NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON
7:30 p.m. Reynolds Performance Hall. Sold out.
Neil deGrasse Tyson grew up in the Bronx, where as a high schooler he was captain of the wrestling team and also occasionally gave widely attended lectures on astronomy. Dr. Tyson is a prize-winning ballroom dancer, and was instrumental in downgrading the classification of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet. A former columnist for Natural History magazine, he also saw his wine collection highlighted in the May 2000 issue of Wine Spectator. He idolized Carl Sagan as a kid, even frequently corresponded with him — Sagan lobbied to have Tyson study with him at Cornell. Fittingly, he was also recently tapped to succeed Sagan as host of a rebooted "Cosmos," to pilot what Sagan famously called the "Spaceship of the Imagination." Before he sets out for the "edge of the known universe," however, he will stop in Conway. Unless you're a super fan or can talk a super fan out of his ticket, you're out of luck; Tyson's appearance sold out in 45 minutes.
10 p.m. Juanita's. $20.
DJ Paul is a founding member of Three 6 Mafia, an Academy Award winner and, more recently, the entrepreneur behind a very well-regarded line of BBQ seasoning. His earliest releases were great and unsettling, built from horror movie tropes and paranoia. I once interviewed Juicy J, who started Three Six with Paul, and he said of their early output, "Memphis is such a dark city, the music just came out dark." Later they helped kick-start the crunk era and made a handful of chart-impacting hits. After a detour in Hollywood that included a reality show (sample plotline: Ashton Kutcher sets Juicy up on a date with one of the stars of "Laguna Beach," who appears disoriented), they returned to Memphis, where Paul now makes dark and energetic underground rap tapes again. Not long ago, I read he was arrested for carrying a Taser and claimed, "I honestly didn't know it was illegal," which seems plausible.
10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.
Have you ever wondered who will sop your gravy when you're dead? These are the sorts of questions that trouble Squirrel Nut Zippers founder Jimbo Mathus, who grew up in Mississippi, makes rowdy Delta swamp rock and will be playing an album release show this Friday with his band, The Tri-State Coalition. Mathus is a real homegrown eccentric, with scruffy long hair and a hound dog named Virgil Brown. He has a loud drawl and intense, bugged-out eyes, kind of like Captain Beefheart in his trailer-in-the-desert period. There's a sense of old-fashioned showmanship to what he does that's easy to admire, and he has an obvious respect for his own culture to go with his natural songwriting ability. The late producer Jim Dickinson apparently once said he had "the singing voice of Huck Finn," which is an unusual, beautiful compliment, and appropriate.
'SLOW SOUTHERN STEEL'
7 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. Free.
It's tempting to get romantic and attribute the dizzy, Deep South sludge metal sound to all the usual regional qualities — the humidity and the swamps and the poison ivy and the drugs and the "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" hoodoo mysticism. It's also probably true. How else do you explain the strain of metal that one person in Rwake singer Chris Terry's documentary "Slow Southern Steel" describes as "like Slayer dipped in syrup"? The film delves deeps into the phenomenon, featuring interviews shot, as the film claims, "in back alleys, parking lots, and the seedy green rooms of the dirtiest clubs that the Bible Belt failed to snuff out," starring sludge metal icons from Eyehategod to Dark Castle, and with narration by Weedeater frontman "Dixie" Dave Collins. The Ron Robinson Theater's free showing kicks off a monthly series of music films. Saturday's screening will be followed by an acoustic set by Jeremiah James Baker.