ANDREW BRYANT, YOUNG VALLEY
9:00 p.m. White Water Tavern.
You might know Andrew Bryant from Water Liars, in which he works with Justin Kinkel-Schuster to evoke some great slow and nostalgic songs that make for perfect "I just got dumped music." Water Liars produce some rocking stuff, too (the band's song "Ray Charles Dream" is particularly fun), but people do not talk about it as much. The band was named after a story in Barry Hannah's "Airships," so maybe some of the literary cred gets their more calm stuff played. But, in Bryant's solo work — and especially his last album, "This Is the Life," which came out in 2015 — I am drawn to his astute combination of these two impulses, slow and fast, which can bounce off each other in a single song. Each piece is less likely to be "rocking" or "dramatic" as a total; instead, they have one piece of the orchestration hold calm while another builds momentum. Driving riffs on songs like "Losing My Shit" never break open completely into a jam while Bryant sings almost calmly, and a probing and slow guitar on "Do What You Love" does not melt into sappiness but continues with a rock-like push forward. Bryant seems like he is standing behind with his singing, in the background, and letting his voice slide into the music. And that means you can listen to the songs for a week or two, enjoying a new album, and forget to hear the stories he tells. The best example is "Friendly Cops," which has a great hook — that just makes me, at least, want to dance — combined with an almost spoken, funny story. "When I came home, all my friends, had become cops ... again." I find that pause, and the word "again," hilarious. I didn't notice it until the 10th listen or so. Bryant will be joined by Young Valley, a twangy band that evokes a bit of Jason Isbell's more rollicking stuff. Should be a great show, with some live energy but, also, a lot of depth. Perfect for the misanthrope listening to all the words and the frenetic just wanting to move. JR
THURSDAY 8/24-SUNDAY 8/27
FAYETTEVILLE ROOTS FESTIVAL
Various times. Downtown Fayetteville. Various prices.
There's going to be a lot of things you can do if you go up to the Fayetteville Roots Festival, so pace yourself. The five-day music, film, food and any-other-activity-you-can-think-of festival has events planned for most days from 8 a.m. until past midnight (the festival started Wednesday). The website includes a "Culinary Lineup" — like you would see at music festivals, but I guess they did this for food, too — which includes chefs from all over the country and world serving up dishes. And probably most notable are some big-draw music acts: The Wood Brothers (Thursday and Friday), Iron and Wine (Saturday), Rodney Crowell (Sunday). So, go to that if you can get a ticket; several days are already sold out. My chief advice is to use the very well-designed schedule on the website, which lets you filter for "free" events both in Bentonville and Fayetteville. Without even spending any money you can go see a Wendell Berry documentary including a Q&A with Nick Offerman, from "Parks and Recreation" and also a producer of the movie, and Laura Dunn, the director; a bunch of cooking classes and tasting events (free food!); and, on Sunday, two different events where musicians sing a bunch of Guy Clark songs. And, if you did grab a ticket in time, here's some stuff I'd make sure to catch: Blind Boy Paxton is sort of a throwback to the 1920s who plays banjo and guitar in character as an old-time musician in the tradition of blues legends like Blind Lemon Jefferson. This could be off-putting if Paxton were not excellent, which allows his work to take on not a hooky but a theatrical quality. As The New York Times wrote, "If you're an American musician and want to claim lineage to Blind Blake or Uncle Dave Macon and perform as if not much happened after 1940, nothing's stopping you. That's what artifice is for. If you're good enough, everything else falls into place." Paxton's show will be Saturday from 1:45 p.m. to 2:35 p.m. Another hidden gem is Mandolin Orange. The duo has been a local favorite in North Carolina for years, but has recently begun to break through more nationally. It's bluegrass and folk — with the now popular, even mainstream, atmospheric calm that it brings — but it's got a bit more of the soloing mandolin and the lyrics dipping into Southern history and brings a lot more actual "root" than a lot of similar "roots" groups offer. And, perhaps most importantly, they are phenomenal musicians live. They are playing Friday from 11 p.m. to midnight at the George's Majestic-New Belgium Brewing Stage. JR
THURSDAY 8/24 - SATURDAY 8/26
ARKANSAS CINEMA SOCIETY'S 'PREMIERE'
Various times. CALS' Ron Robinson Theater. $35 per film.
The Arkansas Cinema Society, the new film nonprofit co-founded by Arkansas filmmakers Jeff Nichols and Kathryn Tucker, made good on its promise to kick off year-round programming with big names. For its first event, ACS has pulled in Adam Driver, famous for playing the bad guy in the new "Star Wars" and as a regular on HBO's "Girls," and David Lowery, the critically acclaimed indie director behind "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" and "A Ghost Story" who also helmed Disney's "reimagining" of "Pete's Dragon" and is slated to shoot a new live-action version of "Peter Pan." Plus, the ACS will also screen "Patti Cake$," a Sundance hit that seems poised to cross over. Each film will be followed by a Q&A with Nichols, and there are parties every night, which are free to that day's ticketholders. The showings of two Driver films, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and Jim Jarmusch's "Paterson," are both sold out, but as of Tuesday, tickets remained for "Patti Cake$" (6:30 p.m. Thursday) and "Pete's Dragon" (2 p.m. Saturday) and "A Ghost Story" (7 p.m. Saturday). LM
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
Listen, I'm about as metal as Aunt Bee. And I don't know a 10th of what I used to know about the current state of local music, thanks to a confluence of parenthood, overwork and a downright hateful aversion to hangovers. But I know this and say it in all sincerity: Colour Design has moved, thrilled and challenged me more than any other Little Rock band since I was a teenager sneaking out of town and into Vino's. They work in a brilliant (in every sense of the word) interplay of post-rock, shoegaze and post-hardcore that can draw comparisons to Deafheaven, the San Francisco act whose incredible "Sunbather" was one of the most celebrated albums of 2013. But I'll say it: Colour Design is more immediate, and more muscular, and maybe even straight up better than those critical darlings from The Bay. After spending all of 2016 pouring over Colour Design's album, "be still" (available on Bandcamp), from afar while living in Texas, and then, in Arkansas, totally failing in every attempt to catch one of their shows, I caught them by dumb luck at the bottom of a bill early one Tuesday night in April at the White Water Tavern. The ribbons of pedal-heavy guitar interplay wrapping around the no-nonsense rhythm section were bracing enough live, but when singer Shawn Hood took his place in the crowd and transported himself to a laser-focused place of defiant determination — the very howling sound of right now — I caught a long-absent tremor in my chest that ripped me away from any pedestal of music-veteran distance and nailed me back where music, at its most extraordinary, should put you. I could go on. They play with Vagitarius and Junk Bomb. Highly recommended. JT
7 p.m. First Security Amphitheater. $38.
Mainstream country music has really gone in the crapper in recent years, cranking out one bro-rockish ode to short-shorts, jacked-up trucks, dirt roads and drinking beer on a tailgate in the pale moonlight after another, so close in tempo, cord and choice of image that somebody on YouTube famously made a mash-up of six country songs that, once cut together, formed a tune that could be a likely hit on any "hot country" station in the South. No, seriously. Go look it up. There are still some outlaw warriors cruising the country back roads, though, including Texas-born singer/songwriter Cody Jinks, coming this week to Little Rock for a show under the stars at First Security Amphitheater. The former frontman of a slash metal band called Unchecked Aggression, Jinks' sound these days is much more Merle than Metallica, with hits like "I'm Not the Devil" that would fit right in on any honky-tonk jukebox circa 1975. Southeast Arkansas singer-songwriter Ward Davis, himself an outlaw country devotee, opens for Jinks. DK
MOMS DEMAND ACTION MOVIE SCREENING AND GUN LOCK DECORATING
2-4 p.m. Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library. Free.
The Little Rock chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense has planned an afternoon at the Children's Library for a screening of the movie "Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA." "Gunned Down" is a documentary created by Frontline filmmaker Michael Kirk about the political evolution of the gun rights group, one of the nation's most powerful lobbies and the reason why the U.S. is a country where a nutcase can go into a primary school and riddle the children with bullets. Moms Demand Action-AR has taken on the thankless job of lobbying for gun control at the Arkansas Legislature. Children will also decorate gun locks at the library for future distribution by the group and the chapter, one of three in Arkansas, will also give a brief overview of its projects, which this summer have included hosting Wear Orange events on Gun Violence Awareness Day, working with Arkansas Stop the Violence to remember victims of gun violence and handing out gun locks. LNP
8 p.m. South on Main. $30-$42.
Jay-Z isn't the only master of his genre steering this year's conversation toward self-reflection and ego death. "I Don't Care Anymore," the highlight of Rodney Crowell's new album, sees the 67-year old Americana icon calling out his younger self and, literally, dressing
him down. He sings, "I used to pull my britches up with just one thing in mind/Make the girls believe that I'm the last one of my kind/Silver-toe tips on my boots and a mullet head of hair/Designed to walk into the room and make somebody stare/But I don't care anymore." The minor-key fingerpicking may sound like a dirge but really those lines are too hilarious to be mournful and — in a record section that's always been deeply concerned about appearance or, perversely and inversely, the appearance of not being concerned — it's too familiar to be foreign. It's no coincidence that the character he's roasting is wearing the same clothes as Crowell himself did, on the cover of his greatest and most successful album, 1988's monumental "Diamonds & Dirt." He told Rolling Stone that he wrote the song after that album fell off his shelf and he recoiled at the sight of himself on the cover.
He takes that self-criticism one self-reflexive step further with a sly visual rhyme happening on the cover of "Close Ties," his celebrated new album. Whereas the cover of "Diamonds & Dirt" is presented like a frame in a camera roll with Crowell between the perforations that line the edge of film stock (one of the grodiest '80s album art tropes), "Close Ties" sees the songwriter beside a strip of dressing room lights that echo back to that 1988 album cover that flaunted, in his words, that "insecure little shit." Here, Crowell is brilliantly using visuals to underscore his stories about there now being light where the holes used to be. It's a fantastic album and this, the first show of the Oxford American 2017-18 Concert Series, is sure to be an amazing night. Good luck getting tickets, though. It's all but guaranteed to sell out. JT
LIP SYNC BATTLE
7 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $22.
Lip-syncing has a long and semi-notorious history in music. Gather round, children as grandpa thrills you with tales of Milli Vanilli, two black dudes from Munich who sounded like Arnold Schwarzenegger during interviews, but somehow gained the singing voices of angels the minute their lips came within five inches of a microphone. As it turned out, those voices, through the magic of audiotape, actually belonged to several other, much more talented people. The lip-syncers set to hit the stage Saturday at Robinson Center, however, will be using their mouth mimicry powers for good, not evil, raising money for Make-A-Wish Mid-South, which does so much to help children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Presented by the Optimist Club of Greater Little Rock, with KTHV's Craig O'Neill on deck as emcee and a host of local celebrities and athletes providing the lip-sync duties, it's sure to be a fun time. DK
8 p.m. Robinson Performance Hall. $25-$106.
It's hard to talk about this guy without keeping an anchor in the '70s. In 1995, Ben Folds Five (a trio) hit the radio with "Brick," probably the biggest and most intimate mega-hit song about abortion since "Landslide." Through the next few years, Folds became the most successful piano pop artist since Elton John, planted the seeds for a resolutely cult following that still thrives two decades later, and continued posting songs to the Billboard charts that were just as concerned with the interior life but now with a hell of a lot more cheek, sardonic melancholy and dirty words: For my money, the choice to open a jaunty song with, "Well, I thought about the Army/Dad said 'Son, you're fuckin' high,' " is a perfect diamond of songwriting. Lazy listeners could lead one to deride Folds, with his church camp sincerity and resolutely white boy humor, as a dismissible and punchable holdover from the cringier moments of '90s pop. Me, I think he'll earn a seat beside Randy Newman in the halls of hilarious, introspective and, at times, melodically brilliant songwriters. And he's still gaining momentum. Folds was just named the first-ever artistic advisor for the Kennedy Center's National Symphony Orchestra so, hi haters. This tour, the Paper Airplanes Request Tour, is exactly what it advertises — the audience is going to write requests on paper, fold it into airplanes, and launch them at the stage. Ambulances will be on site for any and all poked-out eyes in case your tears don't deflect the pointy paper darts. JT