Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned
'THE NEW 22'
6:30 p.m., MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. Free.
Back in January, when the Arkansas Literary Festival slate of authors was announced, perhaps you scanned it and seized onto "The New 22," featuring hotshot novelists David Abrams ("Fobbit") and Ben Fountain ("Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk") and marked it as a "must-attend." Then you noticed in the small print that, strangely, the event wasn't scheduled until two months after the literary festival. Well, two months has come and gone. The event's still a must-attend. I haven't read "Fobbit," but it was one of the best-reviewed books of last year. It's set in a military base in Baghdad ("fobbit" is slang for a soldier stationed at a Forward Operating Base who avoids combat by hanging at the base). Abrams draws on his experience as an active-duty Army journalist. "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" is one of the best books I've read. Lots of other people agree. It won this year's National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award last year. It's about the surviving members of a group of Iraq War soldiers who've become minor celebrities after video of them in a firefight with insurgents goes viral. They've been sent home for a Victory Tour that culminates with an appearance at a Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day. It's a darkly funny satire written with more style and insight than anything in recent memory. LM
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.
The Body's been out on the road for a minute now, or, well more like several weeks to be accurate. The dudes also somehow made time to stop off at their buddies' studio Machines with Magnets to record three full-length albums, including one that's going to be released on the Thrill Jockey label, which is also home to Barn Owl, Guardian Alien, The Skull Defekts and many other totally badass artists, so good work guys! The Body's latest release, the EP "Master We Perish," is boss. I really dig how they go into some seriously Neurosis-esque territory for a sec on the last third of the nearly 10-minute closer "Worship." The whole thing is really killer though, and points to more great stuff to come. Oh yeah, for all of you The Body newbies, make sure to bring some earplugs. Openers Iron Tongue and Mothwind are gonna tenderize y'all. Should be a good'n. RB
OPERA IN THE OZARKS
7:30 p.m. Inspiration Point. $20-$25.
Opera lovers of Arkansas, one of your favorite seasons has rolled around once more: Opera in the Ozarks. Situated at the stunning Inspiration Point near Eureka Springs, Opera in the Ozarks is an annual intensive month-long training program for aspiring opera professionals that culminates with a month of performances of some of the most beloved works in the world. There are typically three different productions each season. For 2013, audiences can enjoy Gaetano Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love," one of the most-performed operas ever written; "Madama Butterfly," Puccini's tale of love and betrayal, and Gilbert and Sullivan's comic classic "The Pirates of Penzance." The season kicks off Friday with "Madama Butterfly" and continues this week with "The Pirates of Penzance" on Saturday and "Elixir of Love" on Tuesday. The season runs through July 19. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. at Inspiration Point, with one-time performances of each opera at Bentonville's Arend Arts Center on June 30, July 7 and July 14. RB
9:30 p.m. Juanita's. $25 adv., $30 day of.
It's just not every day that you get a real-deal living legend playing in town. I mean, even if the blues isn't your jam, you've got to admit that Johnny Winter is a badass. For my money, Winter eclipsed most of his guitar-god peers in some pretty important ways. Neither Jeff Beck nor Eric Clapton came close to capturing the raw sound and emotion that Winter conjured from his instrument. His playing was fluid and sophisticated ("Be Careful with a Fool"), but could also be real nasty when called for ("Silver Train," "Fast Life Rider"). Winter's latest album is "Roots," which finds the guitar slinger teaming up with a who's-who of current blues virtuosos, including Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Warren Haynes, as well as his brother Edgar Winter and a host of others. As you might surmise from the title, it's a collection of blues classics, with tracks by T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Reed, Elmore James, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and others. Critic Steve Leggett wrote of the album: "He sings here as well as he ever has and his guitar playing is powerful and brilliant, like it always is, and he's diving into songs and material that he's always emulated — the end result is a coherently shaped, explosive, vibrant, and joyous set of Winter at his best doing what he loves the best." Sounds awesome. Don't miss this one folks. Opening the show will be Steve Hester & DejaVooDoo, Low Society and Joecephus & The George Jonestown Massacre. RB