"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
9 p.m. Juanita's. $15.
If you've got a yen for contemporary funky/bluesy/rootsy pop singer/songwriters such as Ben Harper, Josh Ritter, Jack Johnson and the like and you have never listened to Austin, Texas, mainstay Bob Schneider, you'll wanna go ahead and get yourself down to Juanita's Thursday. Schneider's latest long-player, "Burden of Proof," is a bit more somber than some of its predecessors. It's a mostly unhurried, largely acoustic affair, with a string quartet filling out much of the space with a yearning sort of vibe. It sounds like he's been digging on some Leonard Cohen lately, especially on the opener "Digging for Icicles." Schneiderphiles will find much of the subject matter familiar, with themes of heartbreak, loss, sadness, the ephemerality of existence and redemption in the face of these bummers. But there's not much in the way of the humor that's come through in Schneider's work before — there's nothing like the hilarious "Hangin' out with the Horny Girls" or "Batman," both featured on his "Live at the Paramount Theatre (Volume 2)" album. He'll perform solo Thursday, with local roots-rocker extraordinaire Jeff Coleman opening.
8:30 p.m. Vino's $6.
You've got to figure that a band from frozen-ass Winnipeg is just gonna be way gnarlier and tougher than a band from some sun-kissed tropical clime where people wear tank tops and flip-flops year-round. And it probably doesn't even matter which genre you're talking about. A zydeco band from Anchorage is gonna be tougher than one from San Diego. This is doubly true for noisy metal bands, thus the Canadian maulers in KEN Mode are already two steps ahead of the competition. Lots of bands have been grinding out hybrids of hardcore and metal for years now (Rorschach's "Remain Sedate" and Citizens Arrest's "Colossus" came out 23 years ago!) But KEN Mode brings a particularly deranged intensity to the hardcore/metal table. There's a real misanthropic Unsane/AmRep Records vibe, particularly on the band's new record, "Entrench." The following song names might shed some light on this band's worldview. "Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick," "Secret Vasectomy," "The Terror Pulse," "No; I'm in Control" and "Why Don't You Just Quit?" are just some of the choice titles. Also performing: Virginian blackened doom horde Inter Arma and local heavy post-rock cosmonauts Mainland Divide.
THURSDAY 2/6-SATURDAY 2/8
RED OCTOPUS THEATER: 'TRYSTS AND TURNS!'
8 p.m. The Public Theatre. $8-$10.
OK, so we're still a week or so out from the big VD. Valentine's Day is of course the event to which I am referring, and even though we're not quite there yet, it's never too early to start poking fun at this totally made-up and unnecessary "holiday." Who better to lampoon the trappings of the day than Red Octopus Theater? As is custom with the R.O.T., this show is not intended for younger viewers nor should it be seen by any prudes, squares, wet blankets or sticks-in-the-mud. Some of the themes to be addressed include nerd love, old-married-couple love, swingers love, dating games, cyber dating, PSAs about "sexual prevention" and other worthy targets, er, topics. As usual, no reservations are needed.
MOTHWIND, TERMINUS, JAB JAB SUCKERPUNCH
9 p.m. Maxine's. $5.
You really couldn't ask for a more bitchin' lineup of bruisin' Arkansas music than this lineup right here, which will be going down at the Spa City's finest musical establishment. These three bands were all featured in last year's Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, and each one specializes in a distinct brand of pummeling sound. Mothwind is a power trio that will jettison you to the outermost edges of known existence with churning riffage and a stone-badass rhythm sections. Terminus is also a trio, made up of some young guns from Fayetteville who are scary-proficient on their axes while also crafting some compelling, prog-informed metal. Jab Jab Suckerpunch is an appropriately named quartet that includes veteran players from such acts as Big Boss Line and The Moving Front. This will be a shot-'n'-a-beer kinda night, with a soundtrack that's all killer, no filler.
PATTY GRIFFIN, ANAIS MITCHELL
9:30 p.m. George's Majestic Lounge, Fayetteville. $20.
Griffin's newest album, last year's "American Kid," is a largely acoustic, spare and utterly beautiful album that was inspired by the discovery that her father's days were numbered. The resulting work is surely among her best. The production is warm and enveloping and the songs embody numerous country/blues/folk sounds. Griffin's bandmate Robert Plant provides excellent guest vocals on several tracks, which recalls "Raising Sand," the Led Zeppelin frontman's collaborative 2007 smash-hit album with Alison Krauss. "Ohio" is one of these songs and it is gorgeous, with expansive, Fahey-esque open-tuned guitar work and a haunting vocal interplay between the two singers. Elsewhere on the album, Griffin's songs are tastefully filled out with the slide guitar of Luther Dickinson (opener "Go Wherever You Wanna Go"), and she covers a country great of decades earlier (Lefty Frizzell's "Mom & Dad's Waltz"). Griffin is on a tour of college towns, and all the shows are $20 or less. That's a helluva deal for a show of this caliber, but add in opener Anais Mitchell, a highly respected folk artist in her own right, and you've got one of the best shows of the year.
FRIDAY 2/7-SATURDAY 2/8
'JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE'
7:30 p.m. The Weekend Theater. $12-$16.
For its current production, The Weekend Theater brings to the stage one in the series of acclaimed playwright August Wilson's Century Cycle plays, each of which tackles a particular decade in African-American history. "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" is set in a boarding house in Pittsburgh in 1911. The play explores the migrations of former slaves from the South to the Northern states in the wake of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The show runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through Feb. 22.
9 p.m. Juanita's. $10 adv., $12 day of.
The Belfastians in Ash have been at it since the late '80s, plying a trade that was informed in equal part by the nervy pop-punk of some of their forebears, like The Buzzcocks and fellow northern Irish punks The Undertones, as well as by the swagger of Britpop acts like Blur. The band's sound evolved over the years into a sort of power-pop/pop-punk hybrid. Though they haven't released a conventional full-length album since 2007's "Twilight of the Innocents," they've kept quite busy, going to a manic schedule of releasing a new single every two weeks. These releases were collected on the A-Z Series. On tour with Ash are U.K. alt-rockers Deaf Havana. Opening the show will be Austin outfit The Villas, which features Little Rock native Jonathan Berry, formerly of The Visitors.