‘IF THEY SING IT, YOU WILL COME'
7:30 p.m., the Rep. $15.
Don't make the mistake of dismissing the Rep's latest performance by its Young Artists program as just another kids show. Because chances are, when you think of children's theater, you imagine school plays that are redeemed only by cuteness. And the Rep's Young Artist productions are worlds beyond simple cuteness. The program, an intensive summer workshop where more than 60 actors, ranging from ages 10 to 22, hone their craft and prepare a musical, molds young performers into unbelievable talents. This year, they offer a revue of songs of the cinema that stretches from “Casablanca” to “Napoleon Dynamite.” Heed the call of the title (it's the last weekend). Also, see our review of the musical (page 35) and our video feature on the production in our video player at arktimes.com.
BEN NICHOLS/CHUCK RAGAN/TIM BARRY/ TOM GABEL
9 p.m., Juanita's. $15.
Folk-punks have had this date circled for months. In what's dubbed the “Revival Tour” — a nod to the folk era, when solo artists often collaborated onstage — four of the genre's biggest names, Ben Nichols (Lucero), Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), Tim Barry (Avail) and Tom Gabel (Against Me), come to town to play solo sets and provide backing support for each other. Nichols, who's no stranger to solo gigs in Little Rock, has said the idea of the tour grew from the pleasure of “stripping everything down to its basic form” and likened it to “sitting around a campfire every night playing music with some friends.” He's sure to be the big draw at Juanita's, but nationally, particularly in the punk scene, he might be the least well known, and he's definitely the odd man out among the coterie of protest-minded punk and hardcore. But where material might separate the quartet, everyone sings like he's spent a lifetime hollering and drinking grain alcohol, which is to say, grizzled. Don't expect that to stop the legions, which are likely to show up in force, from singing along.
10 p.m., Juanita's. $10.
The Boondogs abide. For almost a decade, the local pop-rock group's been a study of persistence, releasing new albums about every other year and playing out just enough that their shows always feel long-coming. The central dynamic, too, remains largely unchanged: Lead singers and songwriters and husband and wife Indy Grotto and Jason Weinheimer frame songs (each usually anchors songs alone) as if they're having a conversation, and one that often takes dark turns. But don't mistake persistence for creative sameness. With each album, the 'dogs have built on their formula, which has lately meant albums that deeply deserve an audience beyond Little Rock. Their new record, “Take Shelter,” a sunnier, bigger sounding rumination on love and loss, easily fits that bill. On Friday they'll celebrate its release. The famed producer, session man and singer/songwriter Jim Dickinson opens the show with a rare performance in his hometown. The $10 entry fee includes a copy of the album.
ANNE PRESSLY BENEFIT
7 p.m., the Grand Ballroom of the Peabody. $25.
In memory of Anne Pressly, local promoter Butch Stone presents a night of entertainment of all stripes. All proceeds will be donated according charities selected by Pressly's parents. The headliners include local cover band CRISIS, blue-eyed soul man Big John Miller, rising talent Cara Martin and the gospel act Glory Land Mass Choir. Randall Eller the Magician, Kassi Kimmons, Sherry Haywood, Kasi Lunsford, Barrett Baber and Heather Bennett are also on the bill. A number of local radio personalities, including Tom Wood, Jeff Allen, Heather and DC, will also be on hand; most will be broadcasting live. Admission includes two free drink tickets at door.
REBA AND KELLY CLARKSON
8 p.m., Alltel Arena. $49.50-$59.50.
After three decades in country music and seven years as a TV star, Reba's famous enough she doesn't need McEntire anymore. She's just plain Reba. Kelly Clarkson, arguably the most talented among the “American Idol” alumni, isn't anywhere near one-name status, but then again, she's only 26, and she's already got two multi-platinum albums and two Grammys under her belt. The oddball pair, united by representation (McEntire's husband, Narvel Blackstock), first debuted together on an episode of “CMT Crossroads” last year and later in the year had a hit single with a reworking of Clarkson's “Because of You” on the album “Reba: Duets.” Now, on the “2 Worlds, 2 Voices Tour,” they're performing together onstage, each supporting the other on her songs. Hearing Reba belt out “Since U Been Gone” should be worth the price of admission alone.
‘CHRISTMAS ON MARS'
8 p.m., Malco Theater, Hot Springs. $5.
Wayne Coyne spent seven years making “Christmas on Mars” in his backyard in Oklahoma City. The lead singer of the psychedelic pop band the Flaming Lips, who once released a four-disc album meant to be played simultaneously, has long made bizarre theatrics a centerpiece of the group's live shows. At the last Lips show I saw, Coyne wore a white suit, with fake blood smeared across his face, and presided over dancing people in stuffed animal costumes and giant weather balloons, while slow-mo video of topless women jogging down a beach was projected onto a screen. So it's not surprising that critics have likened his DIY sci-fi film to a “thrift-shop ‘Solaris'” with “dashes of David Lynch” and “an echo of ‘The Wizard of Oz,'” even as they've admitted to not quite grasping the plot particulars. Coyne stars as a green-horned Martian who dons a Santa suit. Steven Drozd, a multi-instrumentalist in the band, plays an astronaut, and Adam Goldberg, Fred Armisen and Isaac Brock make cameos. All proceeds from this one-time showing benefit the Valley of the Vapors music festival.
8 p.m., Alltel Arena. $37.50-$57.50.
Here's something you don't hear much in this day and age: Celtic Thunder, the five-man Irish vocal group, is a bona fide PBS-fueled phenomenon. So far in 2008, the network has aired the group's live show more than 1,000 times. Who knew traditional Celtic music (that is, music rooted in Ireland and Scotland) had such an appeal? Though, to be fair, Celtic Thunder isn't all “Whiskey in the Jar.” The vocal group, spanning in ages from teens to middle age, is known, too, for adding regional flair to more contemporary songs like “Nights in White Satin” and “Ride On.” Expect, also, elaborate choreography and visual effects and accompaniment by the bagpipes, the Celtic Concert Orchestra and monks.
7:30 p.m., McCastlain Hall, UCA. Free.
There's a Facebook group called “If Chuck Klosterman spit in my face, I'd stop taking showers.” At press time, it had 950 members. Those and other rabid fans will have an opportunity to see the journalist, cultural critic and now novelist (his debut, “Downtown Owl,” came out in September) up close and personal on Tuesday and Wednesday as he serves, briefly, as an Artist in Residence at UCA. For around an hour and a half, he'll lecture or read on Tuesday, take questions and sign books. Wednesday, he'll lead master classes about the writing process, open to the public, in Winifred L. Thompson 331 at 10 a.m. and McCastlain 302 at 11 a.m. Over the course of five books (two of essays, two of creative non-fiction and the novel) and countless columns and articles for the likes of the Believer, ESPN.com, Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, Klosterman's written about everything from the Celtics/Lakers rivalry to Internet porn. Expect a gaggle of pop culture obsessives, this one included.
TED LUDWIG QUINTET
5 p.m., Capital Bar and Grill. Free.
8:30 p.m., Afterthought. $7.
Arkansas's (the region's?) finest jazz trio expands its ranks on Wednesday in the first of a two-night, four-gig CD release party to celebrate Ted Ludwig's sophomore release, “Shabang!”. Since moving here three years ago, the New Orleans transplant has almost single-handedly reinvigorated our jazz scene. A seven-string whiz, he gigs five days a week, usually with his sturdy three-piece, which includes bassist Joe Cripps and drummer Brian Brown. For “Shabang!” Ludwig recruited a couple homeboys, who also happen to be two of New Orleans finest, pianist Michael Pellera and saxophonist Tony Dagradi, who's made his name as the leader of the Astral Project. Pellera and Dagradi will appear at all four gigs. Same places, same times on Thursday. Look for more on Ludwig in next week's edition.