Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal
NORAH JONES/M. WARD
8 p.m., Robinson Music Hall. $48-$58.
There’s something likeable about the cherub-faced, soft-voiced songstress Norah Jones. In fact, it’s difficult to dislike her, even if you’ve heard “Don’t Know Why” one too many times at your neighborhood Starbucks. At 28, Jones seems to appeal to an older audience; people with grown kids and retirement plans buy her albums. Check out her 2002 debut, “Come Away with Me,” and you’ll see why: It’s easy listening. Her breathy vocals bring listeners in from their daily grind to sit in on her porch-swing rhythms and get carried away by her country-folk cadence. While many critics found 2004’s “Feels Like Home” boring (she’s been called Snorah Jones), it was well received by her fans, who bought a million copies in the first week of the album’s release. On her summer tour, she’s promoting her third album, “Not Too Late.” Singer-songwriter M. Ward, who’s become a much-in-demand guitar session man and a successful artist in his own right, plays in support.
9 p.m. ,The Village. $7.
Back from his second trip to Russia and gearing up for yet another visit and a trip to Australia and New Zealand, globe-trotting local rapper 607 has somehow found time to record a new album, “La Vida Local.” At this point, his prolificacy — this’ll be his 27th release since 2000 — has almost become ho-hum, but his bizarre, always-engrossing albums make him hard to discount. Even more if he keeps putting on shows like his last concert at the Village. For his “Symphony of the Night” performance at the end of last year, he dressed in bondage attire (with a panty-hose-looking mask and manacled wristlets), played with a full band and took requests for about two hours. He’s aiming to up the ante with this concert, which he’s calling “Hack UR Dreams.” Last week, he said he’s planning on having four intermissions with lots of “theatrical shit.” Without a hint of grin, he said he was hoping to do a kind of “rapping Cirque du Soleil.”
7:10 p.m., Dickey-Stephens Park. $3-$10.
The Arkansas Travelers (21-33) close out a four-game series with the Wichita Wranglers (22-34) on Thursday and Friday at 7:10 p.m. While the Travelers have had a less-than-impressive opening season at the brand-new, $40-million-plus, 5,800-seat ballpark, the highlight has been watching pitcher Amalio Diaz, who was named the Texas League’s co-pitcher of the week recently. Diaz is the first Travs pitcher to throw nine scoreless innings this season. Beginning Saturday, the Travs will take on the Springfield Cardinals (25-27) in another four-game series. Games are scheduled for Saturday at 6:30 p.m.; Sunday at 6 p.m.; Monday at 7:10 p.m.; and Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. Dickey-Stephens Park is located in North Little Rock. Box seats are $10. General admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children.
HOT ROD POWER TOUR
4 p.m., Arkansas Fairgrounds. Free.
More than 4,000 souped-up, tricked-out hot rods and muscle cars will roll into Little Rock on Friday for the final stop on what’s become the largest automotive touring event in the world. For eight days and through seven cities, thousands of automotive enthusiasts have weaved their way through the Heartland down to Memphis, finally reaching the end of the tour on Friday in Little Rock. Classic rockers Blue Oyster Cult will kick off the two-day event. Other highlights include Jay Leno’s “EcoJet,” a jet-turbine-powered hot rod, and the 2009 Chevy Camaro convertible concept car. On Saturday, the show opens up again at 8 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m., when cars will begin to make their way east on Roosevelt, north on Broadway, then east on Markham on their way to Cruisapalooza in the River Market. Centered around classic cars, hot rods, muscle cars, trucks and motorcycles, the festival will be open to the public from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Legendary car creator Norm Grabowski will have his Kookie II car on display, and Texas rockabillies Pushrod will perform.
THE FULL MONTY
8 p.m., The Rep. $30-$50.
Based on the popular Oscar-nominated British film, Terrence McNally’s stage musical adaptation of “The Full Monty” has been almost equally lauded. Nominated for 10 Tony Awards, the comedy follows the trials of six unemployed steel workers who plan a one-night-only striptease in hopes earning money and respect. McNally relocated the setting to Buffalo, N.Y., in his stage adaptation, but the story’s central question is the same: Will the troupe go for the “full monty”? On Thursday, June 14, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Understudies host “Strip & Go Naked,” a pre-party in the Rep’s Black Box Theatre with free food and drinks. Appropriately, the event is sponsored by Hooters and Harbor Distributing (alcohol). The musical runs on the Rep’s MainStage from Friday until July 1.
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $27.50-$32.50.
Southern comic Rickey Smiley is a rare breed. He’s a clean comic — his material isn’t profane or particularly suggestive. Still, after some 12 years on the circuit, he’s poised to become one of comedy’s biggest stars. A stint as the host of BET’s “ComicView” in 2000 got him his initial big exposure, but his reputation rests largely on the strength of his prank calls, which he’s done through the years as a weekday radio host. Memorably, he’s played a narcoleptic who works at a funeral home who claims “they done buried me alive,” and an elderly grandmother who calls Church’s Chicken and wants to know “who is y’all’s pastor.” Over the course of three comedy CDs, Smiley has cultivated characters that have become his bread and butter. A star in the Ice Cube film “Friday After Next,” Smiley is in talks to make a feature film based on one of his most popular creations, Bernice Jenkins, an elderly church lady. On Friday, he’ll be joined by comedians Ced Delaney, Lavar Walker and “Special K” Douglas.
2 p.m., North Shore Riverwalk. $35.
Alt-metal heroes Godsmack headline the annual Edgefest concert in North Little Rock with stadium-sized songs of angst. Since around 2000, the Boston-based quartet has been one of metal’s most popular groups. Last year, the band released “IV,” a brooding, aggressive album that debuted at No. 1. Neo-grunge outfit Puddle of Mud is touring behind its forthcoming album, “Living on Borrowed Time,” which comes out in July. The lead single, “Famous,” is already in radio rotation. Canadian alt-rockers Three Days Grace write dark, catchy songs about loneliness and isolation. The band is sure to break out hits “(I Hate) Everything About You” and “Animal I Have Become.” Sevendust, an Atlanta new-metal group that weaves funk and hip-hop rhythms into its music, rounds out the lineup along with Breaking Benjamin and Skillet and Red.
EXTREME CAGE COMBAT 8.0
8 p.m., Alltel Arena. $18.25-$73.25.
As the popularity of mixed martial arts continues to skyrocket, Alltel hosts the state’s largest event to date. Extreme Cage Combat 8.0 will pair fighters from Arkansas and surrounding states to do battle in what’s become one of the sport’s most distinctive features, the steel-cage octagon. Three divisions of amateur fighters — novice, sub-novice and open — will square off against each other. Unlike many sports, MMA fighters can rise to fame almost overnight. A bruising amateur fighting at Alltel could be in the sport’s professional league, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, by year’s end. This could be a chance to see today’s stars tomorrow. Amidst the blood and violence, there’ll also be scantily clad ring-card girls prancing between rounds and bouts.
8 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
When Boondogs singer Indy Grotto was pregnant with her first child, the band took a little hiatus. Members Jason Weinheimer (vocals, guitar), Charles Wyrick (guitar), Chris Michaels (bass) and Isaac Alexander (drums) started playing as the Libras, a laid-back cover band that took on Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Neil Young, the Kinks and R.E.M at Hillcrest’s Living Room every Wednesday night — until the place flooded in 2004. When White Water Tavern’s new crew showed interest in hosting cover-band nights once a month, the Libras decided to play again. So far at the Tavern, they’ve done Bob Dylan night (who can forget guitarist Greg Spradlin’s “Farewell Angelina”?) and Tom Petty night (“American Girl” was a wild hit). For their next show, they’ll get some help from pedal-steel guitarist Dave Easley, a friend of theirs who’s coming in from New Orleans. The Libras have a special “Best of the Libras” night planned, for which they’ll play a song or two from all of the artists they’ve covered in the past. In honor of Easley’s visit, White Water Tavern’s Seth Baldy is boiling shrimp and making gumbo.
BEN NICHOLS/CORY BRANAN
9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
In between records, tours and other projects, buddies Ben Nichols and Cory Branan make time for solo shows together. They linked up in Little Rock last week and have been on the road since, making pit stops at small-town venues in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee. A Little Rock native, Nichols, who fronts Memphis-based Southern rock band Lucero, is known for his gravelly voice and gut-wrenching lyrics about love gone wrong. His stuff reeks of whiskey and cigarettes as strongly as the crowd he draws. Expect a packed house of country boys slinging beer and slurring lyrics at the stage. While Nichols arouses rowdiness, Cory Branan brings a softer side to the stage. Branan, who calls Fayetteville home for now, writes honest, seemingly confessional love songs. He moves easily from witty ditties about hand-holding at the skating rink to dark heartbreakers about sleeping on the floor broke and lonely. They pack the house, so it’s best to get there early.