OZARK FOLK FESTIVAL
Various times. Eureka Springs. Free-$15.
Back for its 64th year, the original Ozark folk festival is taking hold of Arkansas's quirkiest, coolest small town with up-and-coming and well-established musical acts from around the region playing in various venues around town. The headliners are, per usual, a who's who of bluegrass — Big Smith (Friday) and Still on the Hill, Split Lip Rayfield and 3 Penny Acre (Saturday) — with their unique folk and country sounds that keep them swimming against the mainstream. On Friday night is the festival's oldest tradition, the Barefoot Ball, which is as unpretentious as it sounds (although, hillbillies be warned, shoes are required for entrance). The Folk Festival Parade, with a "Eureka through the Years" theme, rolls through Saturday for the grand finale. BR.
9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $6.
From out of the damp, green environs of Olympia, Wash., comes the upbeat sound of RVIVR, playing punk-rock 'n' roll a la Dillinger Four or maybe Against Me! The band crafts driving pop-punk anthems with lots of palm-muting, boy-girl shout-singing and soaring, dramatic choruses rife with "whoa-ohs" and on a couple of tracks — I kid you not — horns. And it's awesome. It's been a ton of years since I kept up with DIY punk, but RVIVR (pronounced "reviver") is the kind of band that makes you remember what it's like to be excited about living for the moment, drinking too much cheap beer with your best friends, kissing this town goodbye and flipping a fat middle finger to the square community. This is music that's earnest but not naive, skeptical but not cynical, bursting with poppy hooks but still capable of leaving a bruise. You know that cute girl with the green hair and the nose ring and the Molotov cocktail tattoo, the one who works at the grimy punk-rock pizza joint in every mid-sized city in the country? RVIVR is her favorite band. It could be yours, too. Brother Andy and No Hickeys round out what will be a bitchin' show that you'll be glad you went to next time your jerkwad boss has you all bummed out. RB.
'BLAZE FOLEY: DUCT TAPE MESSIAH'
8:30 p.m., Stickyz Rock N' Roll Chicken Shack. $10 adv., $12 d.o.s.
Malvern-born troubadour and duct tape aficionado Blaze Foley finally gets his due in a documentary more than 20 years after he was shot to death by a friend over nothing more than a grudge. Although some of his greatest songs are best known from the interpretations of other artists, such as Merle Haggard ("If Only I Could Fly") and John Prine ("Clay Pigeons"), Foley's music maintains an impressive legion of followers. He lived all over the country, from Georgia to Chicago to Austin, and his vast number of acquaintances made the film project a logistically difficult one for Texan director Kevin Triplett. Little Rock lawyer Brad Hendricks, whose firm is sponsoring the screening at Stickyz, was one of those acquaintances; they were good friends and even shared a place one time. Multi-instrumentalist Gurf Morlix, who has collaborated with everyone from Robert Earl Keen to Lucinda Williams (whose "Drunken Angel" is a tribute to Foley), performs after the documentary screening with Triplett. BR.
'THE QUALITY OF LIFE'
7:30 p.m. The Weekend Theater. $12-$16.
It's hard these days to avoid the ideological conflicts of our political and cultural landscape; there's too much yelling and not enough insight, and it seems nobody can get along because nobody really wants to. TV and the Internet, for all their hopeful modernity, have turned into the stomping ground of the stupid, so perhaps it's worth it to examine our world in a more old-fashioned way, from the stage. The Weekend Theater presents this drama about a conservative couple whose faith in God helps them cope with the death of their adult daughter, and their weekend visit to liberal, hippy-dippy cousins who live in Berkeley and smoke medical marijuana. By now these are two worldviews whose clash we are not unfamiliar with, but the stage is generally a quiet place, and it possesses a realism that might remind us that we're all human, no matter what we believe in. The drama continues Nov. 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19. BR
11 a.m. Bernice Garden. $3-$5.
Cornbread is to Southern cuisine kind of like Faulkner is to Southern literature, or the word "y'all" is to our regional dialect: the standout you can't avoid twining into any sensible conversation on the subject, so ubiquitous and obvious and essential that it almost need not be mentioned at all. Cornbread is, after all, bread, a benchmark in not only culinary but also cultural achievement (see our Native's Guide to cornbread in Arkansas on page 58). The Bernice Garden hosts this inaugural South Main celebration of cast-iron connoisseurs, professionals and amateurs who can do a thing or two with maize and butter, all while tapping their feet to blues and bluegrass. Besides a cornbread competition and music there'll be vendors, a variety of family activities and "Cornbread Gospels" author Crescent Dragonwagon (who will also give a talk at noon at the Historic Arkansas Museum). Put down "The Sound and the Fury" and grab some comfort food that Faulkner would be proud of. BR.
8 p.m. Juanita's. $10 adv., $12 d.o.s.
It's time for a live show of music that's made for lying in bed watching the ceiling fan spin, tuning in and dropping out to slumberous skyward guitars. For a band that's so potently neo-psychedelic and stoner rock, Dead Meadow seems to be made up of fairly smart guys — their drummer stepped out temporarily to go to law school, and they have lyrics indebted to Tolkien and Lovecraft (considered reasonably intellectual reading). But critics are polarized over whether or not the band has made any significant evolution after 10 years and five albums. It's up to you to decide — are they pushing boundaries with janglier riffs and more harmonic restraint than ever, or just languishing in the cavernous reverb of a long-running acid-trip? BR.
8:30 p.m. Stickyz. $10.
After touring with the Meat Puppets and Dinosaur Jr. (who it opened for the band last time it was in Little Rock), Dead Confederate ought to be ready to make it on its own. Listeners still eat up Nirvana, of course, who always take the number one slot when the "sounds like" comparison is made for the Athens-based alt-rockers. Front man Hardy Morris doesn't quite hit the right level of Cobain melancholia, although his hair is stringy enough to play the part, and there's a uniquely un-Seattle drawl — both in Morris' vocals and in the steely, swerving notes of the guitar. Maybe this country-grunge fusion is too safe or too neurotic a path to take, but in a world where the rock 'n' roll charts have been hijacked by the likes of Nickelback, Dead Confederate can take whatever path it wants. BR.
6 p.m. Murry's Dinner Playhouse. $23-$33.
According to Wikipedia, 84 percent of Americans say their lives have in some way been touched by Elvis. I, for one, used to have an Elvis clock with pendulum hips that ticked scandalously. Coming to Arkansas is Eddie Miles, Grade A Elvis impersonator, to touch a few more lives and keep the music alive in all of our hearts. Critics, including Elvis' drummer, a couple of his guitarists, and lifelong friends, say Miles is one of the best. He's billed as one of the classier tribute acts, and also plays songs from country legends in his solo performance. If the King really is still alive out there somewhere, he's either awfully pleased with his reputation, or seriously creeped out. Miles returns for another concert on Wednesday, too. BR.