THURSDAY 5/30-SUNDAY 6/2
11 a.m. Mulberry Mountain. $150-$660.
It's a bummer, but there just aren't too many times or places where one can unfurl one's freak flag, hoist it waaaay up high — super, duper, ultra, mega high — and just proceed to let it fly, free from concerns about any squares, prudes, nags, scolds, authoritarian-types or what-have-you coming along to try to toss a bucket of cold harshness on your good times. But brothers and sisters, there is one such place and time, and that place is Mulberry Mountain, and that time is called Wakarusa. This marks the festival's 10th year, and the fifth year that it has been hosted in Arkansas, having been relocated from its original home in Kansas on account of harassment from the authorities. But the site near Ozark is private property, which means more privacy and less intrusion from you-know-whos. That said, they'll be hanging around the vicinity for sure. So take some smart precautions: Drive cautiously (but not, you know, like suspiciously so), make sure you've got all your insurance info and registration, make sure you don't have a tail light out or anything else that might make you an easy mark. And have fun. It's a beautiful location, and if you're into the jam-band, electronic or bluegrass scenes, there will be a ridiculous amount of music for you to enjoy. This year's headliners are Snoop Lion, Widespread Panic, Dispatch, The Black Crowes, Gogol Bordello, Son Volt, Umphrey's McGee and STS9, among many, many other acts. Full schedule at Wakarusa.com.
10 p.m. White Water Tavern.
It's been in the works for a few months now, but Iron Tongue's debut full-length is out this week on the esteemed Neurot Records label, and it was so completely worth the wait. "The Dogs Have Barked, The Birds Have Flown" perfectly captures the seven-piece band's amp-destroying blues/soulful classic rock hybrid. The album was recorded by Billy Anderson, who is, bar none, one of the best metal producers working. Just for full disclosure: I wrote some press materials for the band, but not for any money or other consideration — only because I think the album is start-to-finish killer. It's crushingly heavy, but with real-deal emotional turmoil at its core — a combination that's tough to get right. And on this record, Iron Tongue absolutely nails it. Opening the show will be Opportunist and J.Kutchma and The Five Fifths.
FRIDAY 5/31-SATURDAY 6/1
KEITH SYKES WEEKEND
8 p.m. Arlington Hotel. $60.
Any of you budding singer/songwriters out there probably ought to go to this here gathering and take really good notes, because the collected wisdom and decades of experience on hand will be mighty. The Keith Sykes Weekend boasts a lineup of artists who have penned hits for a plethora of notable performers. You've got Sykes, of course, who's written tunes for Jimmy Buffet ("Volcano"), The Judds and many others. Roger Cook co-wrote the Coca-Cola jingle "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," "Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)" and the Don Williams hit "I Believe in You." Dickey Lee has written songs for George Strait and Reba McEntire. Larry Joe Taylor is responsible for writing cuts for Jerry Jeff Walker, Gary P. Nunn and others. Jerry Lee Lewis, Mel Tillis, Rick Nelson and many others have recorded tracks by Buzz Cason. There will be several other songsmiths performing as well. The weekend kicks off with a concert Friday night and keeps rolling Saturday with the Bloody Mary Guitar Pull with Jedd Zimmerman and Delta Joe Sanders at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Sykes will interview Lee about his work at 3 p.m., and there's another concert Saturday night at 8 p.m. Seating is first-come, first-served.
FRIDAY 5/31-SATURDAY 6/1
WINGSPUR BENEFIT WITH KINKY FRIEDMAN
Friday 8 p.m. Argenta Community Theater. $30.
Saturday 8 p.m. White Water Tavern. $30.
You've gotta love ol' Kinky Friedman. With his band The Texas Jewboys, he cut a number of left-field country albums, racking up satirical classics like "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in Bed" and "They Ain't Makin' Jews like Jesus Anymore." The perpetually cigar-chomping entertainer has also penned a raft of detective novels, an etiquette guide and collections of assorted other writings (best book title: "Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned"). Oh yeah, and then there was his 2006 run for governor of Texas, which surely produced some of the finest campaign slogans never to be focus-grouped to death, among them "How Hard Could it Be?" and "My Governor is a Jewish Cowboy." The Kinkster is also a kind-hearted friend of the animals, having founded Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch over there in Medina, Texas. He also serves on the board of the nonprofit Wing Spur Wild Horses, a sanctuary for a group of wild Mustangs located out at Wye Mountain. These two concerts are fundraisers for Wing Spur, so you can get some entertainment and know that you're helping a good cause as well. Oh, and the tickets are tax deductible, if you're so inclined.
THE BAD YEARS, CROOKED ROOTS
8 p.m. Vino's.
This is rad: Vino's hosts two generations of Little Rock punks Saturday, with a record release show for the forthcoming split 7" (which, FYI, is the most punk of all formats) with The Bad Years and Crooked Roots, two bands made up of young dudes who were but gleams in their parents' eyes back when bands like Trusty, 12ft.6, Chino Horde, Chalk and Econochrist were cutting their teeth in the early '90s Little Rock punk scene. The Bad Years side is represented by "Westbound," a fist-pumping nug of Lookout! Records-style pop-punk that recalls Pinhead Gunpowder and explores that familiar feeling of wanting to pack a bag and get the hell outta town. Crooked Roots opts for a quiet/loud/quiet meditation on anxiety and self-doubt. Also on the bill is The Canehill Engagement, a country/punk project featuring, among others, Max Recordings head honcho Burt Taggart on the drums. Max is releasing the record, which seems appropriate, as does the venue, which holds a special place in Little Rock's punk history.
10TH ANNUAL CONWAY PRIDE
1 p.m. The Pink House (1605 Robinson Ave.).
A lot can change in a decade. When longtime partners John Schenck and Robert Loyd and other organizers of Conway Pride held their first parade 10 years ago, it was largely a protest march against the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that makes gay people second-class citizens. According to Schenck, in subsequent years, they faced protesters, a City Council meeting to decide if the event was "divisive," and even tons of cow manure spread on the streets outside of their house. He noted that last year, there were 800 attendees and not even one protester. "I think this really shows how much Arkansas has changed over the last nine years," he said via e-mail. "And I would like to think that myself and my husband of 38 years have helped move this community in to the present." There will be music, vendors and of course the parade, and The Lantern Theatre is producing "The Laramie Project" as well (see calendar for times). This year's event promises to be another great celebration for the LGBTQ community and their allies, and another milestone in the march toward equality.
LEGACIES & LUNCH: BILL CARTER
Noon. Main Library. Free.
If you're a Stones fan and you haven't yet read Keith Richards' autobiography "Life," you are missing out on an incredibly entertaining tale. The whole first chapter takes place in Arkansas, after Richards, Ron Wood and their associates were arrested in 1975 in Fordyce. The Stones' legal counsel was Arkansas native Bill Carter, an attorney who had an utterly mind-blowing career that included a stint in the Secret Service, working for a burgeoning little shipping company called Federal Express and helping Rep. Wilbur Mills negotiate with the State Department to allow the Stones entry into the country (they'd been barred entry after the '72 tour on account of rioting at their concerts). Carter would represent the band from 1973-1990. He also represented a bevy of country music superstars, including Reba McEntire, Waylon Jennings, Rodney Crowell and many others. This will be a very cool opportunity to hear firsthand from a legendary figure, so pack a lunch and get ready for some great stories.