"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
103.7 THE BUZZ CHRISTMAS CELEBRITY KARAOKE
7 p.m. Verizon Arena. $35-$50.
Most of the time, unfortunately, we don't get many opportunities to watch our favorite local celebrities do karaoke. Sure, you might just catch one of your favorite radio reporters at a neighborhood watering hole on a Tuesday night belting out, say, "Coat of Many Colors" by Dolly Parton. Or perhaps you lucked out and saw a certain corn-fed state representative singing at an Irish pub after the end of a particularly contentious legislative session and were surprised by his angelic tenor and expressive version of "Friends in Low Places." But those are rare and unpredictable occasions. You could go your whole life and never see something like that. But this Thursday, you can count on catching all manner of local celebs and radio hosts from 103.7 The Buzz offering their most heartfelt manglings, er, unconventional renditions of Christmas classics and other tunes, and they might just get in a joke or two. It's become a holiday tradition around Central Arkansas, and it's all to benefit a great cause — the nonprofit Youth Home, a psychiatric treatment center for troubled adolescents.
AETN ROARING '20S COCKTAIL RECEPTION
6:30 p.m. Wildwood Park. $50.
Long about this time last year, AETN hosted a reception to offer a sneak-preview of the forthcoming season of the runaway British TV hit "Downton Abbey," which airs on PBS stations here stateside. Well, here we are at the brink of another season of the show about the rich family at the Abbey and their problems with the help and the war and the Irish Troubles and the Spanish flu and assorted other Gilded-Age goings-on. This show is just so dadgum popular that AETN will again be offering the good people of Arkansas a chance to catch a peek at the show before it officially premieres on Jan. 5 (of course, the show premiered in the U.K. back in September). To add to the whole atmosphere of the affair, there's gonna be a Roaring '20s theme, which will be augmented if y'all dress up in your finest post-Edwardian finery. There will be a costume contest to determine whose outfit is the Roaring '20s-iest, along with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, a photo booth to capture you in your attire, music, dancing and, of course, the chance to gloat to all your (non-British) friends about what happens in season 4.
ASO HOLIDAY FANTASY
7:30 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $10-$59.
If you've got musically inclined kiddos and you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, here's a sure bet: The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents "Holiday Fantasy," a new show that was written and produced by Nicole Capri, director of education at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, in partnership with Phillip Mann, ASO conductor and music director. This new program will feature a Broadway-style presentation of Christmas carols, choirs and comedy performances. The Saturday performance is at 8 p.m. and Sunday's is at 3 p.m., though there's a pre-matinee holiday fair starting at 2 p.m., with crafts, an instrument petting zoo, a visit from Santa and music.
8 p.m. Verizon Arena. $45-$91.
YouTube comments are a special wonderland of commentary where the rules of grammar and punctuation and decorum and other forms of oppression don't apply. Everybody can just let loose and tell you how they really feel. So that's where I turned when I wanted to find out how a handful of random people around the globe felt about the Christmas rock opera juggernaut known as The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Here's just a taste of what they had to say about the band's hit "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo [Timeless Version]": "This NEVER gets old ..."; "also when the song drops the base it sounds like halo music"; "why can't my work play this instead of the old crap"; "This. This is what awesome is. There is no other definition of awesome besides this"; "I LOVE THIS SONG I DO NOT KNOW WHY :D"; and something all of us need a reminder of once in a while, "Christmas doesn't have to be so freakin, cheesy. To all you metal fans out there! Raise your fists, bang your heads and rock the hell out of 2013 and into 2014!!!!!!!" There you have it folks, go see the TSO and rock the H-E-double-hockeysticks on into the new year!
ZODIAC: SAGITTARIUS EDITION WITH DJ RAP
8 p.m. Revolution. $10-$20.
The fans of dance music in Central Arkansas have no doubt been digging the Zodiac series, which has been going on at Revolution for the last couple years now. I hear tell that this installment features one of the top names to take to the turntables so far: DJ Rap. This British artist, a.k.a. Charissa Saverio, has been at it for quite a while now, getting her start in the U.K. rave scene and emerging as a leading light in the drum 'n' bass and jungle scene before segueing into more subdued trip-hop and house mode of production. Along the way she formed two record labels and released a handful of club favorites of her own and from other artists. Also, performing at this 18-and-older show will be Raydar & Shaolin, Sniz, Mix Mafia, Danny Enzo and Broseph Stalin.
SMOKE UP JOHNNY, THE CANEHILL ENGAGEMENT
10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.
Man it just wouldn't feel like the holidays in Little Rock without a booze-soaked, debauched night out with the guys in Smoke Up Johnny. Since 2009 or so, it's been an end-of-year tradition for these dudes to get together and crank up the amps and tear through a set of awesomely trashy rock 'n' roll. Now that I think about it, I believe they took last year off, but that was probably on account of everyone needed at least two full years to recover before the next one. Well it's here, so you might wanna dig out the Smoke Up Johnny survival guide I drew up back in 2011. It was full of great advice that I'm sure none of you heeded, but it's never too late for second chances. Or third ones or fourth ones. This year the dudes will be joined by their brothers in beer-soaked anthems, The Canehill Engagement.
NIGHTFLYING 33RD ANNIVERSARY PARTY
7 p.m. Stickyz. $10.
The year-end traditions continue apace with the annual anniversary throw-down to celebrate Nightflying and the community of music-lovers it serves all over the state and the region, with more tiny fonts and concert listings than you could shake a tie-dyed bandana at. Providing the tunes will be Moonshine Mafia, Jason Greenlaw & The Groove, Salt & Pepper, Joe Pitts Band, The Beckham Brothers Band, Mojo Depot, One Man Down and Priceless. They'll also be selling Nightflying T-shirts, so if you've always wanted one, here's your chance to put one of those bad boys on your back. And if you buy it between 6-7 p.m., you'll get $2 off. Plus, this might be your last chance to throw down for a couple of days, so best get your partying in before the holiday.