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John Corbett of 'Sex and the City' returns to Hot Springs parade 

WEDNESDAY 3/16

AUSTIN LUCAS

10 p.m., White Water Tavern.

How does one become, well, not only an alt-country singer but something like an underground twang-punk cult figure? For Austin Lucas, it's a long, strange road that starts in Bloomington, Ind., shining at choral music and, of all things, classical opera at the prestigious Jacobs School of Music. All of this before moving to punk and hardcore as a young teen-ager, then moving, literally, to Prague to play crust punk and thrash metal. While Lucas may have traded in doom-and-gloom lyrics for some verbose whiskey-and-nostalgia free-verse poetry, he's held on to his guitar stylings, ferociously shaking and abusing the poor thing to impressive effect. This show marks a stop on a grueling schedule to release not one, but two, albums this Wednesday at White Water Tavern: the first, a special, early debut for "A New Home in the Old World," which doesn't hit stores until April 4; the other, a CD release of Lucas' installment in Last Chance Records' "Live From the White Water Tavern" series, previously only available on vinyl. Also playing: Drag the River, the Fort Collins band with a big, dedicated following in the smokier corners of Little Rock's bar scene. JT.


THURSDAY 3/17

FIRST EVER EIGHTH ANNUAL WORLD'S SHORTEST ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE

6 p.m., Bridge Street, Hot Springs. Free.

The hoopla surrounding Hot Springs' biggest annual PR stunt started earlier in the week. On Monday, there was a wreath ceremony to honor one of the few two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winners, John King, an Irish American buried in Hot Springs. And on Tuesday, baseball historian Bill Jenkinson measured what he believes is the length of a nearly century-old Babe Ruth home run that "altered the course of baseball history." But the party really starts on Thursday, when something called "Romancing the Stone" that involves "smooching the Arkansas Blarney Stone" kicks off at 4:30 p.m. Official parade ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. "The World's Tallest Leprechaun" will be milling about and around 6:25 p.m., the 98-foot route will be measured. At 6:30 p.m., the parade begins, celebrity grand marshaled by "Sex in the City" star John Corbett, whose self-described "good country rockin' bar band" The John Corbett Band will play a free concert post-concert. There'll be food and green beer for sale, too. Read a Q&A with Corbett on our entertainment blog, Rock Candy. LM.

PATTI LABELLE

7:30 p.m., Statehouse Convention Center. $43.50-$61

Anyone would be hard pressed to name more than a handful of R&B singers with careers as active and downright long-lasting as the Creole Lady Marmalade. Since first stepping into the studio, Patti LaBelle has belted her way through church choirs, girl bands, doo-wop groups, feathery space funk, '80s R&B, quiet storm, a duet with Big Daddy Kane, gospel — you name it. Heck, she consistently stole the show from The Who while they toured together in the early '70s. The erratic topography of her 50-year career pretty much tells the story of the diva since the term "diva" was minted. But she's remembered most fondly for her '80s output: synthy anthems like "New Attitude" and "On My Own," her duet with all-time yacht rock captain, Michael McDonald. Now, she's 66 — and the first person to tell you she's 66 — and still strutting and belting out Philly soul like women a third of her age. Longevity is one thing, but consistency is a whole other game. And it's one that LaBelle is setting the pace for. Thursday night, the Wally Allen Ballroom gets treated to her "Vegas revue." Expect a career-spanning retrospective with all the hits; hope for her to revisit that crazy cover of Gil Scott Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" she did as a b-side back in 1972. JT.


FRIDAY 3/18

8BALL & MJG

9 p.m., Revolution. $30 adv., $35 d.o.s.

Speaking of long-tenured genre icons, this year marks the 21st year for 8Ball & MJG, the Memphis rap architects whose loose, swaggering releases in the early '90s brought some well-deserved, long overdue attention to the mid-South, provided some of the major building blocks of Southern rap and helped open the door for all of the Master Ps, Three 6 Mafias and Outkasts to come. During their last visit to town in October 2009, the duo brought Hill Country Revue, the blues two-piece, to act as a genre-smashing backing band. This time, however, it's bringing a busload of opening acts from the relatively familiar (Lil Wil from Memphis has made waves on regional radio with his new single "My Dougie") to the up-and-coming (Mr. Pookie & Mr. Lucci) and a parade of randoms with awesome names (King Kong Cotton, Stubbalean). For guys of a certain age who grew up not too far away from Memphis — this writer definitely included — 8Ball & MJG are nothing short of dirty ridin', syrup slurpin' superheroes. And you never get too old for a little "Space Age Pimpin'." The bill is rounded out by Big Doughski G, Stoney Crook Family, Hot Rod D'conte, Adam Bomb, Lilo Eskimo and DJ Mike Blaze. V.I.P. tickets are available for $75. JT.


SATURDAY 3/19

ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: 'ST. PATRICK'S DAY CELEBRATION'

8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $30-$48.

This weekend, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra offers up a helping of Ireland by way of Alabama with Mithril, a world-traveled four-piece whose traditional Celtic roots get spun into a completely different sound thanks to progressive influences, from Middle Eastern sounds to Tin Pan Alley Americana. With a load of wild Irish instruments like the bouzouki (a primitive lute/mandolin hybrid) and the bodhran (yeah, that's just a drum), the quartet joins the ASO for a slate of jigs and folk songs, even taking a musical detour for a performance of "Arkansas Traveler." The program returns the following day at 3 p.m. JT.

JOHN SINCLAIR

10 p.m., White Water Tavern

Famously, John Sinclair bounded through the '60s fueled by radical idealism and hay bales of marijuana, creating the White Panther Party and writing reams of Delta blues-inspired beatnik poetry before famously being bulldozed to jail with a 10-year sentence tied onto him for giving an undercover narc two joints. Soon after, Sinclair became not only a marijuana martyr, but his case became one of the most visible causes celebres of the era, culminating in the "Free John" benefit concert, public co-signs from Stevie Wonder, Allen Ginsberg and, most famously, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who penned the brilliantly catchy sing-song, "John Sinclair." Hours after the concert, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned the ruling and, after two years in the pen, Sinclair was released. (Come to think of it, it's pretty astounding that his tenure as the manager for MC5 is one of the least fascinating things about him.) What I'm trying to say is: This guy is a living legend who has lived legendarily and with a lot to say. And not only is it worth listening to, it's a blast to hear. Last year, I had the pleasure of moderating a talk with the man at the Clinton School of Public Service. He turned Sturgis Hall into a standing room-only affair before packing out White Water Tavern hours later and keeping a reverent crowd engrossed, enchanted and, occasionally, in stitches with his beatnik spoken word blues, like some kind of a pothead Mark Twain. He returns to the Tavern once again with friend, co-collaborator and Pan prince of Delta blues, David Kimbrough Jr. JT.


SUNDAY 3/20

DALE EARNHARDT JR. JR.

8:30 p.m., Stickyz. $8.

n That sprawling, frustrating terrain we call the "blogosphere" has been abuzz for months praising the lush harmonies and crunching synths of Detroit's Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Like an electro-fixated Beach Boys, the duo produce opulent, experimental indie pop from a labyrinth of pedals, drum machines and other disparate bedroom gadgetry. The guys' shtick of suiting up in full-body NASCAR driver uniforms (one plugging Lysol; the other Cheerios) and decking out their stage in the stars and bars would be a bit grating in less-talented hands, but their intricate pop is strong enough to upstage any unsolicited goofiness. Come to think of it, you may just leave loving the damn suit; the angle certainly grew on me, for one. Bottom line: There are too many Internet buzz acts not worth the hype, but these guys are endearing, accessible, clever and maybe one of the few real deals. The jury's still out on the name, though. Also playing: fellow hype band from Athens, Ga., Reptar, who returns to town with a whole mess of heady, hyperactive party jams. JT.

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