Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries
'THE RIVER NIGER'
7:30 p.m. The Weekend Theater. $12-$16.
The Weekend Theater follows its production of the musical comedy "Monty Python's Spamalot" with a work that is a bit more sober and one that, although it debuted in 1972, has significant parallels to the present day. "The River Niger," by Joseph A. Walker, concerns Jeff Williams, a young Air Force soldier who returns to his Harlem home after flight-training school, but not as the hero his struggling father had hoped he'd become. Tensions escalate as Williams becomes ensnared in a local gang conflict. The play earned some prestigious awards for Walker, including the Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Playwright and the Obie Award for Best American Play in 1973 and the Tony Award for Best Play in 1974. A film version was released in 1976, starring James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson and Louis Gossett Jr. The Weekend Theater's production, directed by Akasha Hull and Margaret Parker, runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through Aug. 24. RB.
9 p.m. Afterthought.
Arkansas's greatest living songwriter returns to a Little Rock stage for the first time in recent memory on Friday with several added bonuses: He's just wrapped the recording of his eagerly awaited third album, which Big Legal Mess plans to release sometime this fall. So he'll likely be playing some new songs. Laurie Stirratt, a roots-rock hero in own right for her time in Blue Mountain, plays her first gig as part of Mize's backing band. She's on bass. Chris Michaels plays guitar and Dave Hoffpauir plays drums. Last bonus: Killer songwriter Kevin Gordon returns to town to open. LM.
NO KID HUNGRY LITTLE ROCK
6 p.m. The Capital Hotel. $150-$550.
Here's a rare opportunity to indulge in a delectable gourmet meal while also helping out folks who otherwise might not know where their next meal is going to come from: the No Kid Hungry Dinner will benefit the nonprofit Share Our Strength, which seeks to ensure access to healthy food for kids who need it. Share Our Strength supports school meals, cooking and nutrition programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. SNAP helps feed poor kids and low-income elderly folks and has recently been under attack by the Club for Growth's amoral errand boys in Congress, such as our own Tom Cotton. But getting back to this fundraiser, for the price of a nice meal out, you can enjoy culinary creations from such figures as Donnie Ferneau, Brian Deloney of Maddie's Place, Kelli Marks of Sweet Love, John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Miss., Matthew Bell of South on Main and several others. In addition to the food, fellowship and cocktails, you can also bid on auction items. RB.
FATTY ACIDS, GLITTERCORE
9 p.m. Maxine's. $5.
Milwaukee synth-pop outfit The Fatty Acids just released a single called "Airsick," which recalls, by turns, everything from Tame Impala's psychedelic skygazing to Animal Collective's spazzier moments to XTC's propulsive percussion. Elsewheres, the band's tune "Unscreened" is an all-over-the-place jumble of schizo-pop that I swear to you reminds me at times of the Violent Femmes in its dude-angstiness. Also on this bill: Little Rock alt-rock torch-carriers Glittercore, who earlier this year released their self-titled debut album, which you can check out on the band's ReverbNation profile. Recommended cuts: "Lazarus," "Unhinged," and "Trippy 6ix." RB.
LUCERO FAMILY PICNIC
3 p.m. First Security Amphitheatre. $27-$47.
Here's a safe bet: People will be coming into Little Rock from all over the country for the annual Lucero Family Picnic. The picnic got its start back in 2007 up in Batesville; this year's event will truly be a family affair, as Lucero founder Ben Nichols' younger brother Jeff Nichols will be on hand for a Q&A about the movie he directed and filmed in Arkansas, a film called "Mud" that you've probably heard about. Also, Guy Venable, father of Lucero guit-slinger Brian Venable, will perform. Rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson is going to play as well. And, of course, Lucero will headline this shindig, performing its fan-fave album "Tennessee" in its entirety, along with what's sure to be a rollicking set of numbers from the band's deep catalog. RB.
SATURDAY 8/10-TUESDAY 8/13
ROD BRYAN MINI TOUR
A couple months ago, Rod Bryan told me he'd discovered a connection between the Mayflower oil spill and Syrian arms dealing. A few weeks ago, he dropped off a copy of the Arkansas Times filled with doodles (the man on our cover got a mustache and a sheriff's hat) that had a note written on the back that said, "Dear Arkansaw Times, I'll pretend that u r a newspaper if u will believe I'm running for senator." A few days later, he wrote to ask why we hadn't announced his senatorial campaign. A week later, he dropped off his new album, "Oilflower." It's good. Earworm-y songs about relationships and the Mayflower oil spill. Rod likes to describe his music as what bizarre pairings of musicians might sound like. "Merle Haggard backed by The Clean," he's probably said before. Here's my stab at it: Say McIntosh fronts The Band. To celebrate the release of "Oilflower," Bryan's set up a mini-tour of local venues. He'll play a CD release party at the Afterthought on Aug. 10. On Aug. 11, he'll play experimental music with "whoever shows up" as The Western Meds at Gallery 360. Aug. 12 finds him and his band First Baptist Chemical at Vino's. On Tuesday, Aug. 13, Ho Hum will play White Water Tavern. Bryan's described it as a Ho Hum family reunion, but fair warning, he's also said it'll mark the debut of the band's new lead singer, Lynyrd Fogerty. Wonder who that could be? LM.
SATURDAY 8/10-SUNDAY 8/11
ARKANSAS ECLECTIC VENDORS MARKET
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Arkansas State Fairgrounds. $4.
If you're the kind of person who doesn't understand why some of us would spend time digging through dusty old stacks and piles and shelves full of weird old stuff looking for a particular type of weird old thing (or a random weird old thing that you never knew you needed), then just move along. Everyone else — all you stamp collectors, vintage buffs, vinyl freaks, rare book obsessives, amateur numismatists, comic book fiends and collectors of all stripes — y'all might want to check out the Arkansas Eclectic Vendors Market. Its Facebook page describes the two-day event in rhetorical fashion: "Where can you find jewelry, books, furniture, clothing, collectibles, plants, household items and more all in one place with great prices?" The great thing about flea markets and such is that you just never know what you'll find. A dear friend and former roommate of mine used to have this cool thing that her mom bought at a flea market back in the '80s. It was a human skull. No kidding. This thing was the real deal right down to the missing teeth and cracks and some weird burn marks on the frontal and parietal bones. Oh, and did I mention that she didn't realize at the time that she was buying a human skull? Yeah, she bought an antique infant casket that was made in the 19th century and when she got home and opened it, the skull was inside. So, I'm not saying that you'll find an infant casket with a human skull inside this weekend, but who knows? You'll probably find something cool. RB.
5:30 p.m. Clinton Presidential Center. Free.
This man walked on the moon. He's done a lot of other things in his life as well, including raising money for GOP candidates and saying that he doesn't think global warming is caused by humans. But to reiterate: He walked on the moon. He even punched a guy who was hassling him and claiming he hadn't really walked on the moon. Not that it's good to punch people — I'm generally against it. It's just that when you walked on the moon and then some tinfoil hat jackleg who lives in his mom's basement comes along and tries to ambush you and say you were part of a hoax and that you didn't really go to the moon when anyone with any damn sense at all knows that you did go to the moon, it's probably pretty frustrating. So if you want to come hear Col. Aldrin speak, probably don't try to tell him he didn't go to the moon. He'll speak with space journalist Leonard David, co-author with Aldrin of "Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration." To reserve a seat, call 501-683-5239 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. RB.