Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
7 p.m. Embassy Suites. $100.
Surely, Frank Deford must be our most august sports commentator. He's without a doubt one of the profession's most revered and respected practitioners, having served on the staff of Sports Illustrated for about five decades and having been voted Sportswriter of the Year six times by his colleagues. Each week I listen to Deford on NPR's "Morning Edition." His observations are always hella cogent, and they're delivered with the sort of fine sense of delivery and timing and elocution that one imagines he first honed in the classrooms and lecture halls of his alma mater, Princeton University. There are no sacred cows for Deford, no trace of the fealty to power structures and institutions that so many of his peers seem to exhibit. An old boss of mine — a Fox News-style Republican right down to his Sean Hannity-endorsed cufflinks — once remarked to me that, even though he couldn't stand the borderline communist propaganda of those pinko socialists over at NPR, he just had to listen every Wednesday morning to hear Deford hold forth on the relevant sports-related topics of the day. Although this event is a bit on the pricey side, it does include dinner, a reading and book-signing, and it benefits Friends of KLRE/KUAR public radio.
ARGENTA FILM SERIES: 'SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN'
7 p.m. Argenta Community Theater. Free.
The Little Rock Film Festival's monthly Argenta Film Series returns and, as usual, they've lined up an intriguing flick. And as with last season, it's free courtesy of Laman Library. "Searching for Sugar Man," directed by Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul, won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Critics heaped nearly universal praise on the film, which follows two obsessive South African fans of U.S. folk-singer Sixto Rodriguez, who cut two killer, utterly ignored psych/folk albums for the Sussex label in the early '70s and then disappeared. Somehow, he became enormously popular in Apartheid-era South Africa (bonus trivia: he was also huge in Australia; I first learned of him from my friend Paul, who lived in Brisbane back in the '90s and while there befriended some kids in a band called Viva Rodriguez). These being the pre-ubiquitous-Internet days of the '70s and '80s, there had long been rumors that Rodriguez had self-immolated on stage. The film tells the story from the perspective of these fans, who longed to finally learn what had become of the man called Rodriguez, whose songs spoke to them so powerfully.
HARVESTFEST IN HILLCREST
11 a.m. Hillcrest. Free.
Though the temperatures may still be a bit on the summery side, autumn is just about here, with its deep-blue skies and orange leaves. You can just now feel the change in the air and see it in that different sort of sunlight that comes with late September as the days grow shorter and Earth continues its orbit. Hillcrest's HarvestFest is always a really fun way to commemorate this changing of the seasons, what with the music and vendors and food and seeing a bunch of people you know and oh yeah, cheese dip! There will be a cheese dip competition, because if there's one thing the good people of Arkansas love more than competition, it's cheese dip. It's in our blood, literally. There will also be a fashion show, vendors and live music. Performers include the great Jim Mize, John Willis, The Canehill Engagement and headliners Centro-Matic, led by celebrated Texas songwriter Will Johnson. It's fun for the whole family, you guys.
ARKANSAS TIMES FESTIVAL OF IDEAS
Various times and venues. Free.
Have you read last week's issue of the Times? The cover story, "Visionary Arkansans," profiles 25 people who not only make this state what it is, but are shaping what it will become, through fields as disparate as tech-startups and botany, pastries and politics, retail and filmmaking. It's a great issue and my esteemed colleagues at the Times put a huge amount of work into highlighting these fascinating folks. If your interest was piqued by one or more of these people, you're likely in luck: On Saturday, a good number of them will be offering free presentations that will provide insight into their various careers, interests, causes and passions. You can check arktimes.com for the full schedule. Here are a handful of my own picks: 11 a.m., Epiphany: "Community Development through Hip-Hop"; Noon, Old State House Museum, Courtney Pledger: "Producing Big Budget Movies and Low Budget Festivals"; 1 p.m., Old State House Museum, Munnie Jordan: "What King Biscuit Means for Helena"; 2 p.m., Old State House Museum, panel discussion: "Rehabilitate or Incarcerate? Crime and Parole in Little Rock"; 3 p.m., Historic Arkansas Museum, Marlon Blackwell: "No Ideas, But In Things"; 4 p.m. Historic Arkansas Museum, Theo Witsell: "Arkansas's Native Grasslands."
SATURDAY 9/21-SUNDAY 9/22
ASO: 'TCHAIKOVSKY AND THE RITE OF SPRING'
8 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $14-$53.
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra kicks off its 2013-2014 season with a program that features Shostakovich's "Festive Overture," Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto and Stravinsky's timeless "Rite of Spring." Martina Filjak will be the featured performer. The young pianist has been hailed by critics far and wide, with the New York Times lauding her "Brilliant, sensitive and imaginative playing with resourcefulness of technique and naturalness of musicality" and called here "a striking individuality ... a pianist to watch." The program will also be performed Sunday at 3 p.m.
7:30 p.m. Arkansas Music Pavilion. $37 adv., $40 day of.
A lot of the hip young folks on today's scene dig this band called Vampire Weekend. Near as I can tell, they're a quartet of young men who reside in Brooklyn, went to Columbia University, dress in a "preppy" fashion, sing about things like vacationing in Cape Cod and whose parents are probably classified by marketers as High Net Worth Individuals, or HNWIs. The band plays music that is a bit like Paul Simon's "Graceland" in that it borrows heavily from African pop, but unlike Simon, VW has not, to my knowledge, enlisted any of the originators of this sound into their employ. Vampire Weekend's first two albums prompted some amount of hand-wringing and furrowed-brow criticism about "cultural appropriation" and other things that adjunct professors like to jaw about. The band's latest, "Modern Vampires of the City," is apparently their "serious" third album, the one where they shed the trappings of their earlier work and really come into their own, or, I don't know. Sky Ferreira opens the show. She's a model from L.A. who was born in 1992 and recently made a music video with Terry Richards.
9 p.m. Vino's.
Here's an idea: Combine the ugly misanthropy of Poison Idea, the gloomy atmospherics of early Joy Division or maybe Christian Death and the primal, raging-id rawness of "Funhouse"-era Stooges, then go and slather all of it in sheets of sinister guitar violence and a paranoid psychedelic haze that recalls Syd's Pink Floyd. If all of that sounds totally badass to you, then brothers and sisters, please drop what you're doing and go listen to Destruction Unit's newest album, "Deep Trip" and also their previous release "Void" and also their recent EP "Two Strong Hits." Then go see the band play at Vino's with Tropical Body, Ukiah Drag and the mighty R.I.O.T.S.