RANDY ROGERS BAND
8 p.m., Revolution. $15.
Even though its last album eventually climbed to No. 8 in the Billboard country charts, and even though it records for Universal Records and recruited famed Nashville producer Radney Foster to help steer the course of its recently released eponymous album, the Randy Rogers Band seems to have a lot invested in existing (and flourishing) outside of the Nashville norm of contemporary country music. Like the best country songs, Rogers' tunes toe the line between raucous drinkin' anthems and slow-burning ruminations on heartache and everyday pain. The band seems to be, above all else, pushing grit — the antithesis of countrypolitan Nashville — as the tie that binds its material. It doesn't hurt matters that lead singer Rogers sounds an awful lot like Steve Earle. After five years of hard touring, including a number of stops in Little Rock, the band's developed a reputation as a can't-miss live act. Last year, Rolling Stone called them one of the top 10 artists to see in the summer. Here's betting that they'll sound all right in the fall, too. Austin-based country singer Sunny Sweeney opens. LM.
‘CIRQUE DE LA SYMPHONIE'
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $17-$66.
For all the symphony lovers out there with friends who can't quite grasp the magic of a live orchestra, here's their chance to win them over. “Cirque de la Symphonie” pairs the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra with veterans of Cirque du Soleil's acrobats, jugglers, magicians and strong men. The Cirque's moves are choreographed in coordination with the ASO, so everything should swing along nicely. Pay special attention to the strength duo Jarek and Darek, from Warsaw. They're world champion hand balancers, which means they'll do stuff like handstands with their pinkies, or headstands on the other's head. The ASO and the Cirque troupe reprise the show on Saturday at the same time. LM.
THE SUBTEENS/ SMOKE UP JOHNNY
10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
Ah, bar rock. Where you been gone so long? To be fair, after a fairly extended hiatus following their tour with Green Day, Smoke Up Johnny has been playing gigs over the last month or so. But it's been months since a bill with this much three-chord hedonism came our way. For more than a decade, the Subteens have been a force on the Memphis scene. Like Smoke Up Johnny, they specialize in fist-pumping hard rock, full of sing-a-long hooks and lyrics about the fast life. A few years back, lead singer and guitarist Mark Arkin started living out his lyrics a little too closely, and the band had a messy break. But late last year, they reformed to record a new song, “Never Gonna Happen” (available for free download on thesubteens.com, awesomely along with the band's first album, “Burn Your Cardigan”), and early this year, they played what they termed a “one-off gig.” Guess it didn't take. Smoke Up Johnny comes to White Water armed with new material. The band's planning, in the near future, to go into the studio with Barry Poynter to record a follow-up to last year's self-titled release. Nos Rebos opens the show. LM.
7 p.m., Clear Channel Metroplex, $25.
Some say Los Angeles rockers Buckcherry, originally called Sparrow, came up with their name by rearranging the first letters of Chuck Berry's name. Initially, however, the group said it was inspired by a drag queen acquaintance. In any event, the band released its self-titled debut in 1999 to high praise and certified gold status. After changes to its roster and some lawsuits, including one by a 16-year-old female who claimed she was coerced into dancing provocatively and topless during a show, the rejuvenated five-piece makes its way to town in support of its latest album, “15,” which contains wholesome sing-along numbers such as “Crazy Bitch.” Hard rockers Shinedown and Saving Abel open the all-ages show. PP.
5 p.m., Gallery @ 404B, Hot Springs. Donations.
Six months ago, Hot Springs musician Dean Agus picked up an Etch-A-Sketch and started doodling. Turns out he had a knack. On Friday, an exhibit of his art opens at Gallery @ 404B in Hot Springs. He'll display Etch-A-Sketches — locked in so you won't inadvertently erase them — of a razorback, a clipper ship, Jack Nicholson from “The Shining,” the Mona Lisa and more. Also, he'll play a live, acoustic set of material from his new solo CD “Awake.” Both the CD and the art will be for-sale, with half the net proceeds going to benefit Arkansas Children's Hospital. LM.
THE WET PARTY
10 p.m., Juanita's. $10-$12.
It's long been the exclusive province of Backstreet and Discovery, but this weekend Juanita's gets into the act. Local party promoter Diamond Productions is calling out to “all vanilla and chocolate rainbow families.” New York dancer Oohzee, who specializes in “exotic interpretation” and performs regularly all along the East Coast, will do her thing, as will the buxom Naomi Sparks. Domineek, the regular Backstreet drag hostess, also hosts a drag contest with $500 in prize money up for grabs. After midnight, the cover charge goes from $10 to $12. LM.
7 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $42-$52.
Six years ago, Gordon Lightfoot suffered a ruptured aortic aneurysm. Six weeks in a coma, four surgeries and two years of rehab followed. Improbably, he returned to the stage in 2004; he comes to Little Rock amidst a busy schedule. He spent most of spring and early summer on the road, and he'll hit the stage at Robinson after two weeks of almost non-stop cross-country touring. The crowd, likely boomer heavy, is sure to turn out in droves to see the Canadian folksinger. Even at 69, he's still got that distinctive baritone, and he's sure to perform signature songs like “Sundown,” “If You Could Read My Mind” and the “Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald.” LM.
8 p.m., Revolution, $15 adv., $18 d.o.s.
“There's a certain uneasiness to the Toadies,” says Vaden Todd Lewis, succinctly describing his band. At its core, the Fort Worth-based group is a raw, commanding rock outfit. The band's first Little Rock gig in 1995 at Blue Mesa yielded a sluggish turnout of approximately eight people, perhaps because the band's first full-length album “Rubberneck” had yet to storm the airwaves with the smash hit “Possum Kingdom.” The song has remained in collective musical consciousness and is among the Guitar Hero II tracks. With such a bummer gig in the rearview mirror by now, the Toadies has amassed a strong body of work, if not a lot of commercial success. The band's released a new album, “No Deliverance.” So far, no opening act has been announced for the all-ages show, which might lead to a longer set. PP.