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'Bill Clinton Hercules'; Chris Maxwell 

Plus Women's History Month, Brian Whelan and more.

THURSDAY 3/24-SATURDAY 3/26

click to enlarge ARKANSAS SUMMER: Chris Maxwell returns to Little Rock for a performance at South on Main, 10 p.m. Friday, $10.
  • ARKANSAS SUMMER: Chris Maxwell returns to Little Rock for a performance at South on Main, 10 p.m. Friday, $10.

'BILL CLINTON HERCULES'

7 p.m. Thu.-Sat.; 2 p.m. Sat. Arkansas Repertory Theatre. $25.

Following last month's "An Illiad," The Rep continues its inaugural Black Box Season — one-man shows staged at the theater's new space, The Annex — with "Bill Clinton Hercules," which imagines the 42nd president delivering a "fantasy TED Talk." In the process, The Rep says, the play "explores the future of democracy, plus Clinton's dreams, regrets, hopes and passions." Written by Rachel Mariner and Guy Masterson, it stars Bob Paisley, and is loosely inspired by Seamus Heaney's play "The Cure at Troy," which the playwrights noticed on a list of Clinton's 20 favorite books, an inclusion they found telling. As Masterson said in an interview with the Kansas City Star, "While Bob obviously carries a striking resemblance to Bill and they both have charisma and charm, this is not a straight impersonation. It's a postulation on what Bill might say if he was completely honest. He realizes how far from his ideal character he's allowed himself to become. He's realized that maybe the world isn't what he wanted it to be. And he takes some of the blame for himself." WS

FRIDAY 3/25

WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH LUNCHEON

11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Free.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the surgeon general under President Clinton and former head of the Arkansas Department of Health, and other African-American health professionals will take part in a panel discussion about women's health and their own experiences at Mosaic Templars. Others on the panel are Dr. Anika Whitfield, a podiatrist; Kameelah Harris, director of WOW-Fitness; and Nicolle Fletcher, doula and owner of Birth By Design. Quantia "Key" Fletcher will moderate. Space is limited; reserve by calling Brian Rodgers at 638-3636. LNP

FRIDAY 3/25

BRIAN WHELAN, THE SALTY DOGS

9 p.m. White Water Tavern.

Brian Whelan spent four years as a multi-instrumentalist in Dwight Yoakam's band before going out on his own. Lest you read that and want to lump him into the Americana genre, he has a new song called "Americana" with the lyric, "you look great but you sound like shit." "It's sad," he told the Houston Press, "but that whole Americana thing is so full of people who spend more time on their outfits and their beards and their PR and their networking than they do on their music. It's just a comment on mediocrity." Instead, look for Whelan to play rock 'n' roll with a little bit of twang and a lot of big power-pop hooks. There'll be some covers, too. In other words, he'll be a perfect match for Little Rock's honky-tonk heroes, The Salty Dogs. LM

FRIDAY 3/25

CHRIS MAXWELL

10 p.m. South on Main. $10.

In the 1980s, Chris Maxwell's band The Gunbunnies were pioneers of a Little Rock music scene that barely existed. Because of that, they tried their luck elsewhere. They were named the "Best Undiscovered Band" at New York's CMJ in 1986, and soon afterward released an album on Virgin Records produced by Jim Dickinson, "Paw Paw Patch." And that was pretty much it for the band that Times editor Lindsey Millar once called "the spark that ignited our modern music scene." They changed labels — moving to Warner Brothers — and cut demos for a follow-up album that wouldn't see the light of day until 2009. The band languished. "We already have Elvis Costello and the Replacements and don't need another," Maxwell remembers the label's staff claiming at the time. He eventually formed another band in New York, Skeleton Key, and embarked on a successful career producing music for TV ("Bob's Burgers," "Inside Amy Schumer," etc.) and for other artists. On March 4, Max Recordings released Maxwell's long-awaited solo debut, "Arkansas Summer," a triumph for a musician the Austin Chronicle once described as "Little Rock's finest export since Pharaoh Sanders." A moving collection of 11 songs, gorgeously produced and compellingly performed, the record comes with an endorsement from the MacArthur "Genius" Grant-winning novelist Jonathan Lethem, who writes, "Chris Maxwell musically channels the heart of Americana-pop — Big Star, Freedy Johnston, Wilco and the like — in crafting a song-cycle as personal as home movies with X-rays included. A beautifully poised grown-up album in an age that still coughs one up from time to time." WS

TUESDAY 3/29

NICK SCHIFRIN

5 p.m. Sturgis Hall, Clinton School. Free.

The journalist Nick Schifrin was a student at Columbia University on Sept. 11, 2001. He reported on the World Trade Center attacks for the student newspaper, but what he remembers most about that week was a lecture on Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" that a professor gave on Sept. 13, the theme of which was the dangers inherent in pursuing revenge at all costs. A decade later, as a correspondent for ABC News, Schifrin was the first American reporter to arrive at Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. His team aired the first videos from inside the building, and, as he later wrote in a much-lauded essay for Foreign Policy, he thought of the Shakespeare lecture as he reported the story. "The United States has made many of the same mistakes that 'Titus Andronicus' and his fellow tragedians made," Schifrin wrote, "prioritizing revenge and killing the enemy over helping the local populations; choosing allies who help produce short-term gratification (security gains) but long-term trouble; refusing to truly engage with a population that seemed so different from themselves." He should know: As a foreign correspondent, he's reported from more than 30 countries since 2007, interviewing the Dalai Lama during the 2008 Tibet uprising; covering the death of Nelson Mandela; and reporting on wars and conflicts in Syria, Gaza, Ukraine, Crimea and Nigeria. He'll speak about his career Tuesday at the Clinton School for Public Service. WS

TUESDAY 3/29

TYRONE JAEGER

7 p.m. Oxford American Annex. Free.

Tyrone Jaeger is a professor of English and creative writing at Hendrix College and the author of the short-story collection "So Many True Believers," published last month. Lauren Groff, author of last year's National Book Award-nominated "Fates and Furies," called Jaeger's new book "gentle and melancholy, a story collection linked like a set of Christmas lights, a series of bright bulbs glowing against the cold and dark night." Writer Mark Richard called it a "wonderful book of songs from a single musical; heartbreak songs, songs of wonder and disbelief." As he told the Times in an interview in February, "The stories in 'So Many True Believers' explore how belief, no matter how misguided or ill-conceived, allows people to endure. Belief is tied to mystery, or suggests mystery, and in a world where information about anything is instantly at our fingertips, mystery is sometimes in short supply. We need more mystery. We're better people when we bathe in mystery — really, what else is there?" The book's official launch, with a reading and book signing, is Tuesday at the Oxford American Annex, adjacent to South on Main. WS

click to enlarge AMERIPOLITAN: Austin legend Dale Watson shares a bill with Bonnie Montgomery at the White Water Tavern at 9 p.m. Wednesday, $10 adv., $12 day of.
  • AMERIPOLITAN: Austin legend Dale Watson shares a bill with Bonnie Montgomery at the White Water Tavern at 9 p.m. Wednesday, $10 adv., $12 day of.

WEDNESDAY 3/30

DALE WATSON, BONNIE MONTGOMERY

9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10 adv., $12 day of.

Austin country legend Dale Watson grew up outside of Pasadena, Texas, and spent years as a mercenary songwriter before hitting it big (in Austin terms) in 1995 with "Cheatin' Heart Attack." That album took aim at the country establishment with a track called "Nashville Rash" ("You can't grow when you rip the roots out of the ground/Looks like that Nashville rash is getting round"), and Watson has been a honky-tonk stalwart and vocal critic of the genre's commercial front ever since. "I think what's coming out of the industry has gotten watered down quite a bit," he told NPR last year. "To say that I'm country music is misleading to people in the mainstream, [with] what people see on 'American Idol' and hear on mainstream radio." His solution has been to forge his own genre, Ameripolitan, which attempts to preserve the mutant strands of Western swing and Outlaw Country, etc., that he believes have been lost. To that end, since 2014 he's spearheaded the annual Ameripolitan Music Awards, which this year gave the "Best Outlaw Female" award to Little Rock's own Bonnie Montgomery, who will share a bill with Watson Wednesday night. WS

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