"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
9 p.m., the Village. $10.
The local rap collective Conduit is billing this installment of its concert series the Chill “the beginning of the end.” But don't get it confused — the way this show's shaping up, it could just as well be “the Chill to end all Chills.” Epiphany, the always-White Sox-capped head of Conduit, hints that the overarching conceptual flow of the night will revolve around a diagnosis of the ills of the local rap scene. Critique and answers for local hip-hop all rolled up into a big audio/visual showcase? I'm so there. Unlike previous installments, the event will stay tightly focused, with only three acts performing — Dat Heat, Suga City and Epiphany. Dat Heat, a crew long tightly affiliated with Conduit, includes two producers, three rappers and an R&B singer. I'm keeping my finger crossed that Z, the cartoonishly brilliant rapper from Dat Heat, will be in the mix; he's lately been trying out for reality shows and living in Ohio. If not, the speedy and charismatic rappers Bware and X2C won't have any trouble holding it down with the Maria V, a sultry R&B vocalist. Sure to have tricks up their sleeve: Suga City, a duo comprised of Arkansas Bo and Goines. Meanwhile, the ringmaster himself, Epiphany, will continue his Roots-style live-band experiment, in a long set with soul belter Gina Gee and One Night Stand, a live funk-soul band. LM
THE SALTY DOGS
9:30 p.m., Juanita's. $6.
I try my best to be impartial, even though in a music scene as small as ours I usually know half the people I write about. But to keep things on the up and up, I'll go ahead and say the Salty Dogs played my wedding reception not too long ago, and they killed. We had it in a barn of sorts, and they wore big hats and rhinestone-studded Nashville garb and played pitch-perfect, down-home country music. My father-in-law, a generally reserved 60-something, danced as if possessed (for the first time since high school, he said later). By the end of the night, cummerbunds became do-rags and some distant cousin to Irish dance became appropriate for dancing to Johnny Cash covers. I sort of doubt the Salty Dogs will get that sort of response on Friday, but it's a testament to the sturdiness of their music that they could propel (and withstand) such debauchery. The Dogs' latest album, “Autoharpoon” is a mixture of well-chosen covers, like Mickey Newbury's “Why You Been Gone So Long?” and stately originals, like “Starting Now,” that could easily be confused for covers. Expect more of the same live. LM
8:30 p.m., Vino's. $5.
Three or four years ago, no one performed more often than Johnny Mac. Imminently recognizable, with a shaved head and dark-framed glasses, the singer/songwriter always played alone, singing pop-rock songs with hooks that lodged themselves deep in the recesses of your brain. (“Fine Lines,” Mac's go-to track back in the day and an early 45 single on Max Recordings, is still, happily, stuck deep in mine today.) Lately, Mac's taken to leading a band, first as Johnny Mac and the Reds and now, simply, the Reds (“Not like communists. Like colors,” their MySpace page says). After a long stretch of inactivity, the Reds reemerge to celebrate the release of their album, “Economy of Motion,” from Max Recordings. It's a charming debut with hints of Cars-y new-wave and bubblegum. Handclaps and nonsense chants factor into just about every hook, from routine “na-na-na-nas” to an awesome sound somewhere between a retch and a kung-fu call. The album's best track, “Summer,” can't square anticipatory visions of summer with the reality (“it's all wrong,” goes the sweeping chorus); it's got just the right amount of pop and conflict to be the summer jam that carries you into the fall. LM