A WORK OF ART
Various times and venues. $20-$50.
Art Porter Music Education Inc. was created to continue the legacy of the late Art Porter Sr. and Art Porter Jr. The nonprofit offers scholarships to promising young Arkansas musicians. The elder Porter was a teacher and notable player in the Little Rock scene. The younger Porter grew up playing music and was in his father's band for years before striking out on a successful solo career, including several albums on PolyGram and Verve Records. His life and music career were tragically cut short in 1996, when he was killed in a boating accident in Thailand. This week-long festival, which got started Monday, is in its second year. It's the primary fundraiser for the APME and includes concerts at several venues. On Wednesday, Sway hosts shows at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. with Little Rock born bassist James Leary, who played with Porter Sr. as well as numerous jazz legends such as Max Roach, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Pharaoh Sanders and many others. On Thursday, the Porter Players are at The Afterthought for a free jam session starting at 8 p.m. Pianist Alex Bugnon, who played the festival last year, is at Cajun's Wharf, 9 p.m., $25. And on Saturday, the festivities wrap up with a big show at Clear Channel Metroplex, featuring jazz and R&B vocalist Will Downing, The Fingerprints Band and Lex Porter, the grandson of Porter Sr. and the nephew of Porter Jr.
9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $7.
I'm pretty sure that the Times has written a preview of every show that Malcolm Holcombe has played in Little Rock. We might have missed one somewhere along the line, but I doubt it. So by now, regular readers ought to be familiar with the North Carolina native. But there's always a straggler here and there, and those poor souls don't deserve to be left out. So to recap: Malcolm Holcombe is a helluva songwriter, as gifted with the haunting dirge as he is with the quiet folk meditation. As a guit-box picker, he's fleet-fingered as they come, and he has this unconventional approach to the instrument — namely, he smacks it like a drum and every so often he'll pluck one of the high strings so hard it sounds like a ricochet in an old Western movie. He's a rascally teller of stories that don't add up on the front side, but instead sneak in the back and drop a cherry bomb down the kitchen sink while you're still on the front porch trying to figure out what the hell. He has a gravelly growl, enough make even the meanest and most unscrupulous of tow-truck drivers apologize and then let down their rig, backpedaling the whole time — "Sorry man, sorry, my mistake." Holcombe's latest record, "Down the River," is great. It's got guest vocal spots from Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle and has some other big-deal musicians playing on it too, and as usual, the songwriting quality is high. But as good as his recordings are, seeing Holcombe play live is an experience on another level. He can create a vibe in the room like very few other performers I've ever seen.
BATTERY — MASTERS OF METALLICA
9 p.m. Revolution. $8 adv., $10 day of.
On a fateful day in 1989, a friend loaned me his cassingle copy of Metallica's "One" (B side: a cover of Diamond Head's "The Prince"). I took it home, ka-chunked it into the tape deck of my cheap Sanyo boom box, and what came out of the speakers a few seconds later would forever warp my mind and my sensibilities and my view of the world and of politics and most especially of music and what it could be. But on their breakthrough 1991 self-titled album, Metallica went soft. I felt heartbroken and betrayed and tried in vain to like the album, but to no avail. But still, the first four Metallica albums are, to my mind, four of the greatest albums of all time. I never got to see Metallica during their heyday, though some friends swear that they still kill live. I don't know, maybe a tribute band is as close to the real Metallica experience as one can get. This one, called Battery after the classic "Master of Puppets" track, has opened for the actual Metallica. They played Metallica songs and Metallica played the cover songs they'd recorded for their "Garage Inc." album. This show is 18-and-older.
I liked it a lot. People in the theater were laughing out loud.