Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.
8:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $20.
Just weeks before he embarks on the Mayercraft Carrier II cruise (that'd be John Mayer's concert cruise from L.A. to Cabo), Martin Sexton comes to town for an intimate solo gig. In more than a decade of touring and releasing albums, the Boston-born singer/songwriter's carved out an impressive resume. He won the National Academy of Songwriters' Artist of the Year Award. He's recorded for Atlantic and on his own. His song “Diner” recently got prominent time on “Scrubs,” and two years ago, another song, “Happy,” landed on number one in the adult alternative charts. Perhaps most impressively, lover of fine music and avid concertgoer John Mayer calls him “the best live performer I've ever seen.” Should be packed. LM.
9 p.m., White Water Tavern.
Back in 2001, when he was still writing his own articles, Rick Bragg joked in the New York Times that T-Model Ford “did not sell his soul, as legend says Robert Johnson did, to master the blues. The Devil, people say, would run from Mr. Ford.” That article, written when Ford was 79, mourned the last days of the Delta bluesmen. Eight years later, Ford's still kickin'; in fact, in a recently recorded video of a radio session, he looks downright spry. I don't know what happened to Spam, the bluesman's longtime drummer, who favored nothing more than a snare and a bass drum; Ford comes to White Water with Seattle-based blues-rockers Gravelroad backing him. By the sound of live sessions on the band's website, they're keeping it spare enough. That's what fans of Ford's live shows and four albums with Fat Possum expect — blues that's raw, rhythmic and full of lyrics traditional and bizarre (for a taste of the latter, stream my favorite “Chicken Head Man” on Rock Candy). Jim Mize opens. LM.
SMOKE ON THE
WATER BBQ FEST
5 p.m., Clinton Presidential Center. Free.
Give it up to the Clinton Library for opening itself up to the people. First the motorcycle show, now a salute to something else all red-blooded Arkansans hold on high — sweet, delicious barbecue. This two-day, $50,000-purse event, billed as one of the richest sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, is sure to bring in the grillers in droves. But also regular folks, like me, who just want to nose through all that sizzling and smoking and maybe beg off a taste or two. Then, there's those who'll be excited about cover band Crisis! (6 p.m.), Southern arena rockers .38 Special (7 p.m.) on Friday, and hillbilly family band Big Smith (2:30 p.m.), party band Tragikly White (5:35 p.m.) and Bon Jovi tribute act Bad Medicine (7:30 p.m.) on Saturday. The gates open at noon on Saturday. LM
HANK III AND
THE DAMN BAND
7 p.m., Downtown Music, $25.
Here's a bill you'll probably never have the opportunity to experience again. Ever. Hank III, famed son of Hank Williams Jr., returns to Little Rock to cap off Downtown Music's seven-year “I Can't Believe We're Not In Jail Yet” celebration with the Damn Band, a rotating side project called Assjack and local rockers Runaway Planet, on what appears to be the final night of his current tour. From the aptly-titled “Smoke and Wine,” here's a taste of what the mood should be come Friday: “I'm drinking, I'm drugging, I'm having lots of fun, I always carry ‘round my loaded side gun. If I think I'm gonna have a bad time, I got a little bit of smoke and a whole lotta wine.” Need I say more? PP
8 p.m., the Rep. $20-$35.
On Friday, the Rep revives what director Nicole Capri calls “one of the theater's most popular plays ever” and “definitely the most requested.” It'll be the fourth time the Rep has performed Larry Shue's comedy about an Englishman, Charlie Baker, who is so painfully shy and nervous that his friend, Froggy LeSueur, tells everyone at the fishing lodge in Georgia, where the pair are staying, that Charlie is a foreigner who can't speak or understand English. “It's not simply a farce,” Paul Tigue, who plays Charlie, says. “The over-the-top physical comedy isn't something you're bombarded with the whole time,” Capri adds. “There's smart comedy and very laugh-out-loud comedy as well as the physical comedy.” The family-friendly show runs through March 29. LM.
‘A LITTLE LIGHT MUSIC'
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $17-$66.
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra teams with the Rep to present a “semi-staged” version of this Tony Award-winning Stephen Sondheim musical. Set near the turn of the 20th century in Sweden, the story delves into the romantic lives of several couples over the course of one summer weekend. For those dancing along in their seats, all of the music, including, of course, the production's signature song, “Send in the Clowns,” is scored in waltz time (three-quarter). The ASO reprises the musical on Saturday, same time, same price. LM.
9 p.m., Vino's. $5.
The formula remains the same for this new monthly hip-hop party. Local jacks-of-all-trades the 4X4 Crew host and celebrate the release of their long-in-the-making full-length debut, “4 Brothers” (it's $5). DJs Fatality and Mr. Deetrix keep the crowd moving all night long with throwback and contemporary jams. And then, as usual, there's live talent. This time, Bobby (A.K.A. Mr. Morbid) shares the bill with the buzzy Dallas trio Dem Southernfolkz, who blend live instrumentation — shades of gospel and soul — with hip-hop with a decidedly positive message. It'll be a homecoming for rapper Richard “Kinfolk Jack” Jackson, born and raised here in Little Rock. As usual, all ages are welcome. LM.
9:30 p.m. Downtown Music. $5.
When Cool Shoes started bringing in the throngs, organizers decided to spin off an all-ages version. Some grown folks turn their noses up at mixing with teeny-boppers, but promoter TJ Deeter says the kids' enthusiasm for dancing is like nothing he's ever seen. They'll be especially keyed up on Saturday, when Culture Prophet, a live electro-disco band from South Carolina, returns to Little Rock. The band brings together keyboards, a DJ and a live drummer. DJ IKE spins, too. Should be sweaty fun. LM.
10 p.m., Sticky Fingerz, $5.
The name kills me. Days before the first of eight shows in three days at Austin's South By Southwest Music Festival, Atlanta's big-beat, Southern, psychedelic garage rockers Gringo Star visit our city on the third date of a 30-stop tour. Wears me out just contemplating. Hitting the road in support of its debut album, “All Y'all,” the four-piece is sure to deliver a backyard party atmosphere to an indoor stage. The album's title track, which brings to mind a T-Rex-Kinks fusion, with melodic emphasis on Kinks and the omnipresent, subtle tambourine shakes we T-Rex fans love and cherish. The video makes me want to be there, mixing it up with neighborhood party people, complete with sombrero-wearing mariachi singers riding Segways. This show is bound to be festive. Local pop band Big Boots opens. PP
THE HONORARY TITLE
8:30 p.m., Revolution. $8 adv., $10 d.o.s.
These indie rockers from Brooklyn are on to something. Soulful, heartfelt lyrics combined with catchy, up-tempo melodic grooves and the low, sultry pipes of lead singer Jarrod Gorbel don't really call to mind anything else. Which is a good thing. With two albums under its belt, “Anything Else But the Truth” from 2004 and “Scream and Light Up the Sky” from 2007, the Honorary Title delve into subject matter ranging from emotional imbalances to childhood relocations, minus the lyrical fluff. As for trivia, two “Lost” actors are known fans, and the song “Accident Prone” is featured in the 2007 comedy film “Good Luck Chuck.” Their Little Rock stop will be a rare acoustic performance, with Grand Serenade and soulful singer Paul Sammons opening the all-ages show. PP
VALLEY OF THE VAPORS
9 p.m., Downtown Hot Springs. $5-$7.
The biggest independent music festival in the state kicks off its fourth year in high style. At 6 p.m., festival organizers will participate in Hot Springs' annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade. Cliff from “Cheers” is the celebrity marshal. At 9 p.m. at Maxine's, the kings of polka-ized pop-rock Brave Combo kick off the festival with Hot Springs' favorites the Itinerant Locals ($5 and only open to those 21 and older). Meanwhile, at the Low Key Arts Building, the insane Tel Aviv-based three-piece Monotonix kicks out the jams with experimental Canadian four-piece Aids Wolf, NYC punks Fiasco and the experimental Philly act U.S. Girls ($7 and open to all ages). Look for a fuller preview of the festival next week and more info on Rock Candy. LM.
9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $10.
It's a homecoming show for Christian Rudder, a Little Rock native who's built up a fairly amazing resume since going off to school at Harvard. During and after college, he served as the editorial director for TheSpark.com, where he designed and often participated in hilarious, web-famous science gags like the Stinky Feet Project and Date My Sister. After TheSpark.com sold to Barnes and Noble, Rudder and the founders of TheSpark.com developed OKCupid.com, which has become one of the Internet's largest dating services. Meanwhile, Rudder starred in one of the first so-called “mumblecore” films, Andrew Bujalski's “Funny Ha Ha,” and formed Bishop Allen with his Harvard classmate Justin Rice. Since 2003, the band's made incremental gains in the indie world and beyond, from self-releasing and self-promoting its first album (to a lot of buzz), to releasing an EP a month in 2006, to landing one of its songs featured prominently in “Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.” Bishop Allen, which plays catchy, stripped-down pop-rock, comes to town in support of its just released new album, “Grrr…” LM.
8 p.m., Clear Channel Metroplex, $25 adv., $29 d.o.s.
How's this for chutzpah (or…)? Mudvayne has a song called “Nothing to Gein,” a lullaby told from the point of view of Wisconsin murderous necrophiliac Ed Gein, who made lampshades from his victims' skin. Of the metal's ever-evolving number of sub-categories, the band could fall under at least four: heavy, alternative, nu- and prog-. Hailing from Peoria, Ill., they've been perforating eardrums with four studio albums, two compilations and two DVDs since emerging onto the scene nearly 13 years ago. In 2006, the group earned a Best Metal Performance Grammy nomination in 2006 for the “Determined” single from the “Lost and Found” album, and it's racked up four RIAA gold certifications and clocked about 3 million in album sales in the U.S. alone. Expect a rowdy crowd at this all-ages show. PP