Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
7:30 p.m.,Verizon Arena. $20-$76.75
Keith Urban's got a lot of things going for him. He's Australia's biggest musical export since, I don't know, INXS? The Wiggles? He's Nicole Kidman's main squeeze, and a proud parent, with her, of a 1-year-old. And earlier this year, for the first time in his career, one of his albums topped the Billboard 200. That album, “Defying Gravity,” which blends country-pop and rock and redemptive themes, is bound to inspire a stuffed crowd ready to get uplifted. Urban's multi-instrumental chops and big, smooth voice should deliver. Ditto for the Atlanta duo Sugarland, who marry country, rock and sharp songwriting in the opening spot.
SKAGGS AND DRAGS
8 p.m., UBU. $5.
It's an appropriate fund-raiser for a neighborhood whose chosen acronym shares the name of a hallucinogenic drug in “Brave New World.” To raise money for its annual Mardi Gras parade, SoMa (that's Southside Main Street) has recruited a host of neighborhood celebrities to strut their stuff in drag. Maybe you know some of them: Danny Sullivan of the Quapaw Home and Garden Club; Lee Fleming, Little Rock emergency room doctor; Dana Minton, treasurer of SoMa; Maggie Henson, owner of Midtown Billiards; Jim King, referee extraordinaire of the Roller Derby Girls; Stephanie Richards, the reigning Miss Gay Arkansas; Chlamydia Champagne, neighborhood celebrity; Linda Tanner, former Miss Legs Arkansas, and Gerald Turner, of Little Rock Housing Authority. UBU is located at 823 Capitol Ave.
7 p.m. and 9 p.m., Riverdale. Donations.
If you miss one of these screenings for “Slumberland,” the breakout Arkansas film at this year's Little Rock Film Festival, you've probably missed the boat. The filmmakers likely won't screen it again in theaters. Another incentive: The screenings are free, though donations are encouraged — there's another film to make. See “Slumberland” and you might be inspired to make your own flick. The collaborators behind the film came to it without what you might think of as prerequisites — skill, experience, money. Some of that lack, as director John Schafer has acknowledged, shows through. There's a fair amount of shaky camera work and several stunted or overlong scenes. And the ultra-lo-fi aesthetic might be jarring to some. But the essentials are there in this story of drifting 20somethings struggling to relate. At the center, playing slightly fictionalized versions of themselves, are Zach (Zach Turner) and Rhett (Rhett Brinkley). Somehow, the pair — a local lothario and ne'er do well and a hapless romantic, respectively — are best friends. Comedy ensues.
JOHN PAUL KEITH AND THE ONE FOUR FIVES
10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
“The human heartbeat is not regular. It's not perfect metronome time and music shouldn't be either,” John Paul Keith said recently in a Knoxville newspaper. “Memphis' garage/punk scene wants to destroy that stuff, and I'm more than happy to participate.” Yeah, buddy. Keith's only been a Memphian for a handful of years — before, he'd kicked around Knoxville and Nashville, playing with, among others, the V-Roys and Ryan Adams and the Pink Hearts — but he's more than earned his Bluff City merit badge. There are few as active in the scene. You might find him working with scary-clown-faced rocker Harlan T. Bobo one night, Jim Dickinson's garage rock project Snake Eyes another and with Jack Oblivian and the Tearjerkers still another. Lately, though, Keith's been spending most of his time out in front of the mic, leading John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives, a throwback garage band that sounds like a '50s version of the Replacements. On Friday, the band celebrates the release of a limited edition 7-inch on Last Chance Records (it's the first in a planned series). Memphis legend Jack Oblivian opens, in what'll serve as a warm-up gig, before Oblivian and JPK and the One Four Fives head out on tour with Lucero.
THE LEE BOYS
Post-Travs game, Dickey-Stephens Park. $6-$10 park admission.
The Travs saved the best for last in its Corona/Dos Equis Concert Series. Immediately following Saturday's game, all ticket holders will be treated to a concert by the Lee Boys, a group whose sacred steel rave-ups have made it a favorite in the jam band scene. The six-piece represents the fourth generation of a strange strain of gospel that came out of the House of God Church in southern Florida in the 1930s. It borrows equally from the Hawaiian steel guitar tradition, the driving beat of the blues and the fervor of gospel. It's music the Lee Boys — that's Alvin Lee on guitar, Derek Lee and Keith Lee (vocals) and their nephews Roosevelt “The Doctor” Collier on pedal steel, Earl Walker on drums and Alvin Gordy on bass — learned from family. Uncles, brothers, grandfathers. In fact, the Lees grew up under the guidance of their preaching and steel-guitar-playing grandfather, Rev. Robert E. Lee. He taught them it was music to move your feet to, and you better believe the Lee Boys will be doing some teaching of their own on Saturday, too.
9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $12.
It's a rare treat for alt-country fans. Slobberbone, the best terribly named band Texas ever birthed, has reunited for a seven-date mini-reunion tour, and, thanks to the tireless efforts of Last Chance Records' Travis Hill and the fact that Kevin Kerby makes Little Rock his home, White Water rates a stop-over. Led by Brent Best (who grew up playing music with Kerby in Texas) and named for a dog's chew toy, Slobberbone entered the scene in 1992 with a sound Best has always maintained is “rock, pure and simple.” Some might disagree. In the decade before it splintered apart, the band released four albums that trade on heartbreak, hangovers and stylistic variety. An acoustic ballad, ornamented with fiddle and mandolin, here; a full-throated cowpunk'd rallying cry there. Expect the crowd to know the words to those and everything in between. Tickets were still available at press time via the tavern and lastchancemusic.com, but White Water will declare a sell-out once it sells 150. Best act fast. Appropriately, Kevin Kerby and Battery open. Look out for trash talking.
9 p.m., Vino's.
It's safe to say that El Paso's reputation for birthing kickass, spazzed-out guitar and prog rock bands like, say, At the Drive-In and the Mars Volta, wouldn't exist if not for the Rodriguez-Lopez clan. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is, of course, a modern guitar god and one of the main creative forces behind At the Drive-In, the Mars Volta and number of experimental side projects. Omar's younger brothers, bassist Marfred and keyboardist Marcel (who also serves as the Mars Volta's percussionist), make up half of Zechs Marquise, an experimental instrumental quartet that's been likened to “Santana sitting in with Can.” So, sure, it's jazzy prog rock built around epic guitar riffs and organ drones, but, at least based on what's available to stream online, it's far less noodle-y and annoying than you'd imagine. Central Arkansas's finest young rock act, the See, delivers anthems like no one else around.
MULBERRY MOUNTAIN HARVEST MUSIC FESTIVAL
3:30 p.m., Mulberry Mountain (outside of Ozark). $59-$129.
The crowds shouldn't reach Wakarusa heights, but look for at least several thousand — certainly what the folks in Ozark would consider the hordes — to come streaming in from all across the region for music, camping and general outdoor revelry. Jam fans might disagree, but to these ears, the Harvest Music Fest line-up compares pretty favorably to what Wakarusa brought back in June. To wit, country-rock pioneers the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band share the headlining spot with widely beloved modern folk act the Avett Brothers on Friday. Swing-era revivalists the Squirrel Nut Zippers play two two-hour sets throughout the weekend, and just as the Hackensaw Boys, a zany, tradition-minded eight-piece, finishes its set on Saturday, Springfield, Mo.'s Ozark Mountain Daredevils serves up classic country-rock songs you know like “Jackie Blue.” Also, jam fans are bound to be chomping at the bit to hear big name acts like Umphrey's McGee and Railroad Earth. On Wednesday and Thursday, the names are slightly smaller (the main stage doesn't open until Friday), but there are still a lot of worthy acts. Pay special attention, on Thursday, to the Travelin' McCourys and the Lee Boys. The former is an offshoot of the legendary Del McCoury bluegrass band and the later, you know from a previous To-Do, is a preeminent sacred steel band. In the ultimate jam-fan wet dream, they're performing together! For a complete line-up and schedule, go to mulberrymountainmusic.com.
Building a lead so rapidly and holding it in games, even professional football, is difficult…