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Jimbo Mathus at White Water Tavern 

THURSDAY 2/14

WINSTON FAMILY ORCHESTRA

10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $5.

Ah, Valentine's Day. It's rolled around again, that innocuous-seeming engine of capitalism that helps insure healthy returns for Hallmark and florists and fancy restaurants and Victoria's Secret and who knows what all other components of the economy. Of course, you don't have to go along with all that, whether you have a sweetheart or you're on your own. You could go to a dive-y bar and drink cheap beer and listen to rock bands. And hey, if you're not at the Times Showcase (see page 22), you could come check out Winston Family Orchestra and Color Club. Guitarist Jordan Trotter, from Grand Serenade, has joined WFO. If you missed Color Club's record release show from a few weeks back, here's your chance to see them. RB

FRIDAY 2/15

JIMBO MATHUS & THE TRI-STATE COALITION

10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.

We mentioned this a while back in a feature about him, but Jimbo Mathus and his band The Tri-State Coalition have a fantastic new album out on Fat Possum. It's called "White Buffalo," and Times contributor Joe Meazle, who wrote the feature, had high praise for it. "Found within the album's 10 tracks are blistering Southern rock riffs, heartfelt reflective ballads, back-road pop tunes and eerie midnight highway dirges," he wrote. "The record really seems to show off Mathus' songwriting and the Tri-State Coalition's versatility, while Eric 'Roscoe' Ambel's production keeps them reined in just enough. Ambel's relationship with Mathus is a new one and I hope it continues." Well, I just got word that Ambel, who lives in New York (and has performed alongside heavies like Steve Earle) will be flying in to play with the band at this album release show. Also, it should be noted that Ambel was one of the owners of The Lakeside Lounge, an East Village joint that was probably the best bar in the city and certainly had the best jukebox. Sadly, Lakeside closed last year on account of the vicissitudes of capitalism — a.k.a., the rent is too damn high. Mathus went up there to play for the bar's last hurrah, so Ambel is returning the favor and it's happening at White Water. Seriously, that place was a great bar, and it (along with Rosemary's Greenpoint Tavern) was where I spent an unhealthy amount of time during my brief tenure in the big city. Mathus shows are always a good time, but this here is not one to miss. RB

SATURDAY 2/16- SUNDAY 2/17

18TH ANNUAL ARKANSAS CUSTOM KNIFE SHOW

10 a.m. Robinson Center Exhibition Hall. $10.

Arkansas has long been to big ol' knives what Kentucky is to bourbon, with the state's historical influence in the field going back to the most famous big ol' knife of all: the Bowie Knife, first made by blacksmith James Black at the request of Jim Bowie around 1830 at what is now Old Washington. Heck, Rambo's big ol' knives were even made here by the late, great Russellville knifesmith Jimmy Lile, and you don't get much more badass than that. Arkansas has many fine craftsmen carrying on the tradition. You can see the best of their work — and the work of bladesmiths from 28 other states and Taiwan — at this year's Arkansas Custom Knife Show, presented by the Arkansas Knifemakers Association. Now in its 18th year, the show will feature 152 tables and some of the best blades seen anywhere. Craftsmen will be on hand to discuss their calling and sell their creations, as well as leather crafters, sellers of knife-making supplies and more. The show will feature hourly door prizes, and awards will be given in a variety of categories. Ten bucks gets you in both days. DK

SUNDAY 2/17

SUZANNE VEGA

8 p.m. Juanita's. $25 adv., $30 day of.

There aren't too many other artists who are still making rewarding, relevant music three decades or more into their careers. But not everyone can be a Leonard Cohen or a Scott Walker or a Suzanne Vega. Vega's latest album of new material, 2007's "Beauty & Crime," earned glowing reviews, with several critics hailing it as her best work. More recently, Vega revisited her back catalog with the intimate, thematically arranged "Close-Up" series. Over the course of four albums, culminating with last year's "Songs of Family," Vega offered her fans stripped-down versions of her songs. She told the Kalamazoo Gazette there was another reason for the series, offering an interesting glimpse at business realities for musicians: "The original recordings for those hits belong to A&M Records, and they can do what they want with them, legally. Which means that they're probably not going to reissue them, and that means I have no control over those works," she said. "If I re-record them, then I own these masters, and I can sell them at shows, I can mix them, I can service them to radio, give them to the press. It gives me a way of owning the physical copy of my own life's work." Nothing against the originals, but to these ears, the songs on the "Close-Up" series are often preferable to the studio versions. Her songs stand on their own very well, and the way they're assembled makes for an enjoyable listening experience. It's probably safe to expect to hear some of Vega's classics at this show. Conway-based singer/songwriter Treva Blomquist opens. RB

SUNDAY 2/17

LACUNA COIL, SEVENDUST

8 p.m. Rev Room. $25.

Though there are times when you want to chill out with a singer/songwriter slow jam or some classic jazz, there are other times when any rock fans worth their salt crave tunes to destroy cities by — that hard, fast, near-incomprehensible metal that makes you want to find James Taylor and smash his guitar over the nearest Billy Joel. We've all been there, dudes and dudettes. This week, your dose of lightning-lit confusion and anger will be delivered by the Italian goth metal band Lacuna Coil, which is appearing on a double bill with Atlanta's Sevendust. Founded in Milan in 1994 as Sleep of Right, Lacuna Coil is a little different in that the band features dual male/female vocals, provided by Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia, respectively. The result is something like a harder-edged Evanesence — heavy, bass-driven metal with dreamy, almost ethereal vocals. How hard are they? One of their first big hits in Europe was the single "Heaven is a Lie." They're currently on the road promoting their sixth studio album, "Dark Adrenaline." Check out the first single off the album, "Trip the Darkness," on YouTube for a sample. DK

TUESDAY 2/19

MUSHROOMHEAD

9 p.m. Juanita's. $15 adv., $18 day of.

OK, here's the thing where we learn about a band by watching a couple of its most popular videos. The band is Mushroomhead and the genre is ... Post Nu-Metal? Sure. First video is "Solitaire Unraveling." The band members are playing some very dusty instruments. They're hanging out in what it would look like if Tim Burton took a heroic dose of brown acid and then designed the set for "Post Apocalypse — the Musical!" There's some singing and some screaming. Lots of guitar chuggery. Lots of masks and black clothing with questionable zippers. These guys are angry, but they're also sad. There's this dude, and he's having to push this big wooden thing, then later on he's older and he has to pull this heavy wooden cart for some reason. He doesn't look too happy. Next up is the video for "Sun Doesn't Rise." It has lots of creepy stuff, like bugs and whatnot. There's a crow fighting with a scarecrow in a pumpkin patch. The black-and-white footage is all decayed and scratchy looking. Somebody (the person who made this video) was way into the early work of Stan Brakhage. Anyways, more crows show up and they're all messing with the scarecrow and picking at him. Why won't they just leave him alone? Then this kid comes along and puts a pumpkin head on the scarecrow, which gives him powers and he starts just kicking the crap out of the crows who, to be honest, had it coming. Opening the show are Final Trigger, Gemini Syndrome and Society's Plague. RB

WEDNESDAY 2/20

OLD 97'S

9 p.m. Revolution. $18 adv., $20 day of.

If you're a fan of Dallas alt-country giants The Old 97's and their classic album "Too Far to Care," (which came out in — when else? — '97) then brothers and sisters, ya'll are in luck. The band is currently on its "Too Far to Care" Anniversary Tour, which means that they're going to be playing two sets at Revolution Wednesday, one of which will be "Too Far to Care" in its entirety, the other of which will contain many more fan faves from the group's deep catalog. It's pretty much a lock that there will be sing-alongs to every song at this 18-and-older show. RB

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