Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
TED LUDWIG TRIO
8 p.m., the Afterthought. $5.
No jazz scene in Little Rock? All skeptics need do is pop into the Afterthought on any given Thursday, where the Ted Ludwig trio churns out a straight, no frills, no fusion slab of traditional jazz big enough to hold down the whole scene by their lonesome. Ludwig, a young New Orleans transplant who studied guitar under two of the city's great teachers, Hank Mackie and Steve Mazakowski, could just as easily shine in another larger city, but he's decided to make Little Rock his home. He likes the pace, likes the people and must like the little Thursday night niche he's carved out for himself. A 12-string whiz, Ludwig has the chops to play just about anything, but even in wild bouts of improvisation, he always stays true to the melody and the swing of the tune. Brian Brown, perhaps Little Rock's premier jazz drummer, anchors the trio's rhythm section, with relatively new addition Joe Cripps providing the lowdown flair on the bass. Cripps, of course, is a longtime Little Rock music mover and shaker who played for years with Brave Combo.
THE MEAT PUPPETS
9 p.m., Revolution. $12 adv./$15 d.o.s.
The Meat Puppets are back. Not the Curt Kirkwood-led ensemble crew that took the name for legal reasons, this is the real-deal brothers Kirkwood Meat Puppets. After a seven-year hiatus from playing together and at least a year where they didn't speak at all, Curt and Cris Kirkwood are playing together again and, by all indications, the cowpunk standard bearers haven't lost a step. Cris is sober after a long struggle with heroin and the law. Concert reviews have been glowing and the band's new album, “Rise to Your Knees,” offers a window into that strange mix of laid-back psychedelia and desert rock that made the Meat Puppets such a force in the '80s and '90s. Ha-Ha Tonka, an upstart rock outfit from Springfield, Mo., will open the show. With a backwoods sensibility in line with the Drive-By Truckers and Kings of Leon, the band describes itself as “roaring out of the Ozarks with a bottle in one hand and a Bible in the other.” So look out.
9 p.m., Low Key Arts Building,
Hot Springs. $5.
Hard-touring indie-pop trio Headlights headline a post-gallery walk concert at the Low Key Arts Building, a space that's increasingly becoming the hub for independent and progressive music in Hot Springs. The Headlights, based in Champaign, Ill., are on a tour in which they've opened for Mates of the State, the New Pornographers and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Those bands all could serve as touchstones for the band's sound — an always sunny, boy-girl harmony-filled pop that brightens even the darkest lyrics. Touring behind their debut full-length, “Kill Them with Kindness,” Headlights appears to be an indie band on the rise. A new band, Blue Screen Skyline, makes its debut in Hot Springs as the opener.
7:30 p.m., the Weekend Theater. $10-$14.
Margaret Edson wrote “W;t” from her experiences as an end-of-life counselor for AIDS and cancer patients. It won a bevy of drama prizes (including the Pulitzer), and became a teaching tool for many medical schools' programs in terminal care. This should tell you about the emotional depth and poignancy of the play — a touching, if emotionally ravaging story of a John Donne scholar with ovarian cancer, coming to terms with her prickly disposition as she is callously looked after by “expert” physicians. But “W;t” has more value than as an intelligent weepie — it is a moving reconsideration of the value of learning, words and spirituality, and how they fail and succeed at connecting us to others.
THE MAGICAL AND
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall.
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents a night of classical music stretching from Mozart's “Overture to ‘The Magic Flute” to Bartok's “Miraculous Mandarin Suite.”
“The Magical and the Miraculous” is the ASO's first orchestra showcase of the season. The show will begin with Mozart's familiar piece and then move into the sweeping variations and complex themes of Elgar's “Enigma Variations,” followed by Brahms' mock serious “Academic Festival Overture,” a collection of student drinking songs. Bartok's thrilling score about a mysterious mandarin closes out the evening. The ASO will perform the selections again on Sunday at 3 p.m. Forty-five minutes before each performance, ASO maestro David Itkin leads a lecture to give audience members a greater understanding of the pieces to be performed. The talks take place downstairs at Robinson in rooms 101-102 and are free of charge.
TED LEO AND
9 p.m., Juanita's. $10 adv./$12 d.o.s.
Where other punk bands wanted to mock you to death, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, meant it, man. Over 20 years in Washington, D.C., rock acts have established Leo as one of the harder working men in independent rock, but it would mean nothing without his past five albums. Even ignoring his eerily good falsetto, Ted Leo writes aching, tuneful rock songs whose romantic and political assessments are rarely off the mark. Leo is known for energetic and friendly live performances (he takes requests!), so if nothing else, you're getting a good value. Birds of Avalon, a '70s rock revival band from North Carolina, will open — but they may not play Foghat. Fascists.
7 p.m., Revolution. $10.
Lest everyone forget the terror that would beset us if Mike Huckabee became president, the Rev Room is bringing back “Rock the Vote,” where rock 'n' rollers pull an old hide-the-medicine-in-the-ice-cream trick on unsuspecting youths and other apathetics: Hear the rock music, listen to why voting is important. The concert comes at exactly the one-year mark from when we'll go to the polls, and who better than Fishbone, the original ska-punk kings, to jar folks out of complacency? Led by the charismatic vocalist/saxophonist Angelo Moore, the L.A.-based outfit has been a cult favorite for nearly three decades, churning out a hyperactive, funky blend of ska that's as rooted in goofiness as it is in social commentary. Thoughtful local rapper Mad Trucker rhymes about robots and global conspiracies among other things. He opens with other acts to be announced.
9 p.m., Juanita's. $12 adv./$15 d.o.s.
Ian Moore is what you might call an evolving artist. Early in his career, the Austin, Texas, native spent a good amount of time working with rebel country crooner Joe Ely. Later, as a solo artist, he wore his hair long and played Stevie Ray Vaughn-style blues-rock. Moore scored opening spots on tours with the Rolling Stones and ZZ Top, and he released three albums in two years on Capricorn Records. Then, after a four-year recording hiatus, he re-emerged as a pop-rocker. Now, living in Seattle and firmly entrenched in the world of smart, melodic and often experimental pop, Moore has become an accomplished singer/songwriter, crafting challenging tunes that are always hummable. He comes to town in support of his melodic new album “To Be Loved.” The concert is open to 18 and up.
7 p.m., Alltel Arena. $20-$65.
A note to parents of the dino-obsessed: You are obligated to take your kid to this show. Nothing anywhere near this cool has come along in a looooong time. Based on the BBC documentary series (that aired here on the Discovery Channel), “Walking with Dinosaurs” brings the giant, lumbering beasts to life. The animatronic puppets are nothing like the Showbiz animals you're imagining. They're scaly and pulsing and with roving, beady eyes — state-of-the art creations that swoop and swing and bare their teeth and swat their tails in a way that is frighteningly real. Not that you're going to know anything about any of these, but for little Timmy's sake, here are the featured dinos: Allosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Liliensternus, Ornithocheirus, Plateosaurus, Stegosaurus, Torosaurus, Tyrannosaurus and Utahraptor. The show runs through Sunday, Nov. 11, but there's no way your kid's going to let you wait that long.
Building a lead so rapidly and holding it in games, even professional football, is difficult…