Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries
WEDNESDAY 9/12-THURSDAY 9/13
'WEST OF MEMPHIS'
7 p.m. Market Street Cinema. Free.
Though the films in the original "Paradise Lost" trilogy by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky are undoubtedly some of the most effective documentaries ever made, given their role in spawning the worldwide movement that eventually freed Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley after 18 years in prison, the new doc "West of Memphis," produced by director Peter Jackson and directed by Amy Berg, has just as many thought-provoking questions to ask about the case. Focusing on evidence that seems to point to Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of victim Stevie Branch, the film is especially powerful given that it includes interviews with case-participants — like Mark Byers and Pam Hobbs — who were 100 percent sure of the guilt of the West Memphis Three, but who have since come to doubt that. Like the original "Paradise Lost," "West of Memphis" is grim and unsettling stuff (one particularly gruesome scene shows turtles in a glass tank feasting on a dead pig to show how the injuries to the victims could have been caused by animal predation), but if you care at all about the WM3 case or justice in general, it's definitely a must-see. These screenings, part of an array of dates producers have scheduled in Arkansas and Tennessee well in advance of the theatrical release, are free and first-come-first-serve. Upcoming Little Rock screenings at Market Street: Oct. 2, 3, 9, 10, 30 and Nov. 1. DK
7 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $60-$95.
Probably best known as the Season 3 winner of "American Idol," Fantasia Barrino — known simply as Fantasia — has had a moderately successful career. She's proven that she was no one-hit wonder with numerous awards and nominations, including several Grammy nods and a win in 2010 for "Bittersweet." In a press statement, Fantasia said making music "is my therapy. Some people do yoga, some people go sit out by the water. My thing is putting my feelings into my music and sharing that with people who are going through some of the same things," she said. "Every song [I sing] is the truth, and that's the best thing for me." This event is billed as "A Night of Love & Laughter." Opening up are the self-described "clean comedian" Travele Judon (a.k.a. Velle Vel) and R&B up-and-comer Raven Choice. RB
8:30 p.m. Revolution. $16 adv., $20 day of.
Oh hell yes. This lineup right here is the envy of metal fiends all over the country, on account of it is unique to Little Rock. Let's break it down: You've got Saint Vitus, a bona fide living legend of metal (I mean, dude: Wino is gonna be here!) whose latest album "Lillie: F-65" is an absolutely solid successor to the band's prime '80s albums. It's their first U.S. tour in damn near two decades. Then you've got Oregonian tour mates Norska and Yob. Norska specializes in brutal sludgification that's not dissimilar to Yob, whose last album, "Atma," is without a doubt among the nastiest sounding doom albums of recent years, with a bruising, lo-fi sound that's just malicious. Then you've got hometown heroes Rwake, whose "Rest" and "Voices of Omens" still absolutely kill me. And then you've got the Southern sickos in Weedeater, whose latest grimy slab of downer-enshrouded misanthropy and drug-punnin' (title: "Jason the Dragon") was released last year, after a recording delay caused when — not joking — maniac frontman "Dixie" Dave Collins accidentally blasted off his big toe while cleaning his favorite shotgun. In a statement, Collins said, "It wasn't my intention to shoot off my big toe. This really fucking sucks and the pain is unbearable." Well Weedeater ain't gonna let a little something like a shotgun mishap keep them down. So unless you too experience some sort of sudden and violent loss of appendage, don't miss this show. RB
BEN NICHOLS, ADAM FAUCETT
9 p.m. Revolution. $15.
This is going to present quite the dilemma: American Aquarium and Austin Lucas or Ben Nichols and Adam Faucett. But honestly, either one will be enjoyable for the discerning fan of barroom country rock. By this point, Nichols, who has led Memphis troopers Lucero for going on 15 years, is an elder statesman of the scene. Dude's probably got more miles logged on his odometer than ol' J.B. Hunt's entire fleet. Both solo and with Lucero, he's done just about everything under the sun rock-wise, from wistful folk ballads to whiskey-soaked alt-country ragers, quietly contemplative C&W to ragged, Replacements-style rockers. Times readers and local music fans are also no doubt quite familiar with Adam Faucett. He's been touring extensively over recent months, having already earned a strong local following through his high, strong singing, evocative lyrics and distinctive songwriting. This show is a fundraiser for the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies' inaugural Arkansas Sounds Music Festival, which is coming up Sept. 28-29 and includes Lucero, Black Oak Arkansas, The Cate Brothers and many more. RB
AMERICAN AQUARIUM, AUSTIN LUCAS
10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.
There's a strong Springsteen vibe on American Aquarium's "Burn. Flicker. Die.," released a couple weeks ago on Travis Hill's Last Chance Records outta right here in Little Rock City. That probably won't come as a surprise for fans of the Raleigh, N.C., band. Over the last six years, they've polished their rowdy barroom country rock with relentless touring. But there's a softer side, too, that comes out a bit more on this latest outing. The shuffling drunkard's lament "Harmless Sparks" might be the most subdued thing they've ever recorded. It's like they somehow managed to commit an actual, real-life hangover onto tape. Elsewhere on the album, the band continues to explore the enduring themes of drink, drugs, women and regret. Pills, powders, gas station coffee and booze by the boatload are nearly omnipresent. On "Savannah Almost Killed Me" B.J. Barham describes how "Savannah almost killed me / with cheap beer and Irish whiskey / singing songs loud and out of tune." I imagine for these seasoned, hard-partying road warriors, you could substitute Savannah for a number of other locales: Chattanooga, Oxford, Richmond, Nashville, and probably Little Rock. The band shares this album release show bill with Austin Lucas (also of the Last Chance roster), the Indiana-based singer/songwriter whose punk/folk hybrid and similarly dogged touring have earned him a steady fanbase. As Times contributor Joe Meazle recently put it, Lucas "sings with a great set of finely-tuned pipes that have that high-lonesome sound in spades, and his lyrics are full of piss, vinegar and adolescent angst." For country rock fans, it's going to be a tough choice between this show and the Ben Nichols and Adam Faucett show. RB
9 p.m. Metroplex. $20-$75
What to think of rapper-of-the-moment 2 Chainz? He idolizes 2Pac, if his frequent references to the seminal rapper are any indication, and he rhymes with similar punch, but slower and with a decidedly un-Pac-like goofiness. Consider lyrics from "Birthday Song," the latest single from 2 Chainz debut "Based on a T.R.U. Story": "All I want for my birthday is a big booty ho.../When I die bury me inside the Gucci store/...When I die, bury me inside the booty club." Either this is a satire of mainstream rap's fixation on consumption and strip clubs, or it's the stupidest song you'll hear on the radio all year. That 2 Chainz used to go by the name Titty Boi (a terrible name or a knowingly terrible name?) doesn't clear things up for me. What about his explanation for how he picked his name? "People ask me where the 2 Chainz came from. I tell them I always talk about jewelry, and I always been saying 2 Chainz in a lot of my songs. But lately like the last year or so I've been saying it in introducing my records like '2 Chainz!' and kinda making it family friendly." Call it willful suspension of disbelief, but I'm going with elaborate joke. The Andy Kaufman of rap? 2 Chainz plays in Fayetteville at the Highway 62 Event Center the night before. LM
'ARKANSAS CHAMPION TREES: AN ARTIST'S JOURNEY'
3 p.m. Terry House Community Arts Center.
Artist Linda Williams Palmer of Hot Springs has always had an affinity for nature, trees and forest scenes in particular, and her talent along that line is considerable. Now, Palmer has gone from the general to the particular, with the colored-pencil drawings, photographs and anecdotes in her exhibition "Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist's Journey," the culmination of five years of work and 7,000 miles driving around the state. (Champion trees, for the botanically green, are the largest of their species known.) The highly anticipated exhibition, which will tour the state under the aegis of the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, features 18 large-scale color drawings accompanied by information about the trees depicted; detail drawings of foliage, 18 documentary photographs and text panels. There will be an artist's reception Sunday. After leaving the Terry House Nov. 4, the exhibition will travel to the Thea Center in North Little Rock for a show running Nov. 11-Dec. 1 and will continue its Arkansas tour through Dec. 6, 2014. LNP