Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries
7:30 p.m., UALR Center for Performing Arts, University Theater. $10.
KUAR, FM 89.1, the local public radio station, once again tries to give Garrison Keillor a run for his money with “Arkansas Flyer,” a live variety show celebrating the “culture, music and politics” of Arkansas. Longtime local radio personality David B. Treadway hosts. North Little Rock's Billy Jones Blues Band serves as the show's house blues band. Other featured acts include the Edgar Allan Po' Boys (a bluegrass band that includes Treadway), Bob Hulsey's local sketch group, Invisible Radio Theater, and storyteller John Philpot. A grant from the Department of Arkansas Heritage makes the program possible. The event is free for ages 12 and under and $5 for UALR students. A reception at 6:30 p.m. kicks off the event.
10 p.m., Revolution. $5-$10.
It's possibly the plum club gig of the year: downtown, either in Argenta or the River Market, post-Riverfest. Because, you know, after a day of sun and booze and music, who wants to go home? Revolution's Chris King could probably put an ol' crunchy guitar group in this spot and they'd kill, but he's gone and booked possibly the ultimate post-Riverfest act — Boston's Bang Camaro. The throwback metal band synthesizes all the best of '80s pop metal with a unique arrangement — three guitar players, a bassist, a drummer and a choir of anywhere from 10 to 20 “lead vocalists” who belt out choruses only (no verses!). Guitarist and co-founder Bryn Bennett insists that BC isn't a retro band. He likes “evolution.” On the band's MySpace page, he says, “We took the important parts of pop metal and distilled it. We came up with a purer type of music in the end. Let's be honest, no one cared what the lead singer of those bands had to say. They were either comparing their genitalia to some type of weapon that they were going to attack groupies with or they rhymed ‘fire' and ‘desire.' The fans never cared about that stuff. They wanted to scream along with the huge choruses or they wanted to air guitar to the solos. That's what we bring.” Yes.
9:30 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
Then for those who don't mind a crowd, but might want to escape the teeming masses packed into the River Market, one of Arkansas's most popular acts headlines at White Water Tavern. Formed in 2004 in Conway, the Damn Bullets specialize in a kind of psychedelicized strain of that old, weird Americana, some indistinct spot on the map between bluegrass, old-time and hillbilly. The four members — Joe Sundell, DJ Bennett, Paul Morphis and Graeme Higgins — usually play fast, usually sing harmony and always play with sly smiles on their faces. The band's been in the studio of late, so look out for new material. Bob Oh Brown, a native of Jackson, Miss., plays a shuffling, whimsical brand of folk that should dovetail nicely with the Bullets.
10 p.m., Cornerstone Pub. $5.
Get a double dose of Riverboat Crime on Saturday. The North Little Rock pop-rockers play early at Riverfest — 1:30 p.m. on the Triple-S Alarm Stage — then they'll try to play their infectious jams loud enough that a few hundred of the thousands heading to their cars after the festival will come inside to investigate. One of the most impressive acts in this year's Musicians Showcase, the North Little Rock act plays a fairly epic brand of pop-rock that recalls the most buoyant of the '90s. Big-voiced lead singer Josh Stoffer can play a mean blues slide guitar, too. The band plays in support of its new-ish album “Walking Shoes,” which it's sure to have for sale on Saturday.
ARKANSAS DELTA FAMILY GOSPEL FESTIVAL
10 a.m., Cherry Street Pavilion, Helena-West Helena. Free.
Maybe Riverfest isn't your speed. Or you just need to get out of town. Head east. Sponsored by the Delta Cultural Center, the annual Delta Family Gospel Fest features local, regional and national gospel performers. The Canton Spirituals, a multi-award-winning, long-tenured group from Mississippi, headline the festival. Other acts include Dorothy Norwood, Billy Rivers & the Angelic Voices, Daniel Ballinger, the Brown Singers of Memphis, the Myles Family, the Gospel Mellowtones, the Supreme Harmonettes, the Reel Brothers, the Jonestown Crusaders, Reverend Cheairs and the Gospel Songbirds, Pastor Cedric Hayes & the Gloryland Choir, and Angie Pretlow. The festival lasts until 10 p.m. A fireworks display will close it out.
10 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
Mark this one down. If seeing someone in the small club who's destined for the big club tickles your fancy, if you've been craving a full-throated belter, if you like your guitar virtuosity to hypnotize, if a raw helping of blues/rock/soul sounds about right, go see Patrick Sweany. The Massillon, Ohio, native impressed hugely on his first visit to White Water Tavern in February with a raucous two-set performance. He's still touring behind his latest album, “Every Hour is a Dollar Gone,” which was produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. It's a gem of a record, a dirty, late-night blues-rocker that should be the soundtrack to dive bars everywhere (it is, of course, at White Water). Maybe I was drinking too much, but the first time Sweany came through, all I had to do was squint a little to imagine being in Junior Kimbrough's juke joint. This is blues-rock to sway to — for hours.
CROSS CANADIAN RAGWEED
8:30 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $20.
Cross Canadian Ragweed played Sticky Fingerz way before they were Universal recording artists and country chart-toppers. So props to the Oklahoma-based act — which takes its name from rhythm guitarist Grady Cross, lead vocalist/guitarist Cody Canada, drummer Randy Ragsdale and original bassist Mark Wiedemann (Jeremy Plato fills the role now) — for remembering its roots. On Tuesday, Southern rockers play an intimate acoustic show for what Sticky Fingerz predicts will be a standing-room only crowd. This is the first Little Rock acoustic-only show from the band, which is currently touring in support of “Mission California.” The record, the band's ninth overall and fourth on Universal South, debuted at number six on the Billboard country charts and spawned the songs “I Believe You” and “Cry Lonely.”
9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz.
No Depression poster girl Claire Holley grew up in Mississippi, got her start playing in Jackson clubs, went off to college in Chicago and now lives in L.A. You can still hear her roots — a way of phrasing here, a lyric there — but there's not really any twang left in her music. She has a startlingly affecting voice, fragile and warm and often hushed. Appropriately enough, her first album in five years is called “Hush.” Yep Roc releases it the day before Holley plays Juanita's. The instrumentation on the preview songs from the album on her MySpace page has a particularly ethereal feel — moody electronics, indistinct horns, lap steel — and Holley's voice has never been better. This could be a breakthrough.