP at DSP!), which continues with Texan roots-rockers Band of Heathens on June 15.
KEITH SYKES HOT SPRINGS WEEKEND
1 p.m. Arlington Hotel. $60.
This two-day shindig is definitely a "songwriter's songwriter" type of affair, headlined by John Prine, one of the greatest songwriters ever. Good Lord, what do you even say about Prine? The man is unquestionably in the most rarified circle of songwriters, up there with Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Billy Joe Shaver, Townes Van Zandt and maybe a handful of others. He's one of those guys who you call by his last name only, like, "Yeah man, I mean, I love Dylan of course, but Prine just hits me on a different level." This festival was put together by Keith Sykes, who has written songs for Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jimmy Buffett and more. After wandering around the country for a while in the late '60s and early '70s, Sykes eventually settled in Memphis, where he's hosted songwriter showcases for many years. This one also includes Richard Leigh, Larry Joe Taylor, Roger Cook and Jed Zimmerman. In addition to the concerts, at 1 p.m. Friday and 8 p.m. both nights, there'll be a "Bloody Mary Morning" show with Zimmerman and Delta Joe Sanders, and at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sykes will interview Prine, which should be fascinating.