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El Dorado amps up the Southern Food and Wine Fest

And much more.

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8 p.m. South on Main. $30-$38.

Bonnie Bishop had given it her all. The Texas native spent years on the Lone Star State's honky-tonk circuit, before landing a publishing deal in Nashville. Bonnie Raitt and the TV show "Nashville" each picked up one of her songs. But the grind got to her, and she called it quits, moved back home with her parents at 35 and applied to grad school. Then she met Dave Cobb, right around the time he was getting notice for producing country records with plenty of rock and soul in the mix for the likes of Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton. Cobb said it was crazy she was trying to sing country music. You're a soul singer, he told her. That led to the pair collaborating on the 2016 album "Ain't Who I Was." American Songwriter magazine said, "Her vocals mix the Southern sass of Shelby Lynne with the guts of Susan Tedeschi, leaving room for a fair amount of Bonnie Raitt-styled grit and gumption," and said the album takes "'Dusty in Memphis' as its stylistic template and moves it into a contemporary, but not slick, setting." This is the last concert in the Oxford American's 2017-18 Americana Series. LM

SOUTHERN SONGWRITER: Jason Isbell and the band 400 Unit will provide the MAD music.
  • SOUTHERN SONGWRITER: Jason Isbell and the band 400 Unit will provide the MAD music.


Various times. Murphy Arts District, El Dorado.

With last year's opening of the Murphy Arts District's MAD Amphitheater and restaurant and venue The Griffin, the somewhat sleepy Southern Food & Wine Festival El Dorado has hosted the last three years gets a major jolt in year four. The masses will want to take note of Saturday's offerings: From 3-6 p.m. in the amphitheater, there will be a wine pour featuring a number of wineries; music from Emily & Matt, Trey Johnson and Maggie Koerner; and food available for purchase from food trucks. Admission is $20. At 8 p.m., also in the amphitheater, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit returns to Arkansas after playing a January date at Robinson Center Performance Hall that sold out quickly. Over the last decade or so, Isbell has developed a reputation as one of the finest songwriters of his generation. The 400 Unit, Little Rock concertgoers reported, puts on a hell of a rock 'n' roll show, too. Even better, British folk-rock god Richard Thompson opens the show. A founding member of Fairport Convention, he's released more than 30 albums as a duet partner, with his ex-wife Linda Thompson, and alone. Rolling Stone magazine called him one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Tickets run from $32.50 to $60. For those with deeper pocketbooks and an appreciation of fine cuisine and wine, at 7 p.m. Friday, acclaimed chefs from El Dorado, San Francisco and Paris will collaborate on a five-course dinner, each of which will be paired with wine. Sommeliers from New York and San Francisco will be making the selections. Tickets are $175 per person. More info at eldomad.com. LM

BFF FEATURES MUSIC, TOO: East LA's Los Lobos are coming to the Bentonville Film Festival.
  • BFF FEATURES MUSIC, TOO: East LA's Los Lobos are coming to the Bentonville Film Festival.


9 a.m. Thu.-Sat., 11 a.m. Sun. Various venues. Free-$775.

A bevvy of film enthusiasts, celebs, fun-seekers and corporate "changemakers" will descend upon Bentonville this week to celebrate the Bentonville Film Festival, Geena Davis' creative brainchild that celebrates inclusion and diversity in all forms of media. The six-day event is the culmination of the Bentonville Film Festival Foundation's year-long programming, and boasts an ambitiously overwhelming lineup of screenings, panel discussions, concerts and family activities: nearly 150 feature, documentary and short-film screenings (including 10 feature debuts), juried competition, a host of star-studded discussion panels (Meg Ryan will be honored with a Legacy Award), live concerts by acts like Los Lobos, group bike rides, a pet adoption drive, and a fully immersive Marvel experience. "Include" is the catchphrase for the event, which reflects Davis' personal charge to shift the film industry's culture. She founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2004, which strives to "engage, educate and influence content creators, marketers and audiences about the importance of eliminating unconscious bias, highlighting gender balance, challenging stereotypes and creating role models and scripting a wide variety of strong female characters in entertainment and media." In its fourth year strong, the BFF is a project of epic proportions, one made possible by sponsors like Walmart and Coca-Cola. Day passes are $65 and week passes are $275, but plenty of events are free. Best to check the BFF website (or download the festival app, for that matter) for a full schedule of what's going on. RB


5 p.m. Fri., 1 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Tom Lee Park, Memphis. $55-$125.

It's time for Memphis in May again, y'all, that fantastic excuse to cross Old Man River and spend a few days sweating with our Tennessee neighbors to the east. You can pretty much count on it raining at least once. Sure, there are lots of activities that make up Memphis in May, but we all know that the true jewel is the legendary Beale Street Music Festival. Three full days of straight-up fantastic times and live music that make all of us Arkies more than a little bit envious. They've been doing the BSMF since 1990 and they know how to do it right: three days, three big stages, one blues tent and one blues "shack." It's no surprise to find good music in Memphis, of course, and the BSMF lineup this year is damn-near luscious. Big names include Jack White, David Byrne, Erykah Badu, Queens of the Stone Age, Post Malone, Ludacris, Flaming Lips, Dashboard Confessional, Tyler the Creator, Alanis Morrisette, Cake, Delbert McClinton, Andrew W.K. and more. This one's undoubtedly worth the drive. Hop in and head east. You'll be glad you did. GH

SUPERLATIVE: Marty Stuart, coming to Conway on Saturday.
  • SUPERLATIVE: Marty Stuart, coming to Conway on Saturday.


5:15 p.m. Fri., noon Sat., 11 a.m. Sun. Downtown Conway. Free.

Consistently one of the very best things about Toad Suck Daze is the chance to mention it to out-of-staters and get that whole, "Umm, what's that again?" conversation going as they envision an Arkie festival crowd with mouths fulla amphibians. It's good for a laugh, at least until we remember that our leaders actually do have an annual raccoon-eating event every January. Toad Suck Daze has much better eats and entertainment, a free festival filling the streets of Conway with music and families every year. All proceeds from Toad Suck Daze (held since 1982) go to supporting local scholarship and downtown development. Come for the "Very Important Toad Races" (held intermittently throughout the festival) and stay late for the headlining bands. Toad Suck Daze 2018 features a family-friendly musical lineup that includes the funk/soul sounds of Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal headlining on Friday and the legendary Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives on Saturday. Sunday morning features praise and worship music beginning at 10 a.m. for those who want a little outdoor church time. If that's not enough good clean family fun for you, sign up for the official Toad Suck Daze 10K, 5K or Tadpole Trot. The Toad Suck T-shirt alone should be motivation enough. GH


7 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Arkansas Repertory Theatre. $30-$50.

After last week's announcement that The Rep will be immediately suspending its operations, "Ballet Arkansas in Concert With Drew Mays" could be the last show to grace the stage for some time. The performance is part of a three-year series made possible by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust that marries live musical accompaniment with renowned works of classical and contemporary dance. Drew Mays, who won the Cliburn International Piano Competition, will back up an intricate pas de deux ("step of two") male-female duet by Agnes De Mille, work by Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, as well as world work by Ballet Arkansas Artistic Director Michael Fothergill. RB

NISHEEDAH GOLDEN: In the CHARTS' production of William Grant Still's "Troubled Island."

  • NISHEEDAH GOLDEN: In the CHARTS' production of William Grant Still's "Troubled Island."

FRIDAY 5/4 and SUNDAY 5/6

7:30 p.m. (Friday) and 3 p.m. (Sunday). UA Pulaski Tech's Center for Humanities and the Arts. $13-$60.

Famed composer William Grant Still broke all sorts of ground. He was the first African American to conduct a major American symphony and the first to have a symphony performed by a prominent orchestra. The Little Rock-raised composer was also the first African American to have an opera performed by an established opera company. Opera and the Rock presents that production, "Troubled Island," for the first time in Arkansas and featuring an all African-American cast of local and regional talent. Still collaborated on the libretto with Langston Hughes before Hughes left the project to cover the Spanish Civil War; librettist Verna Arvey completed the project with Still, and the two later married. The story is about Jean Jacques Dessalines, the African slave who liberated Haiti from the French and later became emperor of the country. UCA alumni Ronald Jensen-McDaniel and Nisheedah Golden star as Dessalines and his wife, Azelia. LM


2 p.m. Historic Arkansas Museum. Free, registration required.

The Historic Arkansas Museum offers a sneak preview of the new PBS "Masterpiece" adaptation of "Little Women," followed by wholesome Civil War-period-themed activities. Premiering to the public May 13, the nine-part mini-series follows Louisa May Alcott's classic female bildungsroman of the four March sisters — Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy, and their virtuous matriarch, Marmee. The PBS version features Angela Langsbury as crotchety old Aunt March, joined by Michael Gambon (Professor Dumbledore in the last six Harry Potter films) as the Marchs' benevolent neighbor Mr. Laurence. Guests of the screening will get the chance to try their hand with a quill pen (as used by Jo) and explore other Little Women-era artifacts on the HAM grounds. This promises to be a delightfully feel-good event, a solid chance to bond with your mom. RB


Noon. Kanis Skate Park. Free.

Kanis Park is one of those rare places that fully embody the local punk/DIY ethos, started and maintained for almost a decade by the work and money of the local skate community until the city and corporate pocketbooks kicked in big-time a couple of years ago for some much-needed improvements. It's one of those great, semi-hidden places in Little Rock that are easy to miss unless you have a reason to make it your destination. Consider this your reason. Kanis Bash 2018 is a full day of skateboarding, local bratty punk and building community. Come out to skate or watch, while the likes of Life Sucks, 9th Professor, Skate Fast Die, Jethro Skull, UltraRiot and The Outbound Train provide the soundtrack to what'll be both an epic day for the kids and a super flashback for the more seasoned set. GH

WHAT YOU GONNA SEE? "Ghostbusters," at The Root Cafe.
  • WHAT YOU GONNA SEE? "Ghostbusters," at The Root Cafe.


8 p.m. The Root Cafe. Free.

Movies in the (Root) Parking Lot continues its theme of nostalgia-inducing cult favorites with a screening of the original "Ghostbusters" Sunday night. Brought to SoMa by the Arkansas Cinema Society and the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, the series offers a good excuse to get outside and take the edge off your Sunday blues, drink some beer and chill with your neighbors. Food and snacks will be available from Shambala Mobile Vegan Kitchen, Adobo To Go and other food trucks. There will be a beer tent, courtesy of Lost Forty Brewing. Kids and dogs are welcome. BYOFolding Chair, BYOQuilt. RB


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