BILLY JOE SHAVER
9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $30.
I quit my last job in Atlanta the day after George Duke died — I remember that because the radio stations played tributes while my roommate and I drove up into Appalachia and later down to South Georgia, where I'm from, and where we spent a few days staying at my uncle's farm near Pelham. Aside from George Duke, we listened mostly to Billy Joe Shaver, the outlaw country legend who got his breakthrough writing songs for Waylon Jennings' "Honky Tonk Heroes" album in 1973. I was leaving Georgia in a few weeks, so I especially latched onto Shaver's "I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train." My roommate's dog, Fletch, sat in the backseat of the car with his head resting on my shoulder, panting and dripping saliva down the front of my shirt.
Here in Little Rock, about this time last year, I saw Shaver at the White Water Tavern. He played "Georgia on a Fast Train" twice and sang, a cappella, something called "Wild Cow Gravy," which he insisted had some connection to Arkansas, though it wasn't obvious. He told LSD stories and jokes and was full of an energy I wouldn't have expected (he's 75 years old). He went upstairs after the set and the crowd begged for an encore, which began to seem like it wasn't going to happen. He came back, though, trailing his band, and sang a few more. Later, I found out he'd been up there busy with a fan who'd been through some recent tragedy or hardship. They prayed together, then he came right back and finished the show. WS
FRIDAY 9/19-THURSDAY 9/25
REEL CIVIL RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL
Riverdale 10, Central High School and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Free.
This year's Reel Civil Rights Film Festival will also serve to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the integration of Central High School and will feature panel discussions, film screenings and special guests. The first few days of screenings will be held at Riverdale 10 and will kick off 6 p.m. Friday with student films presented by the Youth Leadership Academy and the Central High School Memory Project (followed by a performance by the Memory Project's Readers Theater and a panel discussion with the student directors and AETN producer Casey Sanders). On Saturday, Heather MacDonald's "Been Rich All My Life" (about the "Silver Belles," a troupe of tap dancers) will screen at noon, and "Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Project" will screen at 2:30 p.m. (followed by a discussion with Dr. Joseph Jones, director of Philander Smith's Social Justice Initiative, and Ivan Juzang, founder of Motivational Education Entertainment). Saturday at 6 p.m., Central High School will host filmmaker Oliver Stone in the Roosevelt L. Thompson Auditorium for a partial screening of his new documentary "The Untold History of the United States," followed by a moderated discussion and Q&A. On Sunday, Byron Hurt's "Soul Food Junkies" will screen at 1 p.m., Mark Landsman's "Thunder Soul" will screen at 3 p.m. (followed by a performance by Rodney Block) and Rachel Goslins' "Besa: The Promise" will screen at 6 p.m. (followed by a discussion with Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service). Charlie Soap's "The Cherokee Word for Water" will show at 6 p.m. Monday (followed by a discussion with the director) and Yoruba Richen's "The New Black" will screen at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center will host an event at 6 p.m. Wednesday, "Honoring Liberators of a Collective Conscious Community," and will screen Paola di Florio's "Home of the Brave" at 6 p.m. Thursday, the close of the event. WS
6:45 p.m. Verizon Arena. $17.50-$97.50.
WWE Smackdown will return to Verizon Arena Tuesday with a lineup that includes Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Kane, Bray Wyatt and Seth Rollins, who, I'm told, now goes by "Mr. Money in the Bank." Back before his name change, motivated by a Money in the Bank ladder match triumph (a WrestleMania tradition since 2005), I spent about an hour on the phone with Rollins, who was thoughtful and generally cool. He's from Iowa, and was back home the day we spoke. "I grew up in a real small town here," he said. "It's nice, not too overcrowded." His upbringing was uneventful: "I never got in fights," he said. "I was a model student, got good grades. I wasn't much of an extracurricular participant; I didn't play sports or anything like that. I was too busy playing around with my friends and wrestling in my back yard. But I was a good kid, I didn't drink or smoke."
The only time he seemed at all agitated was when I asked if he's ever still pestered about the authenticity of what he does. "What is fake? It's a television show, and a live performance," he said. "We're going out there to entertain you." And for Rollins, it's an art form: "I take a cerebral approach to the tactical side of what we do," he told me. "I come up with the blueprints." That's why he's Mr. Money in the Bank, and we are not. WS
TUESDAY 9/23-SUNDAY 9/28
ACANSA ARTS FESTIVAL
Various venues. Tickets at www.acansaartsfestival.org.
The ACANSA Arts Festival has been in the works for a couple of years now, and held its first event last September, a fundraiser and announcement party. Finally, the festival itself is here, starting Tuesday at the Governor's Mansion, when ACANSA kicks off in style with a fancy, $75-a-head cocktail reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. with First Lady Ginger Beebe and a painting demonstration by Matt McLeod, whose work will be auctioned during the event.
On Wednesday, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., the Arkansas Chamber Singers, Opera in the Rock and The Muses will perform in the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center. Opera in the Rock is Arkansas's newest opera company and the Muses are with the Creative Artistry Project, performing music from the Baroque period to the present. Tickets are $20.
Or, you can attend "It Goes Without Saying," a performance by actor and mime Bill Bowers in which he talks about his life and career, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Scottish Rite Temple Auditorium on Scott Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. Tickets are $20; for $50 you can get priority seating and attend a reception with Bowers after the show. Or head over to Trinity Episcopal Cathedral at 7 p.m. Wednesday for "Keeping on the Southern Side" to hear the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra small ensembles perform. Tickets are $30; VIP reception tickets are $50.
There will also be a "Lunch and Learn" talk by spoken word poet Chris James at noon Wednesday at the Central Arkansas Library (free) and a reception at 5:30 that evening at the Arkansas Arts Center for "Poet in Copper: Engravings by Evan Lindquist," where the artist, the state's artist laureate, will talk about his works ($20).
Also Wednesday, the Museum of Discovery will host "Science After Dark" (6:30-8 p.m.), where dance companies will talk about the science of dance. ACANSA pass holders (silver, $250; gold, $350) will get in free; otherwise tickets are $5.
Thursday's events include Werner Trieschmann's play "Disfarmer" at the Argenta Community Theater, a Gallery Hop (see arts calendar), an organ recital by Hector Olivera and another "Lunch and Learn" talk. More details and events to come next week. LNP
FRITZ LANG'S 'M'
8 p.m. Few. $5 suggested donation.
A German-Austrian veteran of World War I, Fritz Lang began making films at the outset of the German Expressionist era (think stark shadows, bleak fates, horrors real and imagined, tension between man and machine). Lang was a monocle-wearing snob and an aesthete, and also sort of the James Cameron of his era, the maker of crowd-pleasing genre classics, like his Dr. Mabuse trilogy, and big-budget special effects spectacles, like "Metropolis" and the lesser-known "Woman in the Moon." It was after the latter film's release that he scaled things back and opted for a psychological (or psychosexual) drama, "M" (1931). Lang's first sound film, it's both a police procedural and a creepy, probing thriller about a serial killer who whistles "In the Hall of the Mountain King" (Peter Lorre, the lead actor, couldn't whistle, so Lang overdubbed himself, tellingly). It's also a social indictment, something that would have been more obvious had the Nazi party allowed Lang to keep his original title: "The Murderer Among Us." WS