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8Ball & MJG at Discovery 

THURSDAY 7/4

POPS ON THE RIVER

Noon. Riverfront Park. Free.

Independence Day is upon us once more, my fellow Americans. It's that special time of year when we as a nation take a day off from toil (well, most of us do, or a goodly number of us anyway) to quietly reflect upon the nature of freedom, and to contemplate the awesome responsibility that comes with living in a representative republic — a place where one person's vote can determine the outcome of an election and thus the fate of a nation, a place where anyone, regardless of his background (well, technically anyone 35 or older who was born on U.S. soil) could grow up to become president. I know most of you will probably observe the holiday the same way I always do: by retiring to a leather chair in my book-lined study, Sousa's "Marches" on the Hi-Fi, a glass of warm milk and cognac in one hand and a dog-eared copy of de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" in the other. But I'll allow that there are other avenues to observe the anniversary of our nation's Declaration of Independence. For example, the daily newspaper organizes a festival down on the banks of the Arkansas, with all manner of common-type attractions — food vendors and automobile exhibitions and singing competitions and what-have-you. The local orchestra will perform popular works, and the whole affair typically concludes with a display of amateur rocketry and pyrotechnics of the sort pioneered by the Chinese (although purportedly all of those discharged are manufactured on these shores). The unwashed masses are allowed in for free and are encouraged to bring along a chair or blanket upon which to rest their weary bones. They are strongly discouraged from bringing in their own libations, explosives or livestock, though the Lord knows some of them will try.

FRIDAY 7/5

MINSK

8 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $5.

Dudes, this one is gonna be especially, epically ragin': Hailing from Peoria, Ill., the psychonautical metallurgists known collectively as Minsk have returned. Apparently, the band, formed more than a decade ago, was on a sort of hiatus for a couple of years there. But that is over, and fans can rest easy in the knowledge that another key group of explorers has decided to continue voyaging into realms of cerebral heaviness. The band just released its most recent album, 2009's "With Echoes in the Movement of Stone," on a swank double LP, and apparently work on a follow-up album is under way. "With Echoes" is an ambitious, sprawling work of psychedelic metal that combines numerous elements to create an imposing sound: the pounding percussion and stoicism of Neurosis; the deep-space psych-churn of Hawkwind (to whom Minsk paid tribute on 2010's "Hawkwind Triad"); the Sturm und Drang und clang of such industrial pioneers as Missing Foundation or maybe early Swans. Also performing: The Sound of the Mountain, Mainland Divide and Enchiridion.

SATURDAY 7/6

8BALL & MJG

9 p.m. Discovery Nightclub. $10-$15.

And the Three 6 Mafia-related concert train just keeps rolling through Little Rock. Last month saw performances from Three 6 founder Juicy J at the Metroplex, preceded by a show from longtime affiliate Project Pat at Juanita's. Now we get Memphis stalwarts 8ball & MJG, who broke out in the early '90s with "Comin' Out Hard," and were featured on the Three 6 hit "Stay Fly." Back in 2010, the Memphis duo signed to TI's Grand Hustle label, releasing "Ten Toes Down." The album boasted production from David Banner and Drumma Boy, among others, and guest spots from Soulja Boy, Bun B, Slim Thug, Lil Boosie and a host of others. Expect the duo to go on stage late. This show has Power 92's Cain da Ladies Man hosting, along with a host of Discovery veterans keeping things bumping 'til dawn, including g-force, Platinumb, Nicky V, BdubS and Automatic.

SATURDAY 7/6

LYNYRD SKYNYRD

8 p.m. Magic Springs' Timberwood Amphitheater. $50-$60.

You know, I ain't much for their politics (rebel flags and Fox News BS all the way) and "Free Bird" could never be played again and it'd be just fine with me, but I will cop to digging some Lynyrd Skynyrd. The original pre-crash albums are all solid, even if some of the tunes have been played to death. But Skynyrd nowadays? Meh. The band undoubtedly didn't make a great impression at last year's Riverfest. Times contributor Jim Harris panned the show, which was supposed to be a two-hour set, but was apparently a phoned-in snoozer. The band played for an hour, left the stage, then came back for "a rote version of 'Free Bird' before heading back to their bus (the one with the stars and bars flag and 'God and Guns' emblazoned on the side), having done their obligatory 75 minutes," Harris wrote. "I've seen Lynyrd Skynyrd on one side or the other of the river, indoors and out, at least a dozen times, and this show would rate OK, if not underwhelming — a going-through-the-motions effort with lead singer Johnny Van Zant, youngest brother of group co-founder, the late Ronnie Van Zant, lacking his usual raucous pep." Maybe it was just an off night, and now the band is primed and ready to tear through some inspired performances. I wouldn't be surprised if Skynyrd circa 2013 is more about cashing in on a long-ago legacy while they still can, but I bet most diehards won't be so critical.

SUNDAY 7/7

LA LUZ

9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $5.

Seattle quartet La Luz has been playing together for only a year and change but the band has already been the subject of a gushing profile in The Stranger, released a cassette EP on Burger Records, a single on Suicide Squeeze and earned nods from everyone from the au courant tastemakers at Pitchfork to the DIY-or-die sticklers at Maximumrocknroll. As for the band's sound, think reverb-drenched tendencies of the sort indulged in by the likes of The Mantles or The Fresh and Onlys or some of the other retro-minded west coast acts of the last few years, but with a more pronounced surf-rock vibe (twangy six-string, burbling Farfisa). Their hauntingly beautiful singing is clearly inspired by the girl group sounds of early '60s performers like The Crystals and The Ronettes, and it has a similarly timeless quality as well. Check out La Luz's "Damp Face" EP, streaming on their bandcamp. Isaac Alexander and The Coasts round out this excellent bill for a rare Sunday night White Water Tavern show.

MONDAY 7/8

CHAD GRIFFIN

Noon. Clinton School of Public Service. Free.

It's no secret that we here at the Times are big fans of Arkansas native and political wunderkind Chad Griffin, who now heads the Human Rights Campaign, which is one of the most prominent LGBTQ civil rights organizations in the country. Most readers will be familiar with the major points on Griffin's CV: native of Hope, youngest White House staffer ever, powerhouse political consultant. Last year, Griffin was ranked No. 20 on Out Magazine's Power 50 List. This year, he moved up four spots to No. 16, with the magazine noting that under Griffin's leadership, "the HRC not only raised millions, it worked closely with other organizations, strategically giving large sums to ballot initiatives and seeing successes in Washington, Maryland, Minnesota, and Maine — what Griffin and his team branded an 'equality landslide.' " Griffin will discuss last week's momentous Supreme Court rulings, which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and dismissed California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage. The talk is free, but reservations, via publicprograms@clintonschool.uasys.edu or 683-5239, are encouraged.

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