Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.
The guys in Little Rock's Bombay Harambee (David Aspesi, Alexander Jones, Trent Whitehead and Kurt Alaska) have been at it for several months now, honing their guitar-centric brand of indie rock with several shows across the state. They're gonna be hitting it hard for the release of their debut EP, "You Know Better," with dates at White Water Tavern, Maxine's in Hot Springs on Friday, JR's Lightbulb Club in Fayetteville on Saturday and The Buccaneer Lounge in Memphis on Jan. 18. The EP boasts some satisfying shredding on "Hopscotch" and the title track. The sound reminds me a bit of the icy, echoing guitar tone of Interpol. On several tracks (opener "Now You Know," "Millionaire"), the guitarists nail the sound of the meandering six-string excursions of probably their most pronounced influence, indie rock legends Pavement. "Boulevard" is an uptempo rocker that comes off like a punker-sounding Pixies. The band recorded "You Know Better" at Wolfman Studios, and it sounds fantastic, particularly the drums, but the mix is also right on. It's well worth your time. Also performing will be Whale Fire and Collin vs. Adam, rounding out a bill of some of the best local rock bands.
OPENING DAY AT OAKLAWN
1 p.m. Oaklawn. $2.50-$4.50.
Seems like you can do just about dang-near anything on a smartphone these days, I tell you what. Now you can even bet on the horsies at Oaklawn over your Samsung Galaxy or iPhone 5 or whatever. The track just launched OaklawnAnywhere.com, which, according to a press release, means that "race fans can set up an account to use while at the track or 'Anywhere' they wish." And it's not just for smartphones — you can use your tablet, laptop or old-timey desktop computer as well. That's mighty convenient for sure, especially if you live a ways from the Spa City. But they don't yet have a website that'll serve you up a corned beef sandwich and an ice-cold Miller Lite, now do they? And then there's the overall vibe of Oaklawn and the races, which just cannot be replicated by any means other than going there and maybe making a little extra spending money. Or losing some. But hey, you don't have to bet. You can just watch the horses and also the people. Oaklawn has some of the finest people-watching anywhere. Oh, and those sandwiches? They're only $0.50 on Saturday.
'CHASING THE LIGHT' OPENING
5 p.m. Historic Arkansas Museum.
Times readers are no doubt familiar with the work of Brian Chilson, who has spent many years busting his hump all over the state to bring us all incredible photographs of the people, places and events that comprise the story of Arkansas. He's not only one of the best photographers around, with a keen eye and a masterful talent behind the lens, he's also one of the hardest-working people I've ever met. Ask any of the folks who work in our office and they'll tell you. The man works pretty much every single day, getting up at ungodly hours to trek across the state (or the entire country, on occasion) or racing from one appointment to the next, stopping off in between to capture some crazy event or another. And for all of the compelling photos that have made it into the pages of this publication, there are a multitude that haven't. Here's your chance to see some of Chilson's best work from 2003-2013.
ZODIAC: BROWNIE'S LUV EDITION
8 p.m. Revolution. $10-$15.
It's been a year since the passing of Jeffrey "Bushy" Hudnall, the much-loved concert promoter and lynchpin of Arkansas's EDM scene. To honor Hudnall's memory, his longtime friend and colleague Mike Brown has started a nonprofit called Brownie's Luv Foundation. Mostly through events, the foundation will raise money to help out those who work in the hospitality and entertainment businesses in the event of personal tragedies, which are so often financially disastrous in addition to being emotionally wrenching. Via email, Brown told me he's lined up a treasurer to deal with the financial side of the organization as well as legal counsel. He decided to start the group after years of organizing fundraiser shows to help pay for medical bills and funerals. Headlining this kickoff event will be DJ Titan out of Dallas, along with Cool Shoes alum Wolf-e-Wolf, Ewell and Jordan Get'em of Cybertribe and Mr. Napalm of School of Dub Digital. Balance Lighting Systems provides the lighting.
'SHATNER'S WORLD: WE JUST LIVE IN IT'
8 p.m. Walton Arts Center. $50-$125.
Trekkies rejoice: William Shatner is coming to the Walton Arts Center for a performance of his one-man show, "Shatner's World: We Just Live in It." Now, everybody and their grandma is familiar with Trekkies, the "Star Trek" partisans who are up there with Deadheads in terms of cultural ubiquity. But Saturday will also be an exciting day for another, slightly more obscure group of obsessive devotees of one of Shatner's TV shows. That's right, I'm referring to Hookies. These are the folks who are rabid fans of "T.J. Hooker," Shatner's early '80s police drama. They may not have conventions and all that, but trust me, they're hardcore. But getting back to Shatner, I am forced to remark that the man looks pretty good for 63, which is incredible when you realize he's actually about to turn 83 in March. That's right, 83. What a career! I mean, there's "Star Trek" and "T.J. Hooker" and "Rescue: 911" and "The Practice" and all the movies. But there are also the albums. Who could forget the albums? I mean, 1968's utterly timeless spoken word/pop hybrid "The Transformed Man," with Shatner pairing strange poems with his sui generis deconstructions of the hits of the day (his "Mr. Tambourine Man" is a must-hear). His 2004 long-player "Has Been" contains a version of Pulp's "Common People" that is so achingly gorgeous that Jarvis Cocker no doubt hung his head in shame shortly after hearing it. Then there's 2011's "Seeking Major Tom," which featured what has to be the most mind-shatteringly weird collection of guests ever assembled on one record: Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett, Bootsy Collins, Brad Paisley and Steve Miller (on the latter's "Space Cowboy"), Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Paice (on different tracks), Wayne Kramer, Johnny Winter, Steve Hillage, Steve Howe, Edgar Froese, Toots Hibbert, Michael Schenker, Warren Haynes, Zakk Wylde and freakin' Dave Davies. Now, how many people are powerful enough to get all those folks to guest on their album? Not many. William Shatner is one of them. And on Saturday he'll tell you all about his life in this acclaimed one-man performance.
9 p.m. George's Majestic Lounge. $10.
The re-thrash metal scene that really kicked off in the early '00s found a seemingly inexhaustible supply of denim-clad headbanger dudes doing their best to record the next "Kill 'Em All" or "Bonded by Blood." I never personally got too deeply into it, aside from a few spins of albums by Municipal Waste and Warbringer. That scene's obituary was written last April by Invisible Oranges' Joseph Schafer, who took aim at what he saw as a whole lot of aping the past and not much real inspiration. Two notable exceptions were Vektor and Ohio's Skeletonwitch, who had long been lumped into that crowd. "Both of those bands see the past not so much for what it was or was not, but for what it might have been — and could still be," Schafer wrote. "Most importantly, they write songs I want to hear over and over again in the course of their revisionist histories." This would prove to be a bit prophetic, as Skeletonwitch released probably their best record yet a few months later. "Serpents Unleashed" is lean and mean, short on song lengths (only one over the four-minute mark) and long on bitchin' riffs, melodic guitar lines and memorable solos (especially "Burned from Bone"). All of which is what many critics found lacking in the re-thrash scene. I bet these tunes sound particularly vicious live. Also on this bill: Arkansas death metal stalwarts Vore and Charnal, out of Fayetteville and Fort Smith.