- 'MY STRANGE NATION': On the heels of releasing the Cuban percussion-laden EP "An American in Havana," the Susan Werner Trio performs at Walton Arts Center.
SUSAN WERNER TRIO
7:30 p.m. Walton Arts Center, Starr Theater.
For a telling portrait of an artist at two career chapters separated by a decade, observe Susan Werner at the piano for 2007's "Strange Nation," revised in 2017 to reflect the "WTF" tone du jour. A few of the particulars remain the same: "My Strange Nation gave the Indians our germs/They surrendered on our terms — as in, died/Their survivors filed appeals/so we gave them roulette wheels,/My strange nation, America." A mid-aughts anti-war verse, though, is supplanted by a couple of Trump jabs: "My strange nation/now has an autocrat/and an orange one, at that, at the helm." Werner's occupied a strange little corner of contemporary folk music; too fluid and jazzy for the Lilith Fair crowd, too on the nose for the crowd at the Village Vanguard. Even those less than enchanted by Werner, though, would be wrong to deny her sheer ingenuity when it comes to songwriting. See the earnestly critical "(Why Is Your) Heaven So Small," or the tune "City Kids" from her agri-themed album "Hayseed," in which farmers at a market gouge urbanite hipsters as recompense for all the shit they endured as — well, hayseeds — while their in-town peers "had carpet on the stairs, had beanbag chairs, they kept diaries." Or the rose-colored, syrupy "May I Suggest" which, if you're cynical enough to make it through without so much as a dreamy look, means you need to triple your dose of "It's a Wonderful Life" here in a month or so, Scrooge McDuck. SS
- "Last Flag Flying"
THURSDAY 11/9-SUNDAY 11/12
EL DORADO FILM FESTIVAL
Various times. South Arkansas Arts Center and Murphy Arts District. $15-$125.
The El Dorado Film Festival's not new, but thanks to a thoroughly renovated downtown, it's got some new digs to stretch out in. There's the Griffin Restaurant, an "industrial chic" farm-to-table operation where homegrown crooner Barrett Baber will play opening night, and the adjacent Griffin Music Hall, where The Legendary Pacers (sans the late Sonny Burgess, whose life is outlined in one of the festival selected shorts, Nathan Willis' "The Arkansas Wild Man") and Dennis Quaid & The Sharks are to play festival parties. You can check out the latest in Arkansas-made films: "Door in the Woods," "The Devil Made Me Do It," "Blind Date" and "Into the Green." Maybe most notable is the regional premiere of Richard Linklater's "Last Flag Flying," with Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston at the forefront. Like Linklater's predecessor "Boyhood," it tackles some high-minded questions about life, aging and family. Maybe even more relevantly, though, it asks what it is to be a patriot — a question that's come into sharp focus in the Trump era, and one Linklater explored in an interview with NPR's "All Things Considered" last week, eventually concluding: "The patriotic thing is to, actually, if you care about the troops, to make sure that they're actually well taken care of and that if they're going to die, it's going to be really for our freedoms, you know." Check out eldofilmfest.com for tickets and a full schedule. SS
- Kim Doughty-McCannon
2ND FRIDAY ART NIGHT
5-8 p.m., downtown venues. Free.
Friday's hunt for fine art, crafts and craft beer will find plenty to see, buy and imbibe. The Historic Arkansas Museum, 200 E. Third St., serves up a new show, "Natural Crafts: Fiber. Clay. Metal.," live music by John Willis Music and Fallen Queen Belgian Witbier by New Province Brewing Co. of Rogers. The show — which is why you're there, right? — features work by 2017 Arkansas Arts Council 2017 Fellowship recipients: fabric artist Sofia V. Gonzalez, ceramicist Hannah May and sculptor Kerrick Hartman. The Butler Center, 401 President Clinton Ave., opens the Arkansas Pastel Society show, "Reflections in Pastel"; DJ Mike Poe will provide the music. The Cox Creative Center, 120 River Market Ave., features new drawings by Brian Madden; nearby, at 300 River Market Ave., the shop Beige is showing work by Capital View Studio owner Bryan Frazier. On the way to the Old State House to see "Young Frankenstein," grab a coffee at Nexus, 301B Clinton Ave., and check out the cafe's art. Then head south, stopping in at Gallery 221 at Second and Center streets and Bella Vita, 523 Louisiana St.; the latter is celebrating its third anniversary with calendar artist Kim Doughty McCannon, a hot cocoa bar from Loblolly Creamery and birthday cake. Find new oil paintings just around the corner at McLeod's Fine Art, 108 W. Sixth St. Mariposa photography studio, 229 W. Capitol Ave., will also be open. LNP
7 p.m. Great Hall, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Free.
Described by the LA Times as "a troublemaker, a true subversive," Victoria Marks has been stirring the pot in the world of choreography since the early 1980s. A 1986 review in The New York Times lauded her "wit and imagination" in moments like the aromantic tug of war in "What Holds You," which superimposed words like "you" and "him" on white costumes and phrases like "no sense" and "your good taste" on the backdrop. Over 30 years later, Marks, a Guggenheim Fellow and a revered voice in modern dance, is still aiming for the literal and the specific, as in this Veteran's Day (observed) show for Crystal Bridges' Performance Lab series, in which pieces titled "Veterans" and "Not About Iraq" are interspersed "with short film works that question the place of the body in matters of heroism, valor, and truth," the event page reads. SS
8 p.m. Museum of Discovery. $12-$15.
If you've ever discussed a scene from "Contact" with a science-minded friend, it's entirely possible you're forever convinced that science and entertainment don't mix. Consider this, though: Bill Nye. Richard Feynman. Doc Brown. Right? Scientists can be funny, or at least a few of them can, and this series — piloting events in Colorado Springs, Denver and Little Rock — aims to prove it. To do that, they've developed what they're calling a "thinking person's comedy night," an evening in which scientists are thrown on stage and asked to perform eight-minute sets "about the cool stuff that they know." Doors open at 7 p.m., and they'll have a few menu items from the nearby Damgoode Pies for sale, as well as a cash bar. SS
- Rodney Block
GIRLS TRIP: LADIES NIGHT OUT
9:30 p.m. South on Main. $15.
DJ G-Force, the musical snake charmer behind many a Discovery Nightclub patron's decision to "just have one more hurricane and then we'll call an Uber"; Bijoux, the dulcet-toned contralto that acts as secret weapon to the Rodney Block Collective and Big Piph & Tomorrow Maybe; and Block himself are teaming up for this one, and they're bringing the '90s with them. Girl groups like SWV, TLC and the less acronym-y Brownstone and Xscape get Block's "future house" treatment in an acoustic setting that finesses treble sounds like the trumpet. SS
- A DISPATCH FROM BIG BOT: Chad Maupin's "Astro Pulp" opens with a reception at the THEA Foundation Friday evening.
6:30 p.m. Thea Foundation. $10.
Fayetteville illustrator Chad Maupin's pulp-inspired worlds are made of the same stuff as "Man or Astroman?" album art and the movie "Mars Attacks!" — monsters, outer space, lasers, faraway planets. Under the alias "Big Bot," the California native and head of the Fayetteville artist cooperative CattyWampus has created a show that looks like individual panels of a "Lars of Mars" storyline — or, in the words his biography uses, emulating "the processes of pulp printing techniques ... taking these tropes of childhood mythology and using them to illuminate the archetypes they represent in us all." Maupin's "Astro Pulp," up at the Thea Foundation until Dec. 8, opens with this reception, where your admission also gets you heavy hors d'oeuvres by Ben E. Keith, an open beer and wine bar and the opportunity to win an original print by Maupin. The show is part of Thea's The Art Department series showing work by emerging and established artists. SS
- FROM A NORTHERLY PRAIRIE: Saskatchewan songwriter Colter Wall performs at the Pro Auto Listening Room Thursday evening and at Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack Friday night.
9 p.m. Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack. $10-$12.
Maybe it's the way he plucks the bass-leaning notes on the guitar just a touch too hard, or the languid, labored way that words roll out of his mouth, but Colter Wall's songs evoke a danger that reminds me of Blaze Foley and Malcolm Holcombe. Somehow, though, thank the gods, he avoids mimicry — and eye contact, for that matter. Wall's a Saskatchewan native, but he reads as someone who could out-outlaw half the self-declared troubadours in Texas, as on the mellow "Saskatchewan 1881" or on "Kate McCannon," an only-occasionally rhyming murder ballad that warns the listener just how breathlessly love can transform into unhinged rage. Wall is also playing a free show the evening before (Nov. 9, with free food, too) at the Pro Auto Listening Room in Conway at 2115 E. German Lane, a collision and auto repair company that occasionally turns itself into a spot for community cookouts, car shows or concerts like this one. Blake Berglund opens both shows. SS
'BIG BANDS & BALLET'
7 p.m. Center for Humanities and the Arts, Pulaski Technical College. $20.
The year 2017 has been one of transition for Ballet Arkansas. The company expanded its programming and outreach at its home on Main Street with the casual "Motion on Main" soirees and "Open Class Division," courses for adults or aspiring dancers of all skill levels. It's also welcomed two new leaders this summer: Artistic Director Michael Fothergill and Associate Artistic Director Catherine Garratt Fothergill, both formerly of the Alabama Ballet. With this show, the company gets cozy with the stage at Pulaski Tech's CHARTS for "Big Bands & Ballet," a throwback tribute to the swing era with live accompaniment from the UA Little Rock Jazz Ensemble. If you can't make the main event, check them out Saturday afternoon at 520 Main St. Ballet Arkansas is replacing its usual matinees with children's programming; this time, it offers a performance of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" with children's activities pre- and post-performance. SS
- Greg Giannukos
- Whitney Rose
WHITNEY ROSE, BONNIE MONTGOMERY
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
From the same country traditionalist scene that's made a place for voices like Margo Price and our own Bonnie Montgomery comes Whitney Rose, sounding like The Shangri-Las and Lesley Gore and looking like Linda Ronstadt circa 1969 on the "Johnny Cash Show." Rose will have her latest, "Rule 62," on hand and, if we're lucky, we'll get to hear a glimpse of the album on the horizon for White County composer and honky tonker Montgomery, whose early work already feels classic. SS
- Brian Chilson
- Jeff Nichols
'WRITING FOR FILM'
3 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater, Zin Wine Bar. $25, free.
Back when the Arkansas Cinema Society started, it did so with a mission ancillary to screening stellar movies and inviting public conversation: It wanted to develop the kind of educational arm that might ignite Arkansas's next Jeff Nichols, Mary Steenburgen or Graham Gordy. This is one such program, a seminar on writing from Nichols, who's not only one of the state's chief cinematic treasures, but someone with a knack for communicating, in layman's terms, the mechanics of his craft: What makes good movies work? What about all the extra stuff you have to do after you finish writing, creating and filming the damn thing? For this seminar, the focus is on four aspects of screenwriting: "the idea, the outline, the draft, and the edit," ACS' website reads. "Through sharing his methodology and experiences, Jeff hopes to somewhat demystify the writing process and offer up strategies for tackling feature film scripts." The concessions stand will be open, and tickets are available at arkansascinemasociety.org. Afterward, as filmmakers are wont to do, they'll drift to a bar where they will keep talking about movies, except with vino. That's at Zin Wine Bar, 300 River Market Ave., 5 p.m.-8 p.m., with no cover charge. SS
- Lecia Brooks
- ACROSS LINES OF FAITH: Terrell Starr and Lecia Brooks speak at Arkansas Baptist College as part of Interfaith Arkansas's annual assembly on "Religion and Minorities."
'RELIGION AND MINORITIES'
8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Arkansas Baptist College, 1621 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. $25.
Reporter Terrell Jermaine Starr's short biography cites his ability to "break down Russia-U.S. relations in ways that make him not sound like a Washington hack," which I imagine must make him a pretty in-demand speaker right about now. He's joined at Arkansas Baptist for this year's annual Interfaith Arkansas assembly by another acclaimed speaker, Lecia Brooks, director of outreach programs at the Southern Poverty Law Center and director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Ala. (To get a sense of what Brooks has been up to this summer, check out the SPLC's guide for college students, called "The Alt-Right on Campus: What Students Need to Know.") In addition to Starr and Brooks, Dr. Myra Houser, who represents the Baptist faith; Morgan Holladay representing the Buddhist faith; and Mehmet Ulipinar, representing the Muslim faith will address questions of "interfaith and ecumenical unity," as a press release reads. Your ticket includes lunch and a membership in Interfaith Arkansas for a year. Reserve at firstname.lastname@example.org. SS
9 p.m. South on Main. $10.
Rah Howard's packing some lyrical punches these days, as anyone who's seen him in 2017 can attest — and he's delivering them in provocative packages. Following 2013's "B2BFA" and 2015's "In My Time," the videographer created and directed design-heavy video singles like "I'm Black" and "Everything," and elicited some of the best judge comments in the 2017 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase: "This is what the blues sounds like now" and "A harmonica hasn't given me that many feels since 'Roseanne.' " He's at South on Main as part of the Sessions series, curated in the month of November by Chef Matthew Bell. SS