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Rick Bragg coming to Clarksville 

THURSDAY 3/3

RICK BRAGG

7 p.m. Rowntree Auditorium, University of the Ozarks, Clarksville. Free.

Rick Bragg grew up in the northeastern Alabama township of Possum Trot, and I have to wonder whether it wasn't this fact — rather than Bragg's Pulitzer Prize, his distinguished career with the New York Times, or the sterling reputation of his Deep South family-memoir "All Over but the Shoutin' " — that led to his gaining the trust of Jerry Lee Lewis, who calls himself "The Killer" and who many believe genuinely means it (the journalist Richard Ben Cramer alleged as much in an infamous 1984 Rolling Stone article). After all, Lewis was raised by farmers named Elmo and Mamie in eastern Louisiana; he spent his childhood hanging out with Jimmy Swaggart (a first cousin) and country singer Mickey Gilley (another cousin, he of "Don't the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time" fame). Maybe Lewis thought Bragg, given his similarly red-dirt upbringing, was the man to finally get it right — the whole sordid, violent, depressing, vital story: a heartbreaking work of staggering meanness. So far, many believe he has. Bragg's biography of Lewis, "Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story," was reviewed by Stephen King in the New York Times Book Review, called "irresistible" by the Wall Street Journal, "enthralling" by Entertainment Weekly, and "the best book on rock and roll I have ever read," by the redoubtable Grit Lit stalwart Ron Rash. "I loved every amphetamine-laced, whiskey-soaked, gun-shot page of it," said Ann Patchett. Last year Bragg was inducted into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame, and he'll discuss his career Thursday at the University of the Ozarks in its Walton Arts Center. WS

THURSDAY 3/3

UNDERGROUND SOUNDS OPEN MIC

8 p.m. Maxine's, Hot Springs.

After a quiet evening at the Ohio Club, the Gangster Museum or the Arlington Hotel's big-band surrealistic circus, what could be better than a hi-octane underground hip-hop showcase, a cross-section of some of the year's best and brightest Hot Springs rappers. There's Savage Sinatra, a propulsive, charismatic rapper with a wild, nasally flow (who I can credit with at least one stone-cold novelty-rap classic in "Mario Luigi"); icy, strident R&B singer SME Tiphani; raucous West Memphis MC Trill Trell (celebrating his 21st birthday); and many others I haven't heard yet, like MC Spooky Tooth. WS

FRIDAY 3/4-FRIDAY 3/25

'SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK!'

7 p.m. Fri., 2 p.m. Sat. and Sun. Arkansas Arts Center. $12.50.

If you have kids, go see "Schoolhouse Rock!" for its sing-along, nostalgia-drenched, education-by-osmosis approach to the basics of grammar and multiplication and stuff like that. As a bonus, depending on your age bracket, you'll get to re-encounter one of the more evocative (and practically instructive) artworks of your childhood. The best reason to go, however, is the opportunity to celebrate the music of one of Arkansas's most fascinating and locally undervalued cultural exports. I'm speaking of the legendary Bob Dorough, Cherry Hill native, who collaborated with Sugar Ray Robinson, Lenny Bruce, Blossom Dearie, John Zorn, Miles Davis and Spanky and Our Gang before cryogenically solidifying his reputation as the bard of hippie children's music, personally responsible for "Three Is a Magic Number," "Conjunction Junction," "I'm Just a Bill," and countless more classics of the genre. The man wrote "Busy Prepositions." He wrote "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here." Jesus, I mean he even wrote "Electricity, Electricity," one of the show's most abstract and forward-thinking anthems — anticipating, as it did, similar futurist jams by Kraftwerk and O.M.D. WS

FRIDAY 3/4

TEDx UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL ARKANSAS

8 a.m.-5 p.m., Ida Waldron Auditorium, UCA. $40 ($20 faculty, students and alumni association members)

UCA is holding its first TEDx event, a day of talks by scholars, artists, writers, a Quapaw chairman and an expert on Syria. The event is fashioned after TED talks by leading thinkers and otherwise fascinating people (Monica Lewinsky's TED talk was surprisingly enlightening). UCA's speakers include Mouaz Moustafa, who was raised in Syria but moved to the U.S. as a teenager and worked on the staffs of Congressman Vic Snyder and Sen. Blanche Lincoln. He is now the executive director for the Syrian Emergency Task Force. Others include music critic Rashod Ollison, Quapaw leader John Berrey, Artist's Laboratory Theatre founder Erika Wilhite, Delta Veterans Program head Dr. Malcolm Glover and several more. LNP

SUNDAY 3/6

14TH ANNUAL LITTLE ROCK MARATHON

7 a.m.-3 p.m.

It's marathon day on Sunday, so put on your running shoes and go watch other people run! The race starts at 7 a.m. sharpish at a new jumping off point — Scott and Fourth streets — and the route makes a loop around North Little Rock before returning and heading to the Clinton Presidential Center (a good viewing place) and beyond, then back past MacArthur Park (another good viewing place), west to Park and Daisy Bates (view the race from Central High School's lawn), and then west on West Markham to Kavanaugh Boulevard (always lined with well-wishers and drink stands), down (whew!) on North Lookout to Cantrell Road and over to Riverfront Drive for that killer westward run to the Big Dam and back again (lots of good vantage points along this part of the route) and back up Cantrell Road to Main and Third streets. It's exhausting just to think about, especially when you realize that, with the exception of the riverside routes, this race is run in the Ouachita Mountain foothills. Remember, race streets will be closed while people are running down the middle of them. If the limit (3,300 runners) is not reached, you can still register to actually make this harrowing 26.1 mile trek at the Little Rock Marathon Health & Fitness Expo, a trade show, at the Statehouse Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The Kids Marathon registration is closed. LNP

MONDAY 3/7

VALLEY QUEEN

9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.

To free associate for a minute: Think Laurel Canyon acid flashbacks and nudie-suits and Stevie Nicks and "Sweetheart of the Rodeo"; think of that story about Laura Nyro auditioning for Clive Davis by flipping all the lights out and playing piano in the dark. Think of Lynn Anderson in her prime, or the actual house that inspired Graham Nash's "Our House." Valley Queen is an Americana rock group fronted by Arkansas native Natalie Carol. The group's based in L.A. now, "a crazy place," as Carol put it in a recent interview. "You've got to have a community around you or you can get really down," she said. "It's just so big, it can swallow you up, spit you out, and make ya pay $75 for street cleaning." Stephen Neeper and Alexander Jones open. WS

WEDNESDAY 3/9

JO MCDOUGALL, ED MADDEN

7 p.m. Oxford American Annex.

Sibling Rivalry Press, one of the country's most exciting publishers of LGBT poetry (based here in Little Rock, no less), is hosting a book launch event for two Arkansas poets Wednesday at the Oxford American Annex (adjacent to South on Main). Jo McDougall, born and raised near DeWitt and now based in Little Rock, has published six acclaimed poetry collections, many of them navigating the landscapes and milieus of the Arkansas Delta. Her work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, the Hudson Review, the Georgia Review, and she's the recipient of a Porter Prize. Her new collection ranges from meditations on loss and poverty to prismatic celebrations of Flannery O'Connor and Lucinda Williams ("seventeen — eighteen, maybe — she wandered among us, / her voice fetching and uneasy, / singing for dollars and nickels"). And then there are poems like "Watching 'Casablanca' in Arkadelphia, Arkansas": "Those flimmering creatures on the screen are dead, / the town at this hour is dead, / the vapor of that river rises / to touch my feet." Reading McDougall as an Arkansan (or a person), you get the sense of having been understood. Ed Madden teaches at the University of South Carolina and has published three collections of poetry. Last year, he was named the poet laureate of Columbia, S.C. His new book, published by Sibling Rivalry, is described as "a book about family, about old wounds and new rituals, about the extraordinary importance of ordinary things at the end of life." WS

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