As if great beer weren't reward enough, you can earn prizes for sampling local craft beverages
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.
FIRST EVER NINTH ANNUAL WORLD'S SHORTEST ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE
11 a.m. Bridge Street. Free.
If you only go to one First Ever Ninth Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade this St. Patrick's Day season, make it this one. Sure, you can find green beer floats and marching bands and leprechauns at most of your ordinary St. Paddy's celebrations. But where else are you going to find concert performances by Pickled Beats and 38 Special, Irish Elvis impersonators, The Famous San Diego Chicken, a Blarney Stone kissing contest, Celebrity Grand Marshal Tim Matheson (who played Otter in "Animal House" and Dr. Brick Breeland on TV's "Hart of Dixie," among other roles) and lots more family fun, all on the shortest parade route known to man? Nowhere else, that's where. The parade route will be measured for authenticity at 6:25 p.m. and the parade itself starts at 6:30 p.m., with 38 Special taking to the stage at 8 p.m.
ASO: 'PEOPLE'S CHOICE'
8 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $20-$65.
In a bit of direct musical democracy, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra is turning over the setlist for its next performance, to you, the public. You can vote in nine categories for which pieces of music the symphony will play, either online leading up to the shows or on old-fashioned paper ballots on the day of. Once the votes are in, the winners will be announced and performed directly. Right now, the leading contenders are: Best Classical Composer: Beethoven (Symphony No. 5, First Movement), Best Classic Film Score: "Lawrence of Arabia," Best Contemporary Film Score: "Titanic," Best Sci/Fi Soundtrack: "Star Wars," Best Animated Television Show: "Looney Tunes," Best Television show: "Mission Impossible," Best Kids' Pick: "Mary Poppins," Best Video Game Soundtrack: "The Legend of Zelda," and Best Broadway Score: "The Phantom of the Opera." I'm not saying that any of these frontrunners necessarily have a lock on it, but some of them are pretty far ahead of the pack. So if you want to hear "West Side Story," the theme to "Bonanza" or Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," you'd best get to voting at ASO's website. The show will be performed again Sunday at 3 p.m.
8 p.m. Stickyz. $6.
Being that SXSW is going on and therefore lots of Brooklyn groups are going to be coming through town on their way to or from Austin over the next week or so, I'm going to briefly suspend my Personal Rule No. 14: "If Your Band is From Brooklyn, Then I Don't Care About Your Band." Snowmine is a Brooklyn band that creates lush, chiming orchestral pop with Shins-y (Fleet Fox-worthy, even) vocals, the occasional wiggy keyboard squiggle and a tiny smidgen of psychedelia blurring the edges of the whole thing, but not so much that you get freaked out. Think Grizzly Bear, Local Natives, perhaps the less lysergic-world-music side of Yeasayer. There are also moments that recall pre-Gen Y sounds, such as the Talking Heads vibe on "The Hill," from the band's 2011 long player "Laminate Pet Animal." It's pleasant sounding, innocuous stuff that your parent or parents probably won't balk at too hard during those long car rides in between campus visits to tony private colleges this spring. Also performing at this 18-and-older show is Brooklyn's Spanish Prisoners, who swim in the same waters. They play self-described "tremolo-haze headphone symphonies." Knox Hamilton opens the show. Snowmine and Spanish Prisoners also play Monday at Conway's Ford Theater at 9 p.m.
ALL PIGS MUST DIE, NARROWS
9 p.m. Dickson Theater. $5.
Both Narrows and All Pigs Must Die include personnel from several other notable hardcore bands. But that's not really all that important, because both bands deserve to be judged on their own brutal merits. All Pigs Must Die's album "God is War" is eight songs of pure, scorched-earth annihilation, all blackened, pummeling riffs welded to galloping D-beat thrash and unhinged screaming from frontman Kevin Baker, like some unholy spawn of Discharge, Slayer, Black Flag and Mayhem. Plus it has the most awesomely blasphemous cover art I've ever seen. Baker told Revolver last year that he and the other members wanted to create something "nasty." Did they ever. APMD sounds so vicious and deadly and righteously pissed off that they could wipe away everything that's twee and precious and lame from the last decade of music with a single bludgeoning riff. I've probably listened to "God is War" and the band's 2010 self-titled EP more than anything else in the last six months. It's the most hair-raising, jaw-clenching, blistering metal I've heard in forever and is exciting in a way that hearing "Reign in Blood" for the first time was. It's that good. Narrows has a less metal, more noisy, post-hardcore sound, but it rocks way, way more than anything else I've heard in that genre in a long time. I wish so hard that this show was stopping in Little Rock as well, but it'd probably be worth it to head up to Fayetteville and not miss the best hardcore show of the year.