BOMBAY HARAMBEE, SWAMPBIRD
8 p.m. White Water Tavern.
White Water will host a Hendrix College garage pop reunion of sorts Thursday, booking cold-as-ice post-punk four-piece Bombay Harambee; mellow, emotive hick-rockers Swampbird, and their excellently-named friends in Fayetteville's May the Peace of the Sea Be With You, all of whom, according to B.H. frontman Alexander Jones, "often played late into the night" back in their Conway college years. Also on the bill is spacey Fayetteville noise-pop group monsterheart, fresh from its month-long tour with Peace of the Sea. Bombay Harambee, which you may remember from this year's Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase (or just because you go out sometimes — they've been playing twice a week lately), will be playing all new material from their forthcoming new release, which will be available as soon as they get around to recording it. WS
9 p.m. Club Elevations. $15.
With 1998's "400 Degreez," and especially its two back-to-back singles "Ha" and "Back That Azz Up" — both produced by the legendary Mannie Fresh — Juvenile served the dual purpose of instantly legitimizing Cash Money Records and elevating himself to the forefront of the Southern hip-hop cultural coup. Previously a regional icon best known for his work with the Hot Boys (alongside Lil Wayne, still a year from his solo debut), he became a celebrity, but he also sort of peaked. There are great songs on all of his other records, all of which kept selling (for a while), but he never had the voice or the presence of a Wayne or a Mystikal (or even a Soulja Slim). He was an adventurous rapper who greatly benefited from the "Genius of the System" approach that thrived at Cash Money (and No Limit) for a few years: He needed Mannie Fresh and he needed the regional context — it was a beautiful formula. "Ha," in particular, stands permanently and incontrovertibly in the Third Coast canon. The beat is pure futurism, and Juvenile grumbles his verses entirely in the second person, without any real sense of rhythm (the beat's too hyperactive for that anyway). It's one of the great roads-not-taken in pop music, too druggy and pointillist and space-age to have inspired imitators. Also check out "Slow Motion," "Who Can I Run To," "Mardi Gras," and see the guy who once dubbed himself Juve the Great at Elevations Thursday night. WS
POPS ON THE RIVER
Noon. First Security Amphitheater. Free.
Pop music in the air, the pop of fireworks in the sky, mom and pop on the riverbank: Independence Day is Friday and that means it's time to pull out the blankets, find a grassy place to plop down and enjoy the annual Pops on the River family event with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. The event kicks off at noon at the River Market and culminates with patriotic strains at the amphitheater and fireworks shot from the Main Street Bridge. Early-day events include children's activities in the Kids Pavilion, a "classic" car show, food trucks, stuff to buy and entertainment. At 5:30 p.m. the final five in the Air National Guard Band of the Southwest's "Oh Say! Can You Sing" contest will compete. This year's celebration also includes a "Salute to the Troops" program sponsored by St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center (Coast Guard rep needed, according to Facebook page). Philip Mann will conduct the symphony at the First Security Amphitheater. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sponsors the event, now in its 31st year. LNP
7 p.m. Ozark Folk Center State Park. $30.
So here is Marty Stuart at 14 years old, playing mandolin alongside Lester Flatt on an episode of "Hee Haw" in 1974. He wears a maroon button-up, sings with a chipper, upbeat twang, and Flatt will be dead by the end of the decade. Stuart gets a job with Johnny Cash's backing band, marries Cash's daughter, Cindy, and starts making hit records. "This One's Gonna Hurt You" one of them is called. By then he wears denim jackets and lets his hair grow out. In 1997 he marries Connie Smith, the enigmatic country icon who started playing guitar as a teenager after injuring her leg in a serious lawnmower accident. Listen to Smith's "Haunted Heart" (never released, available on YouTube), and wear headphones when you do. Since 2008, Stuart has hosted "The Marty Stuart Show" on RFD-TV, alongside Smith and Stuart's band, the Fabulous Superlatives. I last saw him on a billboard advertising his concert at a casino — I drove by too fast to catch the date, but his tour dates are dotted with them. No slot machines at the Ozark Folk Center State Park, but that's probably for the best. WS
ARKANSAS SPECTACULAR GOSPEL CONCERT
7 p.m. First Security Amphitheater. $10-$25.
This writer is a long-time heathen, but that doesn't mean I still can't have my soul moved by great gospel music. At the first blues festival I ever attended, way down in Mississippi an age ago, they had a gospel tent. I wound up spending more time in there than I did at the main stages, just for the vibe. Here's my testimony: Music fueled by wine, whiskey, heartbreak and big-legged women is always going to be first in my heart, but I will say that when folks believe they're singing to God, my friend, they really tend to belt it out. Here, promoter Michael B. White presents a slate of great gospel singers, including Beverly Crawford, Le'Andria Johnson, Earnest Pugh, Tim Rogers and the Fellas, and Tasha Page-Lockhart. Gates open at 5 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m. Bring a blanket, dinner in a basket and a church fan. Spread out on the grass, and prepare to be rocked in service of Big G. Sounds like a great Saturday night to me. Tickets are available online at eventbrite.com or in the real world at Ugly Mike's Records, Lindsey's BBQ, Uncle T's Food Mart or Mackey Insurance in Conway. DK
WILLIE NELSON, ALISON KRAUSS
7 p.m. Walmart AMP. $39-$99.
All of a sudden Willie Nelson is 81 years old. I mean, you knew he was getting up there, and he's settled into an "Old Willie" persona for decades, but still! There was something, well, ageless about him. It just seemed like that easygoing outlaw style would glide along forever. Like maybe smoking weed at the White House (as Willie claimed to have done in 1980) has a way of freezing a body's time. There is something triumphant in an octogenarian who still can't wait to get on the road again. But this show can't go on forever, and not to get too morbid, but if you have not yet seen Willie Nelson, YOU NEED TO SEE WILLIE NELSON. Like Dolly Parton's boobs, Willie's weed has made folks view his late career through an unfortunately cartoonish lens, but make no mistake, he is an all-timer, a one-of-a-kind original responsible for some of the best American music of the last 50 years. Great bonus in getting to see opener Jason Isbell, formerly of Drive-By Truckers, who put out an excellent solo country album last year. Plus co-headliner Alison Krauss, the amazing country-bluegrass wunderkind. Maybe we can't say wunderkind anymore, she's past 40 now! Shoot. Like Willie said: Funny how time slips away. DR
7 p.m. Riverdale 10 Cinema. $7.
There were those who loved to hate on the old Riverdale 10 down on Cantrell Road — most of it centered around the weird fried-stuff menu they put into effect before the joint closed in December 2013 (nothing like fish grease on cloth seats to make you want to go to the movies). That said, it was a fave of mine, just because it was close, ran first-run movies, was always cold in the summertime and was often sparsely attended. That last bit proved to be its undoing, but it was also a godsend for those who didn't like to fight the crowd for a blockbuster at Rave. Recently, the theater was taken over by Matt Smith of Market Street Theater, who has resurrected it as a kind of art house/first-run hybrid thing. Seems like a good place for it, given the proximity to the Commune of Hillcrest. Another thing I'm excited about is R10's showings of classic movies. There's nothing in the world like seeing a film you love on the big screen. Up this week: Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner's 1985 ode to childhood adventure "The Goonies." I caught it on Netflix the other day, and it's a film that's aged surprisingly well. Bring the kids. Buy 'em some popcorn and show them the movie that stirred children's hearts long before "Toy Story." DK