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The To-Do List, Sept. 16-19 

By Lindsey Millar and John Tarpley


THURSDAY 9/16


HARLEM
9:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $5.

It's something of a relief that, amidst the mostly scuzzed-out crop of young guitar rock bands, sloppily endearing garage rock still makes the kids dance. That's the promise of Harlem, an Austin three-piece signed to the venerable indie label Matador that comes to Little Rock for the first time ever on Thursday. The trio's formula includes guitars that shred but mostly jangle, a stripped-down beat that's hard not to bop along to, hooks a-plenty and lyrics that're occasionally deranged (but always framed in a warm shimmy). Harlem's latest album, "Hippies," opens like this: "Someday soon you'll be on fire/Ask me for a glass of water/I'll say noooooo/Let that shit burn/And you'll say/Please please please put me out/I promise not to do again/Whatever I did to you ..." Look for the crowd to be singing along, loudly, with big smiles. LM


AFIARA STRING QUARTET
7:30 p.m., St. Mark's Episcopal Church. $10-$25.

The Arkansas Chamber Society opens its 2010-2011 season with a decorated, young Canadian quartet. Formed in 2006, Afiara (a derivation of the Spanish fiar, which means "to trust," signifying "a basic element vital to the depth and joy of its music-making," according to the quartet's bio) has put together an impressive resume in short order. In 2008, it won the Concert Artists Guild International Competition in New York. A year later, it became the Juilliard School's Graduate Resident String Quartet. And earlier this year, Afiara was the first ensemble to receive the Young Canadian Musicians Award. The quartet's Little Rock program includes Aleksandra Vrebalov's Pannonia Boundless, Mendelssohn's String Quartet No. 4 in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2, and Beethoven's String Quartet in F Major. LM


MURDER BY DEATH / SAMANTHA CRAIN
8 p.m., Downtown Music. $14.

While "Murder by Death" may look uniform on an "upcoming bands" schedule for the local metal venue, the actual Murder by Death sound is a far cry from the shrieking and shredding that usually fills the downtown space. Instead, the orchestral five-piece is a provocative blend of Nick Cave's gothic south and Wolf Parade's dynamic indie rock muddled with a dash of Drive-In Truckers' taste for epic narratives. But what sets the band apart from its noir-fuelled peers is a reluctance to sound like a caricatured pastiche of the South. There's a healthy bit of tense, Cormac McCarthy-esque brooding flowing through the sound, desperate but controlled. Yup, constraint is the key that makes Murder by Death good music for bad moods. The band is joined by long-time Times favorite, Samantha Crain. For years, the pint-sized Oklahoman has churned out dusty, rollicking tunes with magical realism in one pocket and a copy of "Tobacco Road" in the other. Ninja Gun, a harmonic, heavy-roots trio from Georgia, open the night. JT

 


FRIDAY 9/17

 


ROOT CAFE'S DINNER AND A MOVIE
6:30 p.m., Christ Episcopal Church. $15. 

The Root Cafe, the long-in-development local and organic foods restaurant, still doesn't have a permanent space, but that hasn't stopped its creators from regularly hosting canning classes, dinners and parties. On Friday, Root offers a sit-down dinner paired with two short films by local filmmakers. In other cities that latter element might serve as code for "avoid at all cost," but Little Rock is home to two big-time filmmakers who're passionate about shorts: Graham Gordy and Ray McKinnon. Gordy, a bi-weekly Times columnist, wrote "War Eagle, Arkansas" and co-wrote "The Love Guru," has another feature film in pre-production, is writing the pilot for a series for AMC and collaborating with McKinnon on a script for a TV comedy set in Arkansas. His directorial debut, "Home Field Advantage," screens Friday. Co-written by Clay and Nick Rogers, the film centers on a drunken interruption of a wedding. McKinnon, known for his supporting roles in "Deadwood" and "The Blind Side" and his direction in "Chrystal" and "Randy and the Mob," won an Academy Award in 2001 for "The Accountant," a hilarious polemic against the enemies — both real and imagined — of the South and the small Southern farmer. It also shows on Friday. Gordy, McKinnon and Nick Rogers will all be on hand for a Q&A following the film. The menu, comprised of ingredients from local farms, includes smoked turkey mole chili, vegetarian white bean chili, an organic field green salad, homemade biscuits and cornbread and blackstrap gingerbread with whipped cream. RSVP to therootcafe@yahoo.com. LM


JAPANTHER
8 p.m., Low Key Arts, Hot Springs. $5.
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