EUREKA FOLK FESTIVAL
1:30 p.m., City Auditorium. $10-$70.
After 60 years, it's safe to say that the organizers of the Eureka Folk Festival know how to put together a long weekend of music. This year they've assembled an especially well-rounded line-up. Today's premier cowboy band Riders in the Sky headlines on Thursday, with a kids show at 1:30 p.m. and a more cowboy-oriented performance at 7:30 p.m. Formed in the mid-'70s, the Riders' music harkens back to the open-range days of Gene Autry and Sons of the Pioneers — both in the spirit of tribute and gentle parody (see songs like “The Legend of Palindrome”). On Friday, Odetta, the enduring folk legend with an impressively broad vocal range, performs at 8 p.m. Odetta released her first album in 1953, but emerged in the public eye during the '60s folk revival (Martin Luther King Jr. anointed her “The Queen of American folk music” in 1961). Still productive at 77, she received a Grammy nomination earlier this year for her latest album. Winding down the weekend, Prairie Grove-based Trout Fishing in America plays its gleefully skewed brand of kid's music at 8 p.m. Saturday.
7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Windsong Performing Arts Center. $55.
Country/pop crooner BJ Thomas, who's sold 70 million records and has won five Grammys, comes to Windsong for two shows in one night. In the late '60s, Thomas began dabbling in pop-rock, scoring a Top 5 hit with “Hooked on a Feeling” in 1968. The following year, he hit a career high with his version of “Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head” (used memorably in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”). In the next decade, Thomas turned his focus toward country-pop, with hit songs like “New Looks from an Old Lover.” Now 65 and still sporting a bouffed-up curly mane, Thomas hasn't released any hits lately, but he's still touring as strong as ever, hoping, he says, “to lift the spirits of the audience and make them feel good, at least for the evening.”
9 p.m., Juanita's. $15 adv./$17 d.o.s.
True to its futuristic name, Powerman 5000 spent its early career wearing spacesuits and playing dark industrial/electro mixed with metal. Most of the band's members went by names like Ad7 and M.33. That flirtation with sci-fi style is on the wane. Only Spider, the bleached blond, spiky-haired lead vocalist (and younger brother of Rob Zombie), remains among the original members. On the band's last album, “Destroy What You Enjoy,” Spider and his new mates strip away most of the electro touches in favor of punk-inflected, halfway melodic metal. Local post-grunge act Wishtribe opens with Sychosis, another local, metal-geared outfit.
‘CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD'
7 p.m., Arkansas Repertory Theatre. $10.
Amelia Hensley, a senior at the Arkansas School for Deaf, leads the cast of “Children of a Lesser God,” the latest from the Rep's SecondStage. Hensley stars as Sarah, a young deaf woman who falls for James, a new speech therapist at her school. The alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking love story finds the couple trying to bridge the divide between their different worlds. Featuring a young (ages 16 to 23), all-Central Arkansas cast, the Tony-award winning play coincides with Deaf Awareness Week. All of the hearing cast members learned sign language in preparation for their roles. Nicole Capri, the Rep's director of education, directs. She recently completed a year-long residency teaching at the Arkansas School for the Deaf. The show runs through October, with performances on Wednesdays through Sundays. All performances will be sign-interpreted for the hearing impaired.
10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
n There's still a lot of local music yet to come in the fall, but so far this year I'd be hard-pressed to name an album I've enjoyed more than the Reds' “Economy of Motion,” released earlier this month on Max Recordings. Deliciously new-wave, with smart, wry, pathos-filled songwriting, it's like nothing else anyone 'round town is doing. Lead singer Johnny Mac (the band was formerly Johnny Mac and the Reds) can't write a hook that doesn't stick, and he fills much of the material with effervescent bass lines. Graham Cobb, formerly of il libertina, and Jason Thompson, of Hector Faceplant, round out the line-up on guitar and drums, respectively. Dragoon is the latest project of Bobby Matthews of Memphis, late of much-beloved Little Rock punk-rockers Trusty. Dragoon finds him working with the rhythm section of the Grifters, a legendary underground Memphis band. “Hard rock for people with good hair,” they say on their MySpace page. Discord will likely be the theme of their show.
LORD T & ELOISE
10 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $5.
“What's more bling than an 18th century aristocrat?” Memphis' Lord T & Eloise want to know. Since last fall, the two have been working their self-dubbed style of aristo-crunk, a genre born of nobility, beats adorned by tympani samples and references to the high life — trust funds, Sperry topsiders, stock market fluctuations. According to their MySpace page, “Lord T and Maurice Eloise XIII are twins born into the richest family in the universe. Lord T was born with white tendril hair, befitting a man of leisure. Maurice Eloise XIII was born with 24-Karat Gold skin, a genetic mutation caused by generations of inbreeding Royal blood from different aristocratic families of the intergalactic realm.” To that end, when he's not running the recording studio Young Avenue Sound in Memphis, Lord T wears a long, flowing powder wig, and Eloise, who used to edit the Chattanooga alt-weekly Outlook, paints his face gold. The beats, crafted by the classically trained MysterE, are usually compelling, and the duo's lyrics are as smart as they are intensely silly. Fans of joke-rock act Tenacious D take notice.
NATURAL STATE EXPO
9 a.m., Statehouse Convention Center. Free, but donations encouraged.
For the second year, the Arkansas Sustainability Network (ASN) will host the Natural State Expo, a one-day showcase of wide variety of Arkansas-based exhibitors offering “green technology, sustainable business, community resources and innovation.” Among the highlights on display: a Twike, a human-electric hybrid vehicle designed to carry two passengers, billed as the “most efficient motorized vehicle on the planet” and, event organizer Katy Elliott says, the only one in Arkansas. Other exhibitors will present on topics like beekeeping, solar energy, local farms and food, green building, home air and water purification and natural products for the home, body, lawn and garden. A car that runs on used vegetable oil will also be on display. Elliott says the ASN is flourishing, but still has a lot of growing to do. The non-profit provides services and classes out of its headquarters on South Victory Street and outreach programs in local elementary schools. The expo is presented free to the public, but donations are appreciated.
BIG BOOTS/WINTER FURS
9:30 p.m., Juanita's. $6.
Once, in the not-too distant past, there was a locally revered group called Sugar in the Raw, who used horns and played slightly meandering but typically infectious rock 'n' roll. They went eight deep, and then, later, seven strong. After playing for several years and drawing increasingly large crowds, the band launched a website, and subsequently received a letter from a lawyer representing the Sugar in the Raw company “suggesting” that the group change its name. Wary of migrating too far from an established name, the band became Sugar and the Raw. A well-received, Southern-tinged pop album followed on Max Recordings, but earlier this year, the group unceremoniously disbanded — or, rather, split, more or less into two groups. Lead singer Mason Maudlin and keyboardist/percussionist Mike Motley formed Big Boots and guitar whiz Conrad Burnham and drummer Mark Lierly started Winter Furs. At least thus far, this isn't an Uncle Tupelo-style split. The two camps still get along, and Saturday they'll tag team for a show with Silverton, a group featuring ex-Tin Fire Radio members Jesse Bates and Philip Huddleston, who swing country-rock style. It's Silverton's first show.
7 p.m., Alltel Arena. $23.25-$38.25.The 10-day parade of nu-metal survivors (Saliva, Drowning Pool, Powerman 5000) culminates with arguably the genre's most popular group. Since 1994, the Bakersfield-based act has released a steady stream of angsty rap-infused metal. Now middle-aged, band members seem to be struggling to maintain their edge. Two years ago, they collaborated with the Matrix, the songwriting trio behind many of teen-pop's biggest hits. Earlier this summer, in an effort to reassert their position atop nu-metal's heap, they put out “Untitled,” an album that debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts despite mostly mediocre reviews (“warmed over Nine Inch Nails” among them). Still, chances are Korn hasn't mellowed onstage. (Lest you think otherwise, they've named their tour “Bitch! We have a problem.”) Look for a lot of teens in black shirts. Newer genre adherents Hellyeah, Five Finger Death Punch and Droid open the show.