Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries
9 p.m., Revolution. $20.
Eric Church knows his audience, and they are him. “The scars on my knuckles match the scuffs on these cowboy boots/and there's a whole lot more like me,” he sings on “How Bout You?” a tribute to all things Southern and blue-collar. Not exactly novel territory in country music, but like the best in the business, Church manages to elevate standard fare — some might say cliche — with a witty turn of phrase. Here he offers perspective on a woman who's hit the road (“I believe that Jesus is comin' back/Before she does”), there he describes a pregnancy scare (“We were young and on fire and just couldn't wait/Six weeks in, she was three weeks late”). Just about everywhere he layers muscular rock 'n' roll flourishes over a twang-y base. Look for a live show that's even more raucous on Friday. At a recent concert, Church told his audience, “I like my country ROCKIN'.” Here's betting he won't have any trouble filling up the place with the likeminded.
10 p.m., ACAC. $6.
Totally Michael is a one-man band out of Bloomington, but originally from Cabot, who specializes in syrupy sweet dance-anthems about cheerleaders and prom and Winona Ryder. That he counts Blink 182 and Soophie Nun Squad as major influences isn't hard to pick up on. His lyrics follow in the unabashedly juvenile, gag-a-minute tradition of the former (the chorus of the tribute to Ryder goes, “Winona I'd like to get to know ya/let's burn Saks Fifth Ave. into the ground”), while his concerts, many of which have been here at house shows in the past, are all about crowd participation, costumes, wearing short shorts, reverting to childhood and other similarly Soophie-ish wild-out behavior. Little Rock's most promising experimental act, Ginsu Wives, opens the show. They sound like Prince as covered by a deranged chorus of broken robots.
10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $10.
Clarksdale-born Jimbo Mathus doesn't do genres. “I break down walls and stereotypes with my music,” he's said, more accurately than boastfully. “I confuse people. I use Mississippi music, which is renegade music at heart, as my inspiration and motivation…I keep the old stories alive while they help keep me alive.” Luther Dickinson, of the North Mississippi Allstars and the Black Crowes, may've captured Mathus even better when he described him as a link in “the ‘crazy Mississippi white-boy' chain of music that goes all the way back through Elvis Presley to Jimmie Rogers … white musicians playing black music and influencing people in both cultures.” It's not the position in which most probably remember him. In the early '90s, he rose to fame leading the swing-revival act Squirrel Nut Zippers. After a five-year hiatus, that band reunited in 2007 and continues to tour sporadically. But since the early 2000s, Mathus has been busy with his own projects. He's toured with Pine Bluff's CeDell Davis, served as musical director for Buddy Guy, recorded Elvis Costello in his Delta Recording Service studio in Clarksdale and released a host of records, moving easily between swamp rock, country and the acoustic blues. His latest, “Jimmy the Kid,” straddles all those genres.
THE BEACH BOYS
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $30-$125.
Like a lot of seminal pop bands from the '60s, the Beach Boys have been depleted by death. Two of the founding quintet, Carl and Dennis Wilson, have passed on. But instead of parading through the upper echelons of the nostalgia circuit, the remaining three — Al Jardine, Mike Love and Brian Wilson — have spent much of the last several decades embroiled in a series of lawsuits. They finally settled all disputes in 2007, and in my interview with him last week (read it here), Mike Love talks of a possible reunion for the band's 50th anniversary in 2011. But for now, Love, alone among the original members, controls the reins of the band. Which doesn't mean the group you hear perform with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra on Sunday will necessarily sound depleted. Love sang lead on some of the band's biggest hits: “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Surfin' USA,” “I Get Around,” “California Girls,” and among the other current members is Bruce Johnston, who first recorded with the band on 1965's “California Girls.” This show, unlike most at the symphony, is one night only.
JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD
8 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $10 adv., $12 d.o.s.
Jessica Lea Mayfield sings in a voice that's plaintive and withdrawn and transfixing. It's a voice so affecting that even at 15, when she recorded and released a limited-pressing debut EP, it was strong enough to catch the ear of the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who enlisted Mayfield to lend backing vocals to a Black Keys' track and subsequently recorded her debut full-length, “With Blasphemy So Heartfelt.” Released last fall, the album's drawn critical acclaim. Since the album's release, Mayfield's toured with the Avett Brothers, the Black Keys, Cake and Lucero. Look for more headlining gigs, like this one, for the 20-year-old singer/songwriter in the near future. Chapel Hill's the Old Ceremony open with baroque pop.
7:30 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $23-$63.
Never underestimate the staying power of ABBA. Despite dissolving more than 25 years ago, the Swedish pop group doesn't seem in any danger of falling out of the cultural consciousness. They're still selling millions of records every year; in fact, estimates put the quartet behind only the Beatles, Elvis and Michael Jackson in terms of albums sold. And then there's “Mamma Mia!” the jukebox musical inspired by the songs of ABBA. It's celebrating seven sold-out years on Broadway, a film adaptation that's the highest grossing movie musical ever and this international tour. Those who're likely to attend surely know the story, but just in case: A single woman, who owns a small hotel on a Greek island, invites two lifelong friends to come to the isle for her daughter's wedding. The three women once played together in a band called Donna and the Dynamos. Meanwhile, the daughter invites three men from her mother's past in hopes of finding the identity of her father. Singing — songs like “S.O.S.” and “Dancing Queen” — and dancing ensues. “Mamma Mia” sticks around at Robinson on Wednesday and Thursday; same price and time.
LAMB OF GOD / GWAR
8 p.m., the Village. $32 adv., $35 d.o.s.
Virginia-bred bands Lamb of God and GWAR don't look anything alike. The former favors the black clothes, goatees and long hair that are just about de rigueur in contemporary metal, while the latter takes the stage like D&D characters come to life, in horrible and horned demon masks, with spiked armor and monster feet and elaborately disgusting cod pieces. But they kick out metal with equal ferocity. Lamb of God is touring behind “Wrath,” the band's latest brutally aggressive album. GWAR, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, comes behind its latest, “Lust in Space.” (The band's origin story, in case you don't remember, positions them as interplanetary warriors descended from aliens stranded in Antarctica, who came to Earth to sexually enslave and slaughter us all.) There will be fake blood. Job for a Cowboy opens.
THE SECOND CITY
6 p.m., Arkansas Repertory Theatre. $25.
It's not an exaggeration to say that comedy as we know it wouldn't exist without the Second City. The 50-year-old Chicago-based improv troupe has long been a breeding ground for “Saturday Night Live,” which, of course, itself has spawned dozens of movie and TV heavyweights. Here's just a short list of some of those Second City alums: John Belushi, Steve Carell, John Candy, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Amy Sedaris and Martin Short. Expect political commentary and social satire from sketches and improv. To kick off the show, the theater is hosting “BrewHaHa!” on opening night. An annual (sometimes multi-annual) pre-party, it kicks off at 6 p.m. with beer and casual appetizers. Tickets for the other nine performances range from $20 to $35, so $25 for free beer and apps and the show is clearly the way to go. Second City hangs around through Oct. 18.