Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries
8 p.m. Juanita's. $30.
The "Capitalism" tour finds Henry Rollins bringing his withering cultural critiques and acerbic wit to all 50 state capitals, culminating with a show in his native Washington, D.C., on the eve of the presidential election (in an interesting coincidence, the Melvins are on a somewhat similar tour/stunt which will see the legendary crushing-riff-meisters play all 50 states and D.C. in 51 consecutive days — they're at Juanita's Oct. 17). For those in need of a primer, Rollins — who long ago advanced to "last-name-only" status, at least among my crowd — might be most widely known as the longtime frontman for Black Flag, one of the greatest and most culturally game-changing U.S. bands ever. He's also an author, actor, comedian, publisher, radio and television host, film critic and activist. But out of everything he's done, I think my favorite thing about Rollins is his sheer, infectious enthusiasm for other artists, particularly other musicians. Just try not to smile while watching the video of his standup bit describing the time he got to meet James Brown. So while he'll no doubt riff on the ugliness and absurdity of the current political climate, here's hoping he tells some good stories about the things he loves, in addition to hammering on the stuff we all hate. Either way, it'll be entertaining.
KING BISCUIT BLUES FESTIVAL
11 a.m. Downtown Helena. $40 (three-day pass).
OK blues-lovers, here it is: King Biscuit. One of the best blues festivals anywhere draws nigh with what I think is fair to say are some of the most anticipated headliners in the festival's history: Bobby Rush on Thursday, Taj Mahal Friday and Bonnie Raitt on Saturday. Of course, in addition to these great acts, you get the whole experience: walking around Helena, turkey leg in one hand and beer in the other, catching any one of a number of great up-and-coming acts and just generally letting the good times roll. This year, KBBF has coordinated with festivals on the other side of the river for several days' worth of blues-related goings-on. If you haven't already purchased your ticket on the Times Blues Bus that will be carting folks to and from the festival on Saturday, you're too late. We filled up four of them this year. Try us earlier next year.
FRIDAY 10/5 AND SATURDAY 10/6
HOT WATER HILLS MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL
3 p.m. Hill Wheatley Plaza. $5.
It's year two for the Hot Water Hills Music and Arts Festival, brought to us by Low Key Arts, the nonprofit that also puts on Valley of the Vapors and other great Spa City events. The festival "features music rooted in Southern heritage," and this year the lineup includes Mississippi's Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition, Austin's Dana Falconberry, Louisiana's Dikki Du & The Zydeco Krewe and Dirtfoot, Mississippi/Missouri duo Water Liars and, of course, acts from the Natural State, including Adam Faucett & The Tall Grass, The Mockingbird Hillbilly Band and more. Along with all the music, there are several workshops and other events, including a cardboard house building competition. This year, HWH has gone the zero waste route, so you can have a good time and know that it won't end up adding to the landfill. Saturday's festivities kick off at 11 a.m.
FRIDAY 10/5 AND SATURDAY 10/6
JAD FAIR AND HALF JAPANESE
8 p.m. Maxine's. $6 adv., $8 day of.
How cool is this? You've got to hand it to Thick Syrup Records boss-man Travis McElroy for bringing local music geeks one of the most awesome and out-of-left-field shows of the year. Half Japanese — the duo formed in the mid-'70s by brothers Jad and David Fair — is without a doubt one of the most cultishly adored "outsider" groups ever. The brothers Fair utterly ignored the rock-star rulebook and followed their own instincts, blazing a trail of idiosyncratic (or some might say challenging), primordial rock fueled by raw emotion and an enthusiasm undimmed by any outside forces. Over the decades, there have been some lineup additions and subtractions, but the Fairs, particularly Jad, have soldiered on, hailed by high-profile fans like Kurt Cobain and Penn and Teller. McElroy has released several projects from the Fairs on Thick Syrup. This weekend starts with Jad Fair performing Friday night (backed up by The Bloodless Cooties) and with his brother and Half Japanese alum Mark Jickling on Saturday. Both nights also feature full sets from the Cooties and Ezra Lbs., as well as an art show and at 7 p.m. on Saturday, they'll screen the must-see documentary "Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King."
JOHNNY CASH MUSIC FESTIVAL
7 p.m. ASU Convocation Center. $38-$150.
Last year's inaugural Johnny Cash Music Festival was a fantastic, emotional show with some fine, if brief, performances from many members of the Cash family and an array of country and folk music greats who knew and loved the man. To keep the momentum up for the second year, the organizers at Arkansas State University were going to have to have a great lineup, and they have come through. Granted, there aren't as many performers this year, but it's a great lineup. Rosanne Cash was excellent as both performer and host and she returns this year. With their beautiful close harmonies and air of un-Nashville hipness, newcomer duo The Civil Wars will likely appeal to the grayer heads in the crowd as well as the younger ones. Dierks Bentley is the sort of quality, mainstream country marquee name that'll draw crowds. And Willie Nelson, well, what do you say about a living legend who was actually in a band with Johnny Cash? He's a bona fide cultural icon, one of the most recognizable musicians on the planet whose career has spanned SEVEN decades. The man wrote "Crazy" for crying out loud! I saw him in 2009 with Dylan. He took to the stage at about 7:30 p.m., the hot Texas sun beating down on him and the band. And you know what? He kicked ass. He was 76 years old then, and he absolutely kicked ass. They opened with "Whiskey River" and did not let up for 90 minutes or so. Maybe they'll bring him back for next year's Cash festival.
TREVOR WARE FUNDRAISER
8 p.m. White Water Tavern. Donations.
A lot of you probably know Trevor Ware, who plays bass in The Grand Serenade and with other musicians as well. He was hit by a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle last month and remains in the hospital with very serious injuries. This is a trying time for his friends and loved ones, and the possibility of major medical bills and other ancillary expense on top of all the other stresses is just too awful to think about. So far, an EverRibbon account has collected more than $10,000 in donations to help with those costs. His friends have organized this fundraiser concert and art show, featuring a boatload of talented local musicians and artists, to help out further. The term "community" gets used a lot, to the point of seeming sort of meaningless at times. But it is at times like this when one can truly see the power of a community — family and friends and friends-of-friends and folks even further removed — to come together and help one another out. You can still donate online at everribbon.com/ribbon/view/8352 and you can make donations at this show as well.
'ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE'
7:30 p.m. The Weekend Theater. $12-$16.
While the Weekend Theater's current show, "Enemy of the People," is an adaptation Arthur Miller wrote in the '50s of an 1882 Ibsen play, its core message couldn't be timelier. The story concerns a small town in Norway, blessed with healing mineral springs that the townsfolk are seeking to parlay into a lucrative tourist destination via a recently constructed spa. The play's protagonist, Dr. Stockmann, discovers that factory runoff has fouled the waters and begins warning people. Instead of believing him, the town turns on him, branding him a liar who wants to ruin them. He's smeared in the local press and eventually has to circle the wagons against an encroaching mob. There are a number of parallels one can draw with the current political climate, the Citizens United decision, global warming, a certain openly biased cable news network and so forth. The show runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through Oct. 20.
ASO: 'CLASSICAL MYSTERY TOUR: A TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES'
8 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $18-$58.
Tribute acts have become something of a cottage industry over the last few years, and probably no group has been paid as much tribute as The Beatles. So what's an industrious young Fab Four tribute band to do in order to distinguish itself? How about performing with a symphony so as to create more accurate renditions of such lushly recorded classics as "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Eleanor Rigby," "A Day in the Life" and many others? That's exactly what Classical Mystery Tour does. The band comes to town to perform alongside the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and conductor Geoffrey Robson on Saturday and again on Sunday at 3 p.m. I was really hoping to see what must surely be everyone else's two favorite Beatles songs — "Helter Skelter" and "Revolution 9" on Classical Mystery Tour's song list, but alas, it looks like we'll have to keep waiting.
7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. The Joint. $10-$15.
Trumpeter Rodney Block is without a doubt one of the hardest working musicians in the state. The Dumas native and his band The Real Music Lovers gig all the time, playing a brand of hip-hop-infused jazz and soul, as well as other styles. Block and crew recently played a salsa night at The Joint and this week sees the release of his album "Steel." It's 10 tracks that draw from a number of genres while maintaining a seamless listening experience. Check out how the laid-back groove of "Pay Yo Rent On Time" (featuring Block's fluid trumpet weaving around guest 607's rhymes) flows easily into the sultry "Kiss Me Right ... There." The title track has a great slow-burn '70s funk feel propelled by Block's lyrical playing and the vintage organ sounds conjured by Dell Smith and Rod Cole. Over the last few months, there's been a wealth of excellent albums released by Arkansas artists and "Steel" is among the best of them. This show will be hosted by Fox 16's Donna Terrell. You can pick the album up at the show for $10, or order online through CD Baby or iTunes.
7 p.m. Verizon Arena. $66-$88.
Journey's name is among the most fitting in all of classic rock. The group got its start in the early '70s playing a sort of jazz-rock/singer/songwriter hybrid that still sounds good these days, but didn't exactly cause the LPs to fly off the shelves back then. By the late '70s, the group had rejiggered, finding enormous success with a focus on shorter arena-pop tunes and power ballads belted out by golden-voiced frontman Steve Perry. In 1981, the group released the mega-hit album "Escape," its lead track "Don't Stop Believin' " becoming a top 10 smash that began a strange second life 26 years later as the soundtrack to one of the most legendary final scenes in all of television. It's proved to be one of the most enduring tunes of its era, having been used in a ton of other TV shows, sporting events, parodies and even as the closer to a Broadway musical. The band's other hits — "Open Arms," "Any Way You Want It," "Wheel in the Sky" — are similarly indelible, having become fixtures of the classic rock landscape. Then there's the whole story of finding current lead singer Arnel Pineda via YouTube clips, which is another journey in itself. Opening up the show are '80s giants Pat Benatar with Neil Giraldo and Loverboy.
MOUNT HOLLY'S TALES OF THE CRYPT
5:30 p.m. Mount Holly Cemetery. Free.
The second Tuesday in October is nearly here, and in Central Arkansas, that means it's time for Mount Holly's Tales from the Crypt, which has become a tradition of the season. This is the 18th year that student actors from Parkview Arts-Science Magnet High School have researched notable Arkansans buried at the Quapaw Quarter cemetery and staged short, full-costume works based on their lives. Guides will give the audiences candlelit tours from grave to grave to observe the performances. It's free, but donations are encouraged to help maintain the historic cemetery. Also, come early: This is a popular event and lines can get long.
'ESCAPE VELOCITY' LAUNCH PARTY
6 p.m. Main Library. Free.
This right here is a real treat for all of us Charles Portis obsessives: "Escape Velocity," edited by writer Jay Jennings and published by Butler Center Books, collects Portis' nonfiction, short stories, newspaper writings and an unpublished play into one handy and highly enjoyable volume. I could go on at considerable length about my longtime fixation on Portis' five brilliant novels, but I'll not do that. Just get them and read them. They are incredible, funny, moving works that reveal new layers every time I re-read them. This launch party will be a great opportunity to share stories and celebrate one of America's finest authors. Jennings will give an introductory talk, writer, actor and erstwhile Times columnist Graham Gordy will read from the book and singer/songwriter Mandy McBryde will perform.