Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
by John Tarpley
ARKANSAS TRAVELERS HOME OPENER
7:10 p.m., Dickey-Stephens Park. $6-$12.
All right, let's not sugar-coat it: As of press time, our Travs are sucking. Like, "Seattle Mariners sucking." The team is 0-4 with a (get your Google ready) Bill Bergen-like combined batting average of .217, leaving the team firmly in the bottom slot in Texas League rankings. It's not the way you'd want to start a season, but we'll give the club a break and chalk up part of its failure to launch on the fact that they've been on the road. Thursday, however, marks the season home opener when the Travs take the field against the Midland RockHounds, the league's leaders with a perfect season in four games. Sure, it would be great, heartwarming stuff to see the Travs deliver their first win of the season in their first home game, but take it from a Cubs fan who's too familiar with baseball futility: Drowning your disappointment in beer and Crayola-yellow nacho cheese isn't that bad a consolation prize.
BRITISH SEA POWER
9 p.m., Stickyz. $10.
Since turning ears towards the pastoral, northwestern county of Cumbria in 2003 with the debut, "The Decline of British Sea Power" (how's that for an amazing album title?), the lads of British Sea Power have released albums and EPs at a steady tack, each more or less widely acclaimed if not raved about and pored over. The band's millennial post-punk has elicited broad comparisons to, curiously, Manc greats Joy Division, although, to these Amurcan ears, it's patently UK guitar rock, fey and dramatic. It's a sound that's easy to admire but tough to gush over. Chalk it up, in part, to the band's stage-crowding size, its affinity for the anthemic and its style in general (pixie-haired girl playing violin, wearing leggings on her arms: check), which pushes them into the same weight class as Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene or fellow Brits Pulp — all great bands that few, if any, comparable acts can run with. Live, British Sea Power is a monster. The night's bill is rounded out with A Classic Education, from Bologna, Italy, and Oklahoman peppy-pop experimentalists Colourmusic.
8 p.m., Maxine's, Hot Springs. $30 adv., $35 d.o.s.
The last time Bobby Rush was in Hot Springs, Maxine's was treated to a stripped-down show from the master of dirty, horny blues. Jheri-curled Rush told stories about growing up in Homer, La., and Pine Bluff between expertly-plucked acoustic tracks taken, largely, from his great 2007 return to back-porch blues, "Raw." (Also: Samuel L. Jackson himself was tucked into a corner for the set.) But this time around, he's bringing the whole gang of backup bluesmen and returning the former brothel to its dirty past. Expect Bobby Rush to windhump his way through a set of ecstatic, X-rated songs between a pair of jiggly-assed backup dancers. If you're lucky, he'll rip into rap music: "Rappers stole that shit from me and James Brown!" It's one part Rudy Ray Moore and one part "I Feel Good" with a fat Larry Flynt streak right down the middle. And it's just about one of the most fun shows you'll see anywhere. Bores, dullards and drags go elsewhere.
ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: 'PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION'
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $14-48.
Conductor Philip Mann will bring his first season with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra to a close with "Pictures at an Exhibition," a three-piece program culminating with the composition by Russian innovator Modest Mussorgsky that lends its name to the night. While considered his greatest work for piano (and a high benchmark for expert pianists), the suite will get the full orchestral treatment as arranged by Maurice Ravel. The night opens with an early work by Ravel, "Minuet Antique," written when the French romanticist was a ripe 20 years old. Mozart's famous sonata, "Symphony No. 36" (otherwise known as the "Linz Symphony"), also features. The ASO officially closes out its season the following day, Sunday, April 17, with a 3 p.m. matinee.
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