Bonnie rates big! 

Red-headed Raitt brings her blues, and Keb’ Mo’, to Robinson Center.

Bonnie Raitt brings her bluesy slide guitar, raspy sultry vocals and tight backing band to Little Rock in October, and she’ll have blues great Keb’ Mo’ with her.

Raitt’s “Souls Alike Tour” will perform Oct. 3 at the 2,600-seat Robinson Center Music Hall, a perfect venue for the artists.

Raitt — one of the best slide players around — will present an array of music, including Nashville-influenced blues, New Orleans funk and Memphis groove, a range that has made her a favorite among blues music lovers since her debut album in 1971 and helped ease her into the pop mainstream in the late 1980s.

Expect to hear cuts from her “Souls Alike” CD, released in coordination with the tour, and her new CD/DVD, “Bonnie Raitt and Friends.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and nine-time Grammy Award winner included songs from little-known writers/kindred spirits on her “Souls Alike” CD; her tragic year last year — when she lost both parents and had to care for an older brother stricken with cancer — inspired some of the music. It’s fitting, then, that the lead single on the record is “I Will Not be Broken,” written by the same trio — Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Tommy Sims — who wrote Eric Clapton’s hit “Change the World.”

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Keb’ Mo’ is making his first trip in years to Little Rock. Born Kevin Moore in South Los Angeles to parents who were from the deep South, he was inspired early on by traditional Delta bluesmen such as Muddy Waters. He broke big on the scene in 1994 with his self-titled debut album. His eighth and latest release is this year’s “Suitcase.”

Mo’s sound has embraced multiple eras and genres, including pop, rock, folk and jazz, and he’s collaborated with Raitt and Jackson Browne over the years. One minute on “Suitcase,” there’s a sound of 1970s mellow jazz, the next he’s delivering the classic Mississippi blues style. He’s a three-time Grammy Award winner, with 2004’s “Keep It Simple,” for Best Contemporary Blues Album. And, fittingly, he portrayed Robert Johnson in “Can’t You Hear the Wind Howl,” a docudrama about the blues legend. Showtime is 8 p.m., and tickets are $63 and $43 through all Ticketmaster outlets (Harvest Foods stores, www.ticketmaster.com, 975-7575) or at the Celebrity Attractions office at Third and Spring streets.

n Five by Design, a five-person jazz vocal group, has become a favorite of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra crowd, and their “Stay Tuned” performance with the ASO in October will be the show’s world premiere.

Five By Design’s performance takes the listener back to a time of small-screen legends, when TV wasn’t chockfull of reality shows, no one had cable, and programs were in black-and-white. You’ll hear memorable songs, commercials and sketches, including a comedy takeoff on the shows “Name that Tune” and “This Is Your Life,” all presented live and in color.

The ASO Pops, Live! series show will be held at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6-7. Tickets range from $16 to $62. Call the ASO box office at 666-1761.

n The Second City, Chicago’s hysterically funny and famed improv comedy troupe, returns to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s main stage for two weeks beginning Sept. 27 with “Truth, Justice or the American Way.”

Second City graduates include such comedy greats as Alan Arkin, Joan Rivers, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, George Wendt, Gilda Radner, Steve Carell, Andrea Martin, Robert Klein, Peter Boyle, Bonnie Hunt and many others. The troupe takes on everything from current events to relationships, politics and family life. The six players — Anthony LeBlanc, Brad Morris, Christina Anthony, Meagan Flanigan, Robyn Norris, and T.J. Miller (remember their names) — will improvise on suggestions from the audience during the show, which runs through Oct. 8.

The Rep will feature Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I” as its big holiday season musical beginning Dec. 1 and running through Dec. 31. On stage now is “Moonlight and Magnolias,” a comedy about the writing and rewriting of the great film “Gone With the Wind.”

For tickets and more information, call 378-0405.

Where to eat and sleep in Little Rock

When considering a show at Robinson Center Music Hall or around downtown, there are several fine hotels and bed and breakfast establishments, as well as fine-dining restaurants, with a short walk or short drive to make for an enjoyable two-day trip. We don’t even blame you, if you live in Little Rock, if you decide to take a short vacation at home.

The Baker House. A North Little Rock bed-and-breakfast just a short walk from the Arkansas River. Five rooms, and a full breakfast awaits in the morning. Prices range from $100 to $120 on weekdays, and $125 to $150 on weekends. Across the street from Ristorante Capeo. 372-9930, bakerhousenlr.com.

Courtyard Marriott Downtown. It’s fairly new, and its proximity to the River Market district and all its bars, music clubs and the like is a big plus. Who wants to drive after that much after-show fun? Rates range from $99 to $179, depending on the night and tour packages available. 521 President Clinton Ave., 975-9800, www.marriott.com.

The Doubletree. Being just out the door of Robinson Center doesn’t hurt in the least, and while the place may not be as plush as some neighbors, it does offer a nice price and typical big-city amenities such as a good restaurant, bar, high-speed Internet, indoor pool and fitness center. $119-$129. Markham and Broadway. 372-4371.

The Empress of Little Rock. Comfortable 1888 mansion that’s a bed-and breakfast getaway for couples in the Historic Quapaw Quarter. Five rooms in the main house ($135-$195 a night), and three spa suites with Jacuzzis and hydrojet showers ($260-$285). The price includes two-course gourmet breakfast the next morning. A small conference center is available. 2120 Louisiana St., 374-7966.

The Peabody Hotel. A $40 million makeover a few years back took the former Excelsior to premium level lodging in the Capitol City. Two excellent bars, a top-flight restaurant, and even the Peabody ducks. Rates range from $150 to $259 per night. 3 Statehouse Plaza. 906-4000.

Boscos. Solid all-American cuisine, with good meat and Italian-style dishes, sumptuous salads, and brew brewed on site. Open Sunday. 500 President Clinton Ave., 907-1881.

Capriccio. The Peabody Hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, with great steaks and mouth-watering Italian specialties. What’s really fun are the dessert “shots,” where you can get a taste of something rich, creamy and sweet, at a low price, without feeling like you’ve gone over the top at the end of a big meal. 3 Statehouse Plaza, 906-4000.

Nu Cuisine Lounge. A constantly changing menu of daring dishes (seafood, red meat, pork, etc.) from a top-notch chef. The bar is as cool as they come, the service is what you’d expect in any big city. 225 E. Markham, 378-7500.

Ristorante Capeo. From its Italian pasta dishes to the entrees where the chef takes flight, such as with the osso bucco, you’re not likely to find a better place to dine in Central Arkansas. Creative pre-dinner drink menu, good wine list, wonderful service. 425 Main. St., NLR, 376-3463.

Sonny Williams’ Steak Room. The argument about who has the best steak in Little Rock would go on ’til the end of time, but we don’t think you can go wrong here with the filet or the cowboy rib-eye. The prices are big-city, for sure, but the steaks are ample and come with massive amounts of side dishes. There are also good choices for the non-red-meat eater. Strong wine list. 500 President Clinton Ave., 324-2999.


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