Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
SCHLAFLY PUB CRAWL
6 p.m. Argenta. Free.
While the Times staff tends to prefer being anchored to a rock-solid bar stool while drowning our considerable sorrows in suds, we can't help but see the charm in a pub crawl, one of those shambling pilgrimages that — in our experience, at least — inevitably ends in prayer at the porcelain altar. Now we've got a crawl of our own, a sorta-spinoff of our recent, wildly successful Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival. On Wednesday, Schlafly Beer of St. Louis and the Times will shepherd a North Little Rock pub crawl to benefit the Argenta Arts Foundation, with specials on Schlafly beers. First stop will be Cornerstone Pub and Grill, where Schlafly Brewery co-founder Dan Kopman will debut a rare craft beer for the brew-geek faithful. Second hour will be at Reno's Argenta Cafe with yet another rare Schlafly brew on the menu, then a wobble up the street to Cregeen's Irish Pub for the third hour and yet another rarity. There will be specialty and market beers at each stop, with Kopman answering questions and talking about the secrets of brewing. Bonus: Free Schlafly pint glasses while supplies last, and people who show up at all three bars will be eligible for a free raffle to win more Schalfly's gear, including T-shirts, caps and a personalized neon sign. DK
ERIC CHURCH, JUSTIN MOORE
7:30 p.m. Verizon Arena. $49-$59.
Now this right here is a pairing of what Nashville tells us is Outlaw Country. Firstly, you've got Eric Church, who's written songs like "Drink In My Hand," "Hungover & Hard Up," "Jack Daniels" and "I'm Gettin' Stoned" (and those are just off his most recent album). When I saw that he has a tune called "Two Pink Lines" I thought, man, this dude really is an outlaw. But alas, the lines Church refers to are those on a home pregnancy test, not the kind that got Ty Herndon and Jeff Bates in trouble. Still, the song fits into a couple of well-worn country modes that Church has down pat: songs that celebrate partying and songs that lament the repercussions of partying. Second on this bill is Arkie Justin Moore. Now, your big-city, pinko, commie, bleedin' heart, Democrat-Party-lovin', Kombucha-drinkin', yoga-doin' gun-grabbers probably don't care too much for ol' Moore because he loves guns and freedom. He's a small-town feller (raised in Poyen) who only moved to Nashville on account of it's hard to have a big-time country career there in Grant County. Or at least that's what they tell me. Moore loves guns so much he wrote a song called "Guns." When the Times staff heard it last year, we couldn't resist pokin' a little bit of good-natured fun. How could we resist, especially with bons mots like "Why don't you go bust them boys that's sellin' crack" and "Come on man it ain't like I'm a slingin' 'em on the block." Get it? Wink-wink. Moore's the right kind of gun-owner, not like, you know, those other ones. Opening the show is Kip Moore, no relation to Justin, so probably don't ask about it if you run into him. RB
12:30 a.m. Midtown. $5.
This weekend, Central Arkansas gets not one but two shows from Eric Sommer, without a doubt one of the most battle-tested road warriors on the singer/songwriter circuit today, and certainly one of the most fleet-fingered guit-pickers around. He's got some serious range, from power-pop to upbeat slide blues ravers to earnest Americana and chiming Fahey-type instrumental fingerpicking. Sommer usually plays Midtown when he comes through the area, and from what I hear he's built up a good following there. But if Midtown's smoky 12:30 a.m. start time is a little on the late side for you, you can check out Sommer at a free 18-and-older show at 7 p.m. Sunday at Stickyz. He's got new tunes in store, including the sunny-sounding "Sunny Afghanistan," a mocking paean to the life of a gun runner, "dealing automatic weapons by the ton" and "Doin' Wrong," a tale of a plague of bad luck that ends with the protagonist "livin' in a Laundromat." RB
ALCHEMY SONGWRITING COMPETITION
7:30 p.m. The Ford Theater. $10.
The second annual Alchemy Songwriting Competition kicks off Friday in Conway, featuring 10 finalists who will perform their original tunes for a panel of judges that includes Academy Award winner and Arkansas native Mary Steenburgen (who's been writing songs herself, lately), singer/songwriter Treva Blomquist and Andy Davis, founder of the Music Empowers Foundation. The competition is also a fundraiser for Blackbird Academy of Arts, an arts education nonprofit based in Conway. The grand prize is a trip to Los Angeles and a recording sesh with producer Tim Pagnotta. On deck for the competition are Arkatext of Conway (see page 22), Rachel Pearl of Springhill, Tenn., Tom Mix and Shawn Keeter of Mt. Vernon, Sally Howell of Benton, Half Priced Hearts of Conway, The Outset of Tulsa, Jordan Anderson of Lonoke, Austin Jones of Little Rock, Brandon Alanis of Cabot and Allison Pierce of Little Rock. RB
PALLBEARER, PINKISH BLACK
8 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $7.
Pinkish Black hail from Fort Worth (my old stomping grounds — shouts out to West Creek Elementary, Kincaid's Hamburgers and the Tandy Subway [R.I.P.]). Their self-titled debut full-length came out earlier this year on the Handmade Birds label and they recently signed to Century Media. The shorthand on this duo is that they play doom metal with synthesizers in lieu of guitars. That's true, but this is doom metal with a host of other sinister sounds clawing their way into the mix, e.g. the buzzing evil of Suicide, the narcoticized droning of Spacemen 3, the sturm und drang of Joy Division at their most alienated and furious and the outer space shoegazing of maybe Bailterspace. Bursts of black metal filth rip to the surface occasionally ("Tell Her I'm Dead," for example), and there's a coldwave/goth streak throughout the record. The band has a penchant for the darkly dramatic. Singer Daron Beck has a haunting baritone that often is stacked up on top of itself in multi-tracked walls, sounding like the chanting of the world's most bummed-out monks. Droning synths and a fiendish Theremin-like tone create huge waves of sound, reminding me at times of an evil, bad-trip version of Silver Apples. Every once in a while though, as on "Passerby" and "Tastes Like Blood," a ray of major key sunlight cuts through the dense clouds of hateful darkness for a moment. Despite the preceding litany of comparisons, Pinkish Black really does possess a distinct, cohesive sound, one that's a good deal more than the sum of the band's influences. Pallbearer, by this point, needs little in the way of introduction in these pages. The band has had a huge year, releasing a universally adored debut album and touring the country with some of metal's leading lights. Opening the show are Russellville post-rockers Sound of the Mountain. RB
8 p.m. Verizon Arena. $59-$80.
While I haven't really liked a rock/classical music mashup since Falco's big 1985 hit "Rock Me Amadeus," I get why people tend to clamor for Trans-Siberian Orchestra tickets around the holidays. Big, loud and flashy, with light shows and spectacle that would make Gene Simmons of KISS fire his production designer, TSO definitely takes Christmas music out of the realm of Grandma sweaters with embroidered reindeer and into "Mistress Claus in her red latex catsuit" territory. Definitely a good time for kids, especially if they've only heard the Muzak version of most Christmas tunes. DK
FRIDAY 12/7-SUNDAY 12/9
WHITE WATER TAVERN HOLIDAY HANGOUT
8 p.m. White Water Tavern. $15.
The genesis of this event was as a celebration of Last Chance Records founder Travis Hill's birthday. But it's grown into a three-day blowout that's as much a gift for everyone else in the roots/Americana music community as it is one for Hill himself. Hill has joined forces with the White Water Tavern and Mary Chamberlin's Tree of Knowledge distribution for this bonanza of barroom country rock. It starts off Friday with singer/songwriter Austin Lucas, Memphis rock 'n' rollers John Paul Keith & The One Four Fives, Texas rabble-rousers Slobberbone, Ohio cow-punkers Two Cow Garage, and the soulful country rock of Tennessee's Glossary. Saturday will see an acoustic in-store performance from Lucas, Brent Best of Slobberbone, Jason Kutchma of Red Collar and Joey and Kelly Kneiser of Glossary. That night's lineup includes Little Rock's finest, Kevin Kerby, with Kutchma, Two Cow Garage, Glossary and Slobberbone again, and a high likelihood of an all-hands-on-deck jam session with all those folks. Sunday sees the welcome return of the "Breakfast, Books & Booze" brunch book and record sale. That starts at noon and there's no cover 'til after 5 p.m., when there'll be acoustic music from Iron Tongue, Andy Warr, Bonnie Montgomery, Adam Faucett, Joshua of Velvet Kente, Shane Sweeney, Micah Schnabel, John Moreland and Cory Branan. Oh, and if all that weren't enough, Jonathan Wilkins will be satisfying your hunger for delicious food from the kitchen with a variety of specials that I'm told will include barbecue, catfish and grits and a big birthday cake. RB