Night at the Speakeasy, Arkansas State Fair, Todd Snider 


6 p.m. Dreamland Ballroom. $25 or a bottle of wine worth $25 or more.

So I've been watching "Prohibition," Ken Burns' latest sepia-toned, 34-hour-long exploration of something Significant and Historic and Indelibly American. While the so-called "noble experiment" was, without question, doomed to fail, it seems like drinking was a lot more fun back then, what with all the secret passwords and hip flasks and scantily clad women dancing to jazz music. Sure, there were terrible aspects to it. Chicago in the late '20s was practically one enormous carnival shooting gallery with people as the ducks. And lots of folks died from drinking toxic bathtub "gin" that was probably just rubbing alcohol mixed with lead-based pinecone flavoring or something. That was all bad. But let's be honest: there's an undeniable thrill that arises from sticking it to the squares and the scolds by doing something illicit and fun. If any place in Little Rock is perfect for recreating the look and feel of a speakeasy, it's Dreamland Ballroom. This evening of food, drink and dancing is a fundraiser for restoring the ballroom to its former glory. So put on your flapper dresses and single-breasted pin-striped suits and have fun knowing you will most likely not be arrested by federal agents and nothing you drink will cause blindness.


Noon. Mulberry Mountain. $74-$350.

Can one draw any conclusions about the nature of a festival's audience based on the FAQs listed on its website? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Either way, this tickled my funny bone: "NO illegal drugs, weapons, fireworks or NITROUS TANKS are allowed on the festival grounds. Violators will be ejected from the facility and subject to prosecution under local, state and federal laws. We're serious folks." To be fair, the same admonition is listed on the website for Wakarusa, which is also hosted at Mulberry Mountain, so maybe it's just a holdover and doesn't apply to this festival as much as it would to, say, a Ween concert. But regardless, if typing in all-caps is the written equivalent of yelling, the message screams: "Dudes, NO NITROUS TANKS! OK? For seriously!" Other things they had to yell include: NO PETS; NO GLASS; NO LASER POINTERS. Those are some solid recommendations, though. I know that if I was ripped on nitrous, a bong-smoking dog with a laser pointer would really freak me out. Anyways, if you like your bluegrass with a heaping helping of jam-tastic noodling, this is your ticket. Although given the gorgeous setting at Mulberry Mountain, it almost doesn't matter what kind of music you like. The Yonder Mountain String Band curates this annual event and plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Split Lip Rayfield and Railroad Earth play Thursday night, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones play Saturday night and dozens more bands play through Sunday night.

FRIDAY 10/14

11 a.m. Arkansas State Fairgrounds. $4-$8.

Carnival games and rides and fried everything are fun and all, but did you know the Arkansas State Fair has a homebrew competition, with categories for beer, cider and mead? They've also got a wine competition, a flower-arranging contest, a rice-cooking contest, a photo contest, a baking contest, a Spam championship, a Rodeo Queen Luncheon, a chili cook-off and a fashion review. Also, there will be concerts. Friday night, starting at 8:15 p.m., the Shreveport-born guitar titan Kenny Wayne Shepherd will commune with the classic rock spirit world, channeling the spectral essence of Stevie Ray Vaughn before a teeming mass of blues fans. On Sunday night, beginning at 7 p.m., The Marshall Tucker Band and The Confederate Railroad will administer a revitalizing dose of Southern rock, which will surely stir the crowd from its funnel cake- and fried-butter-induced torpor. The fair runs through Oct. 23.


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