Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries
RHONDA VINCENT AND THE RAGE
7:30 p.m., Reynolds Performance Hall. $30-$32.
Rhonda Vincent's only 46 — and lookin' good, too — but she's been playing music professionally longer than peers 10 to 15 years older. Born in Kirksville, Mo., she got her start at the age of 6, playing drums in her family band, the Sally Mountain Show. (She learned the mandolin and fiddle before she was 11.) But it was appearing on TNN's “You Can be a Star” that led her to solo fame, first singing with Opry star Jim Ed Brown, then recording contemporary country albums, with Giant Records and Warner Bros. But traditional music came calling, and she moved to Rounder in 2000 and starting cutting bluegrass albums again, eventually putting together a backing band, the Rage. In June, she'll release “Destination Life,” her 25th album. Over the years she's successfully managed to blend contemporary and neo-traditionalist country with traditional bluegrass in a way that doesn't alienate the purists. In fact, with her strong bright voice and skill with the mandolin, she's widely recognized as the queen of bluegrass. LM.
TOAD SUCK DAZE
5:15 p.m., Downtown Conway. Free.
Conway's annual family celebration of drunken riverboat crews — who long ago would stop at a tavern outside of town, where they'd “suck on the bottle” until they swelled “up like toads” — returns this year with all the hallmarks we've come to expect from modern Toad Suck Daze. A three-on-three basketball tournament. A carnival. Idiots depriving themselves of sleep to win a truck by constantly keeping a hand on it. A climbing wall. A petting zoo. A 5K and 10K. Clowns. Magicians. A “balloon man.” And, of course, by far the highlight, the intensely competitive toad races. In the evening on Friday and all day on Saturday and Sunday, there's music on two stages. On Friday, at 9 p.m., contemporary country quartet Little Big Town, featuring Arkansans Phil Sweet and Jimi Westbrook, headlines at Simon Park. Saturday, the park hosts sacred steel guitar powerhouse Robert Randolph and his Family Band, 9:30 p.m. And Sunday, Jars of Clay brings its Christian acoustic pop to the stage at 3:30 p.m. Get a complete schedule at toadsuck.org. LM.
‘THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS'
7 p.m., Arkansas Arts Center. $11-$14.
In its final production of the season, the Arkansas Arts Center's Children's Theatre takes on a stage adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's children's classic. It's a fitting time for a story dedicated, in part, to “simply messing about in boats” and picnicking and lazing along the riverbank. At least, that's Ratty, Badger and Mole's idea of a good time. But then the irascible Mr. Toad comes onto the scene. His obsession with speedy modes of transportation runs in direct proportion to his ineptness as a driver. Look out for crashes and clashes and a standoff, between Mr. Toad and his friends and the stoats and weasels who try to take over Toad Hall. The play runs through May 17. LM.
8 p.m., Peabody Little Rock. $5.
Even though the Rivertop Party, the Peabody Hotel's weekly spring and summertime get down, officially kicked off last week, consider this Friday's edition the grand opening. For starters, local boutique Barbara/Jean and Anue Salon are collaborating to put on a fashion show. Then there's music from Alabama's the Ugli Stick, who've long been semi-regular performers in Central Arkansas. Since forming in 2000, the band's toured hard throughout the southeast behind a sound that borrows equally from pop, funk, rock and hip-hop. LM.
9:30 p.m., Juanita's. $7.
An integral member of Brave Combo for two decades, multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Bubba Hernandez brings his Los Super Vatos (“The Super Dudes”) crew to town for what's certain to be a kaleidoscope of fused sounds on Saturday. Twice awarded (with Brave Combo) and once thus far nominated as a solo artist for Grammys, Hernandez has meshed his Latin roots with rock guitars, funky drumming and pumping bass on his latest release, “Dancing En Fuego.” Worthy of mention is that Hernandez will be joined on congas by former Combo alum and Little Rock native Joe Cripps, who recorded tracks for Hernandez' second post-Combo record. With two decades of international touring, compositions on radio, TV and film under his belt, Hernandez should intrigue the curious and satisfy the familiar with this 18-and-up performance. PP.
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $17-$58.
In its final Masterworks performance of the season, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra takes on a love-filled program. Aaron Copland's “Appalachian Spring” opens the concert. Originally written as a ballet, but later rearranged by the composer as an orchestral suite, the piece, like other famous Copland ballets, draws heavily on folk tropes. Richard Strauss' energetic “Don Juan” follows. The tone poem, inspired by a sympathetic portrait of the legendary libertine, puts serious technical demands on the orchestra. Finally comes Hector Berlioz's “Symphonie Fantastique,” a work the then-unknown composer dreamed up in order to impress a famous actress of the day. It succeeded. The two were married a year after the actress heard the symphony, first performed in 1830. The ASO reprises its program at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Robinson. LM.
8 p.m., Village. $39.50-$40.
So let's recap. With a laconic drawl and a knack for a hook, a 20-year-old Snoop Doggy Dogg rides Dr. Dre's P-funk-inspired beats to massive fame, first on “The Chronic” in 1992 and then, a year later, on “Doggystyle,” which is the first ever debut album to enter the Billboard charts at No. 1. Then, several bad things happen. He's charged in connection with a drive-by. Suge Knight starts to trip. 2pac dies, signally the beginning of the end of gangsta rap. So what does Snoop Dogg (no longer Doggy) do? Well, first he directs a porno, makes several forgettable albums with Master P and stars as Huggy Bear in the “Starsky & Hutch” remake. But then begins what might be called Phase Two of the commoditization of Snoop Dogg. In between releasing really catchy singles — “Drop It Like It's Hot” and “That's That” — he manages to turn himself a kind of avuncular cartoon of gangstadom. Through really broad exposure and charm. In four years, he appears on “The Martha Stewart Show,” the Bollywood film “Singh is Kinng,” at the Country Music Awards in a cowboy hat and on his E! reality show, “Snoop Dogg's Father Hood,” where he renews his vows with his high-school sweetheart wife and teaches his kids about the birds and bees during a video shoot for his song “Sexual Eruption.” And now he's coming here! LM.
8 p.m., Vino's. $10.
Go to this show. Cancel plans. Forget TV. Get a babysitter. Go. To. This. Show. Here's me crossing the line from critically detached to straight giddiness. For the first time ever, Richard Buckner, easily one of the most potent songwriters today, comes to Little Rock. His is a familiar career arc. It starts at obscurity and leaps to minor stardom then again to a major label before falling back to obscurity (or at least an obscure label) and finally resting on cultish fame. The cult celebrates his voice. It's plaintive, but expressive — weary in all possible ways. He's made stylistic shifts, from making music that would sound at home on a Flatlanders album to leaning on looping and jagged guitar figures. But it's his lyrics that win. As you might guess, they're mostly dark, exploring themes like disconnection and loss, but they're leavened by compositional elegance. This is the best kind of stick-with-you music. Though he hasn't put out a new album on his current label, Merge, in more than two years, the label recently reissued three of his albums, “Bloomed,” “The Hill” and “Impasse,” which prompted this tour. It's the best situation for fans and novices alike. Those albums alone span eight years. He's bound to play a little bit of everything. Weeks before he releases his sophomore album, Kevin Kerby opens the show. LM.
THE TENNESSEE THREE
8 p.m., Revolution, $10 adv., $15 d.o.s.
Johnny Cash got stuck without a band at a concert in Fayetteville in 1968. His backing unit missed its flight at some faraway airport. Lucky for him a lanky musician from Paris, Ark., named Bob Wootton was down in front with a girl who wasn't shy about telling June Carter Cash her date could play “Luther style” (Cash's longtime guitarist, Luther Perkins, of the “boom-chick-a-boom” guitar sound, had died a month earlier.) And Lucky for Wootton that Cash called him up for an on-the-spot audition and, after finding he knew pretty much the whole catalog, kept him at his side for the next 30 years on tours the world round and monumental albums like “Live at San Quentin.” Devastated by Cash's illness and death, Wootton stayed behind the curtain several years, but from 2006 to 2007, he toured with original Cash drummer W.S. Holland (original bassist Marshall Grant retired in 1980) before the two had a falling out over a Folsom Prison Reunion concert. Today, Wootton carries on the Tennessee Three name with his wife Vicky, daughter Scarlett, upright bassist Shawn Supra and drummer Rodney Powell. PP.