GLOSSARY: Murfreesboro alt-country act plays White Water Tavern on Friday night.
THE LIBRAS 10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
We live in a stratified world of cover bands. At one level, the top perhaps, there's the large contingent of touring and local bands who make their bones playing straight-up, let's-see-how-close-we-can-get covers. Then there's a growing number of novelty cover bands, like the little people version of Kiss, Mini Kiss, or the all-girl Led Zeppelin tribute act, Lez Zeppelin. And then there are bands like the Libras, who offer neither verisimilitude nor weirdness. The local coterie, which includes members of Big Silver, the Boondogs, the Easys and the Greg Spradlin Outfit, leans more on a boozey, shambolic foundation — you might not know what they're playing until the hook comes. They're all crack musicians, though, so even when they're just screwing around, they're mighty entertaining. Over the last six or eight months, they've become the de facto house cover band for White Water, playing sporadically on Thursdays, usually taking on a different act each time. Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Tom Waits have been featured in the past. Tonight, Neil Young is on tap. Friends of the band Dave Easely (pedal steel) and Robbie Crowell (keyboards) will sit in, too.
HAYES CARLL 9:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $10.
Texas singer/songwriter Hayes Carll has a rabid local following. The Houston native went to college at Hendrix and his fellow alumni always come out full-force, and moreover, Carll specializes in that literate niche of alt-country carved out by folks like Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle that people around here can't seem to get enough of. That Carll named his sophomore album “Little Rock” hasn't much hurt his local standing either. The title track on that CD mirrors Ferlin Huskey's “Little Rock Callin' ” in sentiment: Carll has traveled far and wide, always longing for home — “All these years of searching, finally found my spot/one way or another, Lord, I'm going to make it down to Little Rock.” Now that he's back again, fans can expect more than a few new songs from the follow-up to “Little Rock” that Carll is currently recording for Lost Highway.
GLOSSARY 10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
Joey Kneiser's lyrics walk that thin line between Saturday night and Sunday morning, between drunken revelry and clear-eyed redemption. On his song “Days Go By,” the Glossary front man sings “But I've got a Bible, baby/With the shape of a whiskey bottle cut out/A whole lot of living left in me/One foot in heaven and a dirty mouth.” The Murfreesboro band often gets tagged as alt-country, but aside from pedal steel and few plaintive ballads here and there, the band usually sounds more like Dinosaur Jr. than Steve Earle. Backing harmony courtesy of Kneiser's wife, Kelly, adds a buoyant touch to the mix, too. Two Cow Garage, a charged-up rock outfit from Columbus, Ohio, supports. Micah Schnabel leads the group with a voice familiar to roots rock fans — booze-weathered, smokey and drawled. Both Glossary and Two Cow Garage appear at White Water en route to the Lucero Family Picnic. Kyoto Boom, a new local group built around former Mulehead guitarist Dave Raymond and Ashtray Babyhead lead singer Scott Cook, plays its first show as the opening act.
HOT SPRINGS BLUES FESTIVAL 1 p.m., the Transportation Center, Hot Springs. Free.
The annual Hot Springs Blues Festival kicks off at 6 p.m. on Friday with a concert on the Arlington Hotel lawn by Liquid Groove Mojo, a multi-genre local act that names Gov't Mule and the Allman Brothers as influences. A downtown pub crawl, with live blues music in most of the venues, will follow the concert. Saturday is the meat of the festival; things get cranking at noon. Food and booze vendors will be on hand. Two stages will be set up downtown near the city's Transportation Center: a main stage, featuring national acts, and the Arkansas River Blues Society Stage, featuring local performers like Mark Simpson, Joe Marks & NTO and Charlotte Taylor. Of special note on the main stage is Texas bluesman Wes Jeans, who'll be performing at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. His style recalls some of the greats, like Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Duwayne Burnside, son of North Mississippi great R.L, plays soul-infused, revved-up blues at 7:45 p.m., and Camden native and W.C. Handy nominee Michael Burks is the headliner for the home-state crowd at 9:30 p.m. After the festival, Maxine's will host an after-party featuring Burnside. The cover is $5.
JO DEE MESSINA 8 p.m., Timberwood Amphitheater, Magic Springs. Free with park admission.
Jo Dee Messina is queen of the kiss-off. The fiery redhead has made a career of liberating break-up songs like “Bye Bye” and “My Give-a-Damn Is Busted.” Born in Massachusetts, Messina fled south at 19, landing in Nashville and quickly befriending the then-struggling Tim McGraw. Over the years, as McGraw's career took off, Messina sweated it out in the club scene until an encounter with a record exec landed her a deal on Curb. Since her 1996 debut, “I'm Alright,” Messina's been one of country music's leading ladies. She's had such an impressive run, in fact, that she warranted a greatest-hits collection in 2003. Messina is sure to mix new songs, like her current single “Biker Chick” from an album of the same name to be released in November, with old hits on Saturday night. Two more concerts remain in the Timberwood Concert Series: the Memphis Soul Revue on Sept. 8 and John Arthur Martinez and Sisters Morales on Sept. 15.
LUCERO FAMILY PICNIC 5 p.m., Riverside Park, Batesville. $15-32.
Perseverance has paid off for Lucero. The Memphis group (led by Little Rock native Ben Nichols) has toured unflaggingly since it formed in the late '90s, steadily widening its fan base and increasingly garnering critical praise. After jumping up the label ladder — and scrambling after their label TigerStyle shut down — they've settled in on any indie band's dream: They're recording on their own label, Liberty & Lament, with backing from East/West Records. This weekend the alt-country band is taking a little time off from its never-ending tour in support of its latest album, “Rebels, Rogues and Sworn Brothers,” for the first ever Lucero Family Picnic at Batesville's Riverside Park. A handful of their compatriots will join them on the banks of the White River, including William Elliot Whitmore, a folk-rocker from Iowa; Southern Bitch from Athens, Ga., and Fayetteville's Cory Brannan. Glossary and Two Cow Garage, who stopped at the White Water on Friday, round out the bill. After the picnic, there'll be an after-party concert at Josie's for ages 18 and older.
BRUCE BRUCE 8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $20-$32.
Bruce Bruce got his start in the kitchen. The massive comedian — at least 6 feet tall and surely approaching 400 pounds — served up barbecue with a little helping of his nascent routine when he worked as a chef after high school. After a later stint as a Frito-Lay salesmen, where he further refined his act in corporate board meetings, he left food behind (at least professionally) and has risen to become one of the biggest stars in comedy. He's hosted BET's “Comic View” and “Coming to the Stage,” had his own Comedy Central special and been featured in films like “Car Wash” and “Idlewild.” Most of his material is geared towards adults, but the comedian prides himself on not relying on vulgarity. His jokes lie in heavily mined territory — the differences between black people and white people, the crazy things that old people say — but he generally manages to come up with a fresh angle.
SUMMERSET 12 p.m., North Little Rock Riverwalk. $10.
Never mind that summer doesn't officially end for another couple of weeks and that it'll be scorching hot for probably another couple of months, Sunday's Summerset is a fine excuse for a party. Back after a six-year hiatus, the family affair will feature kid-friendly activities from noon until 4 p.m., including zoo animal exhibits, magic shows, the Radio Disney Rockin' Road Show and a boat parade on the Arkansas River. Local bands will then take the stage: Afrodesia, an impressive reggae act, plays at 4 p.m.; cigar-box guitar enthusiast Bluesboy Jag follows at 5:15 p.m., Arkansas Times' Showcase winner Cooper's Orbit takes the stage at 6:30 p.m., and the Gettys, one of central Arkansas's favorite party bands, plays at 7:45. The Spin Doctors, a New York City-based band that was hugely popular in the early '90s, performs at 9 p.m. The crowd will be waiting, in great anticipation, for their wah-wah-pedal-heavy hits “Little Miss Can't Be Wrong” and “Two Princes.”
Hog fans just can't quit blaming the refs for the NCAA men's basketball tournament loss to North Carolina. Now the Arkansas Senate has gotten in on the act, with this resolution introduced by Democratic Sen. Keith Ingram and getting bipartisan co-sponsorship from that brutish and short sandlot roundball player, Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson.
IndieWire breaks news long whispered downtown — a more ambitious successor to the Little Rock Film Festival is in the works, with backing from writer/director Jeff Nichols, a Little Rock native. His "Loving" has won wide acclaim recently.
Also, 'Latino Leadership and the Cinco de Mayo in the American West,' Pallbearer, 'Bach in the Castle of Heaven,' Weedeater, 'My Scientology Movie,' Argenta Artwalk, 'Bunny Lake Is Missing,' The Dead Deads, 'Sing Out for the Buffalo'
by Stephanie Smittle, Omaya Jones and Leslie Newell Peacock