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The To-Do List, Dec. 16-22 

By Lindsey Millar and John Tarpley

THURSDAY 12/16

THE SWORD

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

Metal is alive and well, especially the throwback brand, rife with vintage '80s shredding and songs about time travel and Vikings. But few outfits are doing it with the steely-eyed panache of fantasy metal torch-holders The Sword of Austin, Texas. Now, after years of recording at a heavy, steady pace, touring the world, the band is finally steering towards consistent success thanks to a song in "Guitar Hero 2" and a glowing plug from Rolling Stone. If your iPod isn't equipped for wreaking shit on a time-traveling dragon in a deep-space, look no further. This show marks a make-up gig for The Sword, after they canceled an engagement in October when their former drummer left the band. Stoner metal tourmates Karma To Burn open the night alongside Little Rock's go-to throwback metal act, Iron Tongue. JT.

'A CRUMBY CHRISTMAS'

9 p.m., White Water Tavern. Donations.

Bonnie Montgomery, prolific songwriter Isaac Alexander and American Princes frontman David Slade as well as Mandy McBryde ruralizing The Grinch, Rhett Be and Sydney Hunsicker tackling The Pogues, Henson Flye doing songs by fellow Christmas enthusiast Sufjan Stevens, Jack Lloyd as Rufus Wainwright, John Willis retooling traditional Christmas carols and — this should be a blast — blue-eyed soul man Cody Belew singing Mariah Carey. If that's not enough for you, when midnight strikes, DJ Seth Baldy revives last year's enormously popular Christmas Soul Revue dance party for the late night shimmiers and shakers. JT.

FRIDAY 12/17

'HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS'

8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $20-$65.

It's a holiday tradition. Every year, for ages, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra gets Central Arkansas in the spirit with a special-guest-laden seasonal smorgasbord. This year's program contains all the standards: the Overture from the "Nutcracker Suite," "Joy to the World," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "Good King Wenceslaus," "Deck the Halls," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "Let It Snow." Plus, a few more offbeat picks: "Little Bolero Boy" ("The Little Drummer Boy" a la Maurice Ravel), the Main Title and Ice Dance from "Edward Scissorhands" and that klezmer classic "Oy to the World." Presumably, Little Rock's favorite klezmer band, the Meshugga Klezmer Band, will pitch in on that last number. Other special guests include Ballet Arkansas's Shuffles and Ballet II, David and the Divas, the Two Jewish Guys, the Cathedral School Choristers, The Ted Ludwig Trio, Lawrence Hamilton and singers from Central High, Mount St. Mary's and Oak Grove High School. Santa is a possibility, too. The ASO reprises the concert on Saturday, same time, place and price. And again on Sunday, 3 p.m., same place and price, though students, grades K-12, can go for free if accompanied by a paying adult as part of the Entergy ticket program on Sunday. LM.

SATURDAY 12/18

ASHTRAY BABYHEAD

9 p.m., Juanita's. $6.

It's one of Little Rock's best holiday traditions. Local bands that are defunct or rarely perform reassemble on stage. Folks from out of town come. Folks who got married or had a kid and quit hitting the bars every weekend return. Everyone sings along. In scarves and Christmas sweaters. Or something like that. In any case, an opportunity to see Ashtray Babyhead, long Little Rock's go-to pop-rock act, play its hook-a-minute hits is one you shouldn't pass up. The band's members aren't often in the same city together —much less the same practice space. Ashtray Babyhead's guitarist, Jeff Matika, spends most of his time these days touring the world with Green Day. And lead vocalist Scott Cook is busy making inroads in the national pop scene with Julian Lennon and big money Internet entrepreneurs. With Jason Tedford (Iron Tongue and Year of the Tiger) on bass and Ryan Scott on drums. Ultimate Fakebook, The Dead Girls and Memphis' The Dirty Streets open. LM.

TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA

3 p.m. and 8 p.m., Verizon Arena. $25-$61.

Another holiday tradition in Central Arkansas: Trans-Siberian Orchestra's prog-rock-opera take on Christmas carols. If you've ever seen a Christmas concert and thought to yourself, "This is really special, but it'd be a lot more special with enough state-of-the-art pyro and laser lights to make a Pink Floyd fan's knees go wobbly," then this is the show for you. You've got all that, plus electric violins, more than a dozen vocalists, dancing girls, narrators, probably some holograms, definitely a rendition of that seasonal classic, "Nutrocker." Last year's winter tour played in front of more than 1.2 million fans; it was one of the year's top grossing. Look for both concerts at Verizon to be filled to near capacity. LM.

WEDNESDAY 12/22

LUCERO

9 p.m., Revolution. $16.

After nine straight weeks on the road, mostly opening for Social Distortion, Lucero returns to its home-away-from-home for what's bound to be yet another sold-out show. Here are more things to expect: Gravelier-than-usual vocals from front man Ben Nichols. More instruments than you're probably used to seeing if you haven't seen a Lucero show lately. Recent-ish addition Todd Beane is playing the pedal steel, Rick Steff will mix in some occasional accordion and, unless they've got the holidays off, a horn section will infuse a little bit of Stax-style soul into Lucero's barroom rock. And, finally, dozens upon dozens who know every word to every song — even old Red 40 songs — and aren't ashamed to sing along. A portion of the proceeds benefits CARTI. The concert's open to those 18 and older. LM.

MOVIES IN THE PARK: 'NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CHRISTMAS VACATION'

6 p.m., River Market Pavilions. Free.

In the triptych of great '80s holiday movies, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" may play third fiddle to "A Christmas Story" and "Scrooged," but it sports one of the greatest holiday rallying cries ever captured on film, compliments of the perpetually hapless Clark Griswold. "When Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse!"

This Wednesday, the perpetually successful Movies in the Park series teams up with Christmas in Little Rock to screen the crowned jewel of dysfunctional holiday fare.

You won't find renegade squirrels, full "shitters" and Cousin Eddie's dog "yackin' on a bone" in The Nutcracker. It's an outdoor screening, so bring a blanket for the brisk weather. If the cold starts to hurt, there's always Clark Griswold being thrown through yet another window or getting a broken ornament stuck in his butt to take the edge off. JT.

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