Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
MYTHBUSTERS: BEHIND THE MYTHS
4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville. $30-$125.
"Mythbusters" is a long-running hit TV series hosted by Jamie Hyneman, a special effects expert who frequently wears a beret, and Adam Savage, a dead-ringer for novelist George Saunders. In one episode, President Obama asked the hosts to investigate the ancient Greek legend of Archimedes' Death Ray. "Figure this out and report back to me," the president said of the circa-200 B.C. myth, which involves the use of mirrors to sink a battleship. (The myth was busted.) In another episode, the team exposed a group of cockroaches to deadly amounts of Cobalt-60 radiation for a month in order to test the cliche that cockroaches could survive a nuclear holocaust. The roaches died. In a two-part, James Bond-themed episode, they tried stopping bullets with a wristwatch, exploding a propane tank with a 9mm pistol, decapitating a statue with a metal-brimmed hat, making a bomb out of a ballpoint pen and biting through a cable with metal teeth. All of these "myths," too, were busted. That was around the time I started to really hate this show. They've walked over hot coals (and gotten burned), recruited martial artists to catch arrows mid-flight (failed), tested the famous coffin-punching scene from "Kill Bill" (impossible). They have literally taught new tricks to an old dog. There is no cultural meme or imaginative feat too beloved or inspiring for them to smother. They will discuss this and more at the Walton Arts Center Friday night. WS
KINDRED THE FAMILY SOUL
9 p.m. Juanita's. $25.
In the early aughts, the Black Lily music series at Philadelphia's Five Spot club was an institution, a showcase for local celebrities The Roots, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu and for other emergent neo-soul artists in the same vein, like Floetry and Jaguar Wright. There was also Kindred the Family Soul, a husband-wife R&B duo in the tradition of Ashford and Simpson, who released their debut, "Surrender to Love," in 2003 after being discovered by Scott. Their music is by turns socially conscious and inoffensively sensual, modern soul for anyone with KOKYas a radio preset. WS
2ND FRIDAY ART NIGHT, CONCERTS AND EXHIBITS
5-8 p.m. Downtown. Free.
Celebrate the holidays ecumenically on 2nd Friday Art Night with a visit to the Ron Robinson Theater (100 River Market) to hear the Meshugga Klezmer Band and the Dave Rosen Big Band (7:30 p.m.), the Historic Arkansas Museum (200 E. Third St.) for the 10th Ever Nog-Off competition, and the Old State House (300 W. Markham St.) for the Arkansas Chamber Series Holiday Concert (7 p.m., also performances Saturday and Sunday). Don't forget Art Night's art: At the Butler Center galleries, see photography by Geoff Winningham, the annual juried Arkansas League of Artists show, a small show on Johnny Cash and Native American artifacts from the University of Arkansas Museum. HAM opens two new exhibitions: "Capturing Early Arkansas in Depth: The Stereoview Collection of Allan Gates" and "this is the garden; colors come and go," paintings by Rachel Trusty. Friday will be the last chance to see "People, Places and Things," works by Kathy Strause and Taimur Cleary at Arkansas Capital Corp. Group (200 River Market Ave.). The Cox Creative Center (120 River Market Ave.) continues "Who Lives-Who Dies-Who Decides," works about capital punishment by Kenneth Reams and Isabelle Watson. Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center (Riverfront Park) will be open and showing junior duck stamp designs, StudioMain (1423 S. Main St.) will show AIA Design Awards, and Stratton's Market (405 E. Third St.) will have paintings by Barry Thomas and a wine tasting. LNP
FRIDAY 12/12-SUNDAY 12/14
7 p.m. Verizon Arena. $73.25
Dewayne L. Blackwell is 75 years old and lives in Rosarito, Mexico, though in a former life he lived in Nashville and wrote country songs. He was the author of "Mr. Blue," a 1959 hit by The Fleetwoods, and of David Frizzell's classic "I'm Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home." His best-known contribution to American literature, however, is unquestionably a 1990 song he wrote with a friend of his named Earl Bud Lee. They were eating lunch one day and Lee realized he'd forgotten his wallet. Blackwell asked him how he'd pay, and Lee responded, "Don't worry, I have friends in low places. I know the cook."
It's not easy to recall a time when Garth Brooks looked like a threat to country music, rather than a once-in-a-generation, Michael Jackson-level innovator, but that was the way some people saw it back then. Waylon Jennings represented this school of thought when he called Brooks "the most insincere person I've ever seen." And you can see why someone like Waylon would see it this way — sure he did "Friends in Low Places," but Brooks also covered Billy Joel and KISS and named his first child after James Taylor. "He thinks it's going to last forever," Jennings said. "He's wrong."
Only Brooks wasn't wrong, and he very obviously will last forever. If Jennings and the Outlaw generation helped country cross over for certain fan bases previously averse to the whole idea, Brooks played the same role but on a much more awe-inspiring scale. His records both were and weren't what Charles Portis once described as "Southern white working-class music." By numbers, he's the best-selling albums artist of the SoundScan era (roughly, the period since 1991) and the second best-selling solo artist of all time (behind Elvis). "I never took it that personal," Brooks said later of Jennings' criticism, taking the high road. "I just think he was addressing ... the changing of the guard." WS
ART OF THE BAR: A HANDMADE HOLIDAY MARKET
2-8 p.m. South on Main.
It's year number 2 for the popular holiday pop-up show and sale of Arkansas-made products at South on Main. Altered Polishes, Art by Lois, Erin Lorenzen, Jason Jones, Little Biscuits, Sulac, Roll & Tumble Press and others will be selling ornaments, art, pottery, totebags, nail polish, letterpress prints and other goodies. Shop while sipping David Burnette's eggnog and noshing on hors d'oeuvres from chefs Matthew Bell and Matthew Lowman, all to the tunes of John Willis. There might even be a sing-along, once the nog kicks in. LNP
TH' LEGENDARY SHACK SHAKERS
9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $12.
J.D. Wilkes, founder of Th' Legendary Shack Shakers, calls himself a "Southern surrealist" and, occasionally, a colonel (technically true — the governor of Kentucky bestowed the title on him several years ago). Wilkes has played harmonica with Merle Haggard and written a book on the history of barn dances and jamborees in Kentucky, though the Shack Shakers are clearly his crowning achievement, the culmination of all his warped and wilding aesthetic and historical influences. The Shakers' music embodies the same kind of growling, paranoid, Southern psych-rock that infused Credence Clearwater Revival (at its strangest) or Tom Waits' "Rain Dogs." WS