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'TO LIGHT A CANDLE'
7 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. Free.
Maziar Bahari's sister was imprisoned by the Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s, his father by the Shah decades earlier. Bahari himself wasn't arrested by the Iranian government until 2009, during the election protests in Tehran. He'd been a documentary filmmaker and journalist (for Newsweek and the BBC) for over a decade, and his incarceration was widely protested. Hillary Clinton called for his release. After 118 days, despite the 11 counts of espionage he'd been charged with, he was released on bail. He began to speak out on behalf of other imprisoned journalists in Iran, worrying publically that the government had "people all around the world, and they can always bring me back to Iran in a bag." He wrote a New York Times bestseller, adapted last year into a film by Jon Stewart called "Rosewater." His new film is the documentary, "To Light a Candle," which focuses on the Iranian government's persecution of Bahá'ís, and on the Bahá'í Open University, which has been the target of government raids for decades. The Ron Robinson Theater will present the film Friday along with a program featuring live Persian music and a panel discussion.
7 BANDS 7 BUCKS
8 p.m. Low Key Arts. $7.
The Valley of the Vapors is Hot Springs' annual independent music festival hosted by community arts organization Low Key Arts. This year's festival will be March 20-24, and will feature a relatively huge lineup of local favorites and touring bands (early-bird passes are on sale now at valleyofthevapors.com), and this weekend they're holding their annual fundraiser and "Deep Fried Rock and Roll Buffet." This year's lineup includes All The Way Korean!, May the Peace of the Sea Be With You, Collin Vs. Adam, Ghost Bones, Dangerous Idiots, Radradriot and Glittercore, with no breaks or sound checks in between sets — the idea, they say, is to have "140 minutes of continuous rock and roll noise."
7:30 p.m. Verizon Arena.
"Snapped" is a true crime series on the Oxygen network that features stories about women who have killed or attempted to kill their abusive husbands or boyfriends. One episode highlighted a woman who lived in Tyler, Texas, out on County Road 233. Her husband had been hitting her for some time, and one day she "snapped." She shot and killed him and left his body in the bedroom for two years. This episode made a particularly powerful impression on country star (and Dodge Ram spokesperson) Miranda Lambert, who recognized both the narrative and the location (County Road 233) from her own top 10, platinum-certified hit "Gunpowder and Lead," off her 2007 album "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend." "His fist is big but my gun's bigger," Lambert sings, "He'll find out when I pull the trigger." In the music video, unusually naturalistic for the genre, Lambert sits in a porch swing loading a shotgun. Then she's inside on the couch smoking a cigarette and working her way through a 12-pack of Budweiser. It never shows the act; in the end, though, there's a black-and-white sequence in which Lambert is depicted digging a grave. Then her boyfriend comes home, walks up on the porch, goes inside. The screen cuts to black and a shot rings out. "You know, women have come up to me and said, 'You gave me the courage to leave after 10 years of him hitting me,' " she told Entertainment Weekly, who asked her about the real-life Tyler murder. "That's the best compliment I could get. But don't shoot him, or don't blame it on me if you do."
THE TONTONS, WILD MOCASSINS
8:30 p.m. Stickyz. $10.
On Twitter once, UGK's Bun B called The Tontons the "best band in Houston." As far as I'm concerned, what this means is that The Tontons are the best band in Houston. Their latest album, "Make Out King and Other Stories of Love," was released last year to much praise in places like Spin (who called it "40 minutes of natural charisma and steamy hooks") and the New York Times (who singled out front woman Asli Omar's "sticky, soulful howl"). They'll share a bill at Stickyz on Friday night with fellow Houston indie rock band Wild Moccasins, who make dreamy, danceable post-punk. The Houston Chronicle wrote of them, "If chemistry — the harmonious interaction, not the science — came with a soundtrack, it would be supplied by Wild Moccasins." That doesn't make any sense to me, but it sure sounds like a recommendation.
'JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH'
2 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $5.
I haven't seen "James and the Giant Peach" since it was released in 1996, but I remember it as a visually mind-blowing and highly personal film with a Randy Newman soundtrack and a dark, idiosyncratic tone. A 1930s period piece set largely on the Atlantic Ocean and featuring crocodile tongues, seagulls tied up via spider's silk, the Arctic, personable insects, a demonic killer rhino who lives in the clouds, etc., the film was the vision not of Tim Burton (often wrongly credited as its director) but Henry Selick, the stop-motion visionary — our generation's Ray Harryhausen. Selick, who started his career as a third-string animator in Disney's dark ages (working on films like "The Fox and the Hound"), went on to direct "Coraline" and sign a contract with Pixar. This movie was great when I was 6, and it's probably even better today.
8 p.m. Juanita's. $15.
Ernie Brooks, a founding member of the seminal 1970s proto-punk band The Modern Lovers, first heard about the band's front man, Jonathan Richman, from his college roommate, Jerry Harrison (also a founding member, and later of The Talking Heads), who'd seen him playing on the Cambridge Commons at Harvard. He told the story to Legs McNeil, the writer and punk historian: "At that time, Jonathan used to wear these suits with a very conservative white shirt and tie, sport coat, and dress pants," he said, "and he had really short hair — it was really funny. There was something about it that was really confrontational in an interesting way." At Harvard, Brooks studied poetry with Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Creeley, and in Richman he found what he believed was a similar, but maybe more immediate artistic perspective. "Instantly," he told McNeil, "I could hear the visionary poetry." Whether or not you agree with that assessment, there is something at least retroactively visionary-seeming about the songs Richman went on to record in the mid-1970s, songs with refrains like "Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole." The Modern Lovers' best-known song, "Roadrunner," spoke of "the spirit of 1956," and there was something to this, too: Richman specialized in recasting Beach Boys-style Americana as ambiguous, cypto-ironic art-rock. He set the template for `90s indie rock — one he would go on to slip into himself as a solo artist maybe too comfortably — and, most impressively, he's become a part of the iconic American cultural fabric he was initially so fascinated by as an outsider (witness "Roadrunner" on the "School of Rock" soundtrack or referenced by M.I.A.).
Doesn't hurt with the Godzilla tie-in. With the mentioning of Monarch, and the atomic bomb…