As if great beer weren't reward enough, you can earn prizes for sampling local craft beverages
9 p.m., Juanita's. $12 adv., $15 d.o.s.
She may spend her days busying herself with being a recluse, but Grace Slick's voice still lives on in 2011. After its late '90s revival, bluesy garage rock is still thumping away and, for a number of femme-led acts, Slick's ululations lay out the vocal blueprint. And no one nods at the rock legend more faithfully than Erika Wennerstrom, frontwoman for the Austin by-way-of Dayton, Ohio, four-piece, Heartless Bastards. Sporting a contract with Oxford, Miss., superlabel Fat Possum Records and a 4 1/2 star review from Rolling Stone, the blues-garage revisionists have been building steam thanks to their smart yet rudimentary twist on accessible, full-bodied, decidedly Midwestern rock 'n' roll. The band itself is so solidly traditional and brass-tacked that there's precious few musical ideas to note — or, for that matter, really love. But as spectacularly understated as the men behind her are, Wennerstrom, again, is just as extraordinary. Live, she makes walking the line between Lucinda Williams' rootsy wisdom and PJ Harvey's unapproachable art-swagger look effortless. They're regulars in Little Rock — this week, back for their first time in little less than a year—but, with their ceaselessly upwards trajectory, you never know which show could be their last. The Bastards are joined by another blondie badass backed by a gang of guys in the Elise Davis Band and cello-and piano-laced indie pop from Conway's Don't Stop Please. JT
7:30 p.m., St. Mark's Episcopal Church. $25 general, $10 students
For nearly 60 years, the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock has provided a huge service to Little Rock's arts community, taking over St. Mark's Episcopal Church to provide four annual concerts from celebrated names of the classical community. This show marks the only concert performed with a soloist during their 2010-2011 season. A member of the prestigious Steinway Artist society, Lara Downes has performed in a dizzyingly impressive list of venues: Queen Elizabeth Hall London, the Vienna Konzerthaus, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy and Lincoln Centers, to name a few. NPR flipped over Downes after her appearance on "Performance Today" and lists upon lists of boutique magazines dedicated to classical music have compared her unique interpretive skills and an expressive, lucid technique with everything from Rachmaninov to Philip Glass. Thursday sees Downes tipping her hat to Arkansas with a special performance of "Fantasie Negre" by Florence Price, the Little Rock-born classicist, remembered as the first black woman to be widely recognized and accepted as a true symphonic composer by her white, male peers. JT
ADAM FAUCETT ALBUM RELEASE
10 p.m., White Water Tavern.
If you've recently started to attempt the frustrating, more-often-than-not-laborious task of wrenching a tune out of a guitar and slipping into the ether to peel off a few words to tack onto your new tune, then, young songwriter, stay away from this one. Adam Faucett and, more so, the music of Adam Faucett are notoriously devastating. Three weeks with Faucett's new album, "More Like a Temple," and I've given a thought or two to just trading in my instruments for a shovel and good pair of gloves. There's a very short list of area songwriters who command as much respect from both audiences and fellow musicians like Little Rock's "folk swamp soul brother." Faucett evokes a sound between Otis Redding's soul shout and Cat Power's swampy poeticism. Throw in a dash of John Fahey picking and the occasional glimpse of Rufus Wainwright vocal operaticism and you're almost there. The precise craft on display in the album's string-colored arrangements and crystalline production is strong by any standard, but as always, Faucett's melodies are the highlight: inspired, innate and effortlessly gorgeous. After a dozen-plus spins, "More Like a Temple" is far beyond just good. It may just be one of the most vital documents of a young musician to come out of town in years. Expect to hear about this album for a long while. He's joined by his backing band, the Tall Grass, and joshua, the Velvet Kente frontman who also occupies one of the rare spots on the aforementioned "shortlist." JT
7 p.m., Dreamland Ballroom. $35
It's hard to get appropriately geared up for Mardi Gras when you're hours away from dear New Orleans. Like most, we won't make the early March trip down to the shore for Mardi Gras. But we're not fussy. A bit of gumbo and a case of Ibita beer after work on Tuesday should suffice just fine for yet another year. (That is, until someone forms a Little Rock second line, in which case, call us immediately, please.) But this year, 101 Runners, a "heavy percussive funk band" of elaborately colorful Mardi Gras Indians in gorgeous, traditional suits, will take to Arkansas for a three-day goodwill tour to spread the celebration to their neighbors to the north. Fronted by Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, formerly of the legendary Wild Magnolias funk group and — don't forget — the Biggest of Big Chiefs, 101 Runners have been Crescent City favorites for years, laying down driving, tribal beats and hypnotic voodoo call-and-response both on stage and the streets. Thursday, Feb. 24, the Indians take to Fayetteville for a show at George's Majestic Lounge before heading down to Hot Springs for a night at the Arlington Hotel and, finally, to Little Rock for this show, at Dreamland Ballroom. $5 of the ticket price goes to the Friends of the Ballroom fund, dedicated to restoring the historic ballroom. JT
PINETOP PERKINS AND WILLIE 'BIG EYES' SMITH
9 p.m., Stickyz. $20
Last Sunday, when blues piano legend Pinetop Perkins and iconic vocalist, harmonica player (and Helena native) Willie "Big Eyes" Smith snagged a Grammy for best traditional blues album with their recent collaboration, "Joined at the Hip," Perkins not only received another golden gramophone to put beside his Lifetime Achievement Award, he also became, at 97, the oldest Grammy-winner in history. Let's sidestep all of the, well, frankly morbid insinuations of why you should cancel your plans to pay your respects to a nearly 100-year old iconoclast. Heck, let's not even talk about the recent Grammy: the award pales in comparison to their solid status as bona fide blues legends. Instead, let's talk about the fact that we're in 2011 with the chance to pull back the curtain on the past to see and hear Perkins and Smith, members of Muddy Waters' best backing band and founders of the Legendary Blues Band, combine nearly 175 years of blues mastery for a live audience. Don't even think of this as the best show of the night; Saturday, it's probably the best blues show in the entire world. Local electric blues trio Voodoo Sauce opens the night. JT
'THE ULTIMATE PERFORMING ART'
7 p.m., Wildwood Park for the Arts. $30-$100.
n Lucy Lockett Cabe is spinning in her grave. Or maybe the namesake of Wildwood Park's theater, who for years propped up the park and the local opera scene, secretly adored a good brawl. Either way, current Wildwood director Cliff Baker had no qualms about renting the Lucy Lockett Cabe Theater to SUBzero Fighting for "The Ultimate Performing Art," a mixed martial arts bout staged in a cage. "It sounds terribly exciting. There'll be a whole crowd who'll never have been here," he said. And perhaps unlike a lot of events Wildwood stages, the theater will be full. "We'll sell this venue out," promised Roli Delgado, half of the Little Rock-based SUBzero promoting team as well as one of the top fighters on the card, in a phone interview two weeks ago. Before SUBzero started advertising, it sold five VIP tables for $1,000 each, Delgado said. That demand reflects MMA's growing national audience, which can now see MMA fighting on The VS channel, MTV2, CBS, Spike and Showtime. Delgado appeared on Spike's "The Ultimate Fighter" in 2008 and has fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the sport's biggest promotion. Even with those bona fides, Delgado said Little Rock police officer Josh Black, a born and bred fighter with "an enormous following," will be the night's big draw. He'll fight a veteran of the Strikeforce MMA promotion, a rival to UFC. David Lindsey and Harry Johnson also feature. LM
7 p.m., Hendrix College, Worsham Hall
n Director Josh Fox returns to Central Arkansas, where filming for his Academy Award-nominated documentary "Gasland" began, for a screening and panel discussion at Hendrix. By the time the lights go down and the opening credits roll, Fox could be an Oscar winner, as the awards will be held the night before. Oscar or no, the film has already garnered critical acclaim, winning the special jury prize for documentary at the Sundance Film Festival last year. The film has also drawn harsh criticism and attacks from the natural gas industry it hopes to expose. The footage shot in Booneville ended up on the cutting room floor. However, the deleted scenes, which can be found on the DVD version of the film, will likely be shown Monday night. A panel discussion will take place in Staples Hall at 7:30 the following night, featuring Fox and Mayor Calvin Tillman, who has been outspoken about natural gas exploration in his town of Dish, Texas. Conway Mayor Tab Townsell and representatives from Southwestern Energy have been invited as well, but have not committed to attend. GM