Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned
8 p.m. Verizon Arena. $49.50-$87
There are about a thousand things to admire about the 2005 song "Charlie, Last Name Wilson." Here are five. ONE: The song served as the vehicle for an implausible and glorious comeback that Wilson, who had been the founding member and lead vocalist of '70s funk legends The Gap Band, deserved but probably never expected. His generation had been left behind. He'd had a career already; what were the odds he'd merit another one? He'd been an addict, briefly homeless. He was finished and this song singlehandedly reasserted his relevance. TWO: The lyrics are so plainspoken and modest as to be oddly moving. "Being in love is good for your health," he says more than once, as if he owes us a pragmatic explanation for his desire for companionship. The chorus is also great. It's just one side of the most typical conversation on Earth: "How you doin'?" he says to a woman he's just met. "My name is Charlie, last name Wilson." THREE: The subtle use of a sitar. FOUR: R. Kelly wrote the song for him after Wilson, in a career nadir, sought him out, hanging out at a gym Kelly was known to frequent and waiting for several hours until Kelly showed up. It was after midnight; he was desperate. "Kelly is pregnant with music," Wilson later explained. The scene is degrading to imagine — the older man, a former legend, begging the young star for scraps. But it worked. FIVE: The song operates on two levels — it's both a (re)introduction of Wilson as an artist and itself about Wilson introducing himself. "Don't forget it," he says on the chorus, and here he could be addressing one woman or the whole listening public. "Don't forget my name's Charlie," he goes on. "The name is Charlie." WS
COL. BRUCE HAMPTON
9 p.m. Stickyz. $10.
Col. Bruce Hampton is a strange, polarizing and deeply memorable cult musician with a horseshoe moustache, a penchant for nonsense words and a deep appreciation for blues and free jazz. He was born Gustav Valentine Berglund III and began his career in the late '60s Atlanta avant-garde scene, where he led a group called the Hampton Grease Band — they were like a Deep South Mothers of Invention, tossing Bukka White and Ornette Coleman and Captain Beefheart into a blender and then burning it. They made a great, periodically irritating debut album called "Music to Eat," which Columbia Records, in a post-Summer of Love mad-grab for hip novelty, saw fit to release commercially. The LP went on to earn the possibly apocryphal distinction of being the second-worst selling album in the label's history, losing out the top spot to an instructional yoga record recorded by the Maharishi Mahesh. Out of its ashes rose a mysteriously sustainable career: Hampton followed the Grease Band with a succession of others, like the Aquarium Rescue Unit, The Codetalkers, The Quark Alliance, The Madrid Express and The Late Bronze Age. He began calling his guitar a chazoid. He appeared in the film "Sling Blade." He recorded a nearly unlistenable album called "Arkansas" ("I never had much control until I got to Arkansas," goes the title track's chorus). He became a kind of guru-godfather to the emergent jam band scene. He appeared on the TV show "Space Ghost." Once, in the '80s, he picked up my uncle hitchhiking. Last year, he popped up in a Run the Jewels music video. What will he do next? WS
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.
After longtime White Water Tavern owner Larry "Goose" Garrison died last year, his family and friends created a foundation in his name and begin to raise money for it to support local musicians. Garrison was a beloved figure in the Arkansas music community, who championed an eclectic mix of blues, rock 'n' roll and country acts and, when he got older, stepped back and allowed others to broaden the booking into territory other 60somethings might have been wary of: punk, metal, noise rock and hip hop. "He treated musicians with respect," Amy Garland told the Arkansas Times last year in a feature story on Garrison. Garland, a singer-songwriter who began playing at White Water 21 years ago, remembered nights when crowds didn't materialize, but Garrison still gave her a sizeable cut of the door. The foundation hopes it can preserve that spirit of generosity with an annual gift to one Arkansas act for a special project. Adam Faucett, the gifted Little Rock singer-songwriter who's attracted national attention, is the first recipient. He'll use $2,500 for the recording and production of his next album. He shares the bill Friday with Iron Tongue and Headcold. LM
CALS CON 2015
9 a.m. Main Library.
Conventions celebrating pop culture — a.k.a. "Cons" — are, in this reviewer's opinion, a necessary evil. If there wasn't a safe outlet for the world's comic book hoarders, "Game of Thrones" fanatics, cosplay junkies, real-life Quidditchers, adult "Magic the Gathering" players, would-be Doctor Who companions, Legoites, Bronys, Steampunk raygun twirlers, duct tape Iron Men and guys who buy more than three sets of Spandex tights per year, who knows what havoc they could visit upon the streets of our nation's fair metropoli? Nothing good, probably, given many a con fan's coding skillz, Mountain Dew consumption and access to soldering irons. That said, as an adult who has bought an action figure or three in the past few years ("It's BATMAN, honey! Who doesn't love Batman?"), I get where that devotion comes from. Who wants to grow up, after all? Being an adult is boring. If you or the kids are looking to get your Con on this weekend in Little Rock, head on down to the Central Arkansas Library System's Main Library (100 Rock St.) on Saturday for the second annual CALS Con, which also serves as the kickoff for the library's superhero-themed summer reading club. It's an all-day event that will feature a cosplay contest, Lego builds, a scavenger hunt, tabletop gaming (you remember those, right?), and panel discussions on "Star Wars," "Doctor Who," Lego, "Harry Potter," "Game of Thrones" and the Disney hit "Frozen." Fun, prizes and good old-fashioned fun on tap all day. DK
8 p.m. Stickyz. $6.
The Zoltars are from Austin and, though they are by all accounts currently alive and even young, they make records that wouldn't sound out of place on one of those collector compilations of forgotten, recently unearthed '60s garage rock singles. Their songs are Zen-like: brief pop sketches distilled down into neutral declarative sentences ("I walk alone at night / it helps me feel all right") over minimal psych arrangements. If you like The Zombies you will very much like The Zoltars, unless you are averse to music that mostly aspires to replicate the sonic and emotional qualities of older music — which is fair. The Zoltars are sincere fans of that old music, though, and they've resolved to burrow into the particulars of a certain sound to mine it for new resonance, to reanimate it in the hope that something interesting might happen. Their band name, appropriately, comes from the eerie arcade fortune-telling machine from the Tom Hanks movie "Big," the one whose eyes glow red when it grants the protagonist's wish by transforming him to an adult. It's a perfect image for the band, a young sensibility trapped in an old body. WS