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TIM REYNOLDS and TR3
9 p.m., Revolution. $15.
He's one of the most famous sometimes sideman in music today. For more than a decade, guitar whiz Tim Reynolds has toured with the Dave Matthews Band and guested on each of the band's albums. In 1999, he and Matthews released “Live at Luther College,” a double album that captured what's become a semi-regular touring arrangement: the duo playing stripped down, acoustic arrangements of Matthews' songs. But Reynolds is hardly simply a second fiddle. For years, he's led the improvisational band TR3, a three-piece that specializes not only in jam-typical funk-rock, but also diversions into industrial rock and reggae. Reynolds has been known to branch out to play the mandolin, violin and sitar as well. Open to ages 18 and older, the concert is sure to be packed to the brim. LM.
9:30 p.m., Downtown Music. $5.
It's with shame I'll admit that I haven't been to a Cool Shoes dance party since the first one, where there was someone with a video camera spending a lot of time filming feet. That wrinkle, I'm told, went out the door pretty quickly, but the event still remains fairly high concept: A series of DJs or live electronic acts try to put butts on the dance floor, while a local artist creates something in a corner or against a wall. At midnight, a local rap act performs three songs. Spies tell me I've been missing out — that, increasingly, the kids come out full force, sometimes in costume, and everyone dances. So I'm going on Friday, particularly because a new band, briefly known as Bad Balance until members discovered “the NWA of Russia” already had dibs on the name, and now as of press time, nameless, makes its debut. It'll mark Moving Front front dude Jeremy Brasher's return to electronic programming for the first time in four or five years (fantastic news for anyone who was around for his dance jams back then). This go-round, Lydia Washburn and Erin Lang augment his blips and beeps with vocal harmony. Also on the bill: astro-crunk Conway DJ Wolf-E-Wolf (frenetic remixes of Southern rap), DJ Fatality (straight-up hip-hop) and rappers 4X4 Crew. Series curator TJ Deeter will be responsible for the live art. The show's open to all ages. Cool shoes are no longer required. LM.
7:30 p.m., Alltel Arena, $55-$75.
Metallica fans heaving collective sighs of relief that “Death Magnetic” has given the metal pioneers an adrenaline shot and a return-to-roots mindset don't need reminding that the seventh all-time best-selling American band returns to Little Rock Saturday. Backstage at their February 1989 “And Justice For All” show at Barton Coliseum, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich eased down the table of seated fans signing autographs while former band mate Jason Tedford and I eyeballed the buffet. He goaded me into asking Lars to autograph a dinner roll, who, after I did, replied with a bewildered, “Are you out of your fucking mind?” Heading back to the dressing room, he paused as if remembering something, grabbed a roll, scribbled on it and tossed it across the table, shaking his head. A lethal dose of hair spray for mold prevention has kept it shiny and intact for nearly two decades and it remains hard enough to shatter a bulletproof window, which is pretty much what I'm counting on Metallica to do at their “in-the-round” show at Alltel. Rising metal acts Down and the Sword open. PP.
9:30 p.m., Juanita's. $12.
Nepotism makes the world go 'round, and Texas' James McMurtry would probably be the first to admit that his famous novelist/screenwriter father, Larry, helped him get a toehold in the business. But it certainly hasn't been his family name that's made him one of the most vital lyricists in contemporary songwriting. Over the course of nearly two decades of recording and touring, the long-haired, bespectacled musician's built a sturdy career on the strength of detail-driven story songs, full of mordant wit and, more often than not, a sense of barely concealed rage. He's used his nondescript voice, most often in Texas-style talkin' blues, to celebrate the downtrodden and rail against their oppressors. Writing in Entertainment Weekly, Stephen King called McMurtry's 2004 song “We Can't Make It Here” (“Now I'm stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store / Just like the ones we made before / 'Cept this one came from Singapore / I guess we can't make it here anymore”) the “best American protest song since ‘Masters of War.' “ The concert's open to ages 18 and older. LM.
8 p.m., Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville. $18-$28.
? Ex-Nickel Creek mandolin whiz Chris Thile (a former child prodigy who's been releasing albums for more than half of his life) continues to push the bounds of bluegrass in his new band, a quintet that brings together vets of Jerry Douglas' band and the Infamous Stringdusters. The band's debut, released earlier this year and simply called “Punch,” features Thile singing, in a way familiar to Nickel Creek fans (high, clear and plaintively) and also includes long instrumental passages, filled with dissonance and deviations from conventional structure — and bright sections of exhilarating acoustic music any fan would recognize as bluegrass. A 40-minute, four-movement suite on the album, a meditation on divorce and redemption, inspired the New York Times to suggest the band might be on to an emerging style: “American country-classical chamber music.” But Thile's influences aren't all high. He and his mates typically cover Radiohead and the Strokes in concert (one guesses that Nickel Creek's cover of Pavement's “Spit on a Stranger” was his doing). LM.
8 p.m., Juanita's. $13-$15.
Brooklyn's Nada Surf spent the first half of the aughts making moody pop records about restlessness and lost love. With “Lucky” (released earlier this February), the band's first album in three years, the band hasn't quite shaken the forlorn (“Everyone's gotta leave their love sometime / If not now, then at the end of your lifetime” goes a line in the album's closer, “The Film Did Not Go Round”), but they've paired it with arrangements that often build from contemplative to buoyant. Lead singer Matthew Caws milks an impressive amount of emotion from his fairly thin voice, and few three-pieces can manage such a big pop sound. From California, Delta Spirit melds jaunty throwback rock with blue-eyed soul in one opening slot, while dreamy, Brooklyn-based indie rockers Jealous Girlfriends fill the other. The show's open to ages 18 and above. LM.
9 p.m., Juanita's. $10-$20.
Jason “J-One” Marshall's been a name on the scene for several years now, but for ever-changing reasons. In 2006, he released a well-received compilation album, featuring dozens of local rappers and vocalists performing on tracks he'd produced. Last year, his focus turned to promotion. With Upscale Underground, a company he co-founded, he booked a handful of rising stars in the national neo-soul scene. Now, he's refocused his energies on his own work again, though he's certainly remained in full promotional mode (through, among other things, multiple MySpace pages and an online commercial that starts out like it might be a porno). The night before Thanksgiving he'll celebrate the release of his new EP, “Electric Soul,” with a concert that also features all the biggest local male R&B singers — David Lawrence, Kuji Wright, Sean West and Justamore. With very little competition and Marshall's promotional skills, look for the concert to live up to its billing: “Pre-Thanksgiving Bash.” LM.