Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
ADAM CARROLL AND OWEN TEMPLE
9:30 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
Here's an idea that's got legs. Singer/songwriters Adam Carroll, a San Marcos, Texas, native who's a tavern regular, and Owen Temple, from Austin, Texas, come to town to pay tribute to the songs of Gary Floater. You know, Gary Floater, that great country songwriter, long overlooked? The man behind songs like “A Hero Never Learns,” “Stand Back Boys I'm Fixing to Care” and “That's When the Eagle Screams”? Not ringing any bells? That might be because Floater's a fictional creation of Carroll and Temple aimed at poking fun at contemporary Nashville and all the cliches and jingoism and faux-folksiness it wallows in. It's sharp satire, with no hint of self-righteousness, but moreover, it's really, really funny. Temple, in a John Anderson-style voice of country gravitas, sings lyrics like “It's a sticky situation for ol' Jacques and Pierre/Maple syrup can't stop eagles when they're flying through the air/You can keep your ol' bacon, you can have your natural gas/Look out you old maple leaf, you can kiss this eagle's ass!” And everyone raises his beer high. LM
7 p.m., Walton Arts Center. $20-$58.
There's a disclaimer on the on the Walton Arts page about the show that reads, “Avenue Q has not been authorized or approved in any manner by The Jim Henson Company or Sesame Workshop, which have no responsibility for its content.” In other words, don't blame “Sesame Street” when you find it that its residents (or at least their alter-egos) have grown up to be profane, self-doubting post-collegiates, who've replaced spelling bees and number games with songs and stories about sex, unemployment and crystal meth. The musical debuted in 2003, won almost universal praise (“one of the funniest shows you're ever likely to see,” Entertainment Weekly gushed) and swept the 2004 Tony Awards, winning Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. Theater aficionados will remember “Q” for its Arkansas connection: Fayetteville native Jason Moore directed the musical's original Broadway run (he's currently helming “Shrek”). The traveling production sticks around in Fayetteville through Sunday, Feb. 22. LM.
JEFF DUNHAM "SPARK OF INSANITY"
7:30 p.m., Alltel Arena, $44.25.
I am a devout lover of comedians, especially those who've challenged the status quo and First Amendment, such as the late Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, George Carlin and Sam Kinison, coincidentally all deceased. I'm not, however, too keen on plagiarizing bastards such as Carlos Mencia, Dane Cook and Denis Leary. But I digress. What little I've seen of Jeff Dunham disappoints, mostly because of his dependence on gender and ethnic stereotypes delivered through puppets, and the terminal lack of originality coming from them. Walter is a retired, grumpy old man who hates his wife. Achmed the Dead Terrorist is a turban-wearing skeletal remain of a suicide bomber. Melvin the Superhero Guy uses his X-ray vision to see thorough bras, and Bubba J digs NASCAR and crappy beer. But what the hell do I know about funny? Larry the Cable Guy's making a fortune off shticks, so Dunham's show could draw a hefty crowd as well. So if you've got a sweet spot for a ventriloquist whose gimmick is to use puppets with least-common-denominator personalities, then Jeff Dunham's "Spark of Insanity" show may just suit your fancy. PP.
CEDRIC BURNSIDE AND LIGHTNIN' MALCOLM
9:30 p.m., White Water Tavern. $10.
Last November this North Mississippi duo played the best show I saw last year to only a couple a dozen people at White Water. Everyone I knew from that night has been downright evangelical about the duo since. Expect a full crowd Friday. The genius of the Hill Country blues, from which this pair's sound originates (Cedric is R.L. Burnside's grandson), lies in its complete devotion to rhythm. That means that Malcolm, on guitar and vocals, and Burnside, on drums and vocals, spend most of their time preserving a groove that compels everyone to stand up and stomp. When Malcolm, a doughy white boy with a John Daly starter mullet, solos or hits on a sweet guitar harmony, he has trouble suppressing a toothy smile. Burnside, meanwhile uses his stripped down kit like an ADD kid letting out aggression. He's got a polyrhythmic command that's bound to have folks bugging their eyes all night. Plus, both sing, often in harmony, in natural, deep blues voices. Go to this show. LM.
Good analysis, something completely lacking from the daily newspaper's sports reporters/columnists.
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