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Big Cats and Mulehead play White Water Tavern 

FRIDAY 12/27

THE BIG CATS, MULEHEAD

6 p.m. White Water Tavern.

Y'all pretty much know the score on this one. It's two of Little Rock's best-loved bands. It's the holidays. It'll be a chance to catch up with old friends and maybe make some new ones. Find out what folks have been up to in the last year, seeing as how many of us have moved away and many of us simply don't get out as much as we did once upon a time. It's a night to hear some songs you've loved for years ("Fayetteville Blues," say, or maybe "There Are Nights") and perhaps a few that'll become new favorites. Happy holidays, Arkansas people.

FRIDAY 12/27

BRET MICHAELS

8 p.m. Juanita's. $40 adv., $45 day of.

Now, first things first, Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me" is the greatest song of the entire '80s glam-metal scene. Don't even try to argue that it's not, because you won't win (provided you are arguing with me). "Nothin' but a Good Time" is a close second though. Now that we've established that, I'm gonna move on to my personal favorite Bret Michaels album, "The Vocalizer: A Vocal Warm-Up for Real Life." Bret lays it all out for you aspiring vocalists (and fans of vocal warm-up albums): " 'Bret,' you ask, 'why do I gotta warm up my voice?' " Bret asks rhetorically. "Well let me tell you, make no mistake about it, your vocal chords are a muscle, like a tricep or a bicep. You do not want to have any excessive or instant strain that could cause some serious damage on your pipes." Got it? Good. "It's absolutely crucial that you're aware of how and what your throat and vocal chords do and how to protect and preserve them," he says. "I never ever strain my range," he adds, with the implicit message that you shouldn't strain your range, either. After the introduction, it's on to the exercises. I always do them all when listening to this album, which has resulted in some odd looks from people in the library, but that's fine because you've gotta protect your vocal chords and they can all just deal with it. I do the tongue vibrato and the suck-face (both non-pitch-specific) as well as the exercises for tenor (my range). Bret has you make the normal "ooh" and "ahh" and "eeh" sounds, but also some unexpected ones, like "gugh" and "noo" and "nah." As Bret reminds you though: "Don't force it; find it in your range." I kinda doubt he'll perform any of his vocal exercises during this show. More likely that he'll be singing many of your favorite Poison songs, and maybe some cover tunes as well. Also on this bill: The Revolutioners and Rodge & The Dirt Road Republic.

THURSDAY 1/2

SHEN YUN

7:30 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $65-$139.

It's not every day that you can go on a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture without leaving Little Rock. But you'll get just such an opportunity when Shen Yun comes to Robinson Center Music Hall. According to the official Shen Yun website, "Its stunning beauty and tremendous energy leave audiences uplifted and inspired. A Shen Yun performance features the world's foremost classically trained dancers, a unique orchestra blending East and West, and dazzling animated backdrops — together creating one spectacular performance." At the heart of Shen Yun is classical Chinese dance, which blends impressive flips and jumps and stuff with a very refined and highly controlled elegance of movement and also vibrant and wildly colorful costumes and capes. Having not been to a Shen Yun performance myself, I checked out some videos and it is impressive, let me tell you. I can only imagine how rad it all looks live and in person.

FRIDAY 1/3

COLOR CLUB

9 p.m. White Water Tavern.

Followers of the Arkansas no-wave revival of a few years ago will no doubt fondly recall the trio Color Club, which sprang up in the hills of Fedvul, moved down to Capital City and then parted ways amicably on account of jobs and members having to move away and so forth. Well, being as it is The Holidays and folks are back to visit with their families, the women of Color Club decided to reunite for a show at the White Water Tavern. Joining them will be a raft of like-minded sonic miscreants, including a band called LLinda (which, according to my deeply placed sources, contains the following personnel: O. Buffington, D. Jukes and Z. Wait); a solo artist going by the handle of House Red and the somewhat disturbingly named Kitten Rippers (with the mysterious Z. Wait, Reba M. and Anna W. of Color Club). All in all, it promises to be an evening of sonic exploration that will be enjoyed by folks who appreciate boundary-pushing musical entertainment.

FRIDAY 1/3

LIL FLIP

10 p.m. Revolution. $20 adv.

Houston's Lil Flip was one of the South's biggest hip-hop artists back in the early '00s. He was admired by the legendary DJ Screw, whose approval no doubt helped get him some crucial notice early on. The hits came quickly for Flip, with the sing-songy "The Way We Ball," from his major label debut pinging off of club walls all over in 2002. Since then he's recorded several more albums, and he's been on and released more mixtapes than probably anybody this side of Lil B. And while he hasn't been at the top of the game for a while now, he didn't seem too concerned about it in a recent story in the St. Joseph News-Press. He told the newspaper's Shea Conner that he enjoys playing smaller towns as opposed to gigantic venues: "A lot of people that buy my music and support my music can't afford to drive two hours or three hours out of their city because of financial problems or parental duties. I just feel like the majority of people who support me should be able to come tell me they support me," he said.

TUESDAY 1/7-WEDNESDAY 1/8

THE SECRET SISTERS

9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.

These days, vocal harmonies don't get much more sweetly countrified and beautifully lush than those created by The Secret Sisters of Muscle Shoals, Ala. Lydia and Laura Rogers have what I can only describe as an otherworldly, uncanny harmonic rapport. They caught the ear of sepia-toned retro-specialist T-Bone Burnett, who produced their debut album and is also quite involved with their sophomore outing "Put Your Needle Down," which will be out soon. You can check out the lead single "Let There Be Lonely" now. It's really good stuff. Anyways, all proceeds from these two shows are going to go to help the sisters' tour manager Jay with some unexpected medical expenses. The shows are only $10, which is a bargain for a band this good, but if you could kick in a couple extra bucks it'd probably be well appreciated because, as a lot of folks can testify, getting sick or injured can be way expensive and it can hit you in unexpected ways.

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