Brave Combo to Stickyz 



8:30 p.m. Stickyz. $5 or a canned ham.

Last month, Amboy Community Food Pantry in North Little Rock served more than 900 people. That's 900 people who would have gone hungry had it not been for the volunteer-run nonprofit. But pantries don't just fill themselves. So in addition to the good work of the volunteers who run the food bank, the nonprofit also needs donations; hence this show. The Hamboy Jukes Band (dig the nod to the Amboy Dukes, the psychedelic rock band that launched Ted Nugent into the world) is a super-group of sorts, including Jimmy Powell (Go Fast), Walter K (Shannon Boshears Band), Mike Nelson (Gun Bunnies, Big Silver, Amy Garland Band), Johnny Atomic, JR Top (Booyah! Dad), Mark Wyers (Josh the Devil and The Sinners, The Weisenheimers) and Gil Franklin (Port Arthur Band), as well as Jim Jolly on guitar and jazz pianist Bill White (Farris Holliman's Rhythm Masters). Be sure to bring a canned ham. Other nonperishable food donations will be accepted as well.



7 p.m. Old State House Museum. Free.

In the olden times, before smartphones and liquid crystal displays and cathode ray tubes, before even film itself, people still huddled in dark rooms to stare at glowing projections. You know, for entertainment. One of the earliest methods of creating shimmering distractions was the magic lantern, a sort of proto-projector that bounces light off a mirror and directs it across an aperture and through a lens and a glass slide with a colorful image on it. Later innovations enabled the images to move, thus humanity took another step toward the birth of film. The Old State House Museum will give audiences a taste of Victorian-era entertainment, with a genuine antique magic lantern, which "rapidly projects spectacular color slides on a full-size movie screen." The images are dramatized by costumed entertainers and by the audience itself, which is encouraged to clap, stomp and join in chants and songs.



8 p.m. Stickyz. $10.

Call me crazy, but with the exception of being at some sort of German beer garden — kielbasa in one hand and the afternoon's third massive stein-full of beer in the other — I've never really dug polka. But one exception might just have to be Brave Combo. The Denton, Texas, outfit got started in the late '70s, doing polka-fied covers of rock classics and by the late '90s/early aughts, Brave Combo was winning Grammys for Best Polka Album (1999 and 2005) and being featured on The Simpsons — a sign that you've made it if ever there was one. The band's polka version of "Must Be Santa" from 1991's "It's Christmas, Man!" even resonated with Bob Dylan, who included a nearly identical arrangement of the song on his own Christmas album, 2009's "Christmas in the Heart." Dylan told Street News Service that he "first heard that song years ago on one of those 'Sing Along with Mitch' records. But this version comes from a band called Brave Combo. Somebody sent their record to us for our radio show. They're a regional band out of Texas that takes regular songs and changes the way you think about them. You oughta hear their version of 'Hey Jude.' " High praise from Blind Boy Grunt himself? Hey man, good enough for me.



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

Little Rock's Whale Fire is all ear candy of the sweetest variety: clean, clear guitar lines, catchy melodies and falsetto "ooh-oohs" all over the place, anchored by bedrock bass guitar. On the band's EP from last year, the lead track "Sirens" includes all these characteristics; it sounds like a mission statement. Phantom Limb is a duo that got started in a fairly inauspicious way. A couple of friends — Justin Kinkel-Schuster of St. Louis (also of buzzed-about act Theodore) and Andrew Bryant of Oxford, Miss. — got to playing songs and recording them and then before they knew what happened, they had an album. The group's self-titled debut (on Misra Records) filters Dinosaur Jr.-style guitar rock through The Band's country-boy soul and raggedy backwoods sensibility. Vocal harmonies recall those of the critically vaunted Fleet Foxes, so if you dig that sound, Phantom Limb is recommended.

FRIDAY 12/16


8 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $20-$65.

For its annual holiday show, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents an evening of familiar favorites. Selections include "Let it Snow," "Sleigh Ride," "Ave Maria," selections from "The Nutcracker," the "Winter" concerto from Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," Rimsky-Korsakov's "Snow Maiden Suite: Dance of the Clowns," and much more. Also just as a heads-up: Santa is rumored to be in attendance, so you'd better watch out, and all that. There will be another performance Saturday night at 8 p.m. and a matinee at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

FRIDAY 12/16


8:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.

If you ever wanted to gorge on a pre-holidays smorgasbord of Little Rock's leading rock practitioners, here you go: Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth, Stella Fancy, Jab Jab Sucker Punch (new band with personnel from Big Boss Line and The Moving Front), Adam Faucett, William Blackart, Iron Tongue, Jonathan Wilkins and Booyah! Dad. That's eight — count 'em eight — bands, with even more in the offing, going by the WWT's website. It's like a competitive eating contest but with bands instead of hotdogs or hot wings or whatever. Eating contests are ultra-gross, while this is certainly not, but still: Just how much music can you cram into your ears in a single night? Why not find out once and for all?

FRIDAY 12/16


10 p.m. Juanita's. $12

Bluegrass fans have always placed a premium on instrumental virtuosity. Whether they favor old-fangled traditionalists or newgrass hippies, playing at lightning speed has always seemed — to the outside observer, at least — to be one of the necessary components. By that standard, Minnesota quintet Trampled By Turtles more than measures up. "It's a War" from the band's 2010 disc "Palomino" blisters by and begs the question: Other than its instrumentation, what really differentiates this from a hardcore song? But it's not all warp-speed antics, and the band displays an understanding of nuance on other cuts. Trampled by Turtles (or TxT for short) is no stranger to mixing it up in terms of cover material. Right now there's a string-band version of the classic Pixies tune "Where is my Mind?" on the band's website. And in addition to the foundational bluegrass influences, the band name-checks acts such as The Band, Bill Callahan and Townes Van Zandt. (Aside: is there anyone making music right now who doesn't cite Van Zandt as an influence? Don't get me wrong, "Live at the Old Quarter" is a desert-island pick for sure, but dang it seems like everyone in the world got hip to ol' Townes in the last five years or so.) Anyways, if you dig prog 'grass-ive (sorry, couldn't help it) acts such as Yonder Mountain String Band, Old Crow Medicine Show and the like and you haven't already checked out TxT, don't pass up this show.



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

Word comes along that the bearded warriors of The See have been hard at it finishing up their newest platter, "Pretending and Ending." I think one of the songs on it is called "Hey," a demo version of which is available on the band's MySpace page, and it's a good'n. It's got a tender touch. It's not as bruising as the band sounds live. Or once sounded live — it's been a while since I saw The See. Also, I hear tell that there might be a special treat for the first hunnert or so folks through the door. Wonder what that might be? Perhaps a recording of some of those new songs? I'm not one who's given over to idle speculation, but that'd be pretty sweet. Also performing: Coach, the promising local rock act.




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