Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries
AMY GARLAND BAND
10 p.m., White Water Tavern.
It's been a few years since Little Rock could count on hearing Amy Garland's take on soulful Americana on a semi-regular basis. Once a reliable staple of local stages, Garland, one of the best songcrafters in town, has recently busied herself with motherhood, not to mention her weekly gig spinning country and folk every Friday night at 5 p.m. on her KABF radio show, "Backroads." Sure, maybe absence does make the heart a little fonder, but after a quick spin of her 2004 long-player "Angora," it became apparent that it really has been entirely too long since we've seen her do her thing. Even better, that thing will be done with help from dang near every current or former member of Arkansas's best country swing band, The Salty Dogs, and Jeff Coleman, of "and the Feeders" local renown.
6 p.m., Wildwood Park for the Arts. $5-$10.
Wildwood is laid out on a West Little Rock spread that's pretty gorgeous to begin with. But during its annual "Lanterns!" festival, which celebrates the first full moon of the lunar year, the park turns into an illuminated starscape with thousands of paper lanterns illuminating walking trails, ponds and lines of trees. Inside the park, you'll find a mini-Epcot with visitors strolling to Morocco for kabobs and fortune tellers, to Venice for cognac at Carnivale to Asia for crafts and demos from the Arkansas Taekwondo Association, to Elizabethan England for ale and theater from Arkansas Shakespeare Theater, to Russia for music from members of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and — this is really cool — to the Moon for riddles and moon pies. Heck, Wildwood even highlights the old West with campfires and music from ex-Damn Bullet Paul Morphis. Gates open at 6 p.m. through Sunday.
MR. BROWN & CORA
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $34.50-$41.80.
I'm not the only one who doesn't get it. For years, Tyler Perry's "Browns"-centric movies, plays and sitcoms have been a target of scorn for a nation full of pasty-white critics. What I've seen of "Meet the Browns" has been somewhere between wholesome, silly and hypnotically cheesy. But with every release, the hugely successful Tyler Perry aims for (and gets) a well defined demographic that, let's face it, doesn't include this here Ritz cracker. Therefore, I'm really in no spot to dismiss him. So what of Mr. Brown and Cora? The real-life couple of David and Tamela Mann play the pair, a religious father and daughter on "Meet the Browns," the enormously popular TBS soap-sitcom. The billing promises "100% clean comedy" from Mr. Brown; the commercial promises some pretty amazing gospel singing from Cora. If you're into the Browns, you're probably already as good as there.
6 p.m., Grand Ballroom, Peabody Hotel. $32-$42.
I'm not the only one who doesn't get it. For years, the Chippendales' bulge-centric pasties, dances and posters have been a target of scorn for a nation full of loose-stomached dudes. What I've seen of Chippendales has been somewhere between ridiculous, over-the-top and hypnotically grody. But with every thrust, the Chippendales aim for (and get) a well defined demographic that, let's face it, doesn't include this red-blooded American male. Therefore, I'm really in no spot to dismiss them. So what of Chippendales? The real-life crew of hard-bodied lady-killers has air-humped its way across the globe, titillating thousands of women a year. The press release promises a "girls night out" ("girls-only" night out, that is) with special guest Matt Joyce opening the night with his Elvis tribute. The accompanying photo promises oiled chests, Diesel jeans and dudes who can't figure out how to work the buttons on their shirt. If you're into Chippendales, you're probably as good as there. If you're not making the Chippendales or Friday night's "Meet the Browns" show, you'll probably spend your weekend doing what the rest of us white dudes in Little Rock will be doing: goofing out over that new Radiohead album.
PBR TOURING PRO DIVISION
7:30 p.m., Verizon Arena. $12-$52.
Confession: Even though I really enjoy these things and have met my lifetime rodeo-going quota years ago, the stuff I actually know about the original extreme sport couldn't fill up the back of a playing card. Eight seconds, "8 Seconds," 100 points from four judges, Brazilians, something about possibly tying rope around the bull's, ahem, "whisker biscuits." I do know it's dangerous: In high school, my life-long best friend entered an amateur night, was launched in the air immediately out of the gate and got stomped so hard on the chest that he doesn't have peripheral vision anymore. (True story.) It's not called "The Toughest Sport on Earth" for nothing. It's a sport where the bulls are as famous as the folks crazy enough to ride them. Case in point, Bushwacker, the rising star of the ranch with an average buck-off time of 2.8 seconds and a perfect, 100 percent buck-off record. Saturday showcases some of the best up-and-coming bulls and riders vying for big money prizes and a chance to quality for the BFTS (Build Ford Tough) World Finals. Gentlemen, bulls, gird your loins.
SIR THREADIUS MONGUS
8:30 p.m., The Afterthought. $7.
Although its home to the state's jazz hall of fame, Tulsa, Okla., seems to be an unlikely hotbed for young jazz musicians. Likewise, Sir Threadius Mongus' 2006 album "This is Threadius Mongus" was an unlikely choice for the distinction of the best CD to come across my desk in months. Imagine living in an apartment between two people with big stereos, one side playing Lena Horne and the other blasting "Trout Mask Replica" by Captain Beefheart. It's an ambitious idea for the young "hot club" jazz ensemble, but what's really thrilling is the execution, precise, shambled and acrobatic all at once. But difficult listening it's not. Sir Threadius Mongus offers the accessibility of mom-jazz like, say, Diana Krall, with the free-jazz spirit of fellow Oklahoman and Blue Note Records icon Don Cherry. Fronted by vocal wunderkind Annie Ellicott and guitarist (and Little Rock native) Jeff Davis, the six-piece is a shocker live, as well. At risk of drowning them with praise, I'll simply say this show is my big To-Do pick for the week.
TAPES 'N TAPES
9 p.m., Stickyz. $12 adv., $14 d.o.s.
This Minnesota indie-rock outfit was one of the first to profit from the tastemaker blog-boom of the early '00s. With the release of their first album, "The Loon," in 2004, the promising college kids of Tapes 'n Tapes soon found themselves spreading their jittery, urgent guitar rock everywhere from college radio to the "Late Show with David Letterman" stage. Like nearly every band with access to an amp and a garage, Tapes 'n Tapes draws from the sounds and rhythms of demigods Pavement (the more melodic moments) and Pixies (the parts without gross sex), all the while adding its own synth 'n' tambourine color to that old, familiar mix. Seven years later, the "next big thing" in indie didn't quite end up in the all-star league, but the band remains big men in the majors. The band's third and latest album, "Outside," is a matured, textured hour of signature hooks and shaky energy. Consider Tapes 'n Tapes a mainstay for future classic indie rock radio's drive time hour. The night opens with stomps, bangs and lo-fi falsetto crooning from the great NYC (by way of Tacoma) bedroom popper Oberhofer.