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T.J. Holmes at Philander Smith 

WEDNESDAY 1/23

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS

8 p.m. Revolution. $22.

Man, it's shaping up to be a great year for fans of Americana and bluesy Southern rock in Central Arkansas. In the span of a month, Revolution hosts American Aquarium (Saturday), Bob Schneider (Feb. 2), Reckless Kelly (Feb. 8), Old 97s (Feb. 20) and North Mississippi Allstars (Feb. 23). And Wednesday, arguably one of the best and most popular bands of the whole genre comes to Rev Room. By this point, The Drive-By Truckers are revered elder statesmen in the contemporary Southern rock scene. The band's extensive catalog of studio and live album is an embarrassment of riches, a remarkably consistent body of work that feels of a piece without feeling repetitious. Band founders Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, along with former member Jason Isbell, have really carved out their own place in the Southern rock landscape, with great songwriting, unconventional subjects and a guitar sound that hits that total sweet spot of Neil Young-ian tone like few others. Opening the show is Houndmouth.

WEDNESDAY 1/23

T.J. HOLMES

6:30 p.m. Philander Smith College. Free.

West Memphis native T.J. Holmes has had the type of career that many of his broadcast media colleagues no doubt envy. After graduating from the University of Arkansas, Holmes took successively higher profile positions at network affiliates, including KNTV in the San Francisco Bay Area. He joined CNN in 2006, covering a number of big stories for the news network. He's a contributor and guest on MSNBC, and in 2011, he made a deal with BET. His late-night show "Don't Sleep" is an engaging mix of political discussion, social commentary and entertainment. He's speaking at Philander Smith as part of the college's Black Male Initiative Program, which was founded by former President Walter Kimbrough.

THURSDAY 1/24

JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION

8:30 p.m. Revolution. $15.

Back in the '90s, there were few groups hipper than the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. They exuded effortless, leather-jacket cool. They were rawer, nastier and more tastefully tasteless than contemporaries like Sonic Youth or Pavement (without taking it to Royal Trux-level extremes). Remember the video for "Talk about the Blues," in which Spencer, Judah Bauer and Russell Simins were portrayed by, respectively, Winona Rider, Giovanni Ribisi and John C. Reilly? Damn, what a great song and video. Although I guess if you were born after say, 1988 or so, you might not remember that video (Also for you youngsters: Winona Rider was a very famous person). Long about the mid-aughts, the band took a break for a minute or two or eight years, but, revitalized by 2010's album reissue campaign, the JSBX roared back in 2012 with "Meat + Bone," proving they can still pump out raw, live-wire rock 'n' roll like few ever have. "We had nothing to prove — yeah we had something to prove, we want to make a great record," Spencer told PitchforkTV recently. "We're punks, we really try to look after ourselves and we do exactly what we wanna do." True that. Opening the 18-and-older show will be The Jam Messengers. The duo is made up of underground blues legend Rob Kennedy (check his recordings with Workdogs — Jon Spencer was a frequent collaborator) and Brazilian one-man band dynamo Marco Butcher. The Messengers just released "Kick Out!" on Thick Syrup Records.

FRIDAY 1/25

PUJOL, DIARRHEA PLANET

9 p.m. Stickyz. $6.

First off, yeah, I know. Ha-ha. Grow up. Let's try to be mature about this, OK? Jeeeeez. Anyways, Pujol (nom de rock of Daniel Pujol) first showed up on the radar of my listenings last March, when he played at the Valley of the Vapors down in Hot Springs. His tune "Mayday," the lead-off from the 2011 EP "Nasty, Brutish, and Short," is an endlessly listenable bonbon of earworm-y garage pop. I blasted it into the ol' earholes probably a dozen times and again just now. Lucky listen No. 13 and it's still totally good. He's got a new-ish full-length album out late last year, "United States of Being." It's a big step forward from the very enjoyable "Nasty," a more diverse collection of tunes that at times recalls the gentler moments of the late Jay Reatard, especially the track "Endless Mike." I bet by now purveyors of smart, sharp, melodic garage rock are tired of being "The Next Jay Reatard" (let's ask Ty Segall. Or King Tuff. Or Mind Spiders.) But hey, as long as we get albums like "United States of Being," I don't care who's the next whoever. Of Diarrhea Planet: great band, great name. I don't care what anybody says, if your band is called Diarrhea Planet and sounds like a Thin Lizzy record fighting a Ramones record at 78 rpm and you have a song called "Ghost with a Boner" and that song rules, then your band is rad and your song is rad, period. The show is 18-and-older.

FRIDAY 1/25-SUNDAY 1/27

KNUCK FEST 2013

7 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $8-$25.

In what is fast becoming a January tradition in Central Arkansas, Knuck Fest returns to transform the normally innocent confines of Downtown Music Hall into a vortex of anguished screams, guttural howls, ear-splitting amp-abuse and perhaps a lively moshpit or two. Actually, I guess that would describe Downtown Music Hall on many nights, but these three will be especially loud and mosh-y, being overrun as they will be with punk, metal, hardcore and metalcore. Here are the lineups: Friday features Bitter Times, Pose No Threat, Distiller, The Muddlestuds, Motives, Jungle Juice and Snakedriver. Saturday has Soundcult, A Traitors Funeral, A Darkend Era, Strange as Fiction, Fallen Empire, Mainland Divide, Legions Await, Crankbait and Living Sacrifice. Sunday sees brutal sets from Slamphetamine (killer name!), Rawhead, Deshoveled, Decay Awaits, Killing Souls and Fuck the Facts. All in all, at $25 for a three-day pass, this is one of the best bargains in crushing, evil heaviness all year. And remember, all ye headbangers and mosh-maniacs — you can sleep when you're dead. The festivities continue at 4 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday.

FRIDAY 1/25

THE MAIN THING: 'THE LAST NIGHT AT ORABELLA'S'

8 p.m. The Joint. $20.

The latest laugh-filled offering from the hardest working comedy troupe in Argenta premieres Friday, but unless you already procured tickets, you'll have to wait until Saturday. The Main Thing (Vicki and Steve Farrell and Brett Ihler in all roles) once again takes viewers on a trip to lil' ol' Dumpster, Ark., where the local honky-tonk is closing up shop. The last night promises to be a doozy, and the house band, Country Wayne Conaway and His Swingin' Sidekicks, provide the tunes. ("Country Wayne" huh? Could that be a sly reference to Wayne County, later Jayne County, of Wayne County & The Electric Chairs renown?) Once again, this is suitable-for-all-ages comedy, so don't worry about having to sit through any uncomfortable moments with your in-laws or children or pastor or whatever. The show runs Friday and Saturday nights through April 27.

SATURDAY 1/26

ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: 'ANCIENT AIRS & DANCES'

8 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $14-$52.

The fourth installment of this season's Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Series features works by Respighi, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, all under the direction of guest conductor Guillermo Figueroa. ASO's Conductor Philip Mann said in a preview that Respighi's "Ancient Airs and Dances" offers listeners "a charming work full of all kinds of tuneful melodies." Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 in D Major is "one of the great classical symphonies, partly in the style of Haydn, but giving you a picture of the great Beethoven and that forceful sound that is to come." The program also features what Mann called one of the season's highlights, Tchaikovsky's "Variations on a Rococo Theme" for solo cello and orchestra. "It's an opportunity for principal cellist David Gerstein to step forward and demonstrate the extraordinary talents that are present within your Arkansas Symphony Orchestra," he said. The show will be performed again Sunday at 3 p.m.

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