- David Rams
- MIGO LINGO: Lawrenceville, Ga., hip-hop artists Quavo, Offset and Takeoff, collectively known as Migos, join Brad Paisley, Smokey Robinson and others on the lineup celebrating the launch of El Dorado's Murphy Arts District.
THURSDAY 9/28-SUNDAY 10/1
MURPHY ARTS DISTRICT GRAND OPENING
Various times. Murphy Arts District, downtown El Dorado. Free-$49.
In part because it's home to three New York Stock Exchange-listed companies — Murphy USA, Murphy Oil Corp., and Deltic Timber Corporation — the south Arkansas town of El Dorado is undergoing a $100 million makeover that includes an outdoor ampitheater, a kids' playscape, a 2,000-seat music hall, a farm-to-table restaurant and a future cinema house and art gallery. To launch the downtown revitalization and to acquaint arts patrons with the new facilities, MAD (Murphy Arts District) is hosting a four-day kickoff in the heart of the oil boomtown's new digs. Thursday night, things kick off with a concert from San Francisco's Train, the pop rockers responsible for earworms like "Hey, Soul Sister" and "Drops of Jupiter," and Natasha Bedingfield (Remember "Pocketful of Sunshine?" Yes, you do.), 8 p.m., $35. On Friday night, X Ambassadors and Robert Randolph & The Family Band open up for "Tejas" trio ZZ Top, 5 p.m., $35. Later that night, rapper Ludacris takes the stage in the Griffin Music Hall for a late-night show, 11:30 p.m., $25. Saturday night, a radio-certified country lineup takes front and center on the ampitheater stage with Brad Paisley, Hunter Hayes, Ashley McBryde and Chase Bryant, 5 p.m., $35. In the adjacent Griffin Music Hall, Atlanta hip-hop collective Migos performs, 11:30 p.m., $25. Then, on Sunday afternoon, the oldest symphony in the state, the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, backs the legendary Motown musicmaker Smokey Robinson in a free public concert on the ampitheater lawn, 4 p.m. For tickets, visit eldomad.com.
SCIENCE AFTER DARK: I CAN'T EVEN
6 p.m. Museum of Discovery. $5.
Next to a photo of a pug that has melted into a puddle of exhaustion, the Museum of Discovery flyer states its business for this event: "all the adulting things you should know, but don't [and science] [and beer]." Essentially, this chapter of Science After Dark aims to fill in your knowledge gaps on skills grown-ups should know if they're gonna call themselves grown-ups. You know, stuff like balancing a checkbook, doing the Heimlich Maneuver, driving a stick shift and selecting ripe produce. (And if those aren't compiled somewhere in an ad-bedraggled online quiz, I'll eat my hat.) But, given the Museum's affinity for more instant-gratification experiments, it'll likely be less "how do I find out my bank's routing number" and more along the lines of "here's how you build a fire." Entry fee gets you access to the whole museum, where there's a full bar and pizza from Damgoode Pies and beer from Stone's Throw Brewing for sale.
- Brittney Kraus
- 'HAVE FUN': St. Louis duo Bruiser Queen's new album, "Heavy High," is on the horizon, and the band plays a free show at Maxine's Thursday night.
9 p.m. Maxine's, Hot Springs. Free.
Morgan Nusbaum and Jason Potter, the two musicians who make up St. Louis garage rock band Bruiser Queen, are taking a break from the crowdfunding hustle (see their Pledgemusic campaign, where you can pay them to do your dishes, make you a custom vest or take you bowling) to play some music from their upcoming album, "Heavy High." I fell in love with Nusbaum's soaring vocals when they opened for Shonen Knife at Low Key Arts in mid-May, somewhere around the time they peeled out their single "Have Fun" in Bruiser Queen's signature Bikini Kill-meets-the-Marvelettes style: "Have fun before you die/Anything else is a waste of time" – a fitting ethos for this Thursday and, for that matter, every Thursday forever and ever.
8 p.m. Walmart AMP. $56.
Blending an amalgam of rock influences — Alice Cooper's shock rockery and anthemic riffs lifted from Wolverhamptonian glam rock band Slade (of whose "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" Gene Simmons says "Rock & Roll All Nite" is a "bastard child"), KISS has, for its legions of fans, given permission put a little Halloween into life outside of Oct. 31, to self-identify as theatrical, larger than life, comic-book-sized personalities among "straight looking folks with suits," to borrow words from Tupac's preamble to KISS's performance at the 1996 Grammys. Or, as Paul Stanley said in an interview with Forbes last year: "I've always believed that perhaps you can't look like KISS but you can feel like KISS. In other words, you can look at a picture of us and go, 'I feel like that guy.' So even if you can't make yourself up, you see there's a place for individuality to take a stand, that you can wear who you are on your sleeve and be proud of it." The band's members have been through disunions and reunions, elicited speechlessness from a usually talkative Terry Gross in Simmons' misogyny-laden 2002 public radio interview, conducted a decades-long quality control study of facepaint and resisted any cries of "gilding the lily" in their performance aesthetic, piling literal explosions and fire on top of guitars that were fiery and explosive to begin with and effectively establishing stage pyrotechnics and ziplines as the new normal. (When my dad took the entire family to see KISS at Sandstone Ampitheater at the turn of the century, I watched opener Ted Nugent shoot a flaming arrow through the heart of a guitar suspended in mid-air, having no idea that the spectacle would, a mere half hour later, seem like child's play.) Despite revolving shelves of on-brand merchandise (Shoes! Computer games! A "Kiss Kasket!"), innumerable copycat acts and over 100 million albums sold, it wasn't until 2014 that the band got into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and landed on the cover of Rolling Stone, and here they are, post-post-post-reunion, performing rain or shine for an ever-expanding KISS Army.
- North Mississippi Allstars
FRIDAY 9/29-SATURDAY 9/30
DEPOT DAYS MUSIC FESTIVAL
5:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Fri., 9:30 a.m.-10:15 p.m. Sat. Downtown Newport. Free.
This will be the first depot Days Music Festival since the death of one of its staples, Sonny Burgess — Newport native, boogie pioneer and one of Sun Records' first recording artists. Burgess died in August, and his band, The Legendary Pacers, is one of the highlights of this small-town festival, dedicated this year to Burgess' memory. They're joined on the lineup by the North Mississippi Allstars, Larry McCray, The Deltatones with Little Rock's own Charlotte Taylor, W.S. Holland, Travis Wammack and many more. The Rock and Roll Highway 67 Museum, at the corner of Hazel and Second streets downtown, will be open from noon-4 p.m., offering attendees a chance to meet some of the musicians and get a historical look at some of the Arkansas venues in which Elvis and other rock icons cut their teeth.
- Valerie Fremin
- 'CONTINENTAL STOMP': Hot Club of Cowtown brings its "swingin' stampede" to Ron Robinson Theater as part of the Arkansas Sounds concert series.
HOT CLUB OF COWTOWN
7 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $20.
Hot jazz and western swing flirts with and evades popularity at turns, finding purchase most directly with groups like Postmodern Jukebox and Asleep at the Wheel, but also less overtly in sets heard at retro-hip Austin honky tonks like the Continental Club and The White Horse. For Elana James and Whit Smith, though, that popularity has been hard to gauge from inside the Hot Club of Cowtown bubble; they've been blending Django and Bob Wills since before it was cool. Excepting a break in the mid-2000s, they've been peddling jazz-meets-hoedown music to enthusiastic audiences for nearly 20 years. I spoke with James last week ahead of the band's Arkansas Sounds concert, and she had this to say about the staying power of the tradition in which they play: "For me, the whole nature of what we do, it's a dance music. It's a social kind of music. It's not pretentious. It's lively. And you can't be in a bad mood and listen to it or play it. It's got this kind of irrepressible joy, but also a completely down home aspect. ... We try to keep that as the rosetta stone of what the band is about."
- 'GROOVITATE': Ronnie Heart lays down post-disco grooves at Maxine's Friday night.
9 p.m. Maxine's. $5.
Prince is gone. And, with all due respect to biotechnological leaps in the study of reanimation, that's not changing anytime soon. The Purple One's aesthetic plays a heavy hand, though, in the work of Texas native Ronnie Gierhart (known to most as Ronnie Heart) — fitted, velvety, military jackets on a compact frame; perfectly coiffed hair; wavy, pulsating synthesizers; funky falsetto. Like his apparent muse, Heart can do it all: He's a gifted dancer, vocalist and guitarist, and his earnestly administered lyrics leave no artistic distance between himself and his audience, no room to interpret any ounce of his post-disco routine as insincere or derivative. Even on what's probably the most obtuse of tracks from 2016's "you(r) mine," called "Real Bad (Spider Monkey)," Heart doesn't detach or play cool, managing to get downright silly with a seedy tattletale: "If I tell you the truth, you won't listen to me, you see it's useless, boo boo crappington ... Your daddy's sneakin,' he's sneakin' around real bad!" Go to the show to be reminded of all the cool, boing-y effects you forgot your keyboard had, stay for the urgent Dionysian pleas of "Smoovie:" "Filling this place with hope right now/hoping this pace don't slow right now/turning the sun completely into dark, completely/oxygen flowing through my veins ... How can I move ya, baby?"
100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE
6 a.m.-3 p.m. Little Rock Farmer's Market. Free.
Now, I'm not saying that whole "don't talk to strangers" thing isn't good advice. Having grown up before the era of "To Catch a Predator," I'm pretty sure that time-honored bit of wisdom gave me a good healthy wariness of windowless vans, and might have kept me from pocketing a hyper-evangelistic religious tract or two. For adults, though, "don't talk to strangers" can be a pretty bogus mantra. Or, at least, insofar as it's helpful, we take it way too far. This pop-up at the Little Rock Farmer's Market aims to facilitate one-on-one exchanges, without a microphone or a stage — just people face to face gathered in the name of fostering "inclusiveness, diversity, and positive change by reading and listening to poetry, person to person." They "won't be selling anything or promoting any other event or a political agenda," an FAQ on the event's webpage reads. "Just positive change." Evidently, it began in 2011, when poet Michael Rothberg and Terri Carrion set out to organize a global poetry event on Sept. 24, 2011, in which people around the world would read poetry to each other in the streets. "The first order of change," he said, "is for poets, writers, artists, to actually get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. ... We hardly know our neighbors down the street, let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries." It caught on. Seven hundred poetry events took places across 95 countries, and Stanford University offered to archive the documented exchanges. This event, like the many others listed at 100tpc.org — from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe — is the local version of that celebration, now annual and worldwide. Organizers suggest dressing for the weather and, if you can, committing to a timeslot at the event's Facebook page or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE GLENN MILLER ORCHESTRA
5:30 p.m. Hot Springs Convention Center. $25-$35.
This one's for all of you (and there were many) who turned to their neighbors and whispered giddily at a Arkansas Symphony Orchestra pops concert six or seven years ago, just after it was announced that the next number would be Henry Mancini's "Baby Elephant Walk." (I was excited, too. It's a fun tune.) The big band known as Glenn Miller and his Orchestra was founded in the late 1930s, and the tradition continues today with bandleader Nick Hilscher and a dapper ensemble of about 20 musicians. It's arguably the most famous big band touring these days, and they take care to stay true to the reed-heavy sound, loading the band with clarinets and saxophones in lieu of a trumpet army to get the sound made famous by Miller himself. Although I'm sure it was the proximity of Hot Springs Village that made this stop a safe bet for the Orchestra, tunes like "In the Mood" and "Tuxedo Junction" don't die, and even those who would eschew Miller's rigorous arranging habits for saucier, more loosely spun jazz landscapes owe something to the mysteriously disappeared trombonist and his era-defining swing music.
- TRIPLE ROW ACCORDION: An early, all-ages Sunday show at the White Water Tavern features music from zydeco royalty Dikki Du (Troy Carrier) and The Zydeco Krewe.
DIKKI DU & THE ZYDECO KREWE
6 p.m. White Water Tavern. Free-$7.
This Krewe manages to turn any place they land into revelry, St. Landry Parish-style, and this one sounds especially promising for a couple of reasons. First, it's an early Sunday show, allowing for plenty of time to #sundayfunday and then get enough sleep to keep Monday morning from feeling like a slog. Second, it's all-ages, so you can bring the kids, and there's not much music in the world better suited to spark joy in tiny humans than some real-deal zydeco. Kids 10 and under get in free, and someday maybe they'll be thrilled to know they heard Troy Carrier, a member of a celebrated musical family and an energetic interpreter of the Louisiana triple-row accordion sound.
BEER AND HYMNS
7 p.m. Diamond Bear Brewing Company. Free.
For some months now, a group of harmonizers have been congregating at Diamond Bear Brewery, making good on theologian John Wesley's directive to "sing lustily and with good courage." Liquid courage, should you need that kind, is available in many foamy forms to help with what's arguably the most difficult aspect of reading sheet music by sight: confidence and willingness to make an error. The brewery's tap is tapping its usual suspects — Pale Ale, Paradise Porter and Dogtown Brown, to name a few, as well as a handful of seasonal ales: a malty Irish Red, a light Honey Weiss made with Arkansas honey and the just-tapped Rocktoberfest.
BAND OF HORSES
7 p.m. Clear Channel Metroplex. $30.
Like many of the band's devoted fans, Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell has aged into parenthood, and the newest record, "Why Are You OK," shows it. "Awful conversation at the casual party," the fourth track goes. "The job, the babble on, the recreational hobbies, oh/No it never stops/Kids and the dog, a freshly-mowed lawn/Retirement plans for a mountain home, oh." With this record, the band's got a toe dipped deeper than ever into multi-layered Pink Floyd dystopia but, perhaps owing to a sonic identity that favors friendlier melodies, they never quite dive into the abyss, opting instead to introduce themes of memory and malaise with a well-defined backbeat and a punchy slide guitar ("Throw My Mess"). Sans longtime members Tyler Ramsey and Bill Reynolds, who departed the band earlier this year a decade, Band of Horses is making the rounds with dreamy guitars, Brian Wilson-inspired background vocals and retrospective lyrics about old photos and indifference ("In A Drawer," "Hag") in front of crowds of thousands.