9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.
On "The No-Hit Wonder," his fourth record since his 2002 debut, "The Hell You Say," Nashville's Cory Branan tries out an accordion, a ukulele and a stable of guest vocalists: Jason Isbell, Caitlin Rose, The Hold Steady's Craig Finn and Steve Selvidge, and fellow White Water Tavern staples Austin Lucas and Tim Easton. It's upbeat, smirking country rock — cow-punk with an emphasis on the cow. He sings about highways, shadows, "a red dog standing in a halo of kudzu." He sings things probably meant to sound romantic, like "When I get lonely, sure, she'll do/But you're the only you." On the title track, "The No-Hit Wonder," which not coincidentally sounds closer to a hit than anything else on the album, Branan sings about "years of living hand-to-mouth," and offers an ambivalent tribute to life on the road in the shadow of Nashville. It closes with a repeated chorus that sums up Branan's perspective, "It is what it is." WS
KABF 30th BIRTHDAY FIESTA
7 p.m. South on Main. $10.
One thing I've long admired about Neil Young is that unlike most of his early contemporaries (Crosby, Stills, Nash and the rest of them), he always remained interested and engaged in the shifting currents of pop music, was always more than willing to abandon everything about his persona and, say, jam with Devo (in his 1982 film "Human Highway"), sing through a vocoder (on "Trans"), go rockabilly or trad-country or proto-grunge. He's an authentically strange guy — an epileptic, '50s car-obsessive who once collaborated with Phish and Jim Jarmusch in the same year. "Powderfinger" is one of my favorite songs ever, and I don't even know what it's about.
This is all to explain why I think it's perfectly fitting that community radio station KABF FM, 88.3 has chosen to host a Neil Young tribute concert for its 30th anniversary fiesta. Like Young, KABF is and has always been weird, and has adapted to the times better than anyone. How do you pin it down? The station is filled with stalwart LGBT activists, champions of obscure jazz, ridiculously unprofessional talk show hosts, tireless advocates for local music, experimental music, great music. What does "Rural War Room" have to do with "The Real Underground Show" or "The Big Gay Radio Show"? Nothing.
The concert, called "Never Too Young," will feature birthday cake (natch), commemorative posters, raffle tickets and performances of Young songs by local favorites like Good Time Ramblers, Adam Faucett, Amy Garland, Isaac Alexander, Aaron Sarlo, Spero, Fret and Worry (RJ Looney and Joe Meazle), Mark Currey, the Stephen Compton Band and plenty of others. WS
FRIDAY 9/5-SUNDAY 9/7
TOTEMS AND ROMANS
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT LITTLE ROCK
Exhibits and accompanying lectures at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock grapple with how art and artifacts can influence how we perceive unfamiliar cultures, sometimes dramatizing them, other times degrading them.
The artifacts and documents on exhibit in the J.W. Wiggins Gallery of the Sequoyah National Research Center — "Toy Tipis and Totem Poles: Native American Stereotypes in the Lives of Children" — portrays the ways American material culture has influenced a generation's idealization of native life, from big-nosed rubber Indians with tomahawks to sports memorabilia. There are 1,500 objects in the collection, donated to the Sequoyah Center by educators Arlene Hirschfelder and Paulette Molin. There will be a reception at the opening of the exhibit at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5 in the gallery of the University Plaza on the south end of campus.
In conjunction with the exhibit "Piranesi and Perspectives of Rome" in the main gallery of the Fine Arts Center, three historians will give talks throughout September about ancient Rome and the ways in which the etchings of 18th century artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi formed the way the Western world envisions the period. Dr. Heather Hyde Minor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne talks at 3 p.m. Sept. 7 on "Piranesi's Afterlife" in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall; on Sept. 25, Dr. Carol Mattusch, professor emerita from George Mason University, will give the talk "Pompeiian Dreams: Myths and Realities about the Ancient Romans" and Dr. Richard S. Mason of the University of Maryland will lecture on "Rediscovering Herculaneum and Pompeii."
The Piranesi exhibition includes UALR's Thompson-Cromwell Portfolio, etchings printed in the Vatican in the first half of the 20th century from plates engraved in the 1700s. The perspective and mood of the complex linear etchings of Roman buildings and interiors portray a dark and somber majesty. The late architect Edwin Cromwell found the works in the attic of his father-in-law, Charles Thompson, also an architect; Cromwell's daughters donated them to UALR. LNP
INTERNATIONAL OBSERVE THE MOON NIGHT
7 p.m. 6th and Main streets, Argenta. Free.
Under the terms of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, otherwise known as the "Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies," the moon is and will always remain free to all nations and persons for exploration and any nonmilitary use. This is only fair: The most commonly accepted and poetic of all the countless scientific explanations for the moon's existence states that the Earth's only natural satellite, the body singlehandedly responsible for the ocean's tides, was formed from a chunk of the Earth itself after some mysterious and ancient space collision. Like Adam's rib, this discharged wreckage was, according to the "giant impact hypothesis," shaped into its own distinct being, the second brightest object in the sky after the Sun. The earliest portrait of the moon was carved into a rock in Ireland 5,000 years ago, and since then 12 old white men have even walked on its surface. Saturday night, thanks to the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society, the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub and the UALR Physics and Astronomy Departments (I don't know why it requires this many hosts), we can all watch the moon together with telescopes and food trucks. WS
8 p.m. Few. $5 suggested donation.
"Ugetsu," a soft and sinister film by an arthritic former actor named Kenji Mizoguchi, won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1953, signaling (along with Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon," released a couple of years before) the international emergence of Japanese cinema — even if, in Japan, Mizoguchi and his film weren't particularly well liked. "It's hard work," the critic and curator Dave Kehr once wrote, "but learning to watch a Kenji Mizoguchi film affords one of the great pleasures of the cinema." He also admitted helpfully, "Before a Mizoguchi film, I always try to sneak a cup of coffee. It may not be a substitute for a degree in Japanese Studies, but it helps." Kehr works at MoMA; there's no shame in coffee. There's no contradiction there either: "Ugetsu" is brilliant, and it is slow. Like a spiritual successor to F. W. Murnau's "Sunrise," it's a film about love and ambition and betrayal told in lengthy, dreamlike tracking shots. The long, creeping takes — often one per scene — are always mentioned in discussions of the film, and for good reason: They add a beautiful and scary physicality to a story steeped in ghosts and lust, everyday horror in real time. "Mizoguchi's camera could move through space and time," Geoffrey O'Brien has written, "insinuating a passageway between their seams and reversing them, like a pocket turned inside out." WS
Lighten up. Reflect on all the blessings and fun times shared with others during 2014,…