ARKANSAS TIMES BEST OF PARTY
6 p.m. Albert Pike Masonic Center. $40-$75.
The Albert Pike Memorial Temple — that gargantuan edifice at 712 Scott St. in downtown Little Rock — was closed to the public until 2014, but those fortunate enough to have laid eyes on its interior knows those hallowed halls are lavishly appointed and stately, just right for a red-carpet affair celebrating the finest movers and shakers in the Greater Little Rock area. Toast your favorite poet, bread baker, chiropractor, bowling alley or hiking trail with us at "Hollywood Nights," a datamax-sponsored, Hollywood-themed Arkansas Times shindig we're holding in conjunction with our annual Best of Arkansas readers survey. See our cover story this week for the winners, listen to smooth crooning and big horn riffs from Dizzy 7, and hang with 107 Liquor reps dressed up as the stars of "Sex and the City" making Smirnoff vodka and Bulleit Bourbon cocktails, folks from Ciao Baci dressed as mariachi gunfighters and serving Palomas, Loca Luna employees in character as "Pirates of the Caribbean" serving Black Pearl Punch made with Captain Morgan rum; and staff from Red Door channeling "Tombstone" and serving a Johnny Ringo Old Fashioned. 109 & Co., Petit & Keet, Southern Table and others will also be serving, and Simply the Best Catering will temper the cocktails, wine and beer with Royale with Cheese Sliders (inspired by "Pulp Fiction"), Bubba Gump Shrimp and Watermelon Ceviche (inspired by "Forrest Gump"), a "Nacho Libre" nacho bar, "Fried Green Tomatoes," gazpacho shooters, potato sticks and all sorts of gourmet popcorn. Glazer's Beer and Beverage are behind the booze offerings from sponsors Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Tanqueray, Crown Royal, Captain Morgan, Bulleit Bourbon and Baileys. Oh, and Colonial Wine and Spirits will be on hand for photos, so break out the good eyeshadow.
- GUILTY PLEASURES: Blues guitarist and songwriter Selwyn Birchwood plays the Rev Room Thursday night.
8 p.m. Rev Room. $10-$13.
Whether or not Florida counts as part of the Deep South depends on who you ask, but if you're listening to Tampa native Selwyn Birchwood play while you ponder the question, your answer's more likely to lean toward a "yes." The prodigious guitarist was spurred to pursue blues music when, as an 18-year-old, he heard Buddy Guy play a concert in Orlando, and the path seems to suit him pretty well. In the last five years, Birchwood's become an A-lister at blues fests across the globe, writing his own music, pursuing seasoned mentors and surrounding himself with stellar players — saxophonist Regi Oliver, for one. Birchwood may equivocate like a politician under fire on his latest, "Guilty Pleasures" ("I don't like no whiskey, I just like the taste/I don't like no reefer/Except every day"), but he's pretty crystal clear about where he stands on other tracks from 2017's "Pick Your Poison," as in "Police State": "Can't ignore the headlines/Citizens getting beat/Can't help but wonder/Who's policing the police?" Sartorially polished as he is, Birchwood looks endearingly out of place when he's interviewed on morning television spots plugging an upcoming performance — electric mane, goofy grin, boyish delivery — an image that earns him the uncontested right to sing the lyrics he wrote to "Corporate Drone": "They love to make cuts/Like they don't got a dime to spare/They cut my days and they cut my pay/They even wanna cut my hair." The John Calvin Brewer Band opens the show.
- Brian Chilson
- Spirit Cuntz
COUCH JACKETS, GINSU WIVES, SPIRIT CUNTZ
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
"Two Star Kinda Band" is the name of the new cassette release from Spirit Cuntz, and despite the self-deprecating title, the trio has been low-key raging across Little Rock for a solid couple of years now, accruing devotees with lo-fi earworms like "Two Cents" and a screamy audience participation number called "Stranger Anal." The band members also happen to be friendly with some of the most inventive outfits in town, and have recruited them to help kick off this tour and tape-release show, which includes the perennially sexy/horrific performance art of Ginsu Wives and the latest band to wax frenetic on the Chicago-based Audiotree Live series, Couch Jackets. This is a hell of a lineup, but if you still need convincing, check out Couch Jackets' layered, meandering "Fake Internet" on the aforementioned Audiotree sessions.
- Josh Reed
- PEACEMAKER: Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Grace Potter performs at the Peacemaker Festival this weekend in Fort Smith.
FRIDAY 7/27-SATURDAY 7/29
7 p.m. Fri., 5:30 p.m. Sat. Harry E. Kelley River Park, Fort Smith. $39-$175.
While Central Arkansas festival lovers have hemmed and hawed over the fate and thrust of Riverfest, Fort Smith's been doing its own riverfront thing — for four years straight. This year, the Peacemaker Festival includes among its headliners earthy soul rocker, guitarist and co-conspirator to the likes of Kenny Chesney and Flaming Lips, Grace Potter; soul revivalist/reinventor Anderson East; hard blues purveyors Rival Sons; bassless (but not baseless) Nashville Southern rock trio The Cadillac Three; Funky Meters, torch-carriers for the funk sound pioneered by the original Meters; silver-tongued Tupelo, Miss., savant Paul Thorn; and smartass storytelling legend Ray Wylie Hubbard. As long as you're there, you may as well stick around for something called "Praise God and Pass the Biscuits," a free-admission Sunday morning breakfast, 10 a.m., with a 15-minute sermon, gospel music and a self-professed mission of "feeding the homeless and hungover." Get details and tickets at peacemakerfest.com.
8 p.m. Clear Channel Metroplex. $40-$50.
Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone, Layzie Bone, Krayzie Bone and Flesh-n-Bone rose to fame after giving an audition in Eazy E's dressing room, having pursued Eazy on a dogged quest that sounds like the stuff of biopics (and is, actually, in F. Gary Gray's N.W.A. epic "Straight Outta Compton," in a cinematic moment Bone Thugs is reportedly pitching as a starting point for its own movie tale). Bone Thugs went on to dominate the rap charts in the mid-'90s with all the tunes you'll walk in to this concert wanting to hear live: "Tha Crossroads," "Thuggish Ruggish Bone" and that payday rallying cry, "1st of tha Month." Come to sing along to "Foe tha Love of $," stay to see if slow jams like "Weed Song" make it onto the set list.
- Taylor Hart McKinney
- Max Churchwell (left) and Ethan Patterson
FRIDAY 7/27-SUNDAY 8/12
'BARE: A POP OPERA'
7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sun. The Weekend Theater. $18-$22.
Imbued with all the layers of symbolism that Catholicism and Shakespeare afford, the story of clandestine love between two high school boys at a boarding school unfolds in this 2000 rock musical. Sets have ranged from Instagram mosaics to live feeds of cell phones onstage, and it's no wonder "Bare" has been such an inspiration for stage designers: At the play's core are young people grappling with self-image and sexual identity. It is unquestionably a coming-of-age story, but, as Director Trent Reese said in a press release, it would be a mistake to pigeonhole it as such. "In reality, it is far more than that," Reese said. "It tackles issues of inclusion and revelation, love and acceptance, and the roles we play in our everyday lives. It is a beautiful example of the courage it takes to be your authentic self and the perils of not being heard." Max Churchwell and Ethan Patterson, two young actors you may have spotted in Argenta Community Theater's "A Christmas Carol" or in The Studio Theater, play Peter and Jason, the two young men at the core of the love story. A reception follows the opening night show on Friday, July 27.
- Brian Chilson
- ON THE BURNS PARK RIVERFRONT: Charlotte Taylor kicks off the 19th annual Blues on the River this weekend in North Little Rock.
BLUES ON THE RIVER
3 p.m. Burns Park. $29-$50.
As it turns out, the Arkansas River has not one, but two shores, and one of them is home to the 19th annual Blues on the River Festival this Saturday, with sets from seasoned vets like the 77-year-old Hall of Famer Latimore, Chicago blues icon "Steady Rollin'" Bob Margolin and plenty from the new guard, the local guard and the blues-adjacent: Charlotte Taylor, Rikki D, Ed Bowman, Heather Crosse, Billy Jones, Gil Franklin, The Michael Burks Project (fresh from their Burks tribute the night before), Arkansas Brothers, Clarksdale's Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, Carter Thomas, Rodney Block, Robert Kimbrough, Tragikly White, Preston Shannon, Theodis Ealy, Bigg Robb and more. Use your ticket stub to get $10 off the $20 ticket for the festival after-party at Gigi's Soul Cafe & Lounge, hosted by Sonta Jean of KOKY-FM, 102.1, and featuring performances from Dino D & The D Train Band and Katrice "Butterfly" Newbill.
- Scott Peterson
- Cindy Woolf of The Creek Rocks
BLOCK ON ROCK 5TH BIRTHDAY BASH
4 p.m. Stone's Throw Brewing. $5.
The home beermakers-turned-pro beermakers at Stone's Throw Brewing have been carrying the Quapaw Quarter suds torch for half a decade now, and they're throwing a block party bash as a birthday party, with live music by musicologist-pickers The Creek Rocks and brass bonanza The Big Dam Horns. Neighbors at the Arkansas Arts Center will have a marketplace set up, Arkansas Circus Arts will be whirling and twirling, and the brewery will feature collaborations with fellow fermenters. Arkansas Rice Council sponsors the event, kids 10 and under get in free, and your admission supports Preserve Arkansas. See stonesthrowbeer.com for a detailed parking map, and check out the full range of festivities at the brewery's Facebook page.
- TEACHERS ONLY: Public school teacher-turned-comedian Eddie B. performs at Robinson Center Performance Hall on Saturday night.
8 p.m. Robinson Center Performance Hall. $25-$65.
Teachers don't get paid enough to teach the subjects they're hired to teach during the school day, let alone all the extra roles and hours they take on to make our children smarter and less insufferable. And, truth be told, given the opportunity to peek behind the curtain and hear what teachers really think, I'm not certain all of us would want to know. Turns out I'm wrong about that, though; audiences all over definitely want to know things like "What Teachers Really Say About Students' Names While Calling Roll," "What Teachers Really Say About What They Get Paid" and "What Texas Teachers Really Say About Hurricane Harvey," and they're going to Eddie Brown's shows to hear it. The Houston comedian, who goes by Eddie B., taught public school — fifth grade, heroically — at Houston's Varnett School East when the YouTube series he made as a comedic outlet took off, and now he's touring on a "Teachers Only" tour, doing stand-up for a chronically underappreciated segment of the workforce.
- James Godwin of James & The Ultrasounds
JAMES & THE ULTRASOUNDS
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
James & The Ultrasounds play like they came to tear the roof off. Or maybe like they're out to prove that surfy guitar riffs only sound dreamy and chill when they come from a place with actual surf, and that the licks born out of landlocked Memphis are meaner and rowdier. With a sonic profile that's equal parts Link Wray, "Ringo Buys a Rifle" and fellow Memphian John Paul Keith, this show's for good shoes and big hair, and for anyone who prefers their watusi a little wild.