HOT SPRINGS MUSIC FESTIVAL
Various times and locations in Hot Springs. $5-$15.
Now in its 17th year, the Hot Springs Music Festival — which started Sunday and runs through June 16 — gives classical fans in Central Arkansas the opportunity to see accomplished musicians from all over the world perform alongside budding players. The festival features lectures, as well as 20 official concerts and more than 250 open rehearsals, at which the professionals mentor the young up-and-comers. Much of the festival is broadcast on KLRE 90.5 and recorded for release on CD on the Naxos/Marco Polo label. Some of the featured performers this year include Rick "Mr. CutTime" Robinson and The Cassatt String Quartet. Described on its website as being "serious in focus but casual in atmosphere," the festival takes place at several venues in Hot Springs. Wednesday's concert is at the Hot Springs Fieldhouse. A pre-concert talk starts at 6:30 p.m., with the Festival Symphony Orchestra starting at 7:30 p.m., performing music by Rachmaninoff, Paganini, Charles Ives and more. Tickets are $5 for students and veterans and $15 for others. Check the website at www.hotmusic.org to find the full schedule. RB
10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $5.
The Ezra Lbs. self-titled debut, out now on Thick Syrup Records and available at this record release show, is quite an odd album, and I mean that in the best way possible. It seems to have been written, recorded and sequenced without any consideration whatsoever of following convention. The album is 22 songs, divided between perfectly rough-around-the-edges garage-rock tunes, wistful bedroom pop and meandering instrumental passages, such as "Pennies," which has an underwater lounge-jazz feel, and "Insomnia," which recalls those drifting interstitial pieces from Eno's timeless "Another Green World." "Bears" and "Postcard" are fantastic, melancholy sketches that remind me a bit of The Great Unwashed (David and Hamish Kilgour's excellent, under-heralded post-Clean collaboration). "Purple Sweater" is a wordless, minute-and-a-half blast with a late-period Jay Reatard vibe that segues into the delightful "Record." But as good as all those songs are, for me, the sweet spot is the final stretch of the album. The last four songs make up a perfect suite of gorgeous guitar rock that I've listened to over and over. The last song in particular, "Motorcycle Accident," is sublime, with soaring, gorgeously distorted guitar. In a basic sense, Ezra Lbs. is building on similar influences as the British band Yuck — which I also love — those being Yo La Tengo, Dinosaur Jr., Pavement and the like. But this Arkansas crew is more restless, adventurous and willing to take those familiar touchstones in weirder directions. It'll be interesting to see where they go next, but until then we'll have this very enjoyable album to absorb. Also playing is the ever-burly rock machine known as Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth. RB
ARKANSAS SHAKESPEARE THEATRE
Various times. Hendrix, UCA and Wildwood Park. $0-$30.
This season, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre gets rolling with one of the Bard's comedies, "Twelfth Night." The tale of twins, shipwrecked and separated on the mysterious island of Illyria, is one of Shakespeare's works that director Rebekah Scallet found herself drawn to again and again. "There are many different love stories woven throughout the play, and the way the characters feel about each other is always first detected in their language," Scallet wrote in her director's note. "All the lovers play verbal games of wit with each other, picking up each other's phrases, taking a word and turning it over in such a way that it has a new meaning. Through this complementary use of language the audience can tell these people are truly meant for each other, and it is so much fun to watch them figure out what we already know." The first five performances of "Twelfth Night" — June 7, 9, 10, 15 and 17, all at 7:30 p.m. — are pay what you can shows at Hendrix. The remaining performances are June 22-24 at 7:30 p.m. at Wildwood Park for the Arts and tickets are $15-$20. The Tony-winning Huck Finn musical "Big River" opens Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Reynolds Performance Hall at UCA, with a 1 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets are $30. RB
7:30 p.m. The Weekend Theater. $16-$20.
Adolescence is a bummer. You feel uncomfortable and moody all the time. Your body's all weird and there are all of these new, strange feelings you've got to negotiate. To top it all off, your parents and teachers and other grownups are mostly jerks who don't understand what you're going through and why can't they just get off your case and let you do what you want? Jeez! "Spring Awakening" is a rock musical — based on an earlier work by German proto-expressionist playwright Frank Wedekind — that deals with this awkward time in three young peoples' lives. Wendla, Melchior and Moritz all struggle to navigate this new, foreign terrain and the adults in their lives aren't too helpful, as they avoid uncomfortable topics. The updated version won eight Tonys in 2007, and is pretty frank in its portrayal of teenage sexuality. The Weekend Theater's production runs through July 1, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. RB
9 a.m., Clinton Presidential Center. Free (for spectators).
Arkansas Baptist and the Clinton Foundation once again team up to host Hoop Jams, a massive 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the spirit of the Hoop Fest that ran for years in Little Rock. I haven't played basketball in at least a year, but I was ready to play in the media division this year, except that I have to be away for a wedding. But look out Pat Bradley or Roger Susanin or whoever in the media world plays ball, Team Arkansas Times is gunning for you next year. When we win, we're gunning for the Top Gun division, which celebrity host Joe Johnson and Team Jordan won last year. Even without the Times team, this promises to be a competitive field. Games happens from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday and from noon until 6 p.m. Sunday. The deadline to register has already expired. LM.
DEVIN THE DUDE
8 p.m. Revolution. $20 adv., $25 d.o.s.
In "Lacville '79," one of Devin the Dude's first big singles, he raps about driving "47 in a 55." The chorus goes "I'm rollin' / Car not stolen / Probably never will be it's much to old and / Smokin' weed and feelin fine." That song and those lines in particular offer a good window into Devin's special brand of rap genius. Where most of his peers tap into aggression and swagger, Devin works in the Slick Rick tradition; his languid raps often sound like he's delivering them with a smile on his face. He's not afraid to be self-deprecating, and while his lyrics occasionally dip into dark territory, more often than not he's rapping about the joys of being high with nothing much to do. The opening bill includes 607, the most accomplished rapper in Arkansas, playing one of his last shows before a career refocusing hiatus; Arkansas Bo, the Dallas-based Arkansas expat who works in the same mode as Devin and the local supergroup Labratz. The show is open to those 18 and older. LM
Noon. Clinton School of Public Service. Free.
When it comes to treating people equally, Arkansas still has a long, long way to go. But we can certainly take pride that someone like Chad Griffin came from here. Griffin was the youngest staffer ever to serve in the White House (he was 19 in 1992 when he was hired as a press aide in the Clinton White House) and since then he's led numerous campaigns for all manner of righteous causes, including stem cell research, clean energy, environmental protection, and, of course, LGBT rights. The Hope native (who grew up in Arkadelphia) was one of the leaders behind the successful campaign to overturn California's Prop 8, the constitutional amendment which stripped same-sex couples of the right to marry. Out magazine placed him at No. 20 on its 2012 Power 50 List, published back in April. Earlier this year, Griffin was named the next president of the Human Rights Campaign, which is the largest group working for LGBT rights. He assumes that role on June 11. On his first day as HRC president, he'll discuss his plans for his new role with state Rep. Kathy Webb, the first openly gay person to serve in the state General Assembly. RB