Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal
8 p.m., Afterthought. $5.
After more than eight months of playing a regular Thursday night gig at the Afterthought, the Ted Ludwig Jazz Trio will celebrate the release of their new album, “Common Ground,” with a special Thursday night concert. Led by seven-string guitar virtuoso Ludwig, the group also features Bill Huntington on bass and Brian Brown on drums. Both Huntington and Ludwig relocated to Little Rock from New Orleans after Katrina hit and Huntington still returns to the Crescent City regularly to play with big-name acts like Ellis Marsalis. Ludwig, who studied at University of New Orleans (he was the inaugural recipient of the ASCAP/Louis Armstrong Foundation scholarship) and under the legendary Hank Mackie, has himself become a highly sought-after guitar teacher. Ludwig's father, Ted Ludwig Sr., who plays alto sax, will sit in on the two-set concert. You can also catch Ludwig and Huntington during brunch every Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., next door, at Vieux Carre.
9:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $6.
KABF 88.3 FM, the local community radio station, continues its impressive run of “Radio Free Arkansas” benefit concerts with a line-up featuring 607, the Easys, Kevin Kerby and Juggernaut Glitch. Mark Lewis, who plays guitar in the Moving Front when he's not tirelessly promoting KABF, organized the event and says the concert will be recorded and put on the new and improved KABF website (KABF883.com) for download. That's especially noteworthy for fans of rapper 607 and pop-rockers the Easys, who've long talked about collaborating on an album but haven't gotten farther than the stage; their fusing of such rarely combined genres always seems to get the crowd going. Kerby is Little Rock's unflagging alt-country troubadour. Last year he put out the excellent album “The Secret Lives of All Night Radios,” and he's sure to have new material to share. DJ g-force will man the 1s and 2s for Juggernaut Glitch, a local alt-rap group.
BENEFIT FOR TJ DEETER
10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
If you've been around local music even for just a little while, you at least know his name — TJ Deeter. Few have promoted local art and music culture more fervently. As the founder and publisher of Localist, he's devoted countless hours and scrounged for funds (going into debt in the process) to spotlight underexposed local artists and bands, first in a glossy print magazine and lately in a sophisticated web magazine. Before Localist, he established the “Arkansas Rockers Revue” at White Water Tavern, a regular Tuesday night event that traditionally pairs three local acts — be they rap, black metal, folk or pop—with cheap beer specials and no cover charge. Deeter doesn't book the night anymore, but it's become such an institution that you'd be hard-pressed to find a local act who hadn't played. National acts regularly ask to be included, even if their only hope is to pick up gas money through donations. More recently, Deeter founded an after-school hip-hop program, a hands-on school for 13-17 year-olds, where the history and fundamentals of the culture were conveyed. Several months ago, Deeter was diagnosed with cancer of the thyroid. Surgery was successful but Deeter was uninsured and faces mounting medical bills. To help mitigate those costs, Thick Syrup head honcho Travis McIlroy organized this benefit, which features the DJing prowess of ATM, '80s blue-eyed soul from Nathan Browningham and ubiquitous folk-rocker Chris Denny, who's just released his sophomore CD.
7:30 p.m., Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View, $12.
The overall-wearing, banjo-toting, guitar-picking band Big Smith out of Springfield, Mo., has been blending bluegrass, gospel and alt-country into backwoods hillbilly-folk rock for more than a decade now. Formed in 1996, Big Smith is a family affair — the group includes two sets of brothers, Mark Bilyeu (guitar) and Jody Bilyeu (mandolin, keys), and Bill Thomas (banjo) and soundman Rik Thomas, who helps out onstage, adding vocals and, occasionally, guitar. The fifth member is Jay Williamson (drums). To top it off, they're all cousins. They'll bring their rowdy live show to the Ozark Folk Center in as part of the center's String Week.
9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
Let's hope it's is a sign of a re-emergence. After a brisk run of shows in 2005 and 2006, local rockers Coach have been lying low, but now there's word of a new EP. Maybe they've been holed up in the studio crafting the next big indie rock jam, or maybe they've been studying abroad. (The fellas are elusive.) They're led by singers/guitarists Jeff Allison and Joe Bierman and drummer Chris Allison and bassist Eric Schneider round out the line-up. Formed in 2004, the group recorded in 2005 at Blue Chair Studios in Austin, Ark. Those songs, simply dubbed “The Blue Chair Sessions,” went only as far as MySpace and purevolume, but hinted at immense promise. Their best tracks recall the late-'90s swirling guitar-rock of the Pixies and Pavement, yet without sounding derivative. Glister, a Southern rock group from Oklahoma, is also on the bill.
RON “TATER SALAD” WHITE
7:30 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $36.75.
Jeff Foxworthy was already well-established with his “You might be a redneck if …” jokes when he took three buddies out on tour with him in January 2000. Performing sold-out shows in more than 90 cities and grossing more than $15 million, the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” introduced Bill Engvall, Larry the Cable Guy and Ron “Tater Salad” White to Foxworthy fans. The highly successful tour launched the “blue collar” comics' careers and led to a live album release and a movie deal. Since then, Grammy-nominated Ron “Tater Salad” White has put out CDs, DVDs, a book and has recently signed on to do a second hour-long special on Comedy Central. Known for his cigar-smoking, scotch-drinking storytelling style, White comes to town on his “You Can't Fix Stupid” tour.
HERB REED & THE PLATTERS
8 p.m., Timberwood Amphitheater at Magic Springs and Crystal Falls. Free with park admission.
On Saturday, Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famers Herb Reed and the Platters, known for their classics “Only You (And You Alone)” and “The Great Pretender,” make a tour stop at the Timberwood Amphitheater. Singer Reed put together the four-man doo-wop group he called the Platters in 1953 after he heard a DJ refer to records as platters. Supporting Reed, who sang bass, were Joe Jefferson, Cornell Gunther and Alex Hodge. Together they won several amateur shows before landing their first TV appearance on the “Ebony Showcase” performing a swing version of “Old McDonald Had a Farm.” Months later, they signed a management contract with Buck Ram, who suggested adding a female vocalist to the group. After Zola Taylor joined “The Platters” in 1955, the group signed a recording contract with Chicago label Mercury Records, put out two Top Ten hits back-to-back and appeared in the film “Rock Around the Clock.” Touring for five decades, Herb Reed's current line-up includes Derek David, who has been in The Platters for 32 years, Kristy Brooks, Joe Coleman and Joe Cross.
9 p.m., Vino's. $5.
With songs like “I'm Your Friend” and “Live for Happiness,” Cabot native Michael Dunlap of the one-man band Totally Michael makes happy-go-lucky pop-punk dance music. (He gleefully warns you on his infectiously fun “Shake Your Booty or Die”: “Don't let me catch you not dancing, I'll kill you.”) After relocating to Bloomington, Ind., in 2005, Michael has toured steadily, typically playing friendly all-ages punk shows. His latest stop in Little Rock finds him touring behind the E.P. “For You,” which includes “Shake Your Booty” and the high-school face-off jam “Cheerleaders vs. Drillteam.” Fans of Soophie Nun Squad will recognize a similar penchant for silly costumes and participatory chants. Another Bloomington act, Prizzy Prizzy Please, opens. With a more traditional band line-up, they delight in similar stage antics. HFU!, the booking group who used to host all-ages shows at the Treehouse, hosts the show as part of its regular relationship with Vino's, which as usual, opens the concert to all ages.
9 p.m., Juanita's. $15.
Normal-looking Texas-native Ben Kweller, a floppy-haired, baby-faced singer-songwriter, says he got into music as a kid sifting through Beatles and Jimi Hendrix records from his dad's collection. While Kweller's high school band Radish was touted as “the next Nirvana,” the 27-year-old's solo efforts — three lo-fi indie rock LPs — have been rooted in that '60s pop-rock sound, perhaps most obviously on his 2006 self-titled album produced by Pixies collaborator Gil Norton. A jangley gem that shines on the steady-moving “Penny on a Train” and upbeat breezer “I Gotta Move,” it's easy to hear his influences. Still, having taken on all vocal and instrumental duties, Kweller proves it's very much his own project. After playing some big shows — opening for the Lemonheads, co-headlining with Death Cab for Cutie and landing gigs at Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits last year — he's set out on a summer tour that includes a stop at Juanita's on Wednesday night.