Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
Just when we've finally got all the songs of “A Thousand Ships” memorized, the Boondogs are back with new material. Lead singers (and husband and wife) Jason Weinheimer and Indy Grotto have spent the last couple of months writing new songs, and on Thursday, they'll essentially teach the rest of the band new songs onstage. With another group, that might make for a laborious evening, but the Boondogs' supporting cast — Charles Wyrick, Chris Michaels, Isaac Alexander, Dylan Turner — are all seasoned players, gifted at improvisation. Look for new low-watt pop gems about love and loss. Dreamy alt-pop band Meryll opens. How's this for indie cred? They're from Austin and have a U.S. and Japanese record label.
7 p.m., Alltel Arena. $17.75-$87.75.
Even in this age of Lebrons and Kobes and And1 streetballers with their 720s and off-the-head alley-oops, the Harlem Globetrotters could never be called passe. Sure, they're still goofy (read: family friendly); they've still got names like “Moo Moo” and “Sweet Pea,” and I'm sure they're still doing granny-shot tricks. But the 'Trotters still reign supreme at cool, effortless basketball acrobatics. They knee dribble, blind-fold dunk, shoot hook-shots from half-court, do between-the-legs alley-oops — all the moves you mastered in your room on your Nerf goal long ago. For fans of sportsmanship, you're not likely to find another team so apt at dunking on people that'll smile through it all. Plus, “Sweet Georgia Brown” might be the best theme song ever. Whistle away. Bonus Harlem Globetrotters tidbit: Top three most unlikely honorary Globetrotters — Bob Hope, Henry Kissinger and Pope John Paul II.
10 p.m., Juanita's. $10 adv./$15 d.o.s.
Local promotional company Upscale Underground picks up in 2008 what it began late last year: urbane, soul-oriented line-ups of ahead-of-the-curve local and national artists. Dwele, a Grammy-nominated crooner who appears on Kanye West's latest single, “Flashing Lights,” hosts Friday's “Soul'd Out” concert. He's likely to perform a song or two, but three local groups will get more stage time. A new four-piece R&B act, Smooth September, features three vocalists: Desmond and Maya Ellington and Delya Chandler. Rodney Block is surely Little Rock's most accomplished brass man. The trumpeter (multi-instrumentalist, really) leads his group the Real Music Lovers in a kind of jazz that embraces hip-hop, bebop, funk, soul and gospel. One Night Stand needs to change its name. The live hip-hop band came together on a whim to support local rapper Epiphany early last year, and they've stuck around for more than a dozen gigs, steadily emerging as one of our most dynamic local live acts. The concert is open to ages 18 and up.
MICHAEL FELDMAN'S ‘WHAD'YA KNOW'
9:30 a.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $25-$45.
n Quiz-master Michael Feldman brings his hit radio comedy “Whad'Ya Know?” to Little Rock Saturday morning. Broadcast live for two hours to nearly 1.5 million listeners on Public Radio International (heard locally on KUAR-FM 89), the show features interviews with audience members and local celebrities (at press time only Heifer International's Ray White was confirmed); the infamous “Whad'Ya Know?” quiz and a segment called “All the News that Isn't,” a list of fake headlines inspired by real headlines that's sure to take an Arkansas focus. Along with the show's jazz trio, impressive local bluegrass act Runaway Planet will guest.
TRINA / PLIES
8 p.m., Statehouse Convention Center, Governor's Hall. $22.
n You couldn't say that she was the first, but perhaps more than anyone before her, Trina has made her name by asserting female sexuality in rap. Self-dubbed “Da Baddest Bitch,” the Miami rapper jumped into the spotlight with a guest turn on a single by Trick Daddy, where she bragged, in detailed and unprintably explicit terms, about her willingness to experiment. Follow-up singles include “Pull Over” (“That ass too fat,” goes the chorus), “No Panties” and, most recently, “Look Back at Me,” where Trina brags that her ass is “so big, like the sun.” If not for the summer hit “Shawty” featuring T-Pain, Florida rapper Plies might be best known for a 2006 performance at a Gainesville nightclub, where an argument spiraled out of control and two members of his entourage were convicted of attempted murder for shooting into the crowd. He comes to town in support of his debut album, “The Real Testament.” Tickets are available at Uncle T's and Ugly Mike's Records in Little Rock, Phaz I in North Little Rock and Dime One and the Record Rack in Pine Bluff.
7:30 p.m., Alltel Arena. $54.50-$64.50.
Nobody draws better in Central Arkansas than George Strait. On Saturday, the country legend will try to best the Alltel attendance record he set last year (18,004). For 25 years, Strait has been one of country music's sturdiest stars. With Marlboro Man looks, a knack for choosing material and an effortless ability to make traditional country sound fresh, Strait comes to town touring behind “It Just Comes Natural,” his latest Grammy-nominated album. With more than 30 records and 400-plus songs, Strait has more albums certified gold and platinum in the U.S. than anyone but Elvis and the Beatles. He's a prime example of someone in pop music who has found his niche and is content to stay true to it until the cows come home. His fans certainly seem willing to stick with him. Better buy your tickets early.
9:30 p.m., Juanita's. $6.
At the George Strait after-party, rising star Lee Brice walks the line between traditional honky-tonk and rock 'n' roll. If Hank Williams and John Mayer had a love child (yikes!), it would be a fair approximation of his music, Brice says. A South Carolina native who attended Clemson on a football scholarship (an arm injury derailed his career), Brice eventually made his way to Nashville, where he landed a record contract with Curb. Last year, he released his debut album, “Picture Me,” which featured the single “She Ain't Right.” The singer's career got another bump later in 2007, when Garth Brooks choose Brice's song “More Than a Memory” as one of the four new songs he recorded for his “Ultimate Hits” collection. The concert is open to ages 18 and up.
WWE SMACKDOWN/ ECW LIVE
7 p.m., Alltel Arena. $21.75-$61.75.
Your ability to name wrestlers might end with Junkyard Dog, but thousands — millions even — still passionately follow the “sport.” On Sunday, Central Arkansas fans will get a chance to catch all the pile-driving, DDTing glory of pro wrestling in real life. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the monolith of pro wrestling, presents its signature Smackdown brand (last year, Merriam-Webster's added the word to its dictionary). Extreme Championship Wrestling, a league owned by WWE, also hosts a match. Known for no-holds-barred showdowns like “Bring Your Own Weapons Night” and “Flaming Tables Matches,” the ECW features a championship match between CM Punk and John Morrison. Also on the card: The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, Kane, Matt Hardy, Finlay, MVP, Tommy Dreamer and Torrie Wilson.
THICK SYRUP PRESENTS
9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $3.
Theme nights are all the rage these days. The Village has lately gotten acronym happy — M.I.L.F. (music is live Fridays), S.L.A.M. (Saturday live Arkansas metal). Revolution has its regular Zodiac electronic music series and a monthly “New Music Test.” Cheap beer, no cover and local music continue to remain staples at White Water on Tuesday nights. Now, we can add Thick Syrup Mondays to the mix. Starting on the 14th, Thick Syrup Records head honcho Travis McElroy will be booking and hosting local and touring acts. He's kicking off the series with three local favorites. David Slade and Matt Quinn represent for the earnest, feverish rock of the American Princes. After taking the latter half of last year off, the fiery post-punk group the Moving Front is back performing new material. Smoke Up Johnny, who released their debut on McElroy's Thick Syrup label, headline with pop-punk songs about late-night kinds of things.
THE TEN TENORS
7:30 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $10-$40.
International phenomenon the Ten Tenors take a populist approach to opera. (One of the group's live standbys is a song called “Opera Without the Boring Bits.”) Formed in Australia in 1995, the 10-man act rose to prominence with a performance at the 2002 Eurovision (think “American Idol” for the whole of Europe). Since then, the tenors have wowed audiences across the world with operatic renditions of music by Queen, the Bee Gees and ABBA; traditional Australian tunes and classical material. The Ten Tenors will perform four shows: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and 1 p.m. Thursday.
Building a lead so rapidly and holding it in games, even professional football, is difficult…