Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
NATIONAL BLACK STORYTELLING FESTIVAL
7 p.m., Peabody Hotel. $15-$300.
“Our Soul Looks Back: Stories of How We Got Over!” is the theme of 27th annual National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference, which runs for four days in Little Rock beginning on Thursday. Big name storytellers like Queen Nur (Willingboro, N.J.), and Mitch “Gran'daddy Junebug” Capel (Spring Lake, N.C.) will feature along with a liar's contest and an awards gala. See the full schedule at NABSINC.org. Sessions and panels are open to the public at al a carte prices. LM.
8 p.m., Verizon Arena. $31.75- $101.75.
According to the numbers, Dane Cook stands at the zenith of the modern comedy mountain. His 2005 album “Retaliation” went double platinum, and he became the second comic to sell out Madison Square Garden two years later. But he's taken a ritual beating for material-jacking, and it's been argued that his over-animated delivery robs his bits of context. For specifics, hunt down Joe Rogan's scathing revelations of how Cook lifted material he watched Rogan perform live. Or dig up the shameful lifting of three Louis C.K. bits from 1996, which resurfaced via Cook in 2003. A 2006 Rolling Stone article zaps Cook for a joke originally performed by Emo Philips. For someone claiming, “I want to be the heavyweight comedy champion of the world,” racking up shoplifting charges may not be the way to go. PP.
BILLY JOE SHAVER
8 p.m., Revolution. $12 adv., $15 d.o.s.
He's a hero to your heroes — Willie Nelson called him maybe the best songwriter alive today and Bob Dylan name-checked him on his last album — and one of the last living connections to the outlaw country movement. More bona fides: He wrote nearly every one of the songs on Waylon Jennings' seminal “Honky Tonk Heroes,” and just about every song on his debut, “Old Five and Dimers Like Me” (“I've Been to Georgia on a Fast Train,” anyone?) is a classic. Which is not to say that Shaver's genius ended in the '70s. He's been remarkably prolific of late, releasing a new album at least every two years since 1993. He's had plenty of material to draw from. Even beyond his young life, where he severed two fingers in a sawmill accident, spent time homeless, served in the Navy and worked as a bronco buster, the man has a surfeit of experience to mine. He lost his wife and his mother within a month of each other in 1999; saw his only son die of an overdose in 2000 and suffered, himself, a heart attack onstage a year later. But today, at 70, he's alive and well, still on the road, still preaching sin and redemption. You'd be dumb to miss this one. LM.
“FIVE DAYS OF GIVING”
9 a.m., Clinton Presidential Center. Free.
Time flies. It seems like just yesterday that noses were pressed up to the glass at every downtown Little Rock restaurant in hopes of glimpsing Robin Williams or someone more glamorous in town for the grand opening of the Clinton Library (I cut through a roped-off area on way to a bar with some friends that weekend and someone yelled, “Who are y'all?”). But it's been five years. And in that time officials say that the Clinton Center's received 1.6 million visitors. To celebrate the milestone, the center is hosting “Five Days of Giving.” From Friday until the following Tuesday, the Clinton Center hosts a drive to collect new or gently used coats. Donors get a $25 gift certificate at the Clinton Store and discounts at the on-site restaurant, 42. Saturday, all day, admission to the library is free. On Monday at noon, the Clinton School hosts a student service project panel, where Clinton School students will talk about their public service experience at home and abroad. Tuesday, Clinton Center staff and City Year work on service projects around Central Arkansas. You can, too. Sign up at www.fivedaysofgiving.com. The closing event, a luncheon featuring a keynote address by President Clinton, is sold out. LM.
YOUNG DRO / HUEY
9 p.m., Mims Gymnasium, Philander Smith College. $40.
At Philander Smith, they don't just do homecoming weekend; the party stretches all week. After last weekend's step competition and riverboat cruise, the celebration winds down with men's and women's basketball followed by an after-party featuring the rappers above, each of which is big in the club, or was recently. Young Dro is out of Atlanta, a part of T.I.'s Grand Hustle team. He comes to town in advance of his sophomore album, “P.O.L.O (Players Only Live Once),” which is due out in January. Expect the crowd to be well-versed in the particulars of the “Shoulder Lean.” The dance track launched Dro to fame in 2006. The following year might've belonged to St. Louis' Huey, who had dance floors on lock from the opening line of “Pop Lock and Drop It”: “Toot that thing up mami, make it roll.” LM.
7 p.m., Oyster Bar. $5.
Chris Michaels has been around. Back in the day in Shreveport, Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell tried to recruit him into the band that would eventually become the Gourds. In Oxford, Michaels spent time in Beanland, a legendary band in its own right, known in jam circles as the band that launched the careers of several members (past and present) of Widespread Panic. Really, Michaels has played with just about everyone — from Buddy Flett to Cab Calloway to Jim Dickinson to Kevin Gordon — not to mention the years he's spent in Little Rock playing bass in the Boondogs. So, after more than 20 years playing music professionally, it's about damn time that he's stepped up to the mic to record an album with his name on it. This party and concert at Oyster Bar (really one of the great unsung small venues in Little Rock) celebrates the release of “Morning & Night” on Max Recordings. Naturally, it features a who's who of the region's musicians, most if not all will be helping him out Saturday. Expect crack guitar playing, lyrics that stick and lots of familiar faces in the local scene. The concert starts at 9 p.m. sharp, Michaels promises. LM.
8 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $10.
Maybe Christian Rudder can get an early Thanksgiving. The Little Rock native returns home for the second time in 2009 with his increasingly popular indie band this weekend. Since he left town years back to go to Harvard, he's amassed a pretty killer resume. 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. 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 steady 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 hook-heavy, stripped-down pop-rock, continues to tour in support of its fourth full-length, “Grrr…” LM.
6 p.m., Juanita's. $13 adv., $15 d.o.s.
The Revival Tour has been revived. Almost exactly a year ago, it came to Juanita's with a bill that featured Ben Nichols and the lead singers of Against Me, Avail and Hot Water Music. Chuck Ragan, of Hot Water Music, returns, but he's the only one. This year, he's joined by Sparta's Jim Ward (famous for his part in At the Drive-In, too), British folk-punk Frank Turner, Oklahoma solo act Audra Mae and Jon Snodgrass and Chad Price of Drag the River. The idea's the same — in a nod to the folk era, everyone plays solo or duo acoustic sets with backing support from everyone else. LM.
AA BONDY/ELVIS PERKINS IN DEARLAND
9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $10.
Ocean-deep lyrics combined with steadily paced songs mark the work of Auguste Arthur Bondy. Shedding the alt-rock genre of the 1990s (as a former member of Verbena) in favor of country-tinged mellowness, Bondy brings to mind a two-stepping couple alone on the barroom floor, ignoring the bartender's pleadings for last call. Numbers like “Killed Myself When I Was Young” creep in with continuous hypnotic kick drum thump that eventually gives way to subtle electric layers and haunting narratives of rebirth. Bondy's 2009 Fat Possum album, “When The Devil's Loose,” brings to mind the unfiltered production of Bob Dylan's “Time Out of Mind,” with all the swooning of slow-tempo songs that rely more on moody atmospheric creations instead of heaps of instrumentation. A perfect co-headlining match for Bondy is folk recording artist Elvis Perkins in Dearland. Perkins (the son of actor Anthony Perkins) made a huge name for himself with “Ash Wednesday” in 2007, touring with the multi-instrumental crew that comprises Dearland, which released its self-titled debut as a full band this year. Aside from his vocals and guitar work, EPID contains saxophone, organ, harmonium, trombone, drums and clarinet. PP
7:30 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $40-$120.
The Celtic onslaught on Central Arkansas continues. In the last year, we've seen the Boys of the Lough, Celtic Woman and about this time last year, Celtic Thunder. Our Scots-Irish roots must run deep. Famous for its PBS specials and within Ireland and Scotland and Celtic music circles as being the male answer to Celtic Woman, Celtic Thunder returns with a multi-generational take on traditional Celtic music. The five-man vocal group, which spans in age from 17 to somewhere in middle age, is famous for adding regional flair to contemporary songs like “Every Breathe You Take.” Look out for elaborate choreography, visual effects and bagpipes. LM.