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To-do list, Feb. 26 

THURSDAY 2/26

 

BLACK JOE LEWIS

AND THE HONEYBEARS

9 p.m., Revolution. $8 adv., $10 d.o.s.

 

Austin's Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears have a healthy sense of the past. The blues/soul act features a three-piece horn section, and the band's mixture of soul beats and horns with blues riffs often recalls Stax greats like Albert King. As a vocalist, too, Lewis' soul bark has a visceral strength that brings to mind the likes of Wilson Pickett and James Brown. Long an Austin standout, the band's starting to crossover nationally — it's been out on tour with Spoon and recently released an eponymous debut EP on Lost Highway. This show follows a rousing performance at Sticky Fingerz last October. Expect to see this band at the bigger Revolution from here on out. Get a taste of the group's garage-soul (“Gunpowder”) and slow-burn blues (“Bitch, I Love You”) on losthighwayrecords.com. LM.

 

 

FRIDAY 2/27

 

‘THE LAST FIVE YEARS'

7:30 p.m., Weekend Theater. $14-$18.

 

Here's something we don't do around these parts too often: a modern musical. This one, penned by Jason Robert Brown, tells the story of a five-year relationship between a rising novelist and a struggling actress. The modern romance takes a novel approach to plot. The actress' storyline begins at the end of the couple's marriage and travels backwards, while the novelist's starts with the couple's first date and travels forward. The actors' only interaction happens mid-way through the play, during a wedding scene. Andy Hall directs and Steve Whaley provides musical direction. The musical continues through March 7. LM.

 

 

LUCERO

9 p.m., Revolution. $15.

 

It's an embarrassment of riches for Lucero fans. We're not even through February and Friday's show marks the third time the Memphis band has played Little Rock. Sure, they've been averaging around 200 shows a year. But, on the other hand, this is a band that recently did two nights at the near 3,000-capacity Terminal 5 in New York (with an assist from the Black Keys). This looks to be a full year for the band. Already, front man (and Little Rock native) Ben Nichols has released a solo album, “The Last Pale Light of the West.” In March, he and the band will appear on Craig Brewer's new web series on MTV.com, “$5 Cover.” Last year, the band signed a four-album deal with Universal/Republic. They've been holed up in Young Avenue Sound cutting demos, so cross your fingers, maybe they'll debut some live numbers. LM.

 

THE MOVING FRONT/ MAGIC HASSLE

9 p.m., Circa '76. $5.

 

Joey Lucas is flying in the face of the economy. As independent bookstores and record stores shutter the country 'round (they've been fading fast here for some time), Lucas has opened a humble store with grand ambitions. He's only using a fraction of the 4,000 square feet he has at 1910 W. Third St. (next to Warehouse Liquor and what's soon to be the Star Bar). The entry way holds all the records, an adjacent space serves a recording studio and a bedroom-sized room for in-store shows. Look for the store to have the sweaty, lets-get-up-close-and-personal vibe of a house show on Friday as two of Little Rock's finest rock acts, the Moving Front and Magic Hassle, share the bill with experimental rockers Ten Speed. LM.

 

 

COOL SHOES

10 p.m., Downtown Music. $5.

 

The monthly dance party Cool Shoes, curated by long time party promoter TJ Deeter and hosted by the local mp3 blog thediscoitch.com, seems to be a pretty established commodity at this point. Every month, for at least the last three, throngs of young people come and get down to the same sorts of fresh-off-the-web jams hipster kids in far more metropolitan spots are getting down to (three cheers for the democratizing power of the web). This installment harkens back to the roots of Cool Shoes. Folks who've been around a little while remember the Hush Hush parties Deeter used to throw at the Public Theater. Friday at Cool Shoes features vets from those parties, DJs Ettiem, Ike and Deeter. Also, the much-buzzed about electro-pop trio Style Guide returns to party for a short set, and Cameron Holifield continues his vivid and bizarre video art installation. LM.

 

 

SATURDAY 2/28

 

‘ODE TO JOY'

8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $17-$52.

 

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks series returns with a nice balance: an iconic piece, recognizable to even the most musically ignorant, and a provocative 20th century composition inspired by jazz and African creation myths. The latter, Milhaud's “La creation du monde, Op. 81,” prominently features the saxophone and clarinet concertino, which, in the original ballet production, “heralds the dance of desire.” Watch out. The former, Beethoven's “Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125,” is best known for its fourth movement, which incorporates Frederich Schiller's poem “Ode to Joy.” Beethoven's Ninth has been described as “one of the highest achievements of man, ranking alongside Shakespeare's Hamlet and King Lear.” The ASO reprises its performance on Sunday at 3 p.m. Same place, same price. LM.

 

GRUPO FANTASMA

9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $10.

 

The December before last, this 11-piece Austin-based orchestra played to a criminally small crowd at Revolution. It was one of the best shows I saw that year. In the tradition of Fania, Nu Yorica and boogaloo, Grupo Fantasma blends traditional Latin genres like cumbia, merengue and salsa with deep, infectious funk. It's music made for dancing, and even though an empty-ish room is a powerful deterrent and I'm almost rhythm-less, I got out and got down. It's easy to get distracted by the activity onstage, though. The band features a four-piece horn section, four percussionists (including one on timbales and another on congas) and three guitarists. Everyone stays in the pocket. The jams never get wanky or meandering, and when the conga player or guitarist took a solo turn, they don't outstay their welcome. Look: This band, well before it reached current heights, was probably the biggest Latin funk band in the world, on that Prince often conscripted as his backing band. And if it's funky enough for the Purple One … LM

 

 

MONDAY 3/2

 

KRISTEN LEWIS

7:30 p.m., Reynolds Performance Hall, UCA, Conway. Free.

 

Continuing its run of attracting sterling talent for its Artists in Residence Program, UCA is bringing alumna and internationally known soprano Kristen Lewis to campus from Thursday until Monday. She'll lead an opera master class with an open forum on at 1:40 p.m. Feb. 26 in Snow Fine Arts Center Recital Hall and offer a mini-concert for Conway High East vocal students at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 27. She concludes her residency on Monday with a concert of Puccini and Verdi arias. Lewis comes to UCA just after making her debut with Teatro dell'Opera in Rome. She's performed throughout Europe and is a two-time finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. And she's from right here in Little Rock. LM.

 

 

TUESDAY 3/3

 

BILLY LEE RILEY/

SONNY BURGESS

8 p.m., Juanita's. $15.

 

These Arkansas natives, who were both among the first wave of rockabillies to record for Sun Studios, are both well into their 70s with no sign of slowing down. They gig all over the region often, but it's rare to get the pair, both of whom call Newport home these days, in Little Rock. Riley, born in Newport, made his mark with songs like “Red Hot” and “Flyin' Saucers Rock and Roll,” before heading out to LA in the early '60s to work as a session man for the likes of Dean Martin, the Beach Boys and Herb Albert. Burgess, born in Pocahontas, had hits for Sun like “We Wanna Boogie” and “Red Headed Woman.” Should be a rockin' good time.

 

‘THE RAT PACK IS BACK'

7:30 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $17-$34/

 

Sandy Hackett, son of world-renowned comic Buddy, serves as both writer and producer of this nightclub tribute to Frank, Sammy, Dean and Joey, which recreates one of the famous “Summit at the Sands” gigs from the 1960s. Impersonators of the four hipster legends and favorite sons of Vegas, performing vocal recreations laced with free-wheeling gags, are backed by a swinging 12-piece big band certain to churn out numbers such as “Fly Me to the Moon,” “That's Amore” and “Mr. Bojangles.” The premise finds the voice of God (an actual recording of Buddy Hackett) urging the boys to split their digs in heaven for a groovy romp in the City of Lights, to do it “just one more time,” to which they oblige. On a side note, these boys smoked like freight trains, due to the staggering amounts of booze and Dexedrine they indulged in, so I have to wonder if this Pack will employ some sort of cig props, such as rolled bubble gum sticks with powdered sugar. Regardless, their three-night stay at Robinson Center should swing hard nonetheless. PP.

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