Cory Branan to White Water Tavern 

WEDNESDAY 7/18

LITTLE ROCK FASHION WEEK

Various times and venues. $5-$40.

The fourth installment of Little Rock Fashion Week is upon us. The fashion festivities officially got rolling Monday and will continue through Saturday with events around the city. Wednesday is highlighted by the Child's Play Day and For Kids By Kids Fashion Show at The Little Rock Zoo. Doors open at 9 a.m. and the show is at 2 p.m. The Young & Fabulous Experience is Friday at Robinson Center starting at 6:30 p.m., and the week culminates with the Posh Expression Fashion Experience at Robinson Center Exhibition Hall. Several labels and designers from all over Arkansas and points beyond will showcase their fall/winter lines this year. Check out the full schedule at littlerockfashionweek.com. You can buy tickets on the website or at Uncle T's, The Joint, The Salon Professional Academy or Round One Fashions in Conway. This is the second year in a row that LRFW has teamed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas to recruit mentors for children. Brandon D. Campbell, founder of LRFW, was himself a "little" when he was in elementary school, and he'll become a mentor this school year, according to a press statement. Attendees can donate or sign up with BBBS to become mentors at LRFW events.

THURSDAY 7/19

CORY BRANAN, AUDRA MAE

9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $8.

I hear a strong Springsteen/Mellencamp/Petty influence on "Mutt," Cory Branan's latest album and first for Bloodshot Records. As Branan told Yahoo! Music, "musically it's kind of a grab bag — so much so that I ended up calling the record 'Mutt.' " True that. This collection of tunes has the DNA of a pound's worth of musical critters. If you squint your ears just right, "Survivor Blues" could be a raspy Warren Zevon fronting Thin Lizzy. "The Snowman" is a Tom Waits-ian dirge with a keening clarinet and a violin sawing away in the background. "Darken My Door" and "The Freefall" have some great weepy lap steel that somehow sounds too low in the mix and just right at the same time. "Jericho" has an almost Bo Diddley beat and an array of keyboards and wind instruments. Surprises and left turns abound, such as the angelic female voice that peeks into the last few moments of "Hold Me Down." This record will reward persistence; it doesn't take all its clothes off on that first date. Branan is on tour right now with fiery Oklahoma singer/songwriter Audra Mae. Those two play Wednesday up on The Hill at George's Majestic. Adam Faucett, one of the finest singer/songwriters in the state, opens the show at White Water.

THURSDAY 7/19

DIAMOND RIO

7 p.m. Oaklawn. $20.

The year 1991 must've been a hellacious time to try to break out in the country music scene. There were a lot of big albums that year from newcomers and established giants as well. You had Alan Jackson's smash "Don't Rock the Jukebox" to contend with, as well as Brooks and Dunn's massive "Brand New Man" and Travis Tritt's "It's All About to Change," plus big albums from well-known names like George Strait, Reba McEntire and Randy Travis. Oh, and a young bull named Garth Brooks was busy wrecking the china shop with his wildly popular fusion of traditional honky-tonk twang and high-flying stadium rock and selling about 14 zillion albums in the process. It was into this highly competitive milieu that Diamond Rio emerged. But even with formidable opposition, the band staked out a solid claim on the country music landscape, with the hit "Meet in the Middle," which became the first debut single ever to go to No. 1 on the Billboard country chart. There followed a string of gold albums and Top 10 singles that eventually trailed off. The other thing to keep in mind about the band is that, while there were a lot of great mullets back in the early '90s country scene, none were finer than those sported by the members of Diamond Rio, with the possible exception of Billy Ray Cyrus. Now, the band has put out some well received records in recent years, including the gospel album "The Reason." But they haven't been able to replicate the chart success they saw in the '90s. To be clear, I'm not saying that Diamond Rio was like Samson and that their country music hit-making powers were somehow tied to their mullets and that if they grew them back they'd start having big hits again. But hey, it couldn't hurt, you know, just to make sure.

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