Kenny Chesney comes to Verizon this Friday 

by John Tarpley



8 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.

When the "Holy Ghost Rock & Roll Revival" pitches its proverbial tent each first Wednesday of the month at White Water, the tavern becomes what the band describes as "a sort of a church for pagans – saints and sinners." Now, let's not delve into the whole "saloon as church, bar as communion table, rock as gospel and tequila is the Eucharist" metaphor that's been belched up by show-going drunks for decades. Instead, the still-new group taps directly into the long-standing, patently Southern well of gospel-sweetened roots, soul, swamp rock and blues music with "no preaching, no church-i-ness and no religion." But there is an undeniable sheen of religion that lies thinly atop the music, an ever-present hint of old-time church goodliness that's never proselytizing and only present if you're out to see it there. (Much like that wooden cross that's suggested over guitarist Nathaniel Greer's head in the picture.) All of this, if not in the lyrics, lives in the actual reason behind the shows; Monkhouse donates the night's $5 cover to SOAR and Helping Arkansas, two homeless advocacy groups based in Little Rock.



7:30 p.m., The Peabody. $5 donation.

Little Rock keeps rocking for a good cause the following night, as well, with a triple-bill of energetic indie bands taking to the downtown hotel to raise money for, this time, a superstar charity, Heifer International. First up: Carver, a new act from Conway that leans a healthy roots influence up against its indie-rock swagger. If the guys of Carver were a Heifer gift, they would be the $20 flock of chicks, because they're young and all over the place. Next up: Whale Fire, the long-lived sunshine rockers whose whip-tight harmonies and surfboard-ready guitar licks should be no stranger to regular readers of this column. If Whale Fire was a Heifer gift animal, it would most definitely be the $30 box of bees, because the band is sharp, fast and prone to making sticky, sweet music. Finally: Sea Nanners, the blossoming rookies and Times favorites who are soon to release "Queen of the Brodeo," their debut 7" with relentlessly catchy songs that have been on heavy rotation in my headphones for weeks. And if Sea Nanners were a Heifer gift animal, it would be the $120 goat, and not just because, on the webpage, it has a cute, longing look that fits the band's sound, but because singer Thom Asewicz's vocals — some of the best and most idiosyncratic in town — are shuddered and vibrato, much like that of a singing goat.



7 p.m., Jack Stephens Center, UALR. $75.

What began 20 years ago as an ambitious and, let's face it, pretty odd idea for a charity benefit — auctioning off egg-shaped objects decorated by artists and celebrities — has since turned into one of the biggest local fundraisers around. Since its inception, Eggshibition has raised upwards of $2 million for Youth Home, the outreach agency for troubled adolescents. This year, in addition to the decorated eggs, the event is offering weekend trips to New York, Rio and Las Vegas and, for the football fan, primo tickets and a catered tailgate for the Nov. 19 Razorbacks game against Mississippi State as well as two seats in the Jones Family Suite at Cowboy Stadium for a yet-to-be-announced game.


7 p.m., Verizon Arena. $75-$44.

He is, by anybody's count, one of the biggest country singers to twang his way to CMT-era superstardom. He's the voice behind 18 singles and nine albums to reach the top of Billboard's Hot Country Songs charts, one of the biggest touring names in music, period. Huge achievements all, no doubt. But with the personality-driven world of Walmart-country choked with faux authenticity, Chesney is just about the only one of his caliber who actually comes across as the "regular dude" he's branded to be. That, combined with the fact that he's an embodiment of the "hardscrabble singer turns huge" storybook tale, makes him even more endearing. Not bad for a guy who grew up in a pop. 900 town under the shadow of local hero Chet Atkins. The music? Well, he's no Brad Paisley. His discography is freckled with songs that became punchlines and even sputtered on the country charts. But for every "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy," Chesney can unload a melodic, gorgeous track like his recent "Somewhere With You," a smart, inspired track with hooks rooted in Elton John, melodies from Rod Stewart's finer handbooks and a moody air akin to "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum's Grammy-sweeping 2010 single. He's joined by Billy Currington, who returns to Arkansas for his third time in less than a year, and Uncle Kracker, the PG-rated Kid Rock whose own story, which takes him from rap-rock to family-friendly country, is one of the strangest in recent memory.


7 p.m., Central High School Auditorium. Free.

Philander Smith College's popular "Bless the Mic" series closes out a successful season this Friday night with a lecture from Tyrese Gibson, the multi-talented rapper, R&B singer, action movie actor and former model. And now the Renaissance man can add another title to his diverse resume: self-help author. It's his bookshelf debut, "How to Get Out of Your Own Way," that brings the heartthrob to town. Inside, Gibson bares himself in a confessional tell-all, exploring his childhood in the rough streets of Watts, Calif., and his problems with weight, recent divorces and other obstacles he chalks up to a cycle of self-destructive behavior. Says Tyrese, "I was merely ... a man who learned to get out of his own way before it was too late." Copies of the book will be available after his appearance.



9 p.m., Stickyz. $5.

Chugga chugga chugga chugga thrash thrash; chugga chugga chugga chugga thrash thrash! Insert wails, "yeah's," guitar solos, massive drum splashes, hop in your GTO (through the driver's side window, of course), run a comb through your hair while sparking a Zippo to your cigarette, peel out, inhale some of the rubber fumes and crank up "Forbidden Fruit": that's the preferred way to enjoy the new album from local rockers Four on the Floor. Since 2007, the four-piece has made a name for itself opening for Ted Nugent, Jackyll and Heart, among other huge names, and took home a cool 10 grand during a Capri Casino battle of the bands. This morning, I wound up stuck in traffic with the album vibrating my decidedly un-rock 'n' roll Honda. I didn't bother getting my morning coffee. Fans of Smoke Up Johnny: heads up. Kicking off the night: The Fuzz. Great name.



8 p.m., White Water Tavern.

Icons, y'all. These two are icons, if not undeniable punk royalty. They also represent, perhaps more than anyone else from the late-'70s/early-'80s zenith of melodic punk, the easy-to-imagine, hard-to-achieve feat of aging gracefully. Johnny Rotten is shilling Sex Pistols perfume, Henry Rollins has mutated into a meathead-curmudgeon-buster fogey, but Kevin Seconds (of hardcore legends 7 Seconds, whose sound can be traced, big time, to our Towncraft-era bands) and Exene Cervenka (of X, the single greatest band to ever come from Los Angeles) are spending their 50s studying the simple strands of folk DNA that provided the protein for punk music. And both punk and folk are all the better for it. Kevin Seconds' last trip to town, opening for Ted Leo + Pharmacists at Vino's in October, saw him take to the middle of the crowd for some harmonica-driven Americana sung with an earnest grimace and a high tenor. Cervenka, the "Alien Lord" herself, last visited White Water in February 2010, looking like a plucky Montessori teacher and lilting through what seemed to be (welcome) dozens of bite-sized, two-minute folk songs about love, the open road and regrets, wise and masterful, all. Just as interesting: the rows of young men — myself included — shamelessly swooning over the woman whose prime we weren't around to see. (Seriously, who else has made so many rockers blush as radiantly as Exene during X's numerous trips on early Letterman? Even young Dave couldn't hold back a few unarmed titters.) Her latest album, "The Excitement of Maybe," is a widely praised, intriguing addition to the melancholic, Southern Gothic canon that's populated by the Neko Cases and Gillian Welches of the world.


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