9:30 p.m. Shooter's Sports Bar & Grill. $20-$25.
A few years ago, I encountered a deeply unsettling omen at the Waffle House: a poster advertising something called "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk." It turns out that far from being some new experimental menu item, this was in fact a cross-promotional effort for a song from a Louisiana gentleman by the name of Trace Adkins, and its subject matter was a woman's particularly appealing buttocks. "Lord have mercy, how'd she even get them britches on?", etc. I finally heard the song some months later, and it was perhaps the most disconcerting collision between urban and rural artifices that I'd encountered since being forced to endure repeated plays of a cassingle of the 1995 Rednex hit "Cotton Eye Joe" several years earlier. Similarly, "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" left me profoundly shaken, and it took only a single listen. The song was upsetting not just on account of its intense terribleness, but also because of the changing musical landscape it portended. Even though it contained no real rapping, it nonetheless pointed to a world where country music rapping was not only tolerated, but encouraged. And thus, around the same time, our nation witnessed the emergence of "hick-hop" artists, such as Uncle Kracker, Cowboy Troy and Colt Ford. When I found out about these performers, it left me feeling like Christopher Walken's character in "The Dead Zone": I'd foreseen a coming catastrophe yet had done nothing to prevent it. I thrashed about that night in a state of extreme, sleepless agitation, asking myself, "What would Porter Wagoner have thought of this world? What would Gang Starr have thought of this world, where country singers are rapping and rappers are country singing?" Finally, I awoke to the cold light of dawn and thought, "Eh, what can you do? So there are rapping country singers? No big deal." Anyways, if you've not seen the video for Colt Ford's song "Chicken and Biscuits," I highly recommend it. It's a send-up of the "Twilight" films, and at the end, when Colt has rescued the hot girl from the shirtless guys, and they're lying there on the grass and she thinks that he's reaching over to try to bust a move but then she realizes that he's actually just going in for some chicken and biscuits, located conveniently next to her, well, it's pretty hilarious. The dynamic Texas country singer Rich O'Toole opens the show. Perhaps you've heard his song "Marijuana and Jalapenos." Ford also performs at George's Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville Thursday night.
OAKLAWN OPENING DAY
1 p.m. Oaklawn. $2.50-$4.50.
There is no better place for people-watching in this fine state than Oaklawn. In a single afternoon, you can see just about every demographic Arkansas has to offer. You've got your horse owners and your debauched heiresses and your wealthy divorcees in their big hats. You've got your dudes in leather jackets and Kansas City Chiefs sweatpants. You've got your toupee- and sunglasses-inside-wearers peeling hundos off a fat stack and feeding them into the betting machines. You've got your pickup-driving good-old-boy contingent, naturally. You've got your guys who are obviously pimps. You've got your clusters of hungover frat bros and sorority girls nursing Miller Lites. You've got your busloads of senior citizens from outlying areas. You've got your snowbird retirees. And then, of course, you've got hoards of just plain, good old-fashioned Arkansas folks. Whether you're a race-form-reading pro who's accustomed to walking out with a heavier wallet than the one you came in with, or a novice who'll be lucky just to lose $20, it's always a good time. Plus, it just wouldn't feel like late winter/early spring in Arkansas without at least one trip down to Oaklawn. On opening day, the track has a $75,000 Fifth Season Stakes, and on Saturday, you can get 50-cent corned beef sandwiches.