Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.
‘THAT EVENING SUN'
7 p.m., UA Breckenridge. $20
After jumping from film festival to film festival last year and racking up the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature at SXSW and the Golden Rock at our Little Rock Film Festival, “That Evening Sun” returns for a one-night engagement at the UA Breckenridge theater. An adaptation of a William Gay short story, the movie concerns itself with a widowed ex-farmer on the run from a nursing home and the occupant of his former farm, an obstinate, malicious, white-trash rube. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers, including local actor Ray McKinnon, who was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his work in the movie, and a reception at Oyster Bar. Stay for the food, go for the awesome character names (Abner Meecham, Lonzo Choat, Thurl Chessor). Tickets are $20 and available at the Chamber of Commerce office and website. The screening is part of the Arkansas Film Series; all proceeds benefit the Little Rock and Arkansas Film Commissions' efforts to attract filmmaking in Arkansas. “That Evening Sun” opens to wider release to Central Arkansas on Friday. JT.
APPLE BLOSSOM INVITATIONAL/ ARKANSAS DERBY
10 a.m., Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs. $4.50
When Zenyatta, the 3-year-old superhorse that's been unbeaten in 15 starts, landed in Hot Springs on Tuesday, more than 200 people showed up at the airport, all cheers and signs, including one saying “marry me, Zenyatta” in Sharpie. This weekend, with the Apple Blossom Invitational on Friday and the 74th Arkansas Derby on Saturday, is expected to be the biggest derby weekend, in attendance and bucks, ever held at Oaklawn. Folks who can't watch the Derby in person will be able to see it on NBC, which is telecasting live. JT.
7:30 p.m., Weekend Theater. $10-$14.
An anti-war play not directly about the war, a stream-of-consciousness piece whose actions are projected from the nameless main character's subconscious, a work that jumps from past to future on a whim — this is a trippy one. Written by a 22-year-old Ron Cowen as a reaction to the then-ongoing Vietnam War, “Summertree” revolves around a teen-ager, soon to be killed overseas, and his memories and musings of his thick-headed father, possessive mother, blase girlfriend and his own, younger self. JT.
TIM MCGRAW/ LADY ANTEBELLUM
7 p.m., Verizon Arena. $36.50-$69.50.
Nowadays, country singers don't come much more prepackaged and ready for fame than Tim McGraw. A balladeer who doesn't write his own songs, a razorjawed metrosexual in a metallic-colored, pre-distressed cowboy hat, he exemplifies all the excesses and successes to be found in “pop with a drawl,” Clear Channel-country. But he's put 11 consecutive albums atop the Billboard charts, has a gazillion dollars and sleeps with Faith Hill, and he's sure to pack Alltel Arena this Friday night. Especially in the South, the man's music is inescapable; he has three Greatest Hits albums and, chances are, you've either danced or scoffed to at least a few of his songs if you've been to an Arkansas high school dance in the last 18 years. He'll be accompanied by fellow country megastars, Lady Antebellum, a wholesome, harmony-heavy trio with two platinum albums under their belt buckles. This should be a biggie, so prepare to steer clear of the river bridge that evening, travelers. JT.
LOVE GHOST/ THE SEE/THE EASYS
10 p.m., Town Pump. $5.
This might be the biggest bill Little Rock's new go-to hangout spot's hosted. You've got The See, which we've written about a lot in this section. The quartet specializes in brawny indie rock with a lot of spots for hollering along. The band's not too far removed from playing house shows and pool parties in Austin during SXSW. Then there's Love Ghost, which has played out sparingly since its formation late last year because guitarist/back-up vocalist Jeff Matika has been busy touring the world with Green Day. The Jason Weinheimer-fronted band is punchy, power-pop-rock. If that's up your alley, best see it now. Who knows when LG will play again? Ditto for The Easys, one of Isaac Alexander's seemingly unlimited projects (Weinheimer, Rob Bell and John Crowley round out the line-up). They haven't played in several months — or maybe years. But after recording an EP at Bruce Watson's Water Valley, Miss., studio last week, the band's ready to show it off. Heck, there's talk of going ahead and releasing the EP, tentatively titled “Sparky,” Friday night. Find a preview track on Rock Candy. LM.
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $35-$58.
Little Rock is soon to lose a major strand of the town's artistic fabric. After 17 years as music director and conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, David Itkin will step down, but not without a bang. This weekend will see Maestro Itkin conducting Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 (“Resurrection”), a symphony that calls for, in layman's terms, as many strings as you can humanly wrangle. Philip Mann, assistant conductor of the San Diego Symphony, will replace Itkin, who leaves for Denton, Texas, to continue his position as director of Orchestral Studies at the University of North Texas. The ASO will present an afternoon performance of the Mahler symphony at 3 p.m. Sunday, as well. Tickets are flying fast, so order soon. JT.
AFRICAN DRUM AND DANCE FESTIVAL.
5 p.m., Philander Smith. $5-$10.
What began in the '90s as a living room party with former Peace Corps workers playing and dancing to African drums has become an annual local event. Entering its 11th year, the African Drum and Dance festival promotes multiculturalism while raising money for charitable African endeavors; after funding projects in Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe, this year's donations are allotted to build and maintain a new well in the Congo. As well as hand-made African crafts for the bidding in a silent auction, the event features a Parade of Nations, in which Central Arkansans from Africa represent their home nations and, yes, drumming and dancing galore. If there's any time of year to don your dashiki and dust off your djembe, this is it. JT.
9 p.m., Juanita's. $10 adv., $12.
Erika Wennerstrom's voice has been compared to Janis Joplin's and PJ Harvey's and (hilariously) Robert Plant's, none of which, to these ears at least, quite capture her particular sound. But there is a clear connection between them all — that big burst of feeling they can summon in huge swoops between quiet and gale-force howling. Wennerstrom, who came up in Dayton, Ohio, when Guided by Voices and Braniac and The Breeders were still hanging around, caught a break from another member of Ohio rock royalty, when The Black Keys' Patrick Carney caught the Bastards at a sparsely attended gig in Akron and hooked the band up with Fat Possum, where they've since recorded three critically acclaimed albums of blues-inflected anthemic rock. They're joined on Tuesday by two of Little Rock's finest, swaggering rockers Jonathan Wilkins and the Reparations and recent Arkansas Times Musician Showcase winner Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth. LM