Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE
9 p.m. Revolution. $12 adv., $15 d.o.s.
Let's just put aside the famous father and legendary namesake that get mentioned in nearly single everything I've ever read about Justin Townes Earle, because here's why: A) his music doesn't really sound much like either of those guys; and B) it stands on its own two spindly legs pretty well. Since 2008, Earle's tunes have evolved from what he's described as "a cracker form of Southern music" to something a bit more soulful and sonically lush. That said, more than a few of his songs retain some rockabilly grit and hillbilly gristle, with just a tiny bit more polish on them. The title cut from Earle's forthcoming album "Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now" seems to maintain that momentum toward a bigger sound that hangs on to its rough edges. Opener Tristen hails from Earle's hometown of Nashville and trucks in oft somber, pop- and folk-informed singer/songwriter goods. It's an 18-and-older show.
7:30 p.m. University of Central Arkansas. Free.
Rick Steves — author and host of the public television show "Rick Steves' Europe" and the public radio show "Travel with Rick Steves" — has such a calming, soft-spoken style that it will really make you want to take an innocent, wholesome trip to Europe, one with way more museum visits and castle tours and charming, out-of-the way bistros and way not as much strip clubs and excessive consumption of intoxicants and stumbling headlong into fountains as horrified families look on in disgust. Steves implores us to travel, but to be respectful and generally avoid the sort of boorish behavior often associated with Americans abroad. As anyone who has traveled internationally can testify, it's an admonition that really can't be overstated. Plus, Steves supports a number of righteous causes, including NARAL Pro-Choice and legalization of marijuana, and he established a shelter for homeless women and their children a few years back. He's on a tour of flyover country right now called "Road Trip USA," which brings him to Conway for a couple of days. He'll be discussing his new book, "Travel as a Political Act," and on Friday, he'll be the featured speaker at the annual Bravo! fundraiser for UCA's College of Fine Arts and Communication, which is $75 and starts at 6:30 p.m.
10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $7.
We've written a little bit about Amasa Hines, a relatively new outfit with folks from Velvet Kente and Romany Rye. But after hearing "Earth and Sky," which the band released online a few weeks ago, we've gotta put this out there: Amasa Hines just might be the best band in Little Rock right now. At a minimum, they're the best band that isn't even a year old. For serious, "Earth and Sky" is hot. Hot! It's soulful, sweaty rock 'n' roll, with gritty guitars, a deep-in-the-pocket rhythm section, the best use of falsetto I've heard since forever and a rippin' saxophone solo. The band's Facebook bio comes across all demure: "It's just music. It's trying to play clean and looking for the pretty notes." Well guys, I think you found all of 'em.
8 p.m. Maxine's. $5 adv., $7 door.
Remember that whole Garage Rock Revival thing that happened back in '01-'03 and again from '09-'12 or so? Probably none of that would've happened without The Oblivians, of Memphis, whose '90s output set the bar for all the bash-happy, out-of-tune guitar abusers to come. There were other great garage rockers that had preceded them, of course, but The Oblivians were a cut way above the rest. They were like that rusty .32 revolver you bought at a yard sale for $25: cheap; dirty; of singular purpose and questionable origin; might just explode in your face. After a couple-five albums and a slew of singles and EPs, The Oblivians did blow up (though they played a couple reunion shows, and word has it they're reconvening to record soon). Jack Oblivian has shacked up with a good number of bands and has released a handful of solo albums, the most recent of which was last year's excellent "Rat City," which manages to fuse a sleazier "Some Girls" kinda vibe ("Mass Confusion," "Crime of Love," "Caboose Jump") with sweetly forlorn rock 'n' roll love songs ("Dark Eyes," "Jealous Heart") and twitchy, brokedown blues ("Old Folks Boogie"). You should probably just go listen to "Rat City" right now and then go see this show. The Many Persian Z's and Jonathan Wilkins are playing too.
Good analysis, something completely lacking from the daily newspaper's sports reporters/columnists.
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