"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $6.
Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw, the principals in the dreamy folk-pop band Cotton Jones, call Cumberland, Md., home. The vibe of that small, sleepy town — Nau described it to Rolling Stone as “just some hills and old schools and churches” — is hard to miss in the duo's folky pysch-pop. Like perhaps Cotton Jones' most obvious antecedent, Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra, Nau and McGraw build songs around harmony and vocal interplay — his deep, sometimes raspy, sometimes layered in reverb, hers bright, pixie-ish. But where Hazelwood's spare, wigged out arrangements can't help but evoke the desert, Nau and McGraw's have a more loping, gentle tenor, perhaps best understood in these parts as porch-sitting music. En route to Bonnaroo, the Suicide Squeeze act comes to Sticky Fingerz with Miniature Tigers supporting. Expect bright pop songs about Tchaikovsky, dinos and a cannibal queen. LM.
SMOKE UP JOHNNY
10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
Smoke Up Johnny played Young Avenue Deli in Memphis last Saturday and sent “some yuppies” scurrying for the door, according to SUJ front man Alan Disaster. “They left with disgusted looks on their face,” he said recently with pride. Don't expect a similar reaction from the White Water crowd. Friday will mark the first time Little Rock's favorite barroom rockers have played out since — well, so long that Disaster doesn't remember exactly — sometime when it was cold. Apparently, they don't multi-task well. They've spent the last months writing new material and recording demos for an album they hope to release later this year. Look for a set of mostly new songs. Also, look for a thick crowd. At its EP release show two weeks ago, the See drew heavier than any local band has in months. That shout-along three-piece opens with another tavern favorite, Jonathan Wilkins, a singer/songwriter whose reflective material leaps from aggro-folk to balls-to-the-wall rock when he teams with Will Boyd (drums) and Matt Floyd (bass), otherwise known as one of Little Rock's finest rhythm sections. LM.
7 p.m., Timberwood Amphitheater, Magic Springs and Crystal Falls. $35.99-$60.99.
Colbie Caillat (it rhymes with “ballet”) is part of that growing number of MySpace success stories. In 2006, she posted a handful of songs to the site, including the teeth-achingly sweet acoustic pop ditty “Bubbly.” A short time later, she amassed a staggering number of friends and Rolling Stone profiled her as one of the top unsigned acts online. Four months later, she racked up more than 14 million plays on her page. By then, labels had come calling, and by the summer of 2007, Universal Republic had released the light and bright “Coco.” You've probably heard some of it in a dentist's waiting room or in “Grey's Anatomy” montages. It's more of that breezy, reggae-ish beach music from good looking white people that Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz have been driving the kids wild with for the last several years. In other words, it should make for a fine comedown soundtrack to the end of a day at an amusement park. LM.
TAKING BACK SUNDAY
8:30 p.m., the Village. $26 adv., $30 d.o.s.
Melodic hardcore rockers Taking Back Sunday are on the road supporting their new release, “New Again.” It's the fourth full-length album from the Amityville, N.Y., five-piece. Promising “breakthroughs in their sound,” bassist Matt Rubano has said, “On this record, we challenged ourselves to write the best songs we possibly could while trying new things in an effort to push the envelope in terms of what it means to sound like Taking Back Sunday.” After their current road romp, the band is set to hit the road again this summer opening for Weezer and Blink 182. Florida's alt-rockers Anberlin and Long Island's post-hardcore outfit Envy on the Coast open the show. PP