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John Hiatt & The Combo at Juanita's 

THURSDAY 8/22

LILLY LEDBETTER

6:30 p.m. CALS Main Library. Free.

The idea that a woman wouldn't be paid the same as a man for doing the same job is offensive to the basic sense of fairness most people would agree that society should aspire to. So it's logical then that a woman who was paid substantially less than her male colleagues for doing the same job as them for nearly two decades would seek relief from the courts. That's what Alabaman Lilly Ledbetter did, and she was awarded $3.3 million (though according to an article in Time, that amount was later reduced to $300,000). The case made its way to the Supreme Court, where the conservative wing struck down the ruling in a 5-4 vote, stating that because Ledbetter did not complain about the discriminatory nature of her pay within 180 days of receiving her first paycheck, that she was not entitled to any judgment against her former employer, Goodyear. Of course, compensation details are confidential at most corporations, and Ledbetter only learned of the pay disparity as she was preparing to retire, after a colleague slipped her a note anonymously. The Supreme Court's decision seems to ignore this important detail. Ledbetter was a guest on Stephen Colbert's show last fall. He summed up the decision thusly: "Their logic was, you should have known before you knew." While Ledbetter undoubtedly received unjust treatment at the hands of her employer and, arguably, the nation's highest court, she did get some satisfaction when President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, the first piece of legislation he signed into law. She'll be signing copies of her new book, "Grace & Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond."

THURSDAY 8/22

JOHN WILLIS EP RELEASE SHOW

9:30 p.m. The Joint. $7.

If you've been following original local music the last few years, the odds are good that Little Rock native John Willis' name will be a familiar one. The UCA graduate is an arranger and an ace piano player who has accompanied many of the state's finest singer/songwriters. And it turns out that Willis is a fine singer/songwriter himself, as evidenced by the sophisticated, lush-sounding pop contained on his six-song EP, "King of the Cocktail Party," which will be available at this show. Willis's Facebook bio states that he grew up "listening to equal parts MoTown, 60's-70's singer/songwriters, and Gospel," as well as classical, jazz and world music. All those influences certainly shine through on his new EP, especially on the title track, with its range of sounds: a gentle Brazilian lilt here, a jaunty chorus of background singers, what sounds like a harmonium in the distance, and wry observations throughout. Opener "The Ladder" is a jaunty, piano-led number with rich, gorgeous vocal harmonies and an ending that recalls Harry Nilsson in his prime. Also on the bill: Sammy Williams, of Midwest Caravan, and headliner Isaac Alexander, performing with a full band.

THURSDAY 8/22- SUNDAY 8/24

RED OCTOPUS THEATER: '#OCTOPILITTLEROCK'

8 p.m. The Public Theatre. $8-$10.

If you're looking at that title and thinking to yourself (or perhaps to someone else, if you've got ESP), "Now, just what in the Sam Hill are those Red Octopi up to this go around?" well pardner, I'll tell you what: They're lampooning protesters and political dissidents, shut-ins, organic food snobs, moshing, "Downton Abbey" and the Good Lord only knows what else. How about some of these sketch titles: "It's the '90s — It's Not All About Flannel," "Def Jill's Comedy Showcase," "Hillcrest Now Sells Coyote Meat" — and those were just the ones we could print! Just kidding, but seriously, as is usually the case with Red Octopus productions, you should leave your kiddos at home, as this shiz is for grownups only now. Take note: The first 10 people who show up each night at 7:30 p.m. who are so inclined can enter for half price, so long as they agree to protest the show (signs will be provided).

FRIDAY 8/23

KEVIN SECONDS, KEPI GHOULIE

9 p.m. Low Key Arts. $5.

With his band 7 Seconds, Sacramento native Kevin Seconds was one of the pioneers of melodic hardcore back in the early '80s. If you're an old punker, you might've owned a copy of "The Crew" or the "Skins, Brains & Guts" EP. You might even have a faded old "Walk Together, Rock Together" T-shirt tucked away in a drawer somewhere. In addition to adding melody to the short-loud-fast formula for hardcore, Seconds was also one of the first punks to go the solo-acoustic route. While his long-running band is still going, Seconds is primarily focused on the solo gigs. On tour with Seconds is fellow Sac-town native Kepi Ghoulie, frontman of the Ramones-and-B-horror-flick-inspired Groovie Ghoulies. That band broke up unfortunately, but Ghoulie has continued to pump out ridiculously catchy pop punk with a band and, yes, in a solo-acoustic setup. Also on this bill at this all-ages show: Rad Posture and Maxine Meyers.

FRIDAY 8/23-SUNDAY 8/25

PARALLEL UNIVERSES CONFERENCE

Various times. Crescent Hotel. $75-$125.

This weekend is the second annual Parallel Universes Conference at The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs. The theme this year is "Things Unknown." Topics include Spontaneous Human Combustion (that's when folks burst into flames suddenly), dowsing (that's when a water witch uses a divining rod to locate groundwater or unmarked graves or gold and so forth), auto-writing (not to be confused with the folks who publish "Car & Driver") and determining one's own PSI potential ("that is to say your personal ability for remote viewing and extrasensory perception or ESP," according to a statement from organizer Keith Sales). Plus there'll be panel discussions and lectures on many other things. At first I thought maybe this conference was about the hypothesis of the multiverse in metaphysics, particularly the idea that there could be an infinite number of universes that were nearly identical, and how like, maybe in one particular parallel universe, the idea of parallel universes is widely accepted, but there's a group of folks who don't believe in it and they have conferences about how there's really actually only one universe and how it's all just a conspiracy to cover up for that fact and also because the idea of an infinite number of parallel universes is just like, too freakin' weird to consider and kind of makes you feel queasy if you think about it, you know? But that's not what this is about. At least in this universe. There are deals available for hotel packages. Check out AmericasMostHauntedHotel.com for more info and a schedule of events.

WEDNESDAY 8/28

JOHN HIATT & THE COMBO

9 p.m. Juanita's. $40 adv., $45 day of.

John Hiatt's career has spanned so many decades and he's penned songs for so many big-name artists and he's recorded so many great albums that it's dang-near impossible to pigeonhole him. But if you absolutely had to attempt to sum up his work in a pithy one-liner, you might be tempted to say something along the lines of, "He's the father of tasteful, soulful, country- and blues-tinged, folksy, singer/songwriter-y Americana/roots-rock." But no, that doesn't really do him justice. I'd say pick out one of his many career highlights and dig in. Although 1987's "Bring the Family" is probably one of the most obvious, it's also one of the best — "Lipstick Sunset" is a heartbreaker with some incredibly evocative guitar playing from Ry Cooder. Another really good one is 2008's "Same Old Man," a bluesy effort that was recorded at Hiatt's home studio, with guitar and mandolin provided by Luther Dickinson, the redoubtable guit-slinger of The North Mississippi Allstars. Hiatt's most recent LP was last year's "Mystic Pinball," another very well-received collection of tunes. If you're on the fence about this show for any reason, give it a listen and it'll knock you over onto the right side. Opening the show will be Native Run.

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