Only the music’s smokin’ 

At the reopened Afterthought with the Boondogs, or for a harp guitarist at Acoustic Sounds Cafe.

Boondogs, sans cigs.
  • Boondogs, sans cigs.

Here’s some big news: The Afterthought will reopen Friday as the city’s first smoke-free bar, in advance of Arkansas’s new smoking ban.

Legally, the bar could allow smoking because it is an over-21-only establishment. The debates of second-hand smoke aside, management says the most positive response has been to the non-smoking rule from the musicians themselves, as not all musicians smoke and some are actually allergic and it affects their performance.

The Afterthought has new carpet, new furniture and new bathrooms. Keeping it smoke-free, according to owner Linda Bennett, will keep things fresh.

Three acts Friday, April 28, and three acts Saturday, April 29, will help celebrate the reopening. On Friday, pianist Stephen Winter will perform at 6 p.m., R&B/jazz duo Brenda and Ellis will play at 8 p.m., and R&B/jazz artist William Staggers (with a guest appearance by Ramona Smith) will perform at 10:30 p.m. On Saturday, Stephen Winter opens at 6 p.m., Ginny Becton and Pat Henry perform jazz standards starting at 8 p.m., and the alternative rock-country Boondogs play at 10:30 p.m. Cover is $5 each night.

And pretty big news for Max Recordings: At the Saturday Boondogs show, Matson Films out of New York will be filming for an upcoming documentary highlighting the fifth anniversary of local indie label Max, the 12 main bands on the Max label, and the history of Little Rock as an influential indie-rock city for the past 15 years. Max will celebrate its fifth anniversary at Sticky Fingerz on Friday, May 5, with a lineup of its artists.

According to the Matson Films website, the film and soundtrack will be released in the fall.

It is always a treat to see cool hybrid instruments, and a harp guitar sounds as beautiful as it looks. Flat-picking finger-style artist Stephen Bennett is a leader in the re-emergence of the harp guitar. He’ll appear at Acoustic Sounds Cafe on Friday, April 28.

We listened to a pre-release copy of his latest CD, “Reflections,” and it was beautiful and impressionistic; the music sounds like a Monet looks. Bennett has garnered so many awards, we can’t list them all here. He’ll play Friday along with Acoustic Sounds Cafe alum Dave Smith from the tiny Fox community. Smith opens at 7:30 p.m., playing fiddle, guitar, banjo and accordion.

Admission is $10.

It’s hard out there for a pimp: Houston-born rapper Slim Thug will appear at Bada Bing on Thursday, April 27. He’s worked with crunk king Mike Jones (contributing to the song “Still Trippin’ ”) and has appeared with Gwen Stefani in her 2005 video, “Luxurious,” and “Check On It” with Beyonce.

“Already Platinum” was his debut album, released last July. Tickets are $20. Young Hogs open at 8 p.m. Call the club at 897-2112 for more info. Bada Bing is on 145th Street south of town.

They call themselves the Format, and the Arizona-based duo (Sam Means and Nate Ruess) describe their music as “desert pop,” which is a sort of Cat Stevens singer-songwriter hooky pop with machine-made sound layering fleshing it all out. The Format will be at Juanita’s on May 2.

Some already know them — their name is directly the opposite of their music, which is not from a sort of standardized mold. However, they did manage to get some mainstream success: “The First Single” and “Wait Wait Wait” were featured on “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County” on MTV.

Admission for the 8 p.m. show is $10. Also appearing are June Ticker Tape Parade and Athallo.

And a quick run down of what’s left this weekend: the Cate Brothers will be at White Water Tavern on Friday (10 p.m., $5) … Cajun’s Wharf has blues band Left of Center on Friday and blues-rocker-songwriter Shannon Boshears on Saturday … the jammin’ guys of Freeverse appear Saturday at Cornerstone … and we talked to Ahren, the bass player for Weakness for Blondes, and he says they are looking forward to playing at Sticky Fingerz on Friday with Fayetteville-based favorite Sarah Hughes (9 p.m., $5). One Stone reggae band will be at Sticky’s on Saturday (9:30 p.m.; $5).

Looking ahead: A couple of regularly revolving acts are coming May 4. Southern Culture on the Skids brings its yeehaw rock to Juanita’s (9 p.m., $12) while that sly ol’ Jimbo Mathus and Knockdown South will be at Sticky Fingerz (9:30 p.m., $5)


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