EUREKA SPRINGS BLUES WEEKEND
7 p.m., The Auditorium (and other locations), Eureka Springs. $15-$199.
Head north, blues aficionados. A solid chunk of the modern blues scene is scheduled Thursday through Sunday at just about every venue in Eureka Springs. John Hammond, who's been a force in the genre for nearly half a century and who T-Bone Burnett calls a virtuoso, leads off the festivities, with a performance at 7 p.m. Thursday at The Auditorium with Bob Margolin, the Boston-born blues guitarist famous for backing Muddy Waters in the '70s. Charlie Musselwhite, another white bluesman who came to prominence in the '60s (he partied with Elvis as a teenager, called John Hooker his best friend and played on Tom Waits records, according to the London Times), headlines at 7 p.m. on Friday at The Auditorium, with support by his band The Tablerockers as well as special guests Shawn “Lil Slim” Hold and Kelley Hunt. Saturday, The Auditorium features multiple WC Handy-award winning blues act Magic Slim and the Teardrops and more at 3 p.m. To see the complete lineup and buy advance tickets, visit kcblues.info/ESBlues/. LM.
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $48-$60.
Listen, John Prine is the closest thing to a songwriting god that America has; I mean that with all sincerity. In 21 albums released over four decades, the man hasn't wasted a lyric nor played through a dry patch. He's spent his career mumbling up witty, transcendent lyrics that have challenged any and every songwriter since. He inspired thousands, challenged other songwriters with his delicately written albums and, I'm convinced, made even more throw down their guitars and hang up their folksy aspirations after being intimidated by the man. (I certainly did.) Cash held him in the highest of regards and Dylan compares him to Proust. Doubtless, he's the songwriter's songwriter with a massive discography just waiting to be piled through, loved on and obsessed over by the uninitiated. He's impossible to dislike and certainly hard not to place on a pedestal like I just did. In short: GO. JT.
8:30 p.m., Revolution. $15 adv., $20 d.o.s.
Without even listening to the music, here's one way to tell the difference between a real country singer worth a damn and a cougar charmer who sings snake-oil jingles with a twang and calls it country: Go to the singer's Wikipedia page, look at his discography. If they have four or more albums and the majority haven't placed on the Billboard country charts, you're probably in business. Admittedly, that's a narrow way of looking at things, but it'll work more often than not, especially in the case of Todd Snider, the hedonistic, dippy hippie troubadour who carries the torch of Arlo Guthrie and, yep, John Prine. Take his song “Conservative Christian Right-Wing Republican Straight White American Males,” a laid-back blow of bong smoke in the face of the CCRWRSWAMs that keep his brand of faithful country under their boot spurs. Great songs, terrible timing: Todd Snider and John Prine playing at the same time, five blocks away from each other, presents an unenviable Sophie's Choice for fans. Either way, expect a lot of coin flipping Friday night or cross your fingers for them to join each other on their respective stages for a song or two. And buy a drink for Vince Herman's Great American Taxi after the show; it does double duty as opener and backing band. JT.
8:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $10.
If you are a 70-year-old blues man named Guitar Shorty, chances are you can play a pretty mean blues guitar. Better yet, if in the early days of your career, you spent a year in Ray Charles' band, recorded under the direction of Willie Dixon and played in both Guitar Slim and Sam Cooke's band, chances are you know a little something about showmanship. Furthermore, if in a low point of your career, you won the “Gong Show,” by playing your theme song while balanced on your head, chance nothing, you are a god. Bow down, blues geeks. LM.
SPLIT LIP RAYFIELD
9 p.m., Juanita's. $10 adv., $12 d.o.s.
Like a lot of thrash-grass bands, these guys are an affair straight from Dr. Frankenstein's jam room. Fine-tuned vocal cords from the Grand Old Opry, wild hair from CBGBs and flying fingers straight from the Sunset Strip. Their signature sound: fast, faster, rub some twang up in it, do it again. Sure, the guys have mellowed a bit since their beginnings in 1998, now taking their shot glass of moonshine technique back to a sloe gin fizz sway, but their innate, rural goofiness is still in the strings. They're coming off of a weekend's worth of daily Wakarusa gigs, so it's safe to expect spirits to be, well, high. Arkansas bluegrass fixtures The Crumbs — self-described as “drunkbilly, nastygrass”—kick off the night with their pure-grain, woodsy rumblings. JT.
9:30 p.m., White Water Tavern. Donations.
Austin's new blog-darling has treated Little Rock to a handful of house shows in the last few months, summoning the snotty, garage waggle of The Cramps through layers upon layers of vertigo-inducing reverb. It's a sound that exists somewhere between a daydream and an anxiety attack: surreal and weightless pop with a lingering sense of dread. (Albeit an exciting, kind-of-sexy sense of dread.) Their skeletal take on vitriolic fuzzpop is meant to convey a vibe moreso than share a melody (they're too cool for melody) but, the songs, all mumbled and nasally, manage to slink off to a corner of your head and stick there. Yet what separates this band from the recent critical mass of other lo-fi garage revivalists is that these guys sprang to relative fame from the lean jangle of a handful of songs released on fewer small-run 7” records than you can count on one hand. Now, with a proper full-length to hustle, they're back in town, again with local indie-throwback outfit Magic Hassle. JT.
MOVIES IN THE PARK: ‘BACK TO THE FUTURE'
Sundown, Riverfront Park. Free.
After being rained out not once, but two years in a row, it was apparent that God's attentions were squarely focused on keeping Little Rock at bay from the apotheosis of teenage rebellion, Chicago's false idol himself, “Ferris Bueller.” But it was OK. Ferris, Cameron and Sloane were slated to kick off the 2010 Movies in the Park series. But the Lord works in mysterious ways. He decided another rainstorm would be predictable, so He tried His hand at distribution laws — and it worked, leaving our town Ferris-less yet another year. Call it density — I mean, destiny — but another mid-'80s classic has taken its place — another note-perfect, infinitely rewatchable movie centered around teenage recklessness and a bitchin' car: “Back to the Future.” It's the epitome of crowd pleaser, literally with something for everyone. Have you ever met someone who doesn't like “Back to the Future”? I haven't. So make like a tree and get out of your house Wednesday night. This is one of the greats, meant to be seen projected in front of a crowd. It's free, it's temperate and it's BYOB for those of age. JT.