UPSCALE UNDERGROUND'S LIVE KARAOKE
8 p.m., Crush Wine Bar. $5.
Karaoke can be fun. There are worse ways to spend an odd Thursday than laughing at your atonal friends work through “More Than a Feeling,” high on liquid courage. Even better if you happen to catch a regular, someone who'd be touring the karaoke circuit if it existed, who pantomimes, wears a special outfit and sings with a bright-eyed confidence that far exceeds their talent. But after a few drunk girls you don't know giggle their way through “Strawberry Wine,” karaoke can get tedious pretty quick. So here's hoping Upscale Underground is on to something. On Thursday, in lieu of the promotional company's regular Thursday night listening parties, they present live karaoke, itself a novel and welcome departure from the typical karaoke, with Soul Food laying down the musical foundation. To further fit the night into a niche, Upscale Underground sticks to its raison d'etre and makes it a night of nu-soul and R&B, too. Karaokers can pick from smooth jams like Anita Baker's “Sweet Love,” R. Kelly's “Step in the Name of Love,” Michael Jackson's “PYT” and Angie Stone's “Brother.”
10 p.m., Juanita's. $17.
The death of Shannon Hoon in 1995 of a drug overdose seemed to signal that “wasted promise” would forever be a part of Blind Melon's bio. The band had come onto the scene in the early part of the decade, on the strength of the smash single “No Rain,” which propelled it on tour with the likes of Neil Young, Lenny Kravitz and the Rolling Stones and garnered it a pair of Grammy nominations. Unquestionably the band's driving force, Hoon died just a few months after Blind Melon released its sophomore album. But after an 11-year hiatus, the four surviving members have reunited with Travis Warren, a native of Amarillo who hits in the high register in which Moon worked, but doesn't in the slightest sound like a mimic. On Tuesday, the band released “For My Friends,” an album that's sure to have old fans fist-pumping along. Boston pop singer/songwriter Eric Hutchinson and garage-poppers the Greater Good open.
9 p.m., the Village. $18-$35.
Club kids, relish the opportunity. With only a night or two a week regularly devoted to full-on house and techno in Little Rock, ravers and fancy dancers and everyone who looks back on Studio 54 with imagined nostalgia will flock to Vibe 4 in droves. Organized and promoted by Cybertribe, a collective of mostly Little Rock-based DJs like Dave McRoberts and Justin Sane, the annual event isn't skimping on the visuals. They'll rig four YAG lasers in the Village's dome and put a giant visual screen on the stage. For high rollers, there'll be a VIP room with a separate bar. Known for her “Bass Queen in the Mix” series, Orlando's DJ Baby Anne headlines with house hero Josh the Funky 1, from Chicago.
MAUMELLE FAMILY FEST
5 p.m., Lake Willastein. $5-$7.
How can you call yourself a parent and not take your prepubescent tykes to the Maumelle Family Fest? Its lineup is a recipe for kid heaven: carnival rides and games, large inflatable play areas, clowns, magic shows, Alltel's NASCAR to ooh and ah over, face painting, and a screening of a Disney movie. For the grown folks, there are cars and boats to ogle, golf games, food from the likes of Chicken King (best wings in Central Arkansas) and Mi Burrito, and face painting. The festival runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. On Friday night, the live entertainment comes courtesy of the highflying local gymnasts from Arkansas Elite Athletics. On Saturday, there'll be live entertainment from a diversity of local performers including 7 Toad Pete, Gloryland Mass Choir, Solstice, Bailey Hefley, Cara Martin and more. Pay special attention to Martin, a 14-year-old Pottsville native who's poised to sign a major label deal.
2 p.m., North Shore Riverwalk. $35.
Metalheads have had this day circled for weeks. Three of the genre's biggest (and most dourly named) bands make up three-fifths of the line-up. Chicago heavyweights Disturbed come to town in advance of the May release of “Indestructible,” the band's first album in more than three years. Atlanta's Sevendust combines low-end raw power with an accessible sense of melody. Memphis' Saliva, a frequent guest in Central Arkansas, keeps it real with drop-D tunings and post-grunge balladry. For those who like their grunge with a Southern flair, Black Stone Cherry works in a slice of their rural Kentucky heritage. Then, of course, there's rap-rocker and general miscreant Kid Rock, who always packs 'em in when he comes to Central Arkansas. Rock comes to town as part of “All Summer Long,” a tour in support of his latest album, “Rock n Roll Jesus.”
GARRISON KEILLOR'S ‘A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION'
4:45 p.m., Summit Arena, Hot Springs. $25-$45.
In the four years since he last visited Hot Springs, Garrison Keillor has stayed busy. He authored a new Lake Wobegon book, “Pontoon.” He started “The Old Scout,” a syndicated newspaper column on political issues. He scripted and starred in Robert Altman's film adaptation of “A Prairie Home Companion.” Last year, he opened an independent bookstore in his hometown of St. Paul, Minn. And, of course, as he has for almost 35 years, he's continued to host “A Prairie Home Companion,” heard weekly by some 4 million listeners. On Saturday, 6,000 or so Arkansans will squeeze into the Summit Arena as Keillor, always the raconteur, delivers a live, Arkansas-flavored version of his show. If we're lucky, maybe Keillor will bring Ponca's Mattie Speece and Patrick Villines, finalists in the recent Wobegon Idol, for an encore performance.
YEA BIG + KID STATIC
10 p.m., Low Key Arts Building, Hot Springs. $5.
In case you hadn't heard, Chicago is killing it in the rap game. And not just Kanye and Common and Twista and Lupe. But upstarts like Kid Sister, the Cool Kids and Rhymefest are steadily gaining fame in the (not so) underground. Chicago doesn't fit under any sort of stylistic rubric the way other cities have, though most of the Windy City's elite are unified by their intelligence and inventiveness. Enter Yea Big + Kid Static, a Chi-City duo eager to inherit their city's mantle. Already blowing up in the blogosphere, where namedropping Jim O'Rourke and celebrating hoagies in rap earns you special bonus points, the duo specializes in weirdo party jams. Producer Yea Big (pronounced “Yay”) glitches up samples familiar and way out, while MC Kid Static, who sounds like Fat Lip on uppers, moves from science-rap geekery to arm-waving anthems. MC Spookytooth, a rapping attorney from Hot Springs who was featured in a Stuff magazine article a few years back, opens the show.
9 p.m., White Water. $5.
“Like Jack Kerouac before her, [Samantha] Crain is lost on the subway, sleeping in boxcars, leaving lovers behind, and dining in small town obscurity all within a few short days,” reads the promotional bio for the Oklahoma indie folk singer. There is, of course, calculation implicit. Crain is neither urban nor rural; she's a rambling troubadour, a poet of the road. (That latter literary association is important for someone with an album coming out in September that's not an EP, but a “Musical Novella.”) Forget the romantic flourish: You can't argue with the rambling bit. The 20-something tours relentlessly, growing her legion of fans with repeat trips to little holes in the wall like, say, White Water Tavern. Crain's voice — strange, tremulous, bright, whimsical and affecting — serves as a perfect foil for her evocative lyrics of love and loss that tend to tilt to the dark side of life. Fellow Oklahoman Jesse Aycock plays a rollicking brand of folk rock in the opening slot.