STONEWALL DEMOCRATS' 'DONKEYS AND DRINKS'
5 p.m. Club Sway
When Club Sway owner Jason Wiest talked with the Arkansas Times in 2014, back when he was working as a speechwriter for Gov. Mike Beebe's administration, he talked about some of the barriers to progress in the area of LGBT rights in Central Arkansas, noting that "there are not a lot of things to do or organizations or ways to get involved that are not nightlife related." Club Sway has since gained some ground on that challenge, hosting parties like last month's standing-room-only "A Moment in HERstory," a watch party for Hillary Clinton's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention that transitioned immediately into a live drag show featuring a king and queen miming to the audio track from a "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" sketch, in which Donald Trump (played by Fallon) makes a phone call to Hillary Clinton (played by herself). This Thursday marks another step in Wiest's quest to further connect the gay nightlife crowd with the politics that affect their lives: the first of a series of events in which Wiest says "LGBTQIA Arkansans will be able to listen to elected officials, candidates for public office and political figures discuss issues important to the gay community in a gay space." U.S. Senate candidate Conner Eldridge headlines the first installment of this happy- hour speaker series, to be continued the fourth Thursday of every month.
AMY HELM & THE HANDSOME STRANGERS
8 p.m. South on Main. $28-$38.
At 44 years old, Amy Helm — daughter of The Band's Levon Helm and musician Libby Titus — released her debut solo album, "Didn't It Rain." Named after a song made famous by Arkansas's own Sister Rosetta Tharpe and recorded in "The Barn," in Woodstock, N.Y., "Didn't It Rain" was a long time coming. Helm, after all, had been performing in folk group Ollabelle for over a decade, collaborating with her father for 2007's "Dirt Farmer," a stellar collection of traditional tunes produced by Amy and recorded after her father's recovery from throat cancer. Her Arkansas connections are deep, and she told us she's thrilled to be revisiting a place that, for her, "always felt like home, like I was totally loved. It always felt like we laughed a lot as soon as we got down there."
FRIDAY 8/26-SUNDAY 8/28
'THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK:' A READING
7:30 p.m. Fri-Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sun. The Studio Theater. Free-$16.
Were it not for Miep Gies, one of the Dutch citizens who helped hide Anne Frank, her family and four other Jews from Nazi persecution during World War II, Anne Frank's diary — then called "Het Achterhuis," or "the back-room," referring to the "secret annex" of the Opekta building in which the Franks hid, might never have been recovered. After being held at gunpoint during the eventual arrest of the Jewish families hiding at 263 Prinsengracht — and only escaping arrest herself because she was from the same city as the officer sent to interrogate her — she retrieved Anne's diaries and tucked them away in her desk drawer, later relaying them to Anne's father. Those documents were published and, in 1955, became "The Diary of Anne Frank," a play by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich. Despite winning a Tony, a Pulitzer and a New York Critic's Circle Award, the play received criticism over the years for overly sentimentalizing what was, at root, a dark and tragic set of documents, and for underemphasizing the Jewish elements of Frank's original diary. So, in 1997, Wendy Kesselman offered a revision of that play that ends on a notably darker tone than the 1955 version and, as critic Greg Evans wrote, "at least partially reasserts the historic Anne's darker vision as well as the diary's overt Jewishness." The readings this weekend are a fundraiser for Community Theater of Little Rock and are presented as a "reader's theater" with no costumes or staging. Matthew Mentgen directs and Isabelle Marchese reads the part of Anne Frank. Other cast members include Ryan Whitfield as Otto Frank, Erin Martinez as Edith Frank and Jennifer Lamb as Miep.
FRIDAY 8/26-SUNDAY 8/28
7 p.m. Fri., 3 p.m. Sat.-Sun., Cadron Creek Outfitters, $15-$25.
For the fifth year in a row, a bunch of hard rockers and metalheads are heading out to the woods to prove that Mountain Sprout fans aren't the only folks who like to camp and play disc golf. From Friday evening to Sunday evening, the Cadron Valley — longtime home to psychedelic "Flux Fests" galore — will instead be home to sludgy sounds (and possibly sludgy grounds, if we get more rain) from an exceedingly heavy lineup. On Friday, Throne of Pestilence opens, followed by sets from Amonkst the Trees, Seahag, Ozark Shaman, Head Creaps and Sumokem, with a campground "after show" from Attagirl and Jeremiah James Baker. Saturday's lineup includes Weed Needles, Construction of Light, Colour Design, Terminus, Criminal Slang, I Was Afraid, Iron Tongue, Full of Hell, The Body and Madman Morgan, with an afterparty set from Adam Faucett. Sunday's lineup includes sets from Auric, Apothecary, Crankbait, Hexxus, Seahag and -(16)-, with a fireworks display to end the weekend. Bring earplugs. (And full disclosure, I sing in Iron Tongue).
6 p.m. Sturgis Hall. Free.
If you ran across the story earlier this week of how Harley Quinn, the 17-year-old daughter of film director Kevin Smith ("Dogma," "Mallrats," "Clerks"), was the object of a vitriolic and incoherent Twitter tirade from an online bully, you saw a prime example of the ways in which young women are bombarded with messages that discourage them from moving confidently in the world. Former "Saturday Night Live" producer Meredith Walker, in partnership with Amy Poehler (star of "Parks And Recreation," co-producer of "Broad City," author of "Yes, Please," co-founder of comedy troupe "Upright Citizen's Brigade") is the co-founder of and spokesperson for "Smart Girls," an online organization that seeks to counteract destructive messaging aimed at girls — and boys, and women and men, too, for that matter — by replacing it with the idea that girls can "change the world by being themselves." Smart Girls is a collection of stories, poems and discussions that reinforce the idea that intelligence is cool, that existing and creating freely does not require permission from another person, that "fitting in" is highly overrated and that earnest participation in the world trumps armchair critique every damn time.
FIDELIS STRING QUARTET WITH NORMAN BOEHM
7:30 p.m. Staples Auditorium, Hendrix College. Free.
If you hang around the Trieschmann Fine Arts Building at Hendrix College long enough, you'll likely spot a man in a gray T-shirt and jeans passing through, a man so unassuming he often is mistaken for a member of the college's diligent landscaping crew. That'd be Eastman School of Music graduate Dr. Norman Boehm, a marvelously sensitive pianist with a knack for improvisation (he ended up a concert at UALR last fall by riffing on themes provided by the audience) and for distilling massive orchestral pieces (Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde," for example) down to solo piano reductions without losing texture or grandeur. He unearths emotionally intense pieces from the early 20th century, especially from inventive composers who don't tend to get much mainstream play, such as Nikolai Kapustin, John Ireland, Erich Korngold, Sir Edgar Elgar or Alexander Scriabin. For this concert, Boehm's joined by Houston chamber music group The Fidelis Quartet for Schumann's Piano Quintet, and in the second half of the program, for a piano quintet Boehm wrote, as he told us, "in late classical style, just for fun."