Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned
10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
It doesn't seem like that long ago when Chris Denny was just a rumor, a whisper of a performer who swept into town from nowhere. First he was the “crazy-voiced kid,” the prize of the local scene, playing Beesonville block parties and small house shows. As his cult grew, and he performed regularly not just at White Water, but just about every venue in town, he became the “kid with the golden voice,” and most everyone took a stab at placing his peculiar tone. A young Roy Orbison has been popular. Bob Dylan circa “Nashville Skyline,” Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Neil Young all get bandied about. None, though, quite capture his preternatural warble — impossibly high, tremulous and plaintive, but always strong. With lyrics of a hard life lived — riding rails, hearts on fire, the burden of time — Denny last year released a promising debut album on Tomato House Records, a local imprint run by Denny's drummer, Marcus Lowe. He's followed it with the slightly more polished “Age Old Hunger,” just released on 00:02:59 Records, a Brooklyn label. With the backing of a powerful PR agency and rumors of an opening slot with a major touring act, Denny might be on the precipice of fame. Local fans will have at least two shots to see him before he takes off. On Friday and Saturday, he's celebrating the release of his new album at White Water. The Saturday show, geared towards his early-to-bed crowd, starts at 9 p.m. and will be preceded by a special barbecue dinner, with pulled pork sandwiches, fried okra, deviled eggs, barbecue tofu and banana pudding. Food will be served from 7 p.m. until around 8:30 p.m., for $8.50 per plate. Impressive, rich-voiced singer/songwriter Mike Ferrio, one of Denny's new label mates, will open both shows.
“CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF”
7:30 p.m., Weekend Theater. $18.
Maybe Tennessee Williams' greatest play, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is the story of a Southern family trapped in a Gordian knot of conflict. Husband Brick Pollitt and wife Maggie “The Cat” are stuck in the center. Theirs is a mostly dysfunctional relationship: He's a neglectful husband, an aging ex-football star who doesn't seem to care or notice that his brother is angling to take over the family fortune and who's been steadily drunk since his “friend” Skipper offed himself. She's a wit and a beauty, who's climbed from poverty to marry into a wealthy family. The narrative follows one sweltering evening at the Pollitt family estate, where everyone's gathered to celebrate the birthday of the patriarch and tycoon “Big Daddy.” Unbeknownst to him, Big Daddy is dying from cancer — his doctors and the family have conspired to keep him in the dark — and everyone is trying to present themselves in the best possible way in hopes of getting a piece of the Pollitt fortune. It's an essential drama. The New York Times even went so far to call it “the quintessence of life … the basic truth.” Weekend performances continue through Sept. 9.
SCOTT H. BIRAM
10 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $8.
n Several years back, Scott H. Biram took the stage at the Continental Club in his hometown of Austin, Texas, in a wheelchair. An IV dangled from his arm. He had two broken legs, a broken foot, a broken arm and a big chunk of his lower intestine missing. One month earlier he'd been in a head-on car crash with an 18-wheeler going 75 miles per hour. With his 1950 Gibson guitar and a driving backbeat courtesy of his left foot, Biram, who calls himself a “Dirty Old One Band,” still managed his typical hollerin' fury. Made from the same weird, raw, backwoods stuff of folks like Hasil Adkins and Bob Log III, Biram pulls together a mishmash of honky-tonk stomp, gutbucket punk and swamp blues. You can glean the kind of night it's going to be just by reading off song titles — “Blood, Sweat and Murder,” “Graveyard Shift,” “Plow You Under.”