Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.
J.J. GREY & MOFRO
9 p.m. Revolution. $20.
J.J. Grey comes from the humid marshes of Florida, and if ever there was an artist whose music really sounds like the place he comes from, it's Grey, who's possessed of a voice both gritty and deeply soulful and a knack for slinging effortless-seeming blues rock. He and his band Mofro have been kicking up a swampy, funky, blues-inflected sound for more than a decade now. After releasing a couple records on the small label Fog City Records, Grey signed to the long-running Chicago blues imprint Alligator Records, a natural fit, for sure. Grey's last studio album — 2010's "Georgia Warhorse" — was a well-received slab of what his record label's motto advertises: Genuine house-rockin' music. But Grey can go in for the convincing tearjerker, too. Check out the track "King Hummingbird," a near seven-minute ballad that channels classic Allman Brothers or The Black Crowes at their most wistful.
ARGENTA FILM SERIES: 'JUST LIKE US'
6 p.m. Argenta Community Theater. $8.
This documentary follows Egyptian-born American comedian Ahmed Ahmed (who also directed the film) on a tour through Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Lebanon and Egypt to bring standup comedy to a part of the world that many folks don't associate with laughter and good humor. The film follows Ahmed and an assortment of other comedians and, as he told the Washington Post last year, is "about humor and family and culture. There's a smidgen of geopolitics and religion just to raise the question, not to preach it. I'm just hoping audiences respond." The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Arkansas native Taylor Feltner was one of the producers of "Just Like Us." He'll be on hand Wednesday to answer questions after the screening.
9 p.m. Juanita's. $13 adv., $15 d.o.s.
You will likely recall James Durbin as the studded leather-clad young man from Season 10 of American Idol. A fan favorite who made it to the top four urging viewers to "give metal a chance," Durbin brought a dose of hard rock to Idol's mostly pop-oriented proceedings, singing numbers by Guns N' Roses, Queen, Sammy Hagar and Judas Priest, who he brought on the show for a wailing medley of Priest classics "Living After Midnight" and "Breaking the Law." Durbin's on tour right now supporting his debut album, "Memories from a Beautiful Disaster." He was on Idol a couple weeks ago performing the earwormy single "Higher than Heaven," looking like Darby Crash's hunky little brother and sounding a bit like Sebastian Bach fronting a crunchy post-nu metal outfit. In a recent interview, Durbin named Ronnie James Dio as a primary influence. Dio's "music was so heavy but the vocals were so smooth," Durbin said. "To hear this operatic voice over these heavy guitars was just moving." That a guy who did really well on Idol claims Saint Dio among his influences would, on its own, be enough to make me root for him. But Durbin also overcame Tourette's and Asperger's syndromes and struggled just to be able to have normal interactions with people. Plus, he seems like a really genuine dude who just loves metal.
WINE & DESIGN
7 p.m. Clinton Presidential Center. $30-$50.
If your favorite episodes of "Project Runway" were the ones where Tim Gunn asked the designers to create a look based on some abstract concept or something seemingly unrelated to the sartorial arts — architecture, for example — then this event will be right up your catwalk. Sponsored by the American Society of Interior Designers, Wine & Design features looks not only inspired by interior design, but the pieces will actually be made from materials usually used to decorate rooms, not people. Speaking of "Project Runway," the emcee will be none other than Korto Momolu, the runner-up from Season 5. In addition to the unconventional attire, there will be unlimited wine and hors d'oeuvres, door prizes and a silent auction, all benefiting Our House, which provides housing assistance to working homeless people.
FRIDAY 4/27 & SATURDAY 4/28
8 p.m. Walton Arts Center. $43-$79.
Glen Campbell might be mostly remembered for "Rhinestone Cowboy," but as I've noted in the pages of the Times before, his CV is staggering: He sold more than 45 million records; he hosted his own TV variety show (the second Arkansas native to do so — Johnny Cash, of course, was the other one); he was a member of the vaunted studio wizards known as The Wrecking Crew, alongside legends like Hal Blaine, Dr. John, Jack Nitzsche, Leon Russell and many more; he won five Grammys in 1968 alone; he was hand-picked by John Wayne to star in the original film version of "True Grit" (and also "Norwood," another film based on a Charles Portis novel), and filled in for Brian Wilson on tour with The Beach Boys (and recorded the 1965 single "Guess I'm Dumb," a sublime pop nugget written and produced by Wilson). It's gonna be hard not to think about Levon Helm now when considering Campbell — another small-town Arkansas boy who lit out for the territories, finding fame and fortune as a musician (and sometimes as an actor). Campbell last year made his Alzheimer's diagnosis public, announcing that he'd be going on tour one last time. So folks, these shows will most likely be your last opportunity to see one of Arkansas's musical legends play live.
8 p.m. Low Key Arts. $7.
It's a shame that so much contemporary roots reggae sounds bogus, with tinny synthesizer tones that are thin and dry, compared to the warm, enveloping throb of the classic stuff. And don't even get me started on digital dancehall or ragga or whatever they're calling it these days. So where should one look for some reggae that sounds like the good old days? Try South Africa's Tidal Waves, a band that's been going for more than a decade now. The band blends Jamaican sounds, such as jazzy piano reminiscent of some of the original ska bands, with Afrobeat elements, like the distinctively bright high life guitar sound that weaves through some of their tunes. There are occasional guitar heroics that might sound a bit out of place for those accustomed to the stripped-down, minimal sounds that emanated from the island in the '70s, but it works in the context of Tidal Waves' fusion of styles. "Mafikeng," from the band's recent album "Manifesto," manages to blend haunting chants reminiscent of Burning Spear with Clash-like horns and crunchy distorted guitar. "Geypseys Lament" is a minimal, rock-steady inspired number that coasts along on beautiful harmonizing and classic-sounding organ. The band sufficiently impressed Ziggy Marley that he asked them to back him up for performances in Soweto and Johannesburg, so they've gotten the nod from reggae royalty. But I really can't stress enough how good their "Manifesto" album sounds. In a world filled with posers, this band is the real deal. They also play at Juanita's Sunday night at the Mane Affair Hair Show (see calendar).
7 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $21 adv., $25 d.o.s.
I've probably bemoaned the current state of music and culture as much as or more than anybody, but there have been some positive developments in the last few years. For one thing, the major labels are dying. With a few notable exceptions, these corporations were bloodsuckers that found no limit to the ways they could screw over artists and fans, especially in the '80s and '90s. $18.99 for a CD with maybe two good tracks? Good riddance. Who needs 'em? Hank Williams III recently articulated this to SkeletonCrueTV: "It's a great time to be DIY. You've got YouTube, the Internet, when you jam in your rehearsal room, record it, upload it, make your own website." Years ago, you didn't have that option, he said, but "you don't need the majors now, just do it yourself man." Williams also epitomizes another thing that's good about nowadays: You don't have to be one thing. Williams plays country, punk, hardcore, psychobilly, metal, sludge, whatever he wants. He's not constrained by some record label jerk saying, "Well, I don't know about this doom metal side project, Hank. It doesn't really fit in with the branding strategy we've created for you." He'll be showcasing his multiple musical styles at this show, with Hellbilly, Attention Deficit Domination and 3 Bar Ranch.
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