"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
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.