Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.
BENJAMIN DEL SHREVE
8 p.m., the Village.
In the early part of the decade, Hatfield native Benjamin Del Shreve crisscrossed the country as the lead singer in GS Megaphone, a hugely popular Christian hard rock act. Frustrated by what he has characterized as the greed in the Christian music industry, the band dissolved, and shortly thereafter, Del Shreve started writing music in transit — in far-flung spots like Key West, a hippie commune in Northern California, New York City, France. Last year, he lived in a cabin and worked as migrant labor in Maine, where he wrote the lyrics for “Brilliant and Charming,” an album he'll release in Little Rock on Thursday night. Now settled in Fayetteville, with a sharp, tuneful four-piece backing band, Del Shreve has become one of Northwest Arkansas's biggest draws. Featuring a self-described songwriting style that is “a constant wrestling match between the lover and the poet and the asskicker,” Del Shreve and his band play punchy rock ‘n' roll that owes a debt to Led Zeppelin and Pete Yorn. They'll be joined by Kingsdown, a local modern rock quintet that recalls early ‘90s alt-rock; rising local pop-rockers Cities and Thrones, and singer/songwriter Adam Hambrick. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation. LM.
‘FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO'
7 p.m., Market Street Cinema. $7.50.
A devout Christian, Mary Lou Wallner, 62, of North Little Rock reacted with anger and shame when Anna, her college-age daughter, came out to her in a letter. Convinced that homosexuality was a sin, Wallner shot back a letter of her own, telling Anna, “I will continue to love you, but I will always hate that.” Though mother and daughter continued to see each other for years, that wedge remained between them. The relationship soured in 1996 after Anna wrote a scathing letter to her mother, accusing her of “colossal damage” to her soul for her hateful words. Six months later, Anna committed suicide. Since then, Mary Lou and her husband, Bob, have been ministering to church groups around the country, urging parents to accept their gay children. The Wallners are one of five Christian families (former House majority leader Dick Gephardt's family is another) featured in the documentary, “for the Bible tells me so,” which debuts on Friday at Market Street Cinema. Through the families' experiences and with the help of a number of academics and theologians, documentarian Peter Karslake aims to demonstrate that the Bible and homosexuality are not mutually exclusive. LM.
9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
There's an element of the fabulous to North Little Rock native Chris Denny's songs. Not in the pink pumps way, but in the etymological way, one that gives you “fable” and leads quickly to “folk tale.” It's music out of time, sung by an uncommonly soulful 22- year-old in a startling, showman's tenor, far removed from the mewling and moping of most current folk practitioners. A Localist reviewer compared them to old WPA photographs, which seems a nice touchstone, minus the poverty. The music is nothing if not rich in spirit and craft. That he's named his backing band the Old Soles is a bit on the nose, but no matter, it suits them. His 2006 debut has received scads of positive press from local and national (including a choice pick on NPR) outlets, so why not stop in and witness the next American phenomenon, just as good as the old American phenomenon? He'll be performing on Friday, along with his band, and on Saturday, with Giant Bear, a self-described “orchestral funkabilly” band. Shows start at 9 p.m. both days. FB.
DASH RIP ROCK
9:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $6.
Dash Rip Rock just delivered its most recent CD, “Hee Haw Hell,” to the office, so the least we can do is tell you all about its checkered 24-year history in rock. Though “Rolling Stone” seems to have just now noticed DRR as an “Artist to Watch,” the band's been at it a while. After a few years as a respected, if not particularly well-known, bar band, Dash Rip Rock tossed off an “At the Hop” parody called “(Let's Go) Smoke Some Pot.” This song tore up Austin rock radio, led to a missed appearance at the KROQ weenie roast (then a big deal) with Garbage and No Doubt and a major label record deal. While Winger levels of success evaded Dash Rip Rock, the country learned about a little band that the mid-South had known about for years. It's since released two critically acclaimed albums, signed to Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label, lost property in Hurricane Katrina and continued to play roaring bar rock in clubs across the country. FB.
THE WHITE PARTY
8 p.m., Revolution. $10.
The historic “white party” was a sexually charged all-night dance fundraiser held in Miami during the worst days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This White Party is a sexually-charged lingerie show sponsored by local adult retailer Cupid's. Winter, after all, isn't just about body-hiding, puffy down coats. It's the season (apparently) for lots of white, sheer, stretch material. The theme of the evening is Winter Wonderland, so put on your best monochrome naughty elf suit, and dance along to performing DJs Kalendr, Platinumb and g-Force. Dress code is encouraged, not required. Tickets available in advance and at the door. Doors open 8 p.m. FB.
9:30 p.m., Revolution. $8.
In the tradition of Fania, Nu Yorica and boogaloo, Grupo Fantasma blends traditional Latin genres like cumbia, merengue and salsa with deep, infectious funk. Ten members strong, the Austin, Texas, orchestra has become one of the most successful independent Latin groups around, largely on the strength of word of mouth. Its live shows are legendary. Austin Chronicle critic Jim Caliguiri has called it “the best band in Austin.” Several years back, the band found an unlikely champion in Prince, who hosted the band for a two-month stint at his Las Vegas nightclub, 3121. From there, Prince conscripted the group for his own personal backing band, using them at a Superbowl performance, award shows and for performances in London. Still, even with that exposure, Grupo Fantasma continues to do what it's always done: grind it out on the road. It comes to Little Rock for what Revolution is calling a “Feliz Navidad dance party.” LM.
9 p.m., Juanita's. $7.
Chase Pagan might be blowing up. So far this year, he's released a self-debuted EP, performed at SXSW, toured throughout the West and played a gig at Brooklyn's Union Pool, the hipster it-venue. Along the way, he's also managed to sign a record deal with Militia Group and to land on spin.com as the site's “artist of the day.” You'll excuse Pagan if he's not breaking out the champagne yet. Years back, the Wynne-native landed a deal on big-time producer Ross Robinson's Geffen imprint, recorded an album and did an advance tour behind it. But when Geffen didn't go for the album, Pagan found himself label-less with an album destined never to see the light of day. Now, seemingly on firmer footing, Pagan stops at Juanita's while as part of his tour in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. With a soaring vocal range that often stays in the high-register, the singer/songwriter has drawn comparisons to Jeff Buckley, Thom Yorke and Freddie Mercury (Pagan's cover of Queen's “Play the Game” a few years back was pitch perfect). A self-described mix of “soul, indie and pop,” Pagan's music often sounds vaudevillian, with great brushes of theatricality countered with more stripped-down, piano-driven melodies. The home team will be out in full. Look Mexico, At Our Finest and Cory Lamb support. LM.
7 p.m., Juanita's. $15 adv./$17 d.o.s.
In the early '90s, Blind Melon seemed poised to become the decade's next big rock band. With a sound that harkened back to the days of classic rock, its self-titled debut featured “No Rain,” a smash single and video that would propel the band on tour with the likes of Neil Young, Lenny Kravitz and the Rolling Stones and garner it a pair of Grammy nominations. But amid the rapid success, lead singer Shannon Hoon's drug abuse spiraled out of control and, in 1995, he died of a drug overdose. Eleven years later, the four surviving members of Blind Melon reunited with Amarillo, Texas, native Travis Warren, and they've been touring ever since. Warren's voice lands in that high register in which Moon worked, but there's certainly no attempt at mimicry. The dudes seem committed to moving forward. They're hoping to put a new album out in the near future. Cephus, a young rock band from Conway that comes highly recommended, opens the show. LM.
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