Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
THE MUSIC FACTORY PRESENTS: TRES DIVAS
8 p.m. The Joint. $10.
Here's a sure bet for fans of female vocalists. As you might have surmised from the title, Tres Divas features three vocalists — Heather Smith, Stephanie Smittle and Charlotte Taylor — performing with The Music Factory, a crack backing band with Ray Wittenberg on drums and vocals, Bill McCumber on bass and Wythe Walker handling lead guitar, vocals and keyboard. Those players are also members of The Smittle Band, with Smittle, who's just back from Arezzo in northern Italy where she took part in the Oberlin in Italy summer music program. Also singing with The Music Factory will be jazz stylist and actress Smith and blues virtuoso Taylor, who has performed with Gypsy Rain among others.
NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS
8:30 p.m. Revolution. $20.
There is nothing else that can touch the hypnotic, almost otherworldly sound of Mississippi Hill Country blues — pioneered by Mississippi Fred McDowell, R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Otha Turner and Jessie Mae Hemphill, among others. There are folks carrying on that tradition, notably Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm. If you dig that sound, get ready to get excited about the forthcoming album from The North Mississippi Allstars, the long-running project of brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, who grew up in that area. The record is called "World Boogie is Coming," named after a phrase their legendary dad, the late Jim Dickinson, would use as a sign-off and all-around motto. The Dickinson brothers decided they really needed to get back to the basics. In a trailer for the album, Cody Dickinson says the album was "recorded at our home base, The Barn, Jim Dickinson's Zebra Ranch. We bought new computer gear and a one-inch 8-track tape machine. Instead of locking the doors and getting into a personal secretive creative trip of new songs and experimental directions, we invited everyone from home and did what we do best — turned it up to 10 and threw down some nasty Mississippi rock 'n' roll." Sounds awesome. Opening up the show with some grimy Memphis blues is the Patrick Dodd Trio.
KEVIN GORDON, ISAAC ALEXANDER
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.
White Water Tavern's been on a tear the last many many months with heavy-hitter singer/songwriters. They've had Mary Gauthier, David Olney (who'll return next week), Malcolm Holcombe and probably a bunch more I can't remember. This week sees a return from Louisiana native Kevin Gordon. Critics like to toss around words like "literary" and "bleak" and "Southern gothic" when describing Gordon's music, and I suppose that's fine as all those terms probably apply. But there are rays of sunshine peeking through his stories of the rough times of boozy deadbeats. Check out the triumphant sounding "24 Diamonds" from his 2005 album "O Come Look at the Burning." Dude ain't exactly hyperprolific, as the follow-up to that album was last year's "Gloryland," but hell, you'll need a minute or several to unpack his songs, especially the thrilling, sprawling 10-minute-plus story/song "Colfax." Very good stuff, but also check out the live version on Gordon's ReverbNation page — it's just relentless. Also on this bill: One of Arkansas's finest, Isaac Alexander.
THURSDAY 8/1- SATURDAY 8/3
A WORK OF ART
Various times, venues and cover prices.
Earlier this week, the third annual A Work of Art celebration kicked off. The weeklong event honors the lives and musical contributions of Little Rock natives and jazz musicians and educators Art Porter Sr. and Art Porter Jr., while also helping to raise money for the scholarship program awarded annually by the nonprofit Art Porter Music Education. This year's scholar is clarinetist Jordan Ladyman of Searcy. Performing Thursday at Sway will be Dallas singer Martha Burks (7:30 p.m., $25-$40). The Porter Players play a free concert Friday at The Afterthought (8 p.m.). Saturday is the APME scholarship program at Clear Channel Metroplex. The evening will include a performances from Porter heir Lexington Porter, Teen Jeopardy champ Leonard Cooper, emcees Pamela Smith and former Miss Arkansas Alyse Eady, and a headlining performance from longtime Philly R&B and jazz ensemble Pieces of a Dream (8 p.m., $35-$50).
THE MAIN THING'S 'ARKANSANITY'
8 p.m. The Joint. $20.
The in-house funny folks over at The Joint — a trio known as The Main Thing — are back with another original two-act comedy poking a little good-natured fun at The Natural State through the cracked lens that is The Fertle Family of the charming, fictional hamlet known as Dumpster, Ark. The Fertles starred in the recent Main Thing productions "Last Night at Orabella's" and the follow-up "Weiner Day at the Rollercade." Their latest creation, "Arkansanity," is a collection of sketches and songs, at least one of which will feature the Fertles. I've got to cop to the fact that I haven't yet made it over to see The Main Thing yet, but everyone I've spoken with has told me that it's truly, side-splittingly hilarious while also being appropriate for all ages and levels of uptightness. So you can bring your kids or your parents or your Republican Missionary Baptist mother-in-law or your wacky vegan liberal great aunt and they'll all get some chuckles.
8 p.m. Magic Springs' Timberwood Amphitheater. $50-$60.
It's been the summer of bubble-grunge here in Arkansas, what with Bush and Daughtry headlining at Riverfest; Live, Sponge, Filter and Everclear at the Arkansas Music Pavilion, and Collective Soul at Magic Springs' Timberwood Amphitheater. OK, perhaps that's a bit of a stretch. Whatever. Anyways, that sort-of trend continues at Timberwood Amphitheater this weekend with '90s sort-of-stars Everclear. The band is basically one of those Mark E. Smith/The Fall kind of deals where as long as Art Alexakis is singing and playing guitar, it's Everclear no matter who's backing him up. But you know, that's just fine, because it was always mostly his band anyway — mostly his songs, mostly his glossy pop hooks, mostly his genuinely affecting dad issues (if "Father of Mine" doesn't bum you out, you have no soul). Anyways, if you know Everclear and want to hear the hits you know and love — "Santa Monica," "Everything to Everyone," "I Will Buy You a New Life" — you can do that this weekend and ride some rollercoasters too.
KABF 2013 SUMMER PLEDGE DRIVE PICNIC
Noon. The Bernice Garden. Make a donation.
I don't know about you, but when it comes to fundraisers, if it doesn't involve interminable pledge testimonials, "Celtic Women" DVDs as premiums or endless repeats of weird infomercials, count me out! Just kidding, those things are all terrible and make me hate fundraisers. But you know what does sound appealing? A picnic, that's what. And you know who's throwing a picnic fundraiser? KABF 88.3-FM, that's who. This Saturday from noon until 7 p.m. or so, you can chill, relax or do some kind of hybrid of chilling and relaxing at Bernice Garden while enjoying food from a variety of food trucks and vendors (including Southern Gourmasian, LePops Ice Lollies, Loblolly Creamery and Roxie's Hot Dogs) and live tunes from the likes of Isaac Alexander, Mandy McBryde, Midwest Caravan, The Smokes and good ol' Sulac. Filmmaker Mike Poe and Gossip guitarist Nathan Howdeshell are going to be "on the 1s and 2s" as they say. Good times and you can support community radio. Oh, there'll be beer for sale too, just so you know.
Building a lead so rapidly and holding it in games, even professional football, is difficult…