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THURSDAY 1/8

EX HEX

8:30 p.m. Stickyz. $10.

Mary Timony, formerly of Wild Flag and Helium, has been making records since the early '90s, often as a solo artist known for catchy and odd, lo-fi fantasy-themed indie rock. Following the rebirth/rebranding strategy of bands like Mount Eerie and Magnolia Electric Company, Timony has now adopted the name of one of her solo albums, "Ex Hex," and has pivoted, with help from former members of The Childballads and The Aquarium, toward garage power-pop with guitar licks and an endearingly cocky, classic-rock radio posture. In the video for their single "Waterfall," a vintage '50s movie UFO flies around D.C. zapping well-dressed shy people into leather jacket-wearing '70s rockers, more or less mirroring Timony's own transition. Their first record, "Rips," was released by Merge in October. WS

click to enlarge RADIO ON: Ex Hex is at Stickyz 8:30 p.m. Thursday, $10. Mary Timony (center) leads the trio with bassist Betsy Wright and drummer Laura Harris.
  • RADIO ON: Ex Hex is at Stickyz 8:30 p.m. Thursday, $10. Mary Timony (center) leads the trio with bassist Betsy Wright and drummer Laura Harris.

FRIDAY 1/9

2nd FRIDAY ART NIGHT

5-8 p.m. Galleries downtown. Free.

Art lovers can see four new exhibitions and revisit ongoing shows Friday in downtown Little Rock's monthly gallery tromp/trolley ride to participating galleries. Starting east and moving west: Arkansas Capital Corp. Group (200 River Market Ave., Suite 400) is showing paintings by Elizabeth Weber, Dan Thornhill and Ashley Saer; their exhibition is called "Life by Design." The Cox Creative Center (120 River Market Ave.) is showing "One of Us," drawings and paintings by a trio of young UALR grads: Justin Bryant, Lilia Hernandez and Logan Hunter. One of Arkansas's finest artists, Robyn Horn, is showing paintings and sculpture in a show called "Reflection on Line and Mass" at the Butler Center Galleries (401 President Clinton Ave.). Singer-songwriter Kevin Kerby will perform at the Historic Arkansas Museum, where painter Rachel Trusty and the Arkansas Society of Printmakers have shows. A detour south to StudioMAIN (1423 Main St.) will take you to its "Designs of the Year" show of ASLA, SID and AIA award-winning designs. Catch the rubber-wheeled trolley between these venues and the Old State House Museum (see right). LNP

FRIDAY 1/9

"END OF THE LINE"

5 p.m. Old State House Museum. Free.

"There is a moment when 'End of the Line' looks like a small miracle," Janet Maslin began her review of the 1987 Arkansas-set film in the New York Times. "However, that moment is extremely brief, and it occurs during the film's opening credits." She goes on to complain that the movie is "hopelessly mired in local color and unimaginative good intentions," which actually strikes me as an incredibly perceptive comment on certain historical trends in Arkansas cultural production, but also, ouch! And she wasn't alone: The Washington Post called it a "two-hour guilt trip" and poor Roger Ebert was just confused, though he did concede in his review that "it has such handsome trains in it." Nevertheless, the film's status in the Arkansas canon is beyond secure. That is because "End of the Line," which was mostly filmed in Little Rock and is about railroad brakemen rebelling against their unseemly corporate overlords, stars not only Mary Steenburgen, but also Levon Helm, which is just unassailable from a "local color" perspective. Wilford Brimley is here, too, as are Holly Hunter and Kevin Bacon. It was directed by North Little Rock native Jay Russell, better known today for harmonious family epics like "My Dog Skip" and "The Water Horse." Ben Fry of KUAR and UALR will introduce the screening. WS

click to enlarge SPACE IS THE PLACE: The Velvet Kente Arkestra performs at The Ron Robinson Theater 7:30 p.m. Friday, $10.
  • SPACE IS THE PLACE: The Velvet Kente Arkestra performs at The Ron Robinson Theater 7:30 p.m. Friday, $10.

FRIDAY 1/9

VELVET KENTE ARKESTRA

7:30 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $10.

Arkansas Sounds, the music festival turned concert series brought to us by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, has been adding a dose of theatrical ceremony and professionalism to the live music landscape here, taking advantage of the Ron Robinson Theater's stellar production values for shows that allow beloved local acts to try for something more ambitious than usual — something worth sitting down for. Most recently, in November, there was Big Piph's large-scale audio-visual spectacle. This Friday, there's the Velvet Kente Arkestra. Frontman Joshua Asante has appeared to focus much of his time on the re-energized Amasa Hines lately — as evidenced by the great and genuinely gripping New Year's Eve set they played at South on Main — so the return of Velvet Kente, his other group, which won the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase in 2009 and which specializes in what J.T. Tarpley once described in these pages as "hyper-literate, genre-stirring soulindiefunkrockfolk," is intriguing and welcome. Asked what the Velvet Kente Arkestra was exactly, Asante said it was an expanded, eight-piece version of the band playing old and new songs, "with the hope that collectively it all sounds almost as fly as Saul Williams' '1987.' " WS

FRIDAY 1/9-SUNDAY 1/11

MARVEL UNIVERSE LIVE!

Verizon Arena. $21-$51.

Probably 95 percent of my conversations with my 4-year-old son are related to superheroes. We're now well past questions such as whether Spiderman's superhuman abilities include web shooting (they don't, sort of nonsensically, but it's kind of hard to explain to a 4-year-old that comics are created by people who sometimes make bad decisions) and on to the arcane: Who is Thor's mother? Why is Ant Man at Vision and Scarlet Witch's wedding? Why does the Hulk always wear the same pair of pants? I'm relatively new to parenting, but it seems like the best hope for maintaining a positive relationship with my kids is figuring out how to talk about the things they're passionate about. In that spirit, I'm taking my son to this live action Marvel Comics extravaganza featuring Spiderman, the Avengers, a few of the X-Men (including Wolverine, natch) and a host of bad guys. Feld Entertainment, the folks behind Disney on Ice and Ringling Bros., produce. Judging by early reviews and video clips, if you've been to one of Feld's other shows lately, you've got a good idea of what this will look like: explosions, flips, motorcycles, aerial derring-do, cheeseball dialogue. But that's OK. This should serve as conversation fodder for us until at least summer. LM

TUESDAY 1/13

'THEN AND NOW: The Central High School Neighborhood'

6 p.m., Arkansas Arts Center Lecture Hall. Free.

Central High School and its neighborhood embody one of the most historically significant areas of Little Rock — even of the nation, thanks to Central's place in the integration of America's schools — yet threats to its properties that preserve the story of that history are constant. The Architecture and Design Network's monthly series brings Rachel Silva, Kwendeche, Nancy Rousseau and Vanessa McKuin together to discuss "the most beautiful high school in America" and work being done to address threats to the historic fabric of the neighborhood by the Wright Avenue Neighborhood Association, the Capital Hill Neighborhood Association and the Central High Neighborhood Association. Silva is on staff at the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program of the Department of Arkansas Heritage; architect Kwendeche has worked on such projects as the restoration of civil rights leader Daisy Bates' home, Rousseau has been principal at Central since 2002 and McKuin is president of the Central High Neighborhood Association and director of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas. A reception at 5:30 p.m. precedes the discussion. LNP

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