A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.
THE COATHANGERS, GHOST BONES, BAD MATCH
8 p.m. Low Key Arts, Hot Springs. $10 adv., $15 day of.
Story is, The Coathangers started as a joke. Listening to them, it sounds more like a handful of naturally skillful women wanted to explore the idea of making killer music but still look cool and not seem like they cared too much. Regardless of their true initial intention, that's what they ended up doing. Their stuff is all hook-y riffs and confident vocals and sweet punk. Stopping in Hot Springs for its only Arkansas show, the band will be playing songs from its latest release, which, from what's out there for the listening so far, is more complex than earlier material. The Coathangers are playing with rhythm and layering harmonies, and, believe what you will about origin stories, it's three multitalented musicians making sink-your-teeth-in rock that doesn't sound like a joke in any way. Opening the night will be Hot Springs' consistently and increasingly impressive post-punk darlings Ghost Bones and, full disclosure, my band, Bad Match.
NINA SIMONE LISTENING PARTY
6 p.m. The House of Art. $15.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, writing for The Atlantic, put his unwaveringly keen finger on the controversy surrounding "Nina," the upcoming biopic of legendary soul and jazz singer and pianist Nina Simone, saying, "There is something deeply shameful in the fact that even today a young Nina Simone would have a hard time being cast in her own biopic." The estate of the late High Priestess of Soul is understandably and heartbreakingly outraged and disconsolate at the casting of notably light-skinned and thin-nosed Zoe Saldana in the titular role. After much call and response snark on Twitter between the family and Saldana, the estate offered an alternative to patronage of the film: listening parties. They said, "We can use this date as another opportunity to celebrate Nina's life and music. Let's create a positive from a negative by coming together and acknowledging the authentic Nina Simone. Nothing can diminish Nina or her legacy. No one can rob Nina of her gift — or rob us of the gift she shared with us." The Arkansas Association of Black Professionals will host a listening party at the House of Art in North Little Rock, a community art and poetry space run by The Roots Art Connection, which advocates "the integration of arts in education and community" and supports "the transformation and development of underserved communities."
HANDMADE IN THE HEIGHTS
11 a.m.-4 p.m. Kavanaugh Boulevard in the Heights. Free.
If you are someone who laments the fact that your jewelry does not include baby doll parts, your soap is not made of goat's milk, your drink cozies are not knitted and your dog treats are not gluten-free, lament no more. Heather Zbinden of the Yarn Mart, Heather Smith of Domestic Domestic and Erin Lorenzen of local crafty art and yoga fame have organized a replacement for Etsy Fest this year (Etsy Fest will return in 2017). Handmade in The Heights will host crafters, vendors and local artists along Kavanaugh Boulevard selling offbeat items that we all are likely to decide on the spot that we need. Sponsored by the Heights Business Association.
INTERNATIONAL FOOD FESTIVAL
Noon. Islamic Center of Little Rock. Free.
So, if goat soap isn't your thing, head over to the International Food Festival on Anna Street, just east of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, for Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Persian and Mexican foods (among other cuisines), a bouncy castle, train AND pony rides, henna tattoos and "multicultural bazaar-style vendors." Apparently, there will also be a clown show. (I understand if maybe that isn't your thing.) The Islamic Center of Little Rock is hosting, and it expects food items to run between $3 and $8. Poignantly, a representative wrote on their Facebook event page, responding to whether this was its inaugural event: "We have had this event in the past but on a much smaller scale, but because of all the negative media attention we would like to start opening up more within the community." Inexpensive ethnic food, bouncy houses, henna, ponies, a bazaar, and the opportunity to address and, hopefully, begin healing the growing distrust in our communities? See you there.
CONWAY CRAWFISH CRAWL
Noon. Kings Live Music, Conway. Free.
A few years back, John McCusker and Rusty Costanza, two award-winning photographers with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, demonstrated their apparent expertise on the art of the crawfish boil in an article for their paper's website. They shared a number of handy tidbits on topics such as equipment (be sure to buy a top-notch propane burner), ingredients (powdered celery and frozen — not fresh — corn), cooking (think "poach" more than "boil") and timing ("When the crawfish sink, they've absorbed all the flavor they'll absorb. The trick is to make sure they're not overdone by the time they sink."). But perhaps the most useful information if you're attending a boil is how to eat an already perfectly cooked crawfish. On that, they had this to say: "Break the crawfish at the natural spot in the middle, then put your lips on the opening to the body and draw in the juices. McCusker peels off the first segment of the shell around the tail, then pinches the end to make the rest of the tailmeat pop right out" — a more definitive version of "suck the heads, eat the tails." So, keep all that in mind when you attend the fourth annual Conway Crawfish Crawl. A section of Front Street will be shut off to accommodate multiple food trucks, games and, of course, the traditional long tables covered in newspaper, cheerfully anticipating the pounds of crawfish ($15 for two pounds). When you've sated your appetite for the mudbug, check out the lineup of music inside Kings: The Hooten Hallers, Jacob Pledger, The Curvy Soprano, Jamie Patrick, Stuart Thomas, Amber Wilcox and more.
SMASHING PUMPKINS, LIZ PHAIR
7 p.m. Verizon Arena. $70-$91.50.
This Saturday, one of the '90s most internally tortured alt-rock bands, The Smashing Pumpkins, will perform at Verizon Arena, reuniting front man Billy Corgan with original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and rhythm guitarist Jeff Schroeder. "What started as an interest in playing a truly different kind of show and looking for a different way to explore their storied musical past morphed into something new and exciting," The Pumpkins' management promises. Fans are told to expect "a blend of acoustic music complete with electronic soundscapes." After that, "The Smashing Pumpkins will head back to the studio." After the band's official breakup 16 years ago, Corgan has filled his life with a seemingly endless stream of odd decisions: opening a teashop, berating millennials about social media on social media (then quitting social media), creating an eight-hour instrumental accompaniment to "Siddhartha" ... . Perhaps the most bizarre nugget that emerged from news of their forthcoming album is that one track Corgan originally intended for the new release (titled "Roustabout") has instead become the theme song of TNA Wrestling, for which Corgan is a senior producer of creative and talent development. Joining them for the tour is another '90s throwback, singer-songwriter Liz Phair, making her first U.S. tour in six years.
KYLE GASS, IRON TONGUE
9 p.m., Vino's, $10
Fans of braggadocio-filled comedic rock band Tenacious D might be excited to see half of the "mighty" duo, Kyle Gass, play in a venue as intimate as Vino's. They can expect similar levels of theatricality, reliably facetious lyrics and plenty of chest pounding. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Mike Bray will be on lead vocals with Gass' self-professed "immense talent and perfect timing" on guitar, flute and recorder. However, a lot of the success of Tenacious D lies in the presence of Jack Black and his undeniable vocal talent. It's reasonable to worry that, without his frantically gifted partner Jack Black, Kyle Gass is more on the child side of "Manchild" ("Don't be thinkin' it's so strange/That I always pay with change/I don't know what to do/I can barely tie my shoe/All my bills are overdue/But I can play a mean kazoo."). Bray falls far short of that standard. True, a side-project can be forgiven for paling in comparison. But, you better be seriously vocally endowed and produce a stage show that rivals KISS to pull off performing the lyrics in "Bro Ho" about women "gaming on my Xbox always leveling up but there's a meal on the table and my laundry is done." Still, they'll probably have lots of fun costumes. Opening will be Little Rock's own Iron Tongue, a band overflowing with unquestionable talent playing unfailingly epic heavy rock.