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The greatest hits of summer

Can’t-miss events for the season.

NOT A STRANGER: Willie Nelson and B.B. King co-headline in Little Rock in July.
  • NOT A STRANGER: Willie Nelson and B.B. King co-headline in Little Rock in July.

Whatever happened to lazy summers? Porch-sitting with a tall boy, lounging by the pool, taking refuge from the heat in the cool blast of movie theaters? Maybe you continue to keep it real, but we get caught up in the constant tug of going and doing. So to help make your coming months more relaxed, but still fun-filled, here we distill the early summer's entertainment calendar down to the must-dos.  

Next weekend, Robinson Center Music Hall hosts New Orleans stalwarts Preservation Hall Jazz Band (May 9-10) performing with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and a Doo Wop Celebration (May 11), featuring Gene Chandler, the Chiffons, Larry Chance and more. 

Unless you're prepared to pay scalpers' prices, forget about trying to score a ticket for this year's must-see country concert in Little Rock. Carrie Underwood's (May 11) show at Alltel is sold out. 

In case you missed our Spring Arts issue, Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts is back. The park, under the direction of new artistic director and CEO Cliff Fannin Baker, kicks off its new feel with Blooms (May 10-11), a melange of culture and the outdoors, with live music, costumed actors reading from “Beatrix Potter,” high tea under a tent by the lake, a new work,“The Bottle Tree,” a pastiche of recollections of former Arkansas first ladies conceived by Baker and much more.  

Cinephiles will flock to Little Rock for the second annual Little Rock Film Festival (May 15-18). After a banner first year, organizers have upped the ante with this year's lineup, which includes the local premiere of “War Eagle, Arkansas,” a Charles B. Pierce retrospective, an early screening of the new John C. Reilly comedy “The Promotion,” a keynote address from Harry Thomason and a diversity of shorts, documentaries and other features. 

Long an annual tradition, the Greek Food Festival returns to the Annunciation Church May 16-18. 

The crown jewel in the season's music offering is, of course, Riverfest (May 23-25) on Memorial Day Weekend. This year's headliners include Huey Lewis & the News, Paul Thorn, Shooter Jennings, Merle Haggard and Arrested Development on Friday; Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen, Better Than Ezra, One Republic and Jonny Lang on Saturday and Chaka Khan, .38 Special, ZZ Top and Robert Earl Keen on Sunday.

For those who prefer their music a little more sanctified, the eighth annual Delta Family Gospel Fest (May 24) in Helena-West Helena features the best in local, regional and national gospel.  

Blues Weekend (May 28-31) in Eureka Springs features Koko Taylor, Patrick Sweany and Michael Burks performing at venues around town. 

The Rep closes out its season with “Fire on the Mountain” (May 30-June 22), a musical celebration of the lives of Appalachian coal miners. 

This year's Timberwood Amphitheater Concert Series at Magic Springs (May 31-Aug. 30) features a diverse and impressive lineup, including Flyleaf (June 21), Sean Kingston (July 5) and Morris Day (Aug. 23). 

The second annual Pinnacle Music Fest (June 9) features Camden-born blues legend Michael Burks and veteran blues performer Big Mike Griffin performing at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. 

Folk favorites the Indigo Girls perform at Robinson Center Music Hall with Brandi Carlile on June 10. 

The Arkansas Shakespeare Festival returns to Conway (June 12-29) with performances of “The Sound of Music,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Tempest” at Reynolds Performance Hall on the campus of UCA. 

Two legends still going strong, Willie Nelson and B.B. King, team up for a concert at the Riverfest Amphitheatre on July 25. 

Southern rock heroes the Black Crowes play the Arkansas Music Pavilion in Fayetteville on August 14. 

You've got 56 opportunities to see the Travs in Dickey-Stephens Park before the season concludes on Sept. 1. For those hoping the home state rivalry between the Naturals blossoms, make special note of May 16-19, Aug 1-4 and Aug 26-29. If indoor pigskin is more your speed, the Arkansas Twisters remaining regular season home games at Alltel Arena are May 10 and 31, June 14 and 28 and July 19 and 26. 


For more details, see the Times' new and improved online events calendar at





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