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To-Do List, Dec. 17 

 

CEDELL DAVIS

9:30 p.m., White Water Tavern. $10.

 

Life hasn't been easy for CeDell Davis. But Arkansas's greatest living blues man abides. Polio, contracted when he was 9 years old, stripped his right hand of its dexterity. So he flipped his guitar upside down and learned to play left-handed, using a table knife as a slide and creating one of the singular guitar sounds in blues. A stampede in a St. Louis tavern in 1957 took away what strength he had left in his legs. But he kept on playing, for a while with Robert Nighthawk, with whom he had a standing gig at the Jack Rabbit in Pine Bluff, and later, as a solo performer. Before he'd released any recordings, Robert Palmer mentioned him prominently in his seminal “Deep Blues,” and then produced his 1993 solo debut “Feel Like Doin' Something Wrong” on Fat Possum. Later releases featured backing by the likes of Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit and Peter Buck of R.E.M. and Barrett Martin of the Screaming Trees. Several years back, Davis suffered a stroke that keeps him from playing guitar — or performing live much — but he's still got one of the great, raw blues hollers (Palmer, in his liner notes for “Feel Like,” called him “quite possibly the greatest hard core vocalist around”). He's joined by one-man-band Johnny Lowebow, R.L.'s son Duwayne Burnside, Tom Houston Jones and the Snake Hips and, fingers crossed, Lightnin' Malcolm. LM.

 

ELISE DAVIS

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

 

It's a safe bet that this'll be a good one. Young local singer/songwriter Elise Davis plans to introduce new material and welcome into the fold new bandmates (including Grand Serenade's Jordan Trotter and Trevor Ware) who helped create it. This preliminary crop of yet-to-be-released tunes looks to put Davis on a new level. Expect deeper and more complex structures and songs with sharper teeth. Which is not to say that dreamy cruiserweights from Davis' repertoire, such as “Thinking of You” and “Sniffin',” with its deliciously syrupy drag, won't hold up well on their own. Better still, if a song about coming home after a grueling day and basically saying, “Bad day, sweetheart, nothing against you, but I'm not much for words right now, so kindly buzz off and let me go to sleep,” feels familiar, then “Do You Mind” is one to holler requests for. The 18-and-up triple bill kicks off with Matt Stell and the Crashers and Nevertrain. PP.

 

 

DAUGHTRY

7:30 p.m., Verizon Arena. $31.25-$41.25.

 

Just in case there's any confusion, Daughtry is not just the last name of “American Idol” season five vet Chris Daughtry, it's also the name of Daughtry's band. Initially, after Daughtry's unwavering earnestness ran its course on “Idol” and he spurned Fuel's offer to join the band, he emerged with a band distinguished from its lead singer by all caps, like a shout — DAUGHTRY. This, we were asked to believe, was not a cookie cutter pop project assembled by 19 Entertainment, with help from superproducers like Max Martin, but a real deal modern rock project — something to give the Nicklebacks and Shinedowns a run for their money. And that's pretty much how it's gone. DAUGHTRY sold more rock albums than anyone else in 2007, and this year, with the release of “Leave This Town,” Chris Daughtry became the first “Idol” to release two albums that debuted at number one. Expect there to be an arena full of people ready to fist pump. Theory of a Deadman and CAVO open. LM.

 

HOLIDAY POPS

8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $20-$72.

 

If the holiday concert season has you overwhelmed, this might be the ticket. As is tradition, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents not just a broad selection of seasonal songs you know, but a real-deal variety show, featuring Arkansas talent like Ballet Arkansas, the Arkansas Gospel Mass Choir, the Central Arkansas Children's Choir, the Ted Ludwig Jazz Trio, the Meshugga Klezmer Band, Lawrence Hamilton and mezzo-soprano Diane Kesling. ASO associate conductor Geoffrey Robson conducts. The ASO reprises the program on Saturday; same time, place and price. Also on Saturday, the ASO presents the family-geared “Jingle Bell Little Rock,” a one-hour concert of carols and such with lighting and stage effects to keep the kids rapt. The concert starts at 2 p.m. and runs $20 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under. Pre-concert, there'll be coloring and crafts and a special appearance by Santa. LM.

 

 

SATURDAY 12/19

 

TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA

3 p.m. and 8 p.m., Verizon Arena. $25-$62.75.

 

I swear, one day, ethnomusicologists will have a field day looking back at Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It's a strange concoction: take equal parts arena rock and classical, fuse with Christmas carols and serve rock opera style. Then sprinkle with violins, 14 vocalists, two narrators, state-of-the-art pyro and lasers and you've about got it. As for studio work, aside from this year's “Night Castle,” a 26-song musical screed of good vs. evil and with a cover in dire need of Fabio's gracing, TSO's previous releases are All Things Christmas, except also for that one album conceived around Beethoven's final living hours. But the live show is where it's at. Much like the Globetrotters, they should be experienced at least once. PP.

 

DIKKI DU AND THE ZYDECO KREWE

9:30 p.m., White Water Tavern. $7.

 

How's this for high praise? In almost three years running White Water, Matt White says he's never seen it live-r than when Dikki Du and the Zydeco Krewe get to cranking. Representing Latwell, La., Dikki Du (“most people don't but Dikki Du”) comes from a musical family. His father, who owned a club, steeped his children in the culture of zydeco, that bizarre mix of influences only America could produce — French Canadian (the songs), European (the accordion and violin), Afro-Caribbean (the beat), R&B (the funk), Louisiana Cajun (the style). For almost a decade, Dikki Du and his Krewe — all together, that's five pieces, including an accordion, bass, drums, guitar and scrub board — have toured behind that tradition, mixing in a fair amount of funk to keep the dance floor crowded. Sounds like the perfect antidote to winter. LM. 

 

 

WEDNESDAY 12/23

 

HORNUCOPIA

8 p.m., Juanita's. $20.

 

'Tis the season for old school local rockers to dust off their instruments for a good cause. Now in its ninth year, Hornucopia returns on Christmas Eve Eve to raise money for Play It Again, Arkansas, a non-profit established to provide instruments to students whose families can't afford them. The organization collects donations of unused instruments, refurbishes them and passes them along to band directors throughout the state (you can get more information by emailing John Caldwell at john.caldwell@arkansas.gov). The lineup features the St. James Group, a country rock act popular in the late '60s and early '70s; Katmandu, featuring vets of Plum Loco; the long-tenured rock and soul act the GroanUps; and Grumpy Old Men, a group of 25 that'll rotate on and off the stage. Members of other acts on the bill as well as former members of bands like Leavenworth, Merging Traffic and Rock Creek make up the group. In keeping with the theme, there'll be a horn section, too. LM.

 

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