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'Dr. Strangelove' plays Ron Robinson 

THURSDAY 8/13

MALCOLM HOLCOMBE

8:30 p.m. White Water Tavern. $7.

Fans of Guy Clark or Harry Crews or Robert Mitchum would find much to admire about Malcolm Holcombe, the itinerant songwriter and North Carolina native. There's his graceful, associative storytelling; his gruff, absurdist humor; his guitar playing; his unkempt but nevertheless endearing shabbiness. His songs are concise poems about lonesome, rural revelation and blue-collar alienation. If he read that sentence, he'd probably sniff and spit and laugh and say something dismissive, but he's the one who writes folk songs with lines like, "Way down in the woods, the dogwoods survive 'round the blades of the briars and Virginia Pines." He writes deliberately and ornately, and in between songs he tells stories (jokes?) that are just as entertaining as the songs. He reminds me of Blaze Foley. He reminds me of a poem by Mark Strand called "Man and Camel." He reminds me, especially, of a guy I used to know in Conway named Ben, who drove a motorcycle, ate gas-station pickles every day and once read me a short story he'd written about an axe murder. Holcombe comes to Little Rock every few months, and you should catch him whenever you can. WS

FRIDAY 8/14

2ND FRIDAY ART NIGHT

5-8 p.m. Downtown galleries. Free.

The Butler Center opens the exhibition "Disparate Acts Redux," paintings by three of Arkansas's best known artists — David Bailin, Warren Criswell and Sammy Peters — in time for the monthly downtown gallery stroll and roll (via trolley). Also on tap: free beer from Moody Brews at the Historic Arkansas Museum, where two new exhibits — "Katherine Rutter & Ginny Sims," paintings by Rutter, a Delta Exhibition artist in 2014, and pottery by Sims, and "Pop Up in the Rock: The Exhibit," Bethany Berry's photographs of Create Little Rock and StudioMAIN's PopUp events and 3D installations of street fixtures — are opening. John Willis & the Late Romantics will provide music. Over at Gallery 221, artists will be painting on shared canvases while you watch in "Round Robin," which sounds fascinating and potentially violent. You'll also see work by Tyler Arnold, Kathi Couch, Jennifer "EMILE" Freeman, Tracy Hamlin, Greg Lahti, Sean Le-Crone and others there. Work by Lahti is also at Arkansas Capital Corp. Group, where the show "Different Landscapes," also featuring photographs by Brennan Plunkett and drawings by Robert Bean (and wine and hors d'oeuvres by Margie Raimondo), continues. The Cox Creative Center opens "Art by Design" by Sandra Marsen, and the Old State House Museum will have folk music by the Mockingbirds. A cool front is moving in; you can do it. LNP

SATURDAY 8/15

'DR. STRANGELOVE'

7 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $5.

Despite being one of the founders of (or, at least, original contributors to) The Paris Review, Terry Southern spent most of his career laughing openly at the "Quality Lit Game" while he cashed checks from dashed-off screenplays and best-selling erotica. This is underselling him pretty profoundly — he wrote "Twirling at Ole Miss," the urtext for New Journalism; co-wrote the screenplay for "Easy Rider"; and was called "the most profoundly witty writer of our generation" by Gore Vidal, etc. But given his abilities, there was also the sense that he was essentially an underachiever, a slacker who didn't take anything seriously enough to ever produce a really consistent, lasting work. And this would be true, were it not for "Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," the 1964 comedy he wrote for director Stanley Kubrick. "I'd always had a notion that people in power positions in movies must be hacks and fools," he later said of Kubrick, "and it was very impressive to meet someone who wasn't." Creatively, Kubrick was Southern's near opposite: a notorious perfectionist, for whom each work had to be (and arguably was) a masterpiece. Together, they made a film that combined both sensibilities. It's funny, subversive, loose and weird; it's also formally brilliant, full of breathtakingly original filmmaking (the last and best of Kubrick's work-for-hire projects, before he went full-tilt visionary). Peter Sellers and George C. Scott are hilarious and quotable, and the film's dissident vision — of an American government that's fundamentally incompetent and absurd — is timeless. WS

SATURDAY 8/15

WHITESNAKE

7:30 p.m. Walmart AMP. $31-$65.50.

The story of David Coverdale is fraught with failure, self-discovery and pathos. Born in a seaside village in northeast England called Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Coverdale endured years of anonymous striving before finding his voice with Whitesnake. He had a band called The Government, for instance, and even fronted Deep Purple briefly (post-"Smoke on the Water"), before going solo with an album called "White Snake." It's a good title — he liked it so much he decided to adopt it in place of his own name. It is poignant now to read the interviews he'd later give in the lead-up to the release of his defining statement, the 1987 album "Whitesnake" (not to be confused with the earlier "White Snake"). Because that album — it featured the iconic power ballads "Here I Go Again," "Still of the Night" and "Is This Love," and solidified the band's international success — wasn't the band's first, it was its seventh. In the press, Coverdale swore the album was his last attempt; if this one didn't catch on, he said, he'd hang it all up and head back to the English seaside. The key to the record's breakthrough has been debated for years (many point to the addition of former Thin Lizzy guitarist John Sykes), but it must have at least partly been this very real, palpable desperation. He wanted to sell out arenas, to address not just hardcore rock fans, but everyone. "Like a drifter I was born to walk alone," he sang, though he dreamed of universality. He wanted it so badly he reached out and grasped it. WS

SATURDAY 8/15

TECHNO-SQUID EATS PARLIAMENT

9 p.m. White Water Tavern.

Saturday night marks the reunion of Little Rock power pop band Techno-Squid Eats Parliament, back with a new album after what the members call a "20-year hiatus." The group, which boasted one of the most memorable band names of the mid-'90s, also suffered one of the era's strangest and most unlucky fates. In 1992 Aaron Sarlo, Mark Pearrow, Clay Bell and Shayne Gray signed with Memphis label Ardent Records after impressing at the Arkansas Musicians Showcase (then sponsored by Spectrum Weekly). Things seemed promising: They played SXSW, were featured on MTV's "120 Minutes," toured the country sharing bills with the likes of Cheap Trick, Alex Chilton, Cracker and All. Before long, however, as drummer Shayne Gray told the Times in an interview last year, "there were several 'Spinal Tap'-type things that happened." When the label asked them to change their band name, "we refused," Gray said, "and because of this we were often misplaced in record stores under 'Funkadelic' or 'Techno.' " More seriously (and oddly), the label opted to experiment with the debut album, releasing it as "one of the world's first 'Audio-Visual Compact Discs.' " The record consequently came with a sticker warning listeners about the potential for "damaging and/or blowing up your speakers." The album opened with the sound of a needle drop, which many listeners mistook, Gray said, as "their speakers blowing up, or so it was said." To me it seems pretty impressive that the band's album was considered actually, physically dangerous, but the Squid broke up soon afterward. Its members have continued to record and tour in groups like The Dangerous Idiots, Glittercore, Duckstronaut and more. The new album, appropriately, is titled "We're Back. What Did We Miss?" WS

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