Alvin Youngblood Hart to White Water Tavern 



8 p.m. The Cavern (in Russellville).

If you've been digging the ongoing '90s indie rock fixation/revival of the last few years, what with these groups of youngsters getting together to craft fuzzy guitar rock with catchy melodies and a Pavement/Dinosaur Jr./Yo La Tango kinda vibe (Yuck, Weekend, PAWS, many others), then you really ought to check out Swearin' of Philadelphia. This crew has released two albums since last year, both rooted in buzzsaw pop-punk and that enduring Pixies-style quiet/loud dynamic. Singers Kyle Gilbride and Allison Crutchfield offer appealing sweet 'n' gruff vocal counterpoints that suit this style of music well. The group's new record, "Surfing Strange," finds them stretching out from their DIY, house-show roots, from scrappy punk to something with a bit more nuanced. That said, it's not a radical shift in direction or anything. Also on this bill: Pecan Sandy and Rad Rad Riot.



8 p.m. The Public Theater. $8-$10.

If ever there were a holiday that needed an occasional smart-alecky jab to take the wind out of its sails just a bit, it's Christmas. And for more than two decades, Red Octopus Theater has been taking that jab, with sketches that (lovingly) skewer those sentimental Yuletide traditions. This year marks the 22nd edition of Pagans on Bobsleds, and it will be marked with sketches old and classic, as well as songs, songs, songs. Some of the ol' faves will include The Solvecki Brothers ("selling their collection of emotional songs for guys"), Fauzio (with "Christmas party fashion tips") and the Old Lady (who'll be "wheeled out for a reading from her memoirs"). New sketches include: "Santas from Around the World," "Celebrity Wish List," "Law & Order: North Pole" and "Unjustified Elves."

FRIDAY 12/13


7 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $10.

As we've noted previously, the countdown to Downtown Music Hall's closing is nearly done. Cool Shoes ("Little Rock's Notorious Monthly Dance Party") has been throwing shows at Downtown Music for the last five years, so it's only appropriate that they'd get together to have one last blowout before the place closes for good. The lineup includes Cool Shoes vets Wolf-e-Wolf and Kichen, plus GDash and Andy Chen and lighting provided by Balance Lighting Systems. It's an all-ages deal and it starts early so don't dilly-dally and miss it.

FRIDAY 12/13


10 p.m. White Water Tavern.

For this one, I'll defer to Times contributor Joe Meazle, because I think he nailed it on this description: "If you think of Alvin Youngblood Hart only as a Handy and Grammy award-winning interpreter of roots and blues music of bygone eras (as many seem to continue to try to do), you would be missing the majority of what the multifaceted artist has thus far and continues to create. It would be akin to judging a bowl of gumbo base solely on a single ingredient, a folly to be sure. That fine gumbo has a roots and blues component, sure enough, but there is also R&B, soul, and good ol' fuse-blowing Southern rock 'n' roll, just to name a few of the ingredients." I can't put it any better than that. As far as Vision Control goes, you should know that it's a project of Little Rock native John Pugh, surely one of the most restless and creative artists this state has produced. He was integral in the '90s LR punk scene, performing in a grip of bands (Uptown Prophets of Armageddon, Crown of Glory, No City No State and Jet Jangua, among many others). He anchored the drumkit for Sacramento-to-Brooklyn dance mavens !!!, providing the driving beat for that band for several years before leaving to focus on the duo Free Blood. I haven't heard Vision Control yet, but according to press materials, "using only a guitar, a loop pedal and his voice, Pugh creates a minimalist landscape where syncopated pointillist patterns interlock with heavy proto-punk R&B vamps liberally peppered with bursts of no wave dystopia." Sounds intriguing, brainy and sultry all at the same time, which is to say, it sounds like a project from John Pugh.




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