To-do list, Jan. 17 



7 p.m., Philander Smith College. Free.

Depending on where you sit, Al Sharpton might be the elder statesman of Black America or a reckless demagogue. However you feel about Sharpton, the man has lived an interesting life. Born in Brooklyn, Sharpton preached his first sermon at age 4 and, as a child preacher, toured with Mahalia Jackson. Sharpton moved from matters of the soul to “Soul Brother Number One” when in 1971 he became James Brown's tour manager. (He met his first wife, who was then a back-up singer, on tour.) The same year, Sharpton founded the National Youth Movement to raise resources for impoverished young folks. By the 1980s, the reverend had begun leading frequent protests in response to what he deemed racial injustice. In 1991, Sharpton founded his National Action Network. In 2004, he was the most charismatic candidate in the presidential election. He didn't make it far. Now, he comes to town as part of Philander Smith's excellent lecture series “Bless the Mic” to talk about his interesting life and, undoubtedly, to make fiery proclamations about something.


1 p.m. and 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, as well as traditional Australian tunes and classical material.


8 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $10.

Will Hoge usually plays more than 200 dates a year. For the last several years, Little Rock and Sticky Fingerz have been lucky enough to get him just about quarterly. On Thursday, Harp magazine presents a co-headlining tour featuring Hoge and former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell. Born in the Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tenn., Hoge borrows the countrified barroom rock of the region and marries it with blue-eyed soul. His latest album, “Draw the Curtains,” recalls the Black Crowes, Joe Cocker and even Otis Redding in spots. After three albums with the Drive-By Truckers, promising singer/songwriter Isbell struck out on his own a year ago. Since then, he's released a solo album and toured relentlessly. That debut, “Sirens of the Ditch,” won Isbell a heap of critical acclaim and spots on several year-end top-10 lists. Full of literate, plainspoken lyrics, the album is less a stylistic departure from the churning Southern rock of the DBTs than a record that takes that base and builds, adding flourishes of folk-pop, punk and piano-driven balladry.



11 a.m., Oaklawn. $2.

The ground, frozen overnight, will be crunchy. If the forecast holds up, by the first post time, at 1 p.m., the sun will be shining and the wind will be brisk. The horses are bound to be frisky. How can you not call in sick to work? It's opening day! As tradition dictates, thick, mouth-watering corned beef sandwiches go for throwback prices — 50 cents — while you'll be able to get a Coke for a measly dime. Sadly, beer prices don't get thrown-back. Calvin Borel, the 2007 Kentucky Derby winning jockey, will head the jockey colony. If you win, stick around. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on Monday, is Smarty Jones bobble horse day.



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