Friday Center—Ever since he said, way back in 1988, that George Herbert Walker Bush "was born on third but thinks he hit a triple," author, radio commentator and former Texas agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower has fed red meat to the often blues-stricken liberal faithful. He speaks tonight at 7 p.m., with tickets ranging from $10 to $50 (dig deep, lefties!) to attend the reception and signing. See this week's Q&A. —David Fellerath
Billy Joe Shaver
The ArtsCenter—He may only have an eighth grade education, as he sings in "Georgia on a Fast Train," but Billy Joe Shaver's one of the canniest songwriters alive. He rivals his late drinking buddy Townes Van Zandt for honest, homespun wisdom, like "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna be a Diamond Someday)," and, inspired by Bakersfield country, he helped launch the outlaw country genre. Shaver penned all but one of the songs on Waylon Jennings' genre-defining Honky Tonk Heroes.
But Jennings dodged Shaver after promising to record an album of his hard drinking/living cowboy songs at a cookout. Shaver wouldn't be denied, practically bullying him into it. "He said, 'Boy, I love your songs, but I don't like you worth a shit,'" Shaver relates. "I said, 'Well Waylon, the feeling's mutual. We'll just get this album done, and then we'll fight.'" They became great friends. Both became icons.Despite calamitous personal losses and a heart attack several years ago, Shaver soldiers on, still making vital music, like last year's Grammy-nominated gospel-country album, Everybody's Brother. Produced by John Carter Cash, it features a terrific archival recording, "You Just Can't Beat Jesus Christ," with Shaver, his late son, Eddy, and the Man in Black. With Larry Mangum at 8:30 p.m. for $22. —Chris Parker
CANCELED: This concert has been canceled due to Billy Joe Shaver's surgery.
Jeff Hart & the Ruins, Jeffrey Dean Foster
Broad Street Cafe—Two Jeffs with a whole bunch of bands in the rear views and a combined fifty-plus years of making rootsy, rangy rock music that respects both Big Star and Tom Petty: the Hanks, the Ruins, the Nervous Grooms, the Right Profile, the Carneys, the Pinetops. Also on the bill is the Bill Noonan Band from out Catawba City way, and, yep, Bill's been around, too. This masters class in tunefulness and longevity starts at 8 p.m. and costs $5. —Rick Cornell
- Nathan Asher & the Infantry
Darfur Benefit: Nathan Asher, Future Kings
Lincoln Theatre—Nathan Asher & the Infantry made headway in 2004 with an anthem called "The Last Election," which cast life and conscience bigger than a fall ballot. But Asher's aesthetic has long been one of romance, not policymaking, so lines about pretty girls in parks fit with disquisitions on personal vice in his Springstonian songs. Still, Asher can stump hard, and tonight's benefit supports the mission of Doctors Without Borders in Darfur. Similarly, the Future Kings of Nowhere use the energy of rock to fuel quests for interpersonal improvement. Also, Richard Bacchus and five others at 7:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin