Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
TOO LONG DIDN'T READ
8 p.m. The Joint. $7.
Inspired by the comedy-plus-current-events format of "The Daily Show" and SNL's "Weekend Update," Too Long Didn't Read is a new monthly show to be held every first Thursday at The Joint, in Argenta, featuring a panel of comedians (most of whom are regular participants in the venue's Tuesday night "Hogging the Mic" stand-up series) riffing and opining on "everything from celebrity gossip, hyper-local news and Internet memes to global economic policy." "I love sitting in a circle with my comedian friends and just talking about topics and see who can get the biggest laugh," creator and panelist Levi Agee said. "We wanted to bring this dynamic to the stage." The show will also feature a special guest each program, the first of whom will be Paul Carr, proprietor of the news blog turned Facebook page Forbidden Hillcrest (Agee's dream guest is Sen. Jason Rapert). It's another encouraging move in The Joint's ongoing support for local comedy, which isn't exactly thriving elsewhere. "Some stand-up comedy and improv is insufferable," Agee concedes, "not just in Arkansas but even in L.A. and New York, but the key is creating a community around it."
9 p.m. White Water
Helena native CeDell Davis calls his new album, the release of which he'll be celebrating this weekend at White Water, "Last Man Standing." He is 88 years old, and has been wheelchair bound since the late 1950s. The first single — glacial, grungy swamp punk that sounds more like Public Image Ltd. than the Delta Blues — is called "Catfish and Cornbread." "Catfish was a big deal in the old days," Davis told the L.A. Times by way of explanation. "The old days," for him, means the 1930s, when he lived in rural poverty and lost the full use of his limbs in a bout with polio. "You would go out to a house party on the plantation, and somebody always be cooking up some catfish to sell. That, and some bootleg whiskey, or some bathtub gin. I left that gin alone, had one of my cousins go blind drinking that stuff. I believe the first time I heard anyone play 'Catfish Blues' was when Elmore James came to play at my daddy's juke joint. Man, he could play some blues for sure." For sure. Davis was a regular guest on Helena station KFFA's "King Biscuit Time" program in those days, and he learned the harmonica and slide guitar (using a table knife, in his case) from Robert Nighthawk and Sonny Boy Williamson. Since the early '60s, he's lived in Pine Bluff, home to, he says, "more fat women there than any place I ever saw."
10 p.m. Clear Channel Metroplex. $20.
DeJ Loaf's "Try Me" was one of last year's best and most surprising songs, like the alien negative image of a street rap anthem. Think of these puffy, circular, inspirational synthesizers, over which a very young woman with an odd, fragile voice is calling herself a Nazi and saying, "I don't want to do no songs." And it's danceable, and it's all over the radio, echoey and distant-sounding like house music from the next car over. "I hear it all the time," she told The Fader last year. " 'It's your voice, it's your voice.' It's just a melodic thing I do with it. I don't want to sound like other people." And she doesn't. A 23-year-old from East Detroit, she feels so refreshing and welcome partly because she actually, and I mean sonically, doesn't sound like too many other people. "Try Me" was a hit, but it became world-famous the same way most rap songs became world-famous in 2014: Drake quoted it on Instagram. Now that's out of the way, she can't be stopped. "We Be On It," her new single, is just as infectious and, I hope, will be just as worn out on rap radio.
8 p.m. Verizon Arena. $52.50-$174.
Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" was engineered and recorded by a young producer named Ken Caillat, who had previously worked on records by, among others, North Little Rock free jazz legend Pharoah Sanders. Caillat had a beagle named Scooter Brown who accompanied him at every stage of the process. They made the record in a studio in Sausalito, Calif., living in gorgeous seafront properties while gorging themselves on cocaine. As Caillat describes it, the situation was emotionally intricate, all "the crying and swearing and, 'I hate you,' and 'How could you cheat on me?' " Virtually every song would become a hit. One of the songs would even help elect an Arkansan to the White House. "Keep putting people first," Bill Clinton would say years later, at the 2000 DNC. "And don't stop thinking about tomorrow!" Caillat and Scooter next worked on the band's follow-up album, "Tusk," which had virtually no hits and was the most expensive rock album ever made at the time. "Fleetwood Mac is subverting the music from the inside out," the critic Greil Marcus wrote of the record at the time, "very much like one of John le Carre's moles — who, planted in the heart of the establishment, does not begin his secret campaign of sabotage and betrayal until everyone has gotten used to him." Today these two albums together seem to tell a compact but basically comprehensive history of 1970s rock. "I can't say I have always counted on good luck," Caillat wrote in a memoir about the making of "Rumours," "but I'm never surprised when it happens."
'SINGIN' IN THE RAIN'
7 p.m. Riverdale 10 Cinema. $5.
Once, at a film festival, I met Stanley Donen, best known for directing the 1952 Gene Kelly musical "Singin' in the Rain," about the end of the silent era in Hollywood. A brilliant and really funny movie, it's one of the best and most visually ambitious musicals ever produced at MGM, which made better musicals than anyone else. Donen looked like a cross between Robert Evans and Hyman Roth from "The Godfather," with an extreme tan, aviator sunglasses too big for his eyes, a white blazer and a thick gold chain. I shook his hand, but before I got a chance to ask him a question (maybe something about how he'd made Fred Astaire dance on the ceiling in "Royal Wedding"), a woman came up, interrupted and introduced herself as Valerie. Without missing a beat, Donen launched into the Steve Winwood song "Valerie," and kept on singing through at least the first chorus. While he sang, she didn't say a word, just nodded her head quietly along with the beat, as if thinking, "He's earned this." After a while I walked away and let them be.
9 p.m. Revolution. $10.
The only good rap group ever to emerge from Bowling Green, Ky., Nappy Roots was the biggest emblem, for a while, of the long tail of the sound and legacy of the Dungeon Family, the Atlanta rap collective that spawned Goodie Mob, Outkast, Sleepy Brown and Witchdoctor. Nappy Roots went after the same confluence of 808s, church organs, country-soul posturing, George Clinton theatrics and progressive politics. The same heavy twang, embracing an accent that once wasn't cool. What Jon Caramanica called "guitar-plucking, front-porch funk," complete with a nostalgic insistence on the importance of tight-knit community (compare to Scarface's "My Block"). In some sense, they were the conscious-rap alternative to fellow Southerners Lil Jon and Ludacris, though even in this they never seemed as searingly honest or as forward-thinking as David Banner or Field Mob. Instead, they were the last gasp of this one brand of country rap, the kind with acoustic guitars and singing and fiery populist rhetoric. What looked like a renaissance, in 2002, was a lot closer to an ending.
Good analysis, something completely lacking from the daily newspaper's sports reporters/columnists.
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