THURSDAY 10/24-SUNDAY 10/27
OZARK FOLK FESTIVAL
Various times and venues. Eureka Springs.
Wednesday, the 66th annual Ozark Folk Festival kicked off in Eureka Springs. It's one of the oldest continually observed folk celebrations in the country — the oldest actually, according to organizers. This year's lineup is highlighted by a Saturday evening taping of folk singer Michael Johnathon's "WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour" (even just typing that out, I can hear the trademark roaring crowd chant that introduces the show: WoodSongs ... Old-Time ... Radio Hour!). Johnathon and crew will be recording two one-hour programs at The Auditorium downtown. The first features The Clark Family Trio, Clancey Ferguson, Martin Johnson, David Kimbrough III, Fiddlin' Banjo Billy Mathews, Mountain Sprout and The Ozark Alliance. The second show includes performances from Leroy Troy and The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band and veteran country-rock figure Michael Martin Murphey. Of course, the festival also includes plenty more good times, with the Queens Contest Thursday night, free music Friday and Saturday in Basin Spring Park (including a performance from Johnathan on Friday), the Folk Festival Parade through downtown starting at 2 p.m. Saturday and a Sunday Gospel Brunch with Brick Fields Sunday at noon at Basin Park. Check OzarkFolkFestival.com for more.
'LITTLE ROCK AND A HARD PLACE'
8 p.m. The Joint. $20.
It's a classic comedy conceit: The protagonist dies and arrives at that big pearly-gated community in the sky only to learn that in order to enter, he or she will have to go back to the mortal plane and make things right. Such is the story at the heart of "Little Rock and a Hard Place," an original comedy by The Joint's in-house comedy team, The Main Thing (Steve and Vicki Farrell and Brett Ihler). The show ran last fall and earned raves from our publisher, Alan Leveritt, who described it as "a witty and at times hilarious tour of the twin cities' downtowns during their nadirs as Steve [Farrell]'s character tries to win holy points by saving Argenta. The writing shows a real knowledge of the political and cultural nuances of the relationship between the two cities, which is a surprise, because the couple and their extended families are fairly new to Central Arkansas. And it's real funny." "Little Rock and a Hard Place" will have a limited run — Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Nov. 16 — so don't dawdle.
FRIDAY 10/25-SATURDAY 10/26
VARIOUS HALLOWEEN-RELATED EVENTS
Various times, venues and cover charges.
Seeing as how Halloween falls mid-week rather than on Friday or Saturday, much of the spook-season stuff is happening in advance. Here are a few of the terrifying highlights: White Water Tavern hosts a cover-up show with The Dangerous Idiots as The Joy Formidable, plus renditions of Ryan Adams and The Cardinals (by Phillip Rex Huddleston, Mandy McBryde, John Willis, Alex Piazza, Ryan Hitt, Thom Asewicz) and Hall & Oates (with Tyler Nance, Gaines Fricke, Charles Lyford, Lucas Murray, James Szenher, Joe Yoder and Justin Hicks), Friday, 10 p.m., $5; ImprovLittleRock's "Night of the Living Dead" spoofs the George Romero classic, Friday and Saturday, 10 p.m., $8.; The Political Animals Club brings in Mike Huckabee, The Little Rock Club, Friday 7 a.m., $20. There's a Halloween Sock Hop, with costumes, dance contests, games and more, Unitarian Universalist Church, Friday 8 p.m.-midnight; Magic Screams brings the horror to Magic Springs, Saturday and Sunday, 4 p.m.-close. For more, see In Brief.
ARTISTRY OF THE GUITAR
8 p.m. South on Main. Free.
This sounds like a sure thing for fans of top-notch acoustic guitar playing and songcraft: Artistry of the Guitar features four guitarists performing in the round, exchanging tunes and providing some insight to the audience about how the songs came to be. Most of the music is of the American Fingerstyle variety with other influences woven into the overall sound. The guitarists include Ken Bonfield, Steve Davison, Danny Dozier and Micky Rigby, all of whom are accomplished players and will likely be familiar to longtime observers of the Arkansas scene.
SATURDAY 10/26- SUNDAY 10/27
REASON IN THE ROCK
9 a.m. Wyndham Hotel. Free.
Supposedly, there's gonna be this "Reason in the Rock" event this weekend, offering a platform for "atheists" and "agnostics" and "skeptics" and various other "free thinkers" and whatnot to spread their non-beliefs to the gullible masses. I don't know, I guess I buy it. They've got a pretty good website and all. Ah, I'm just joshing. I honestly do believe that a good crowd of non-believers will gather this weekend at the Wyndham Hotel in Little Rock to discuss how everything is just a big sham. Featured speakers include: Lecia Brooks, outreach director of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Matt Dillahunty of The Atheist Experience and Non-Prophets Radio; Skeptics in the Pub founders Kyle Sanders and Ben Bell (no relation to me), and American Atheists president David Silverman, among many others. There are some really excellent-sounding presentations, including: "Can My Employer Take Religion into Account in Making Employment Decisions?"; "Breaking The Cycle: How to Help Kids Out of Religion," and "Taking Control of Your Atheist Sexuality."
7 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $45-$90.
Good lord, speaking of skepticism, "psychic medium" John Edward will be at Robinson Center Music Hall, doing his shtick in a make-up show for a canceled date from June of this year (which begs the question: Why didn't he know ahead of time that the show would have to be canceled?). Anyway, as I put it back then, "If for some reason you'd like to observe a charlatan hoodwinking the bereaved and credulous live and in-person, you're in luck, because 'psychic' and TV host John Edward will be at Robinson Center Music Hall."
COHEED AND CAMBRIA
8:30 p.m. Revolution. $28 adv., $30 day of.
Having a complex, long-running sci-fi storyline as the core of your band's concept albums is part of a grand tradition in a certain batty, literate corner of prog rock, from wooly '70s weirdos like Gong and Magma and Hawkwind up through '00s nutters such as The Mars Volta. Speaking of Mars Volta, if you thought they had some crazy multi-part concept albums, you have got to check out Coheed and Cambria. These guys arguably have taken the idea further than any of their peers, with something like eight or 10 albums telling the tale of "The Amory Wars," which concerns a system of planets called Heaven's Fence. It's written by the band's frontman Claudio Sanchez (not the dude from NPR) and has been turned into a comic book series and a novel. It's about a couple named Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon, and Coheed can turn his arm into a gun or a blade but he's got this virus that turns him into a monster so his wife (Cambria, who's clairvoyant) has to kill him to save Earth III, but then she kills herself and then their son Claudio Kilgannon teams up with his uncle (who's not really his uncle?) so they can destroy the planet system but then he runs into Ambellina, a Prise whose purpose is to tell Claudio that he's actually The Crowning, the messiah who's gonna save everything or something. I don't know, there's approximately 1.4 billion other things going on too and it all seems a bit like "Dune" by way of Henry Darger, only more complicated. But you know what? That's awesome, and it's such a welcome antidote to the typical band-dude approach of "uh, man, I don't know, I guess we're gonna write some songs about like normal stuff until we get 10 or 12 of 'em and then we'll put them on an album and then do that over and over again until most of us get married and have kids and finally realize we can't support our families doing this shit and then we break up." Anyway, yeah, Coheed and Cambria. Without a doubt, this will be one of the more interesting shows of the year. Openers at this all-ages affair are Balance and Composure and I The Mighty.