Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
'THE LAST PICTURE SHOW'
7 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $5.
The novelist Larry McMurty grew up on a ranch outside of Archer City, Texas, the place on which he based the imaginary town of Thalia that frequently appeared in his fiction. Its most memorable portrayal was in his 1966 novel, "The Last Picture Show." It's a dusty, atomized place salvaged only by pool halls, all-night cafes and Main Street, "the only street in Thalia with businesses on it." If Peter Bogdanovich's film adaptation is remembered better than the novel today, it's partly because it so effectively and immediately captured the experience of living, maturing and making mistakes in a place like this. It was shot in Archer City, in fact. Grover Lewis, a Texas-born magazine writer and longtime friend of McMurty's, visited the set of the movie for Rolling Stone (it's often credited as the original "on-location" magazine piece), and described the place as "a vast, landlocked Sargasso Sea of mesquite-dotted emptiness." The film was shot in vivid black-and-white — a counter-intuitive move at the time, one that grew naturally out of Bogdanovich's previous career as a cinephile film critic and scholar of Golden Age Hollywood directors like Orson Welles and John Ford (both of whom he considered more his peers than the other New Hollywood upstarts of the era). Here are the iconic early performances from Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepard (making her debut), high school students wondering what's next — the answer isn't necessarily happy, but it feels true. It's a beautiful, languorous, interesting film, a masterpiece with smart things to say about adulthood and movies and small towns and loss. Pauline Kael, in the New Yorker, called it "a movie for everybody."
LUCERO FAMILY CHRISTMAS
9 p.m. Revolution. $21 adv., $26 day of.
Gruff, beloved Memphis alt-country band Lucero has a new record out, titled "All a Man Should Do." It's been well received — Salon called it the band's "best record yet" — and it's easy to see why: It's as nostalgic and narrative as the group's previous releases, but seems to go out of its way to be catchier, friendlier, more sentimental, with less sonic or emotional interference. It's acoustic and moody and lush, and features one of the year's best (and most Lucero-esque) song titles: "Went Looking for Warren Zevon's Los Angeles." And it's good to see front man Ben Nichols keeping in touch with his Little Rock roots; the album's first music video (the first of a trilogy), "Baby Don't You Want Me," was directed by Little Rock natives Adam and Sara Heathcott. The group will be in town this weekend for its annual holiday concert.
9 p.m. Envy (formerly Elevations).
Trina, born Katrina Laverne Taylor in Miami, has been ahead of her time and behind it, but most often and most thrillingly she has been solidly, hyper-confidently of her time. Women aren't supposed to thrive in hip-hop — this is why the exceptions are always so captivating — and rappers in general aren't supposed to persist for long beyond their youth and initial period of relevance. So how do we account for Trina, who first appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1998 and has reasserted herself every couple of years since? She's an icon, the Queen of Miami. Lil Wayne still has her name tattooed on his ring finger — he must see it every day. As a rapper, she shuffles between registers: depraved, taunting, proud and resolute. In the video for last year's single, "Fuck Love," she dug her own lover's grave. And I still think about 2002's "B R Right" (featuring Ludacris), which could have been a Bjork song in an alternate universe, with its lavish, elusive, vaguely Middle-Eastern production (by a young Kanye West). "With me, this shit gonna cost," she says. "I live life like it's just a dream."
FRIDAY 12/18-SUNDAY 12/20
HOLIDAY POPS WITH THE ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 3 p.m. Sun. Pulaski Academy's Connor Performing Arts Center. $19-$58.
This year's holiday program from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra features selections from Bach and Gabrieli alongside your standard-issue Christmas anthems: "Joy to the World," "Silver Bells," "Silent Night," etc. (Like most things, Christmas carols sound far less depressing coming from an orchestra than they do at the mall.) Guest performers include a children's choir (directed by Timothy Allen), lyric soprano Christine Westhoff, gospel soloist Vickie Woodward and — intriguingly — Bonnie Montgomery, the opera composer and accomplished country singer-songwriter.
FRIDAY 12/18-SUNDAY 12/20
NEIL BERG'S 'BROADWAY HOLIDAY'
8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Maumelle Performing Arts Center. $32-$57.
Neil Berg is the composer-lyricist responsible for a number of Broadway and off-Broadway hits, including rock musical "The 12" and adaptations of Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper," Rudyard Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King" and the Jack Lemmon film "Grumpy Old Men." He's also produced a series of touring Broadway revues: Neil Berg's "Rock & Roll," Neil Berg's "Piano Man," Neil Berg's "100 Years of Broadway," etc. The man is a brand. Celebrity Attractions brings his new project to Maumelle this weekend, Neil Berg's "Broadway Holiday." Billed as "the number one touring Broadway concert in America" (I'd fact-check that, but it's too impressive-sounding), the show features the music of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and so on.
JUANITA'S LAST DANCE
8 p.m. Juanita's. $5.
The other day I saw Patterson Hood play at South on Main, the restaurant and concert space located at 1304 Main St., the original site of the iconic Little Rock venue Juanita's. After his first song, Hood thanked us for coming and then looked around the room with what seemed like real curiosity or nostalgia, or both, offering after a pause that he'd always hoped to play at Juanita's one day with his band, the Drive-By Truckers. "Guess I outlasted the place," he said.
I didn't think so at the time, but it turned out Hood was right. Juanita's, which relocated to the River Market in 2011, announced earlier this month — pretty suddenly — that it would be closing for good. It's been in business since 1986, when it was founded by Frank McGehee (father of local restaurateur Scott McGehee) and Mark Abernathy (later of Loca Luna and Red Door). The Tex-Mex format was game-changing for Little Rock at the time, but its reputation as one of the only real rock venues in town lent it far greater prominence. For firsthand remembrances, check the venue's closing announcement on Facebook, where commenters have been weighing in with memories and tributes. This week, they'll be serving food off the original 1986 menu and selling off trinkets and ornaments from the venue's walls. Goose, Rodge Arnold and more will perform Saturday night before the space shuts its doors for good.
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