As if great beer weren't reward enough, you can earn prizes for sampling local craft beverages
Slowly but surely, the Harvest Music Festival has evolved into the fall edition of Wakarusa. Maybe the flavor's a little folkier in the fall, but the gist is the same: mountain camping, music, hippies. Among the line-up this year, Yonder Mountain String Band is probably the biggest deal. In fact, the experimental bluegrass foursome is the official sponsor of the festival — the official name is Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival. Other names who're big in the jam community and describe themselves as "genre defying" and "improvisational": Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams & the Kells, Railroad Earth and Sam Bush. Those and other acts will be spread out across four entertainment areas, including my favorite, the Nomadic Dreams Village, which hosts sessions on yoga, glass blowing and "didgeridoo healing meditation." The festival continues into the wee hours of Saturday. Full schedule and more info at yonderharvestfestival.com. LM.
Just four more days to gorge yourself on funnel cakes and dangerous looking rides at the fer! When should you go? Well, if you're a lady, 18 or older, gate admission is free on Thursday, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. If you're still in K-12th grade, Friday, after 1 p.m., the gate is only $3. If you're a fan of golden-locked former "American Idol" country stars, Bucky Covington, joined by rising country star Easton Corbin, takes the Wendy's Main Stage on Thursday at 7 p.m. Or if you're a fan of Canadian classic rock and know the words to "Hot Girls in Love," Loverboy closes out the main stage schedule at 8 p.m. Friday. But more than anything else, you're gonna want to go to Ridin' in the Rock, the two-night PBR Professional Bull Riders Tour stop at the fair at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights in Barton Coliseum. Tickets range from $10 to $25 and, if purchased in advance via Ticketmaster, include gate admission. Of course, no matter when you go, deep-fried cream cheese and bacon on a stick will be waiting for you. LM.
This Portland, Ore., outfit has spent the better part of a decade making waves in indie-loving circles by mixing a heady, harmonic brand of folk-country with prog-y, pop sensibilities. The group was pushed into the "next big thing" batter's box after receiving near-universal praise in 2007 with "Wild Mountain Nation," an album so recklessly eclectic it nudged towards all-out schizophrenia. Since, Blitzen Trapper has followed the same anti-formula, rubbing heavy bass licks into the grooves of their Eagles records and eluding listeners' natural instincts since. The outfit is supported by long-time folkies Fruit Bats and the left-field bedroom pop of Pearly Gate Music. JT.
Wildwood's annual autumnal festival returns this weekend with all its usual hallmarks: hayrides, crafts and activities for kids, food, music and beer. But, of course, the highlight for all events at Wildwood, at least for us grown folks, remains Wildwood itself. The leaves in the 100-acre park should be thinking about turning and, while the weather might not exactly feel fall-ish, who's not ready to escape the summer's oppressive heat and trounce around in the woods? The forecasted 80-degree temps for this weekend might not exactly be the respite we were hoping for, but we'll make do. More reasons to go: On Saturday, from noon to around 5 p.m., the Arkansas Pickin' and Fiddlin' Championship is going on, with contestants young and old battling it out on banjo, fiddle and mandolin. Following the concert, Grammy-winning progressive bluegrass outfit Mountain Heart gives a concert in Wildwood's Lucy Lockett Cabe Festival Theatre at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for kids 12 and under and $25 for everyone else. Sunday, the festival continues from noon until 6 p.m. LM.
• HALLOWEEN SPOOKFEST
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $16-$65.
Two weeks ago, Philip Mann debuted as the music director for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra to great acclaim. After kicking his tenure off with the likes of Bernstein and Dvorak, Mann steers the symphony into more lighthearted fare with this season's debut of the Pops Live! series, Halloween Spookfest. To get into the spirit, the orchestra will be dressed in costume (maybe Mann will be a zombie conductor); it encourages the audience to do the same. Either way, the concert's likely to get you in the Halloween spirit. It features some of the scariest songs ever, including Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre and Bernard Herrmann's "The Murderer" from "Psycho." As well as more playful fare: the themes from "Batman" and "The Addams Family" and selections from John Williams' scores for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "E.T." and "Star Wars." The ASO reprises the performance on Sunday at 3 p.m.; same place and price, though students, grades K-12, can go for free if accompanied by a paid adult as part of the ASO's new Entergy ticket program on Sunday. LM.
Part of the "hey, guys, rock music is back, you guys!' class of 2001, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club may not be as supernova-successful as the year's valedictorians in The Strokes or the salutatorians of The Hives, but the leather-clad Californians have always been a hair more interesting than their garage-rock revivalist classmates. Think a combination of Marlon Brando in "The Wild One" (where the band got its name) and Dennis Hopper on a speedball. BRMC — as they're known, even though it sounds like someplace you'd get a biopsy — is known to be a slash more sinister than its peers, prowling through the psych-laced soundscape with a swamp-rock stomp and roaring shoegaze fuzz. But since the release of its acclaimed self-titled debut, the band's fanbase has grown more and more divisive towards each release. But their defenders are passionate. And loud. And, from what we can tell from our To-Do List Buzz-o-meter readings, about to pack out a venue for this rescheduled concert. JT.
Becoming famous in the weird, reclusive world of anti-folk is no small feat. But it was bound to happen for someone as fiercely unusual and outright clever as Jeffrey Lewis, the singer/songwriter, essayist, storyteller and comic book writer. With 20 music releases under his name, he's set the bar for all other quirky guys with acoustic guitars to follow in his wake. He turns his dweeby, colorful pen towards his hometown of New York City ("I Saw a Hippie Girl on 8th Ave."), drugs ("No LSD Tonight") and his musical influences ("Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror") to mixed results, but ultimately does the niche genre of naive-folk better than nearly anyone else. He plays alongside Ezra Lbs., the local indie-garage act, and (clap!) Kidz Pop!, the children's band that's definitely for adults. JT.
"Will & Grace" fans remember Leslie Jordan for his scene-stealing (and Emmy-winning) recurring role as Karen's nemesis, Beverly Leslie, an effete Southerner with a wicked knack for insults. Jordan's also appeared on "Ally McBeal," "Monk" and the stage, film and TV versions of Del Shores' cult hit "Sordid Lives." Within the gay community, he's an icon, known for his one-man stage testimonials about life as a tiny gay man (he's 4' 11") growing up in a conservative family in Chattanooga. Monday, he presents his latest one-man show, "My Life Down the Pink Carpet," in a benefit for the Stonewall Democrats of Arkansas. Expect plenty of stories about childhood agonies, celebrity encounters — from Boy George to George Clooney — and sex and alcohol addiction. Booze will be available for purchase during the pre-show reception at 5:30 p.m. Jordan hits the stage at 7 p.m., and will be available to sign books and DVDs afterwards. LM.