"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
There's an open letter on the website of the Moaners' record label, Yep Roc, where the Chapel Hill indie-rock duo spend a lot of time reflecting on their time in Mississippi recording their latest record, “Blackwing Yalobusha,” at Blackwings Studio in Water Valley, where R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and other North Mississippi greats recorded. The duo, Laura King and Melissa Swingle, write, “We wanted to capture the atmosphere of the blues and the feeling of the South, Faulkner's South, O'Connor's South, but play with the form and take it somewhere new.” Before you get all “Carpetbaggers!” on the ladies, consider the “play with the form” bit. Indie rock, like most rocks, has occasionally, often egregiously, been blues obsessed. There's a small helping of Jon Spencer's career, the Black Keys and the White Stripes, but if you dig too much deeper, the well gets barren pretty quick. So, bravo to the Moaners, who sound an awful lot like Sleater-Kinney if Kenny Brown were playing guitar. Swingle, who spent a fair number of years leading the band Trailer Bride, plays a pretty mean slide guitar, alternating between dirty, feedback-laden runs and more hypnotic atmospherics. King isn't a slouch either; she plays spare enough to let the groove take the lead and, when the song dictates, rambunctious enough to get the kids bouncing. Local new-wave rockers the Reds open.
9 p.m., Juanita's. $6.
It's not 15-year-old Tanya Tucker singing “Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone),” but when 19-year-old singer/songwriter Elise Davis sings, “I tried my whole life to be someone who you would love,” a blip of skepticism passes through. Really? Your whole life? But then again I've got Davis' bio. Judged only by her rich voice and breezy, open-road arrangements (courtesy of the fellas at Blue Chair Studios, who've put out a diverse handful of some of Arkansas's strongest releases in the last couple of years), Davis sounds mature well beyond her years. And judged even by her resume — two albums already under her belt and a third, “Another Lonesome Romance,” releasing on Thursday — she's farther down the road to Sheryl Crow-dom than virtually all her 19-year-old peers. Fittingly, the show is open to all ages.
WHITE RIVER WATER CARNIVAL
5 p.m., Riverside Park, Batesville. $15-$25.
For 65 years, folks in Independence County and beyond have been gathering on the banks of the White River in Batesville. Elvis played the 12th annual, and at least according to a Scotty Moore tribute web page, told off-color jokes, “stormed off stage” after only four songs and effectively “ruined the show.” The Colonel refunded the carnival its $50. For shame, Elvis! Guessing from a survey of this year's line-up — not quite Kingly, but still pretty heavy — this year will probably be shenanigan-free. On Friday, '80s refugees Night Ranger, who're famous mostly for singing “Sister Christian,” headline. Saturday, the names get bigger and countrier as young, leggy country starlet Ashton Shepherd performs at 6 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by one of the founding fathers of bluegrass, Dr. Ralph Stanley, and with country stalwart Earl Thomas Conley finishing out the music part of the festival at 9 p.m. Like any good carnival, there's also a host of kids' activities, wrasslin' demonstrations and beauty pageants. Get the full schedule at mybatesville.org/white-river-water-carnival.php.
HEIFER THEATRE PROJECT
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. Free.