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The boys are back in town 

LITTLE ROCK ROYALTY: American Princes headline a show at Juanita's on Friday.
  • LITTLE ROCK ROYALTY: American Princes headline a show at Juanita's on Friday.

FRIDAY 9/28

THE AMERICAN PRINCES/ THE GOOD FEAR

10 p.m., Juanita's. $7.

It's been four months (a third of a year!) since Little Rock's favorite sons played a show here. That's the longest we've ever been American Princes-less, and you can be sure that won't be lost on the band or its ever-widening local fan base. A new album — the group's fifth — should be mixed and mastered by the time the APs get to town, though because they've signed on with a big PR firm, a large advance promotional push means it won't go on sale until mid-February next year. The fellas are excited about the new record and sure to be antsy for folks to hear it, so expect quite a bit of live preview. Also worth noting: After years touring as a four-piece, the Princes last year added a third guitarist, Will Boyd (late of Evanescence). In the handful of times they've played here since then, he's added a noticeable lift to an already dynamic act. The Good Fear, based largely in Fayetteville, rarely play Little Rock. They specialize in epic Southern pop-rock, full of dramatic arrangements and swirling guitar work. Among the six-piece, Jason “T-shirts” Rich's swelling pedal steel is a particular highlight. Look for new material from the Good Fear, too. J. Roddy Walston and the Business also fit into the bill, which'll play an encore show at George's Majestic in Fayetteville on Saturday. Walston and the Business put on a raucous show at Pizza D several months back that folks still rave about.

‘THE TRIANGLE FACTORY FIRE PROJECT'

7:30 p.m., Weekend Theater. $10-$14

Nearly a hundred years ago, a fire in New York City's largest shirtwaist factory took only half an hour to kill 146 workers, who either got caught by the flames or died as a result of jumping out of windows or down elevator shafts. It remains the largest industrial disaster in the city's history. The play, by Christopher Piehler with Scott Alan Evans, tracks the background of the factory — most of its employees were young immigrant women working long hours for little pay — and the headline-dominating trial that followed the fire, where the factory owners, who kept exit doors locked and let flammable fabrics pile up in the building, escaped criminal charges for the deaths, but were forced to pay civil penalties. The fire and its aftermath gave the labor movement the impetus and strength to successfully push for a lot of the labor standards we enjoy today. Frank Butler directs the social commentary.

‘A RIDE WITH BOB'

7:30 p.m., Reynolds Performance Hall, UCA, Conway. $30-$35.

Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel have made a career out of carrying the torch for the music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys (and won nine Grammys along the way). In “A Ride with Bob,” they take their reverence for Wills and the Western Swing music he popularized to a logical culmination: They perform as Wills and the Texas Playboys. “Part memory play, part loving homage, part country concert,” the show features 30 actors, dancers and musicians in a musical journey that follows Wills from his early genre-mixing days, making dance music out of pop, jazz and country-string music, to his years of waning popularity, to the reemergence that followed Merle Haggard's 1970 album tribute, “The Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World.” Anne Rapp, who wrote the screenplays for “Cookie's Fortune” and “Dr. T. and the Women,” penned the musical, which runs through Sunday.

SATURDAY 9/29

THE ROCKIN' GUYS

9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $10.

“Performance Art Miscreants” is the title of the new Rockin' Guys album, and that's about right. For 20 years (give or take a decade-long hiatus or so), the Guys have delighted in taking songs popular and obscure and mutating them beyond recognition. Like a DJ, the band often takes the lyrics of one song, say, the Velvet Underground's “Heroin,” and mashes it with the music of another, say Van Morrison's “Gloria” (with a bonus H-E-R-O-I-N spell-out). Their well of material runs deep and wide. On the new album, which folks will receive with their cover charge on Saturday, the Guys take on acts as far-flung as Johnny Paycheck, Prince, Big Star, the Modern Lovers and the Cramps. But don't get it confused for pure music-geekery. The Guys always manage to put on a highly visceral stage show, full of cardboard cut-outs of Pablo Picasso, smoke, a giant dinosaur, a John Wayne flag, a glowing Jesus and gleefully atonal saxophone solos. This is one of those uniquely local acts (they claim Goat Hill, just outside of Conway, as their point of origin) that you're pretty much obligated to check out. But gird your loins, fair reader.

MAUMELLE FAMILY FEST

10 a.m., Lake Willastein. $7 adv./$10 d.o.s.

Butch Stone has mellowed in his middle years. The legendary music biz mover and shaker has traded managing over-sexed long-hairs and ne'er-do-wells (Black Oak Arkansas and Roger Clinton) for wholesome young folks (a blue-eyed soulman and a Nashville girl group), and swapped booking behemoth touring bands like the Eagles for kid-friendly festivals with draws like “the state's largest petting zoo.” Which is not at all to say he's grown less savvy. The line-up he's assembled for the Maumelle Family Fest reads like the recipe for crack for kids, a saccharine combination of all their dreams, gathered within a few acres and two days (the festival kicks off Friday night, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.). Here's what's on the bill: pony rides, carnival rides, games, magic shows, Jamal the Clown, a fishing contest, a boat show, presentations from the Air Force and Army, an Elvis impersonator, people dressed up like Storm Troopers from “Star Wars,” a screening of “The Wizard of Oz” (with concert sound, on Friday) and lots of music, including Josef Hedinger, the blue-eyed soulman, and Parker Branch, the Nashville girl-group. The fun goes on a full 12 hours on Saturday. Visit www.maumellefamilyfest.com for ticket locations.

DAVID ALLAN COE

8 p.m., the Village. $22 adv./$25 d.o.s.

n If you visit the official David Allan Coe website, appropriately enough www.officialdavidallancoe.com, you might quickly become convinced that the old outlaw had been swallowed by a caricature of himself. The site opens with Coe holding a flying V guitar emblazoned with a Confederate flag. He's grown portly with age. His thick beard is ornamented with beaded tendrils of hair, and a bandana holds back a long, flowing blonde wig that might be the same model Dolly Parton uses. He wears a hands-free microphone. (He must be a chameleon of bizarre styles: In another shot on the website, he looks strikingly like Axl Rose in 20 years. When he becomes a pimp. And wears all white.) Still, appearance, collaborations with Dimebag Darrell (late of life and Pantera) and overblown Confederate rhetoric aside, Coe has written some damn fine songs. You know him for barroom anthems like “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Drink Canada Dry,” but here's a couple of Coe trivia nuggets: He penned hits for Johnny Paycheck (“Take This Job and Shove It”) and Tanya Tucker (“Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone)”). On Saturday, he's likely to revisit his disparate backpages — hopefully, working “Would You Lay With Me” in between a couple drinking songs.

MACHINA

8:30 p.m. Revolution. $10-$12.

Now that Evanescence is on the brink of becoming a one-woman band, fans of its original incarnation, or at least the one that enjoyed the most success, have at least three splinter acts to keep track of. I mentioned Will Boyd above; he's now with the American Princes. Co-founder Ben Moody is doing anthemic songs for soundtracks to bad comic book movies and (gulp) collaborating with Celine Dion. Machina (pronounced “Ma-sheen-a”), the new project from guitarist John Le Compt and drummer Rocky Gray, who were both deposed from Evanescence earlier this year by Amy Lee, seems to have the best chance of pulling in a big swath of Evanescence's fan base. Like its forebearer, Machina's sound rests on a foundation of alt-metal, but where Evanescence accents that with a heavy dose of goth-rock, this new outfit looks back to the early '90s when grunge ruled supreme. Layne Staley, the mournful former frontman of Alice in Chains, is a particularly obvious influence for lead singer Phil Taylor, formerly of Future Leaders of the World. On Saturday, the band will release its debut EP and play its first show in Little Rock. There will be loads of folks in attendance.

SUNDAY 10/30

SPARTA

8 p.m., Juanita's. $10 adv./$12 d.o.s.

At the Drive-In roared onto the national scene in the late '90s. Few acts played with such reckless abandon, while still maintaining a steady sense of melody. By 2001, though, the band was on indefinite hiatus, and the two dudes with Afros, the lead singer and one of the guitarists, had formed the genre-bending band Mars Volta, while the remaining members soldiered on as Sparta. It's like the Uncle Tupelo story for the post-hardcore set, though in this story both Mars Volta and Sparta have gotten fairly huge. To wit, Sunday night's show falls during a brief hiatus the band is taking from a massive tour with Velvet Revolver. That arena-geared sound shines through in the band's latest, “Threes,” which takes quite a few cues from U2, but with a little more edge. It'll be interesting to see how the band sounds in a club setting. Will a couple hundred lighters held high be enough?

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