Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
6 p.m., M.L. Harris Auditorium,
Philander Smith. Free.
When he speaks to what is sure to be a standing-room only crowd at Philander Smith's M.L. Harris Auditorium, Chuck D won't lack for material. The early days — working with Rick Rubin, hanging out with an equally crazy but less profit-minded Flavor Flav, crafting bass-heavy polemics like “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” that've become canonical — would be ripe territory, but something tells me Chuck D isn't a nostalgic. He's more likely to be in culture critic mode. After all, he called himself the Charles Kuralt of hip-hop in a newspaper interview. In recent years, he's testified before Congress in support of peer-to-peer online music sharing, narrated a documentary about blood diamonds and told the French newspaper Le Monde that the relationship between a rapper and his label is like that of slave to master. So who knows what strange turns his lecture will take. Wherever it goes, look for the brunt of his talk to focus on rap, race and technology and their interstices.
10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
Kevin Gordon comes to White Water with a surfeit of bona fides. A published poet, with an MFA from the University of Iowa, Gordon's written vivid story-songs for the likes of Irma Thomas, Webb Wilder, Ronnie Hawkins and Sonny Burgess. Keith Richards, who recorded Gordon's “Deuce and a Quarter” with Levon Helm in 1996, used some colorful English himself when he called the songwriter a “fucking bloody William Shakespeare.” Gordon's last album, a strong collection of literate swamp blues called “O Come Look at the Burning,” picked up critical acclaim from Playboy and No Depression, and one of the album's stand-out tracks, “Watching the Sun Go Down,” is slated to appear in HBO's new vampire drama, “True Blood.” This show marks a break in recording for Gordon. Earlier this week, he went into the studio with producer (and Hot Springs native) Joe McMahan to record his first album in three years. Look for Gordon to try out some new songs on what's been, for the singer/songwriter, a reverent audience in the past. Charming folk singer Samantha Crain also performs along with one of our finest local acts, the Boondogs.
‘THE PAJAMA GAME'
7:30 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $15-$42.
It's an unlikely premise for an award-winning musical. In the heat of the McCarthy era, the workers of the Sleep Tite pajama factory demand a seven-and-a-half-cent raise to keep up with other garment workers' pay. Sid, the new superintendent of the factory, pushes himself and the workers hard to prove he's worthy to the new owner, but when Babe, a representative from the factory's union grievance committee, makes a visit, she brings out the softer side in Sid. I've not seen the musical, but something tells me you can expect more dance numbers than union wrangling. “Pajama Game” is scored by Broadway legends Richard Adler and Jerry Ross and choreographed by Bob Fosse.
DEAD CONFEDERATE/ WAX FANG
9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz.
In a review of Dead Confederate's just-released debut full-length, “Wrecking Ball,” Spin, only half-kidding, suggested that the “ ‘redneck shoegaze' movement starts here.” That's pretty stupid, and not just because the Athens band is less interested in drowning itself in feedback and atmospherics than wrapping everything in mildly psychedelic post-grunge sludge. Like its name suggests, Dead Confederate isn't out to rep Southern rock. Lead singer Hardy Morris often seems to be channeling Kurt Cobain. Which isn't a bad thing. The band's simmering debut should translate well to the stage. Louisville's Wax Fang make the bill even more appealing. A favorite of My Morning Jacket, who brought the band on tour last year, and the Whigs, Wax Fang does an epic, glammed-out brand of rock, full of reverb, sweet guitar licks and jocular chanting. The group's latest album, “La La Land,” comes out next month. Maybe you can sweet-talk them into an advance.
Good analysis, something completely lacking from the daily newspaper's sports reporters/columnists.
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