Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.
EUREKA FOLK FESTIVAL
1:30 p.m., City Auditorium. $10-$70.
After 60 years, it's safe to say that the organizers of the Eureka Folk Festival know how to put together a long weekend of music. This year they've assembled an especially well-rounded line-up. Today's premier cowboy band Riders in the Sky headlines on Thursday, with a kids show at 1:30 p.m. and a more cowboy-oriented performance at 7:30 p.m. Formed in the mid-'70s, the Riders' music harkens back to the open-range days of Gene Autry and Sons of the Pioneers — both in the spirit of tribute and gentle parody (see songs like “The Legend of Palindrome”). On Friday, Odetta, the enduring folk legend with an impressively broad vocal range, performs at 8 p.m. Odetta released her first album in 1953, but emerged in the public eye during the '60s folk revival (Martin Luther King Jr. anointed her “The Queen of American folk music” in 1961). Still productive at 77, she received a Grammy nomination earlier this year for her latest album. Winding down the weekend, Prairie Grove-based Trout Fishing in America plays its gleefully skewed brand of kid's music at 8 p.m. Saturday.
7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Windsong Performing Arts Center. $55.
Country/pop crooner BJ Thomas, who's sold 70 million records and has won five Grammys, comes to Windsong for two shows in one night. In the late '60s, Thomas began dabbling in pop-rock, scoring a Top 5 hit with “Hooked on a Feeling” in 1968. The following year, he hit a career high with his version of “Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head” (used memorably in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”). In the next decade, Thomas turned his focus toward country-pop, with hit songs like “New Looks from an Old Lover.” Now 65 and still sporting a bouffed-up curly mane, Thomas hasn't released any hits lately, but he's still touring as strong as ever, hoping, he says, “to lift the spirits of the audience and make them feel good, at least for the evening.”
9 p.m., Juanita's. $15 adv./$17 d.o.s.
True to its futuristic name, Powerman 5000 spent its early career wearing spacesuits and playing dark industrial/electro mixed with metal. Most of the band's members went by names like Ad7 and M.33. That flirtation with sci-fi style is on the wane. Only Spider, the bleached blond, spiky-haired lead vocalist (and younger brother of Rob Zombie), remains among the original members. On the band's last album, “Destroy What You Enjoy,” Spider and his new mates strip away most of the electro touches in favor of punk-inflected, halfway melodic metal. Local post-grunge act Wishtribe opens with Sychosis, another local, metal-geared outfit.
‘CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD'
7 p.m., Arkansas Repertory Theatre. $10.
Amelia Hensley, a senior at the Arkansas School for Deaf, leads the cast of “Children of a Lesser God,” the latest from the Rep's SecondStage. Hensley stars as Sarah, a young deaf woman who falls for James, a new speech therapist at her school. The alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking love story finds the couple trying to bridge the divide between their different worlds. Featuring a young (ages 16 to 23), all-Central Arkansas cast, the Tony-award winning play coincides with Deaf Awareness Week. All of the hearing cast members learned sign language in preparation for their roles. Nicole Capri, the Rep's director of education, directs. She recently completed a year-long residency teaching at the Arkansas School for the Deaf. The show runs through October, with performances on Wednesdays through Sundays. All performances will be sign-interpreted for the hearing impaired.