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 GOODTIME RAMBLERS
9:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $5.
Fans of the venerable local rock outfit the Munks, take note. A month before the Munks put out their new record, three-fifths of the band teams with local singer/songwriter John Lefler, as the Good Time Ramblers, to celebrate the release of a new CD at Sticky Fingerz on Thursday. For the last year or so, the collective has been playing out around town, working through a hearty lot of covers of roots rock and country standards. Their debut CD, “Sinners Welcome,” features a cover of Gram Parsons' “Las Vegas” and a host of originals that could easily be mistaken for classic country. Lefler sings with an effortless charm and comes by his sharp, infectious songwriting naturally. His mom is Kat Hood, the local folky singer/songwriter who's been in Little Rock for years. A free copy of “Sinners Welcome” comes with admission.
9 p.m., Juanita's. $15 adv./$18 d.o.s.
nn the early 1990s, Helmet was poised to be the next big thing. Founded by Page Hamilton, an Oregon-born musician who came to New York to study jazz but found more inspiration in the city's post-punk scene, Helmet blended jazz-style time signatures and harmonies with (unusual at the time) drop-D tunings. In 1991, on the heels of Nirvana's mammoth commercial breakthrough, nearly 20 labels reportedly vied to sign the band. Two albums and three years later, the band was a critical favorite, but a commercial flop. Still, enough fledgling musicians were taken with the band and its aggro-rock that, by the time Helmet disbanded in 1999, most of the biggest acts of the day could trace their sound back to the group. Three years ago, Hamilton revived the band, albeit with a new line-up. But as the new material's grinding-gear riffs and melodic touches attest, it's still Helmet. Philly hard-rockers Burning Brides open along with Totimoshi, from Oakland.
WILLIE HEATH NEAL AND THE DAMNED OLD OPRY
8:30 p.m., Vino's. $7.
Willie Heath Neal doesn't have to look too far to find material to put in his rough-hewn country songs. According to his bio, he was born in Georgia in the back of a cop car in 1971, and grew up with four siblings and a single mom who spent many a night shooting for stardom on the stages of honky-tonks. After landing in foster care, Neal hell-raised through his teen years before enlisting in the Navy. While stationed in Asia, he formed a punk rock trio with two other servicemen and landed gigs in Hong Kong and Singapore. Once back stateside, the trio tried to make their way in the San Diego punk scene, but when success didn't seem forthcoming, Neal moved back to Georgia. There, his roots pulled him into country music, albeit with a heavy dose of punk spirit. With greased-back hair, a sleeve of tattoos, a beat-down voice and sharp, heartfelt songs, Neal and his band, the Damned Old Opry, come to Vino's with the Salty Dogs, Arkansas's kings of the honky-tonk.
ARKANSAS VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE
1 p.m., War Memorial. Sold out.
After last weekend, a lot of dyed-in-the-wool Razorback fans might rather stay home and rake leaves than see the Hogs take on the Dogs on Saturday. In anticipation of that apathy, here are five reasons to swallow it and go cheer: 1. Drinking and eating copious amounts of grilled meats is fun no matter how much the Hogs under-perform. 2. Watching football in short sleeves in mid-November makes for a good anecdote about how crazy Arkansas weather is. 3. Even though Mississippi State is dramatically improved since last year, we'll still probably beat them. 4. It'll probably be our last win of the season. 5. Unless you're a super-fan, it'll be your last chance to catch Peyton Hillis, Marcus Monk, Felix Jones (fingers crossed after that deep thigh bruise) and the greatest running back to ever don Razorback red. Even if they might serve as a reminder for what could've been, an I-was-there image of their individual brilliance might come in handy in the next two years, when, even without Nutt, we're still likely to suck. At this point, I'm just hoping for one last muscle-man pose from McFadden.