Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
'DOWNTON ABBEY' RECEPTION
6 p.m. Argenta Community Theater. $25-$30.
First, an admission: I know now that everybody jokingly calls it this, but at first I really for reals thought the show was called "Downtown Abbey," kind of absentmindedly thinking (or maybe hoping) that it was about an urban monastery filled with crime-fighting monks who also brew delicious, fancy beer, which they would drink at the end of each episode to celebrate another crime successfully solved. I was badly way off, though, which is a shame because that seems like a pretty solid premise for a one-hour primetime hit. Soon enough I realized that it was not a show about monks, but in reality a very British period drama about a rich family and their big huge house and their problems with the help. There was lots of gossipy whispering and something about a dowager countess who's looking for a fiancee? That's not quite right, but close. I might give it a chance, but it just seems so extremely British, and not in a charmingly whimsical way, like "The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society." More like in a hard-to-understand way, you know, like Guy Ritchie characters, or calling every bowl of lumpy mystery food a "pudding." But hey, I'm probably just a philistine. After all, the show is hugely popular. My wife loves "Downton Abbey" and lots of her friends do too. They're all champing at the bit for new episodes, so this reception, presented by the AETN Foundation, seems like surefire good times, what with its sneak-preview screening of the first episode of Season 3 and its cocktails and period costume contest. RB
PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND: CREOLE CHRISTMAS
8 p.m. Walton Arts Center. $20-$36.
Here's a great way to really kick off the holidays: Christmas tunes performed by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. And hey, depending on what the weather's doing, it might be warm enough to seem like Christmas in New Orleans. The PHJB was recently in Arkansas with the Del McCoury Band, and current band leader John Brunious actually stayed for a while in Conway after Hurricane Katrina. There'll surely be many others, but according to the band's website, you can expect to hear the band's jazzy ragtime takes on "Blue Christmas," "Swinging in a Winter Wonderland," "Bells will be Ringing" and "The Dreidel Song." RB
7:30 p.m. Stickyz. $20 or a good used band instrument.
While the jocks and cheerleaders are always going to be the undisputed Lords and Ladies of the brief, hormone-soaked, "Beyond Thunderdome" kingdom that is your average American high school, there is a refuge for those possibly-less-athletic souls for whom the muse calls. That place is called band. Your roving reporter, stuck at a tiny high school with no football team to exploit my soda-machine-like 6'5" 300-pound frame, did several years in band, playing the trombone. Those memories of concerts and basketball game trips on the bus are still some of the best of my teen-age years. Now in its 12th year, Hornucopia — a concert in collaboration with Play It Again Arkansas, which donates used instruments to schools all over the state — has been collecting money and dust-gathering instruments to help make those memories happen for kids who might otherwise be left out. This year's Hornucopia lineup looks to be a good one, featuring Kavanaugh, Flying Balloon-o Brothers, The WTF Band, The Rockets and YT&T. Get digging in those closets for your old horns, clarinets, flutes, drums and cymbals, folks. There's a fun night to be had, and for a good cause to boot. DK
LUCERO, JIMBO MATHUS & THE TRI-STATE COALITION
9 p.m. Revolution. $21 adv., $26 day of.
As has been pointed out by many highly credible sources, Friday is the end of the world because a long time ago some Mayan dudes said it was and carved it into a stone. For fans of rowdy rock 'n' roll living in or reasonably close to Central Arkansas, here is a great way to spend the last night of existence. Memphis rockers Lucero have, perhaps unsurprisingly, continued their path as absolute road-warrior maniacs, playing approximately 1,286 shows this year (this is only a slight exaggeration). The band's album "Women & Work" was released back in March on ATO Records (also home to such notables as Drive-By Truckers and My Morning Jacket). Frontman Ben Nichols told Rolling Stone that the band is "in the best spot organizationally that we've ever been. We've never had any delusions about being big-time rock stars. But like my dad says, 'Just get a few more people through the door, sell a few more records.' " Jimbo Mathus and his crew, the Tri-State Coalition, have a new album called "White Buffalo" coming out Jan. 22 on Fat Possum Records. I had the privilege of giving it a listen, and man, it's a good'n. Bet they'll be playing some new tunes, hopefully including the eerie "Run Devil Run" (which recalls Mathus' swampy guitar work on the fantastic Buddy Guy album "Sweet Tea") and the glorious "(I Wanna Be Your) Satellite," which makes me think of Jim Mize covering The Replacements. RB
LR HORROR PICTURE SHOW END OF THE WORLD PARTY
8 p.m. Lulav. $30.
As previously noted, the end of the world is scheduled for Dec. 21. While I tend to think it's just the day that whoever came up with the Mayan calendar finally threw down his pen and said, "Ah, screw it. Surely the world won't last that long!" it's got the tinfoil-hat brigades all in a tizzy. Then again, you never know. Luckily for us, no matter how it all turns out, the Mayans were smart enough to schedule the end of the world for a Friday night, which makes it a great excuse to party. One of the hottest tickets in town for the Big Adios is sure to be the Little Rock Film Festival's End of the World Party at Lulav. The $30 entry fee — which goes to benefit the LRFF's second-annual Little Rock Horror Picture Show — entitles you to all the food and drink you can stuff into your gibbering, tear-streaked face before you're vaporized, with musical accompaniment by The Funkanites. Also on hand will be fun stuff like Apocalypse-themed drink specials, a photo booth, and a confessional where you can unburden your soul before you wobble un-gently into that Good Night. Please note: The LRFF will offer no refunds if the world doesn't, in fact, disappear up its own ass at midnight, so don't overdraw your checking account to buy those tickets, kids. DK
10 p.m. White Water Tavern.
How do you follow up a year like 2011, when you played a ton of shows and were featured in all kinds of national publications and got interviewed on MSNBC about your opera you wrote about Bill Clinton? Well, if you're Bonnie Montgomery, you go and have an even bigger year, releasing a fantastic EP and going on tour in the U.S. and across Europe opening for Gossip at all kinds of big-time venues. In addition to Montgomery's full-band honky-tonkin' set, Oklahoma singer/songwriter Jesse Aycock will open the show with Greg Spradlin and Jason Weinheimer backing him up. Also, Gossip guit-slinger Nathan Howdeshell will be playing records before the show. RB
Midnight. Midtown. $5.
I don't know about what your true love gave to you on all those other days of Christmas, but this year, on the first day of Christmas (which is actually Dec. 25), Tyrannosaurus Chicken will give you a concert at Midtown. That's right, Rachel Ammons and Smilin' Bob Lewis are giving the gift of not only a righteous set of trance-inducing psychedelic blues, but also the rare excuse to get out of the house and, if this is a consideration for you, get a break from all that family time on Christmas Day. Well, technically it's very early on Dec. 26, but let's not get all nitpicky about it. Christmas. Midnight. Midtown. $5. Has a nice ring to it, huh? RB
Good analysis, something completely lacking from the daily newspaper's sports reporters/columnists.
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