John Cain's 81st birthday bash 

And much more.

click to enlarge John Cain
  • John Cain



8 p.m. White Water Tavern.

The KABF-FM, 88.3, tagline is "The Voice of the People," and one of the most instrumental voices in that chorus belongs to John Cain, self-described musicologist and longtime program manager of the station. His life story reads like a movie plot — stints on an oil tanker in southern Japan as part of the Navy forces, time absorbing Little Rock's Ninth Street jazz scene and then, later, advocating tirelessly for parts of it to be rehabilitated — notably, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and its rebuilding after a fire in 2005. This weeknight toast, with sets of blues and jazz from Charles Woods and other local jazz and blues players, celebrates Cain's contributions to the city's community radio station, its music scene and its culture. SS

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8 p.m. Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack. $5-$8.

The Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase turns 26 this year, with a list of past champions that reaches back to Towncraft-era Little Rock and serves as evidence for how varied the sounds of winning musicians have been over the years: Ho-Hum, Ashtray Babyhead, Big John Miller & The Direction, Runaway Planet, Hannah Blaylock & Eden's Edge, 607, Velvet Kente, Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth, Tyrannosaurus Chicken and Dazz & Brie, to name just a few. Nearly 60 bands sent in their work for consideration in advance of this year's showcase, and we've narrowed those submissions down to 19 bands, each of which will perform in one of four semifinal rounds to be held each Thursday night in February. They'll be judged in four categories: songwriting, musicianship, originality and showmanship. This year, the crowd will get the chance to weigh in, too, and add their votes by way of a written ballot to each band's totals for the evening. The winner of each of those semifinal rounds, as well as a "wild card" winner (the top-scoring semifinalist that did not win its particular semifinal round) will advance to the final round of competition, to be held at the Rev Room on Friday, March 9. The showcase champion will receive a prize package including cold hard cash, an in-studio showcase at Capitol View Studio, a live spot at the Arkansas State Fair Bud Light Pavilion, a live spot at Musicfest El Dorado, a live spot at Low Key Arts' Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival in Hot Springs, a Thursday Night Live performance at Griffin Restaurant in El Dorado, eight hours of artist development at The Hive Studio, a PRS SE 245 Standard 22 Electric Guitar from Sunrise Guitars and more. First up are: Laith, Black River Pearl, Route 358, The Rios and Princeaus. SS



Photographs of Adger Cowans. Hearne Fine Art.

Adger Cowans' photography, primarily in black and white, includes documentary shots of the 1960s, "street journalism," portraiture, still lifes and experimental work and has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum of Harlem, the Cleveland Museum of Art and other premier arts institutions. Now the photographs, as well as the artist, will be in Little Rock. Cowans, who is also a painter and who will be in Arkansas for a symposium at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on Feb. 3, will be in attendance at a reception at the Hearne gallery from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 9 and will give a talk at 2 p.m. Feb. 10. LNP

click to enlarge 'POLYPHONY No. 8': Susan Schwalb's metalpoint drawings are on display at the Arkansas Arts Center through April 29.
  • 'POLYPHONY No. 8': Susan Schwalb's metalpoint drawings are on display at the Arkansas Arts Center through April 29.



Arkansas Arts Center.

Metalpoint is the creation of fine lines using styluses of silver, bronze, copper and other metals against treated paper. Susan Schwalb has made her mark on the medium as well, introducing the historic form to modern art. Thus she is called the "pied piper of silverpoint" and has inspired American artists, including Arkansas's master of metal work, Marjorie Williams-Smith, to take up the wire. This show includes 35 works, beginning in 1977, created by Schwalb using metal drawing tools as well as graphite, gouche and gold leaf. "My new drawings," Schwalb says in a press release, "use the classical Renaissance technique of metalpoint in a way that challenges all the traditional concepts." The show runs through April 29. LNP

click to enlarge Young Valley
  • Young Valley



9 p.m. Maxine's, Hot Springs. $7.

In a 2016 performance of "The Fly" for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, it's as if the Jackson-based Young Valley sat down and set out to write its own "Cripple Creek." Harmonica frames the barely-walking-tempo stanzas and sung phrases get traded off, leaning heavily on the drummer: "Well, the North country weather was killin' me/I had to set my sights down South/Bathe in the rivers of Tennessee just to wash my worries out." Whether Levon was on their minds is anybody's guess, but that's the scene they paint here. Twins Zach and Dylan Lovett and their rock outfit put on a charged, energetic show last August opening for Andrew Bryant of Water Liars, and at least a handful of listeners took note to catch them when they came around again. They're joined by fellow Mississippians Empty Atlas and the endlessly gifted songsmith, photographer and guitarist Joshua Asante (Amasa Hines, Velvet Kente). If this one's not in the cards, catch Young Valley at the White Water Tavern with Bonnie Montgomery on Saturday night. SS

click to enlarge RODNEY BLOCK
  • Rodney Block



10 p.m. South on Main. $15.

The Rodney Block Collective, a trumpet-centric revolving ensemble of some of the most polished performers in town, reprises its tribute to Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill, Burning Spear and the Fugees with a program called "The Miseducation of Rodney Block." Onsite to lend a hand — and to give the uninitiated a peek into Little Rock's growing reggae scene — is Katrice "Butterfly" Newbill, as well as Collective regular Bijoux, educator and musician Tim Anthony, Tammi J, Dee Davis, DJ Hy-C and others. If you thought Little Rock's connection to the Caribbean diaspora was limited to Darril Harp Edwards' steel drum work, here's a chance to get educated. SS

click to enlarge Avenged Sevenfold
  • Avenged Sevenfold



6:25 p.m. Verizon Arena. $25-$75.

Zachary Baker, Brian Haner, Matthew Sanders, Jonathan Seward and Brooks Wackerman of the Southern California-based heavy rock quintet Avenged Sevenfold were nominated for the "Best Rock Song" category at Sunday evening's Grammy Awards (Foo Fighters won), but you didn't see them on television. After it was determined that "Best Rock Song" wouldn't be part of the telecast and it would cost upward of $150,000 to attend and still keep their tour schedule on track, the musicians decided against attending, basically tweeting, "Nah, we're good." At least, though, we got SZA and Pink and Childish Gambino, and fortunately for Little Rock audiences, we can still hear the opening shred patterns of that nominated title track, "The Stage," in a live performance here, with Breaking Benjamin and Bullet For My Valentine. SS

click to enlarge 'SOUL OF A NATION': Painter and printmaker Benny Andrews' "Did the Bear Sit Under a Tree" is part of an exhibition subtitled "Art in the Age of Black Power," opening with a symposium this weekend at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
  • 'SOUL OF A NATION': Painter and printmaker Benny Andrews' "Did the Bear Sit Under a Tree" is part of an exhibition subtitled "Art in the Age of Black Power," opening with a symposium this weekend at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.



Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, $10 nonmember adults.

If you saw the 2017 exhibitions "Here." at the Arts & Science Center of Southeast Arkansas and "AfriCOBRA NOW" at Hearne Fine Art, shows that highlighted Chicagoans and others working during the height of the civil rights movement, you'll know right away why "Soul of a Nation" is a must-not-miss show. If you didn't see those exhibitions last year, then you really must not miss "Soul of a Nation," works by 60 of America's finest African-American artists. While Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko were exploring abstract expressionism, the artists of "Soul of a Nation" — including collage artist Romare Bearden, sculptor Noah Purifoy, craft artist Martin Puryear, quilter Faith Ringgold, assemblage artist Betye Saar, painter Alma Thomas, WPA muralist Charles White, painter and printmaker Benny Andrews, portrait and conceptual artist Barkley Hendricks, abstractionist Sam Gilliam and the others in the show — were working in a world set apart, addressing issues of racism as well as working within the abstract art movements of the mid-20th century. At 1 p.m. Feb. 3, Crystal Bridges will offer a free 45-minute guided tour to ticket-holders. A symposium that day with Tate Modern curators as well as artists is sold out, but will be streamed by Crystal Bridges; a link to the livestream of the symposium, which starts at 10 a.m., will be posted Feb. 3 at crystalbridges.org/soul-of-a-nation-symposium. Crystal Bridges curator of contemporary art Lauren Haynes will speak with artists Betye Saar and Alison Saar at 10:30 a.m.; a panel discussion with AfriCOBRA artists Jae Jarell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Carolyn Lawrence and Gerald Williams begins at 11:15 a.m.; a panel discussion on photography with Ming Smith, Adger Cowans and Dawoud Bey begins at 1:30 p.m.; Haynes will talk with artists Melvin Edwards and William T. Williams at 2:15 p.m.; a panel of educator artists will talk about the visual arts education at 3:15 p.m.; and Tate curators will talk with performance artist Lorraine O'Grady (Mlle. Bourgeois Noire) at 4 p.m. and Faith Ringgold at 4:30 p.m. LNP

click to enlarge Conway Symphony Orchestra - KELLY HICKS
  • Kelly Hicks
  • Conway Symphony Orchestra



7:30 p.m. Reynolds Performance Hall, Conway. $27-$35.

There's already a lot going for Pixar films, musically speaking: Randy Newman, for one, who composed for "Cars," "Toy Story," "Monsters, Inc." and five other Pixar flicks. There's the score for "Wall-E," the franchise's silent masterpiece about consumerism, humanity and a lonely robot. This concert puts choice clips from 16 films in Pixar's repertoire with a live orchestra playing a score coordinated to fit the movie montage — in this case, the Conway Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Conductor and Music Director Israel Getzov in his 13th season with the CSO. SS

click to enlarge 'THE INVENTOR': Kevin James, an innovator in the field of magic effects, is part of the lineup for "The Illusionists,' a touring magic show that lands at Robinson Center on Saturday.
  • 'THE INVENTOR': Kevin James, an innovator in the field of magic effects, is part of the lineup for "The Illusionists,' a touring magic show that lands at Robinson Center on Saturday.



5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Robinson Center Performance Hall. $47-$102.

Count this among the list of things you are way too cool for until you actually see them live, right next to the television show "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" and the entirety of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra catalogue. Think of it as a sort of supergroup of magicians: daredevil and escape artist Jonathan Goodwin, who, according to the show's website, has been "hung by his toes from helicopters, burned at the stake, attacked by sharks, and even sewn up inside a dead cow"; the Sherlockian mentalist Colin Cloud, "The Deductionist"; Kevin James, a French-born American inventor and descendant of P.T. Barnum, who's credited with creating magic effects like "The Floating Rose" popularized by David Copperfield; "The Manipulator" An Ha Lim, a card-trick guru from South Korea; and "The Trickster" Jeff Hobson, longtime Vegas emcee and pickpocket magician. The show is intended for all ages, but magic can be a little dark; producers recommend bringing the age 6-plus contingent in your family. SS

click to enlarge 'AFTERIMAGE': Singer and guitarist R.LUM.R performs at Stickyz on Saturday night. - NOLAN KNIGHT
  • Nolan Knight
  • 'AFTERIMAGE': Singer and guitarist R.LUM.R performs at Stickyz on Saturday night.



9 p.m. Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack. $15-$17.

The chorus to R.LUM.R's single "Frustrated" starts on an E5, a note some lower altos go to lengths to avoid. Vocally, it's head voice territory for a deeper instrument like R.LUM.R's, and musically, it's the same terrain Sade and D'Angelo wander around in, coupled here with a heavy, transfixing throb of a bass beat. A singer who sidelined aspirations in classical guitar and film music, R.LUM.R — Reginald Lamar Williams — squished together his first and middle names and moved to Nashville to "create [his] own lane," as he told a music blog called "Behind the Setlist" last year: "I could've gone to Atlanta or Chicago or L.A. or Portland or whatever, but those places already have a sound that you think of when you think of urban — read: black — music. L.A. has Kendrick, the beat scene. Atlanta, there's that wonderful trap music that's poppin'. New York City there are the boom-bap rappers. Chicago, it's Mick Jenkins. People, you know, who have a history in those places." As a person outside looking in, I didn't think Nashville had a lane yet for a black guy making traditional black music, you know what I'm saying?" R.LUM.R performs here between dates in Memphis and Oklahoma City, with a perfectly matched crooner of an opener: Sean Fresh. SS

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8:30 p.m. BeSpoke Media Group, 2211 Cantrell Road. $12-$14.

If Target's inspirational home decor is to be believed, we're supposed to be playing more, daring to be wrong, thinking happy thoughts and making today awesome. To that end, here's an age 18-and-over event with a "big kid ball pit"; music from Flintwick, Tilomere, Pineapplebeatz and Jesse John Shavel; wine from Chateau Aux Arc; beer from Stone's Throw Brewing; a photo booth; a giant game of Twister; art and activity installations; performances from acroyoga artists and the circus performers of Arkansas Circus Arts; and a costume contest for the best red or love-themed garb. It's part of a collaborative event called the "Signature Artist Series" in a space near Cajun's Wharf in Riverdale. Get tickets by searching local on brownpapertickets.com or by calling 501-701-3622. SS




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