HA HA TONKA
8:30 p.m. Stickyz. $6.
From the Ozark Hills of southern Missouri comes Ha Ha Tonka. The quartet's name is a nod to a state park up there, a bucolic wonderland on Lake of the Ozarks. In the video for "Usual Suspects" we find the band members hanging around the train tracks and playing their drums and guitars and mandolin, drinking beer, throwing stuff and generally engaging in revelry. Actually, that's what this band's music is very well-suited for: carousing with pals while consuming beers. In a broad sense, Ha Ha Tonka's sound hails from the Kingdom of Leon – it's catchy and propulsive, but rooted in country and southern rock. Or as whoever wrote the bio feature on the band's website put it, "They sit at the crossroads of Americana and indie, where Alabama meets Arcade Fire – shakes their hand and takes them out for a drink." Of the band's latest Bloodshot Records album, the Washington Post said "the Missouri quartet is not only authentically scruffy, it tears at the heart of American roots music with every chord like Mumford [& Sons] only pretends to, and its new record, "Death of a Decade," basically oozes passion for the craft." The opening act is Green Corn Revival out of Oklahoma. If you're north of Little Rock and want to see Ha Ha Tonka, the band plays Lyon College in Batesville Oct. 22 and Harding University in Searcy Oct. 24. RB.
HOT SPRINGS DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
Various times. Mostly at the Malco Theater.
The 20th anniversary Hot Springs Film Festival rolls into its final weekend with a number of promising docs: Festival director Dan Anderson called "John Frum, He Will Come," about a cult religion on the South Pacific island of Tanna that believes an American deity named John Frum will come and bring salvation, one of his favorites (7 p.m. Oct. 19, 6:35 p.m. Oct. 21). Acclaimed food documentarian Joe York shifts his focus in "Mississippi Innocence" (3 p.m., Oct. 22), which follows Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer, two men who spent years behind bars for crimes they didn't commit. The title alone of "T'Ain't Nobody's Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s" (2:50 p.m., Oct. 20) has me intrigued. But the big draw, of course, is "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory," the latest chapter in Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's hugely influential documentaries on the West Memphis Three (8:35 p.m., Oct. 21). Full schedule at www.hsdfi.org. LM.
ARKANSAS STATE FAIR
8:15 p.m., Arkansas State Fair. $4-$8.
Dollar-for-dollar, the best deals on entertainment in Central Arkansas all year (outside of Riverfest) are found at the Arkansas State Fair. I know that might read a bit like an ad, but seriously, where else are you going to see a country giant like Travis Tritt for $8? Tritt's Southern rock-infused style of country will no doubt have the crowd a-whoopin' and a-hollerin' in short order. Remember that song "Bible Belt" from "My Cousin Vinny"? That song is awesome. There should be more country songs that rock as hard as that one does. Tritt plays Thursday night. On Friday night at 7 p.m., you can catch a performance from the people who built a city on rock and roll. That's right, it's Jefferson Starship. Foghat opens that show. Or, if you need a break from the music, the Professional Bull Riders touring pro division is at Barton Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $10 to $25. On Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., it's the Texaco Country Showdown, which is one of the biggest country music talent searches in the country and is now in its 30th year. Who knows? You might just catch a performance from an up-and-comer who'll go on to be the next Nashville giant. RB.
BLUE MOUNTAIN, JIM MIZE
10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.
I would be remiss in my duties as an appreciator of excellent Arkansas music if I didn't plug any and all appearances by Faulkner County's Jim Mize, who is without a doubt one of the nation's finest under-heralded singer/songwriters. Seriously. Go listen to "Release it to the Sky." It's one of the best – and best-sounding – records ever made by an Arkansas musician. In a 2007 profile in the Times, Mize says he'll have more time for music once he retires from his position as a Farm Bureau claims agent. If his '07 calculations are still on-course, he'll be retired some time in 2015, which can't come quick enough for us. Mize is joined by his friends and collaborators in Blue Mountain. The Oxford, Miss., trio sprang up during the alt-country heyday of the early '90s and released several well-received albums before calling it quits in 2002. Blue Mountain got back together in 2007 and largely picked up where they'd left off. The band's material ranges from rootsy originals and tunes written by Mize along with covers of dusty old folk and country numbers by the likes of the Carter Family to driving rock that sounds like a southern-fried Tom Petty playing a mean harp. Whichever genre mode the group is in, it displays an innate understanding of the dynamics and the other intangibles involved that make this kind of music work. My prediction for this show: beers, laughs, good vibes and hopefully Mize performing with Blue Mountain. RB.
BOO AT THE ZOO
6 p.m. Little Rock Zoo. $7-$15.
Halloween, like a lot of holidays, is really just for the kids; once you reach a certain age it's nothing more than an excuse to party in a skimpy outfit. Boo at the Zoo, in its 20th year, is for those little ghouls (and their parents) who are still at the stage where they'd rather dress up like Disney characters than drape the neighborhood in toilet paper. With carnival attractions, magic shows, costume contests, haunted train rides, live music and, of course, a few glimpses at animals that come out of their cages after dark, it's a wholesome way to provide your kids with the requisite corn-syrup binge. The festivities continue through Oct. 23 and then again from Oct. 27 through Oct. 31. BR.
6 p.m. Clinton School of Public Service. Free.
It doesn't take a diplomat to recognize the tenuous relationship the United States has with the Middle East. Osama might be taken care of, but, as Hillary Clinton acknowledged in an address earlier this month at the Clinton Presidential Center, we still have our eye on Pakistan as the source of possible terrorist threats. Speaking at that same venue is Pervez Musharraf, a retired four-star general of the Pakistani army and, following a 1999 nonviolent coup d'état, president of Pakistan from 2001 to 2008. Since June, Musharraf has been living in exile; no doubt he will mention his intention to return to his home country for next year's elections, as well as the state of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. The lecture is free but seats must be reserved; the controversial leader will probably draw a crowd. BR.
ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: FIRE AND LIGHT
8 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $14-$52.
The second concert of the ASO's Masterworks series brings together three pieces that jump around in time. It begins with Haydn, one of the most prolific composers of the Classical period, and his energetic Symphony No. 9, the "Fire" Symphony. Next is the Lucent Variations of Michael Torke, who is currently one of the world's foremost American composers. The show concludes with Brahms' Concerto for Piano No. 1 in D Minor, which, according to conductor Phillip Mann, strikes fear in the heart of pianists; but not virtuoso Norman Krieger, who joins the symphony as soloist. The concert returns on Sunday at 3 p.m., when all kids high school age and younger can attend for free. BR.
9 p.m. Stickyz. $10 adv., $12 d.o.s.
Whatever your feelings about rock 'n' roll or Deer Tick or the Yuletide and what it all really means, you've got to love a band that writes a tune called "Holy Shit, It's Christmas!" This is especially true when the song sounds like a deranged alcoholic lounge singer ranting about the holidays over a preprogrammed beat on an out-of-tune Casio keyboard that's about to get him kicked out of the music store at the mall. Granted, it's a departure from the band's usual steez of magnificently sleazy rock, like Nick Cave's American cousin who's a short-order cook at Waffle House and has a side gig playing every Thursday at an especially dodgy hole-in-the-wall. But wildly out-of-character departures are often the hallmark of a band that isn't afraid to take risks, and often point to budding greatness. Opening acts include Virgin Forest and Dead People. RB.