LULA WASHINGTON DANCE THEATRE
7:30 p.m., Reynolds Hall, UCA, Conway. $23-$35.
For the first time in her illustrious career, England native Lula Washington brings her dance company to Arkansas. A latecomer to dance, Washington began training as an adult. At 22, she applied to UCLA's dance program, but was denied admission because she was deemed “too old.” Washington appealed the decision, was admitted and ultimately went on to earn a master's degree. She began to appear on stages across the country and in films like “Funny Lady” and “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.” In 1980, she and her husband founded the Lula Washington Dance Theatre in Los Angeles, which has become one of the country's most respected theaters, garnering rave reviews in just about every paper of note. On Thursday and Friday, Washington presents the world premiere of “The Nine,” a dance based on the Central High integration crisis. The repertoire also features “Songs of the Disinherited,” a dance suite that traces the black Diaspora in America. Tickets for UCA students are $10. AETN will film the Friday performance.
‘DANCING AT LUGHNASA'
7:30 p.m., the Weekend Theater. $10-$14.
The Weekend Theater once again presents a challenging, award-winning play. Set in a small village in Ireland in 1936, “Dancing” centers around the festival of Lughnasadh, a drunken celebration of the pagan god of harvest. Narrated by Michael, the 7-year-old illegitimate child of Christine Mundy, who together with her four unmarried sisters lives a spare existence in a cottage outside of a small village, Brian Friel's play finds its protagonists responding to the tensions between pagan traditions and Catholic prohibitions of divorce, contraception and abortion. Also in the mix is Jack, the Mundys' brother, who's recently returned home after 25 years in Africa. He returns enthralled with the freedoms of a non-Christian culture and suffering from malaria, which affects his memory.
THE GOOD FEAR
10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
From the dark depths of the studio, the Good Fear emerges, hopefully hirsute and wearing sunglasses. A decade ago (or maybe it was more like nine months — who can remember?), the Fayetteville-based band started recording a follow-up to its widely beloved debut, “Keep in Touch.” Word from the Good Fear camp is that the record is finally finished, but I heard that in the fall, too, just before head knob twiddler Zach Holland (call him Axl) headed back into the studio. So you can't cop the new record and, according to Axl, the band won't play many new songs, but it's the Good Fear! Live on stage! One of our state's finest bands! They play infrequently! Look for a teeming crowd, singing along to the band's anthemic brand of Southern rock. If that's not enough pageantry for you, Justin Carr's Ghost Company opens. Carr, the former lead singer of Tin Fire Radio, sings exclusively of ghosts, with backing help by the Damn Bullets and dancing girls.
‘GOING TO SEE
7:30 p.m., Historic Arkansas Museum. $12-$14.
After their successful collaboration on the musical “Quilters,” the Historic Arkansas Museum and the Community Theatre once again join together to present a stage play in the museum's theater. Set outside a sod hut in the wilds of Kansas in the 1870s, “Going to See the Elephant” focuses on four frontier women: Ma, who's always dishing out homespun wisdom; Sara, her content daughter-in-law; Etta, a young girl still traumatized after being abducted by Cheyenne, and Mrs. Nichols, a refined lady from the East forced to remain on the frontier while her husband recovers from illness. As they battle wolves and worry over Indian attacks, they talk of “going to see the elephant” or “crossing the next hill to see what lies on the other side.” Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22, 23, 29 and March 1, and 2 p.m. Feb. 24 and March 2.
9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $10.
You'll remember Mark Olson as the guy in the Jayhawks with the high hair and the bright, adenoidal vocals. The Jayhawks, of course, were “the most acclaimed band to emerge out of the alt-country scene.” Or at least that's what Olson's MySpace page says. Either way the Minneapolis band was in the vanguard of the late '80s, early '90s alt-country movement and put out a lot of fine material. Olson later formed the Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers, a winning alt-country trio. Creekdipping no more, Olson comes to town behind his latest solo album, “Salvation Blues,” a sturdy record built on Americana-shaded melodies and meditative lyrics. Bill Mallonee, the former lead singer of the Athens college rockers Vigilantes of Love, opens the show.
9 p.m., Cajun's. $5.
The Nashville country group CashVegas comes to Cajun's Wharf with pedigrees. Lead man Jason Witt was a former member of Exile, a country-pop group with 11 number one hits, all recorded before Witt joined the band. Witt has performed thrice at the Charlie Daniels Celebrity Golf Tournament and once onstage with former U.S. Senator Trent Lott and his son, Chett. Drummer/percussionist Dale Krajewski is known to have spent time on Beale Street performing. A descendant of Fiddlin' John Carson, guitarist Brad Wolf has a song that appeared on a 2003 NASCAR-themed compilation album; it also has served as the promotional material for “The Apprentice.” Look for everyone to sing and switch instruments often. Sean Rock and the Toltecs open. Led by Rock's strong Southern vocals and sharp, literate songwriting, the band specializes in folk-rock par excellence. The $5 cover charge kicks in after 8:30 p.m.
12:30 a.m., Midtown. $5.
Little Rock's Das Gift has been called “triply more interesting than [Evanescence]” (Virus! Magazine in Germany) and “the next Pink Floyd” (Malice Radio, Pennsylvania). A writer in Gothic Beauty magazine in Oregon said the self-titled debut was “Well, WELL worth the wait. … Certainly the most earnest and articulate lyrics of what I've seen lately. Highly recommended.” MorbidOutlook.com in New York suggests that “only a really anthracite soul would fail to be touched.” Welcome to the margins of the critical world, where someone, somewhere will deem earnest, angst-y goth-pop from Little Rock the next Pink Floyd. Which is not to belittle the talent of Adrian James, the former violinist for Evanescence, who says that this essentially one-man band has been 14 years in the making. James' arrangements are intricate and moody. Pretty melodies buoy the goth-rock, and James' vocals, which might be a touch bright for your average goth fan, come through strong and clear. That half the lyrics are in German might limit the band's crossover appeal, but for the bleary-eyed end-of-the-nighters who gather at Midtown, it might sound like genius. Plus, the band is likely to be in Matrix-style gear and have a fairly grandiose set-up. Fayetteville's DJ Infam0us opens the show.
& DEAD HORSES
9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $7.
Ryan Bingham has a bio made for PR (or is it the other way around? the cynical ask). Only 26, with rugged good looks and a penchant for tall, flat-brimmed cowboy hats, Bingham spent his boyhood living the ranch life on border towns. He's bilingual and a former bull-rider who spent years on the Southwest rodeo circuit. He got his start in a roadhouse owned by his uncle; the bar's jukebox, filled with the likes of Bob Wills and Marshall Tucker, influenced his sound. On his debut album on Lost Highway, Bingham plies the same kind of country-rock grit that distinguished the outlaw country movement. He sings of world-weariness with a raspy, world-weary voice that belies his age. He sings of working all day for a dollar, of marijuana plants, of trains, of going without bread and water. Sometimes he slips into Spanish. Marc Ford, formerly of the Black Crowes, produced Bingham's debut, “Mescalito,” and occasionally hints of the Crowes surface. More cowpunk! Any chance we could get our own preternaturally aged, wild-voiced country-rocker to open? This gig was made for Chris Denny.