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Shows with big buzz 

The Hold Steady, North Mississippi Allstars hit town.

HOLD STEADY: "Best bar band."
  • HOLD STEADY: "Best bar band."

There is much buzz about shows that begin and end the first weekend in December. The anticipation of good music after a weekend of avoiding awkward conversations with relatives whom you know only via A.) drunk stories B.) run-in-with-the-law stories or C.) stupid-dare stories, has left the general music masses clamoring for a night crammed full with enough “seizing of days” to last a lifetime.

Well, hold steady. Next Monday, everything you’re looking for will arrive at Sticky Fingerz via one large tour bus from Brooklyn, N.Y. The Hold Steady — whose members originate from Minneapolis and currently reside in Brooklyn — plays at 8 p.m. Dec. 4; cover is $12.

Headed by Craig Finn, formerly of Lifter Puller, the band takes its listeners on a journey through their excursions and explorations — usually involving alternative substances. Their second album, “Separation Sunday,” garnered critical praise, and in “Rent”-like fashion revolves around a group of debased characters (a pimp, a prostitute and Gideon) and their tribulations throughout the parties and resulting highs and lows they encounter.

On their newest album, “Boys and Girls in America,” The Hold Steady takes a step back from more specific characterization and storytelling in an attempt to widen the cult circle. The band remains true to its theme that “having a good time is just hard,” to the point of starting the album with the words of Sal Paradise (“boys and girls in America have such a sad time together …”). They still remain (as Blender magazine said) “the best bar band in America,” due to the nature of the show they put on while singing the Kerouac-inspired lyrics.

However, don’t let the phrase “bar band” fool you. The Hold Steady is no funked-up version of ’80s covers. The term pertains more to their topic of musical conversation than to any sort of genre. Musically “Boys and Girls in America” relies on the layered chords and increasing musical momentum characteristic of the Boss to get their tried-but-true message across. Much of the newest album relives the chaos of Craig Finn’s own experiences. He tells his history in a fan-like fashion and you’re simply along for the ride (which you probably won’t mind too much if you like Springsteen, the Replacements or the Grifters).

Starting off the weekend will be blues/jam band big shots North Mississippi Allstars heading up a double-dose weekend (Friday and Saturday night) at the Revolution Room. Shows start at 9 p.m.; tickets are $17 in advance, $20 at the door. The Allstars were formed in 1996 by sons of Memphis production legend Jim Dickerson. His sons Luther and Cody, inspired by the sounds of Mississippi Fred McDowell and R.L. Burnside (his son Duwayne was a member of the Allstars for a while), added their own special rock influence to the blues standard and got something comparably funkier in the process (think Jon Spencer meets Phish meets blues).

Three of their albums have been nominated for Grammys (including their debut) and they’ve done work with John Medeski and famed pedal-steel player Robert Randolph.

Other shows to catch this week include: Mogwai-inspired rock with Cracker Creeptacular on Thursday at Vino’s, college boy acoustic guitar with Latture, Adam Hambrick and Chris Allen at Juanita’s, soul shriveling ’80s art rock with Junius at The Treehouse and roguish country with Lucero, Drag the River and others who are avoiding the big city and instead playing a show at Soundstage in Conway … On Friday, metal/hard rock with After the Tragedy, Plu, PM Today and The New Ending at Vino’s Brewpub; hip-hop with Kwestion, Custom, Suga City, Maria V and Sincere at Downtown Music; electronic hip hop with Futuro Boots at The Treehouse, and at White Water Tavern there’s 800 Bullets (formerly Hell’s Kitchen) … On Saturday it’s the Little Rock Beer Can Collector’s Annual Show at Vino’s, and at Downtown Music the Humane Society Benefit Show featuring Beat the Living and more … At Juanita’s look for Drop Dead Syndicate and at White Water see Sean Rock and the Toltecs … The Little Rock Folk Club on Saturday will feature Arkansas Irish folk with Something for the House … On Sunday The Battle for Myspace continues at Juanita’s … On Tuesday at White Water it’s the Arkansas Rockers Revue with electro house and new wave from Another Theory, Black Tie Dynasty and The Hourly Radio … At The Village on Tuesday, there’s Southern rock with Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. For those who have been waiting, The Village recently was approved for a beer license … On Wednesday at Vino’s see Much the Same with Upper Class Trash, The Track Record and Southcott, and at Juanita’s it’s the CD release party for The Boswells.

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