ARKANSAS BLUES AND HERITAGE FESTIVAL
Noon, Cherry Street Pavilion, Helena. Free.
The name may've changed, but the spirit of the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival (forever King Biscuit in the hearts of blues fans every-where), now in its 23rd year, remains the same. For three days, somewhere near 100,000 revelers sit atop levees overlooking the Cherry Street Pavilion, eat turkey legs, drink beer and soak up the blues. Dozens of local, regional and national blues performers are spread across four stages in downtown Helena. On Thursday, some of the big names include genre blenders Webb Wilder and the Beatnecks (7:15 p.m.) and blues guitar hero Tinsley Ellis (8:50 p.m.). On Friday, long-time festival vet Pinetop Perkins performs with Bob Margolin (5:30 p.m.) and Camden na-tive Michael Burks demonstrates the guitar work that's earned him national acclaim (8:45 p.m.). On Saturday, name acts include Willie “Big Eyes” Smith (5:30 p.m.), doing songs from his new album, “Born in Arkansas”; Jackson's Bobby Rush (7 p.m.), and RL's son Cedric Burnside with Lightnin' Malcolm (8:30 p.m.). LM.
8 p.m., On the Rocks. $5.
Atlanta's Gringo Star, who used to go by A Fir-Ju Well, has long made it a point to route its tours through Little Rock. But in promoting its debut full-length, “All Y'all,” the garage band is covering us up in shows. If Southernized and slightly psychedelic Kinks-style Brit Pop is your thing, you don't have an excuse for missing Gringo Star. The band will play three shows: Thursday, with local, stylistic cousins Big Boots, at On the Rocks; Friday, also with Big Boots, at Sticky Fingerz (9 p.m., $5) and again on Friday at Midtown (12:30 a.m., $5). Produced by Ben H. Allen (Animal Collective, Gnarls Barkley), the new album isn't officially out until Nov. 4, when the fellas will be halfway across the At-lantic en route to a month-long UK tour, but they're good enough to have it on sale early for these shows. It's almost worth picking up just for the title track, an infectious anthem of cynicism, filled with handclaps, multi-part harmonies and guitar hooks you can sink your teeth into. LM.
THE FOUR TOPS/ THE TEMPTATIONS
8 p.m., Reynolds Performance Hall, UCA, Conway. $50.
For those who're truly nostalgic to see a Motown double bill of this magnitude, there quickly comes a pang of doubt. There's no way these are the Four Tops and the Temptations? Groups who reigned supreme on the charts in the '60s and helped define the Motown sound with songs like “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” “My Girl” and “Reach Out I'll Be There”? Sure they are. Or at least as real as you'll ever see. Only one original Four Top remains active in the group, tenor Duke Fakhir (one other, Levi Stubbs, is retired). Ditto for the Temptations, who only retain baritone Otis Williams. But these are still soul vets, who've spent years dressing in matching suits, snapping their fingers, twirling in unison and harmonizing sweetly. Here's betting it'll be a nostalgia fix at least. LM.
7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $39.75.
For years, country comedian Rodney Carrington toiled in comedy clubs and blue-ish morning radio. Then, in 2004, he landed a pilot on ABC. “Rodney” only lasted two seasons, but it's safe to say it sufficiently propelled Carrington to another comedy stratosphere. It's not for nothing that the man's doing two shows in one night. Fresh off starring as the hapless deputy (to Toby Keith's sheriff) in what, by the looks of the preview, appears to be the low point of modern comedy, “Beer for My Horses,” Carrington comes to town armed with his sing-along favorites, songs like “Momma's Got Her Boobs Out,” “Dear Penis” and “Goin' Home with a Fat Girl.” LM.
RACE FOR THE CURE
8 a.m., Second and Broadway. $25.
It's big and it's pink and it's coming this Saturday: The 15th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in downtown Little Rock. Nearly 27,000 women (in 757 teams and individually) will descend on Broadway before dawn to raise funds for breast cancer prevention and awareness by pounding the streets over a 5K route. Online registration is closed, but participants may still sign up for the race at the Race Space in the Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center (or starting at 6 a.m. race day) between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; fee is $25. The Women's Run/Walk starts at 8 a.m.; the Family Fun Walk/Run starts at 8:20 a.m. On the eve of the race, there will be a pink duck walk at the Peabody Hotel at 5 p.m. and carbo-loading at the Pasta Party at the River Market pavilions from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The first 100 men at the Three Miles of Men tent at Third and Izard will get a free breakfast. A survivor parade and awards ceremony will be held after the race at 9:30 a.m., to be followed by the Survivor Luncheon. For more information, go to www.komenarkansas.org. LNP.
NATURAL STATE EXPO AND GREEN HOME SHOW
9 a.m., Statehouse Convention Center, Governor's Hall IV. Free.
Now in its third year, the Natural State Expo this year tacks on an extra descriptor. It's a Green Home Show now. Which means that it'll actu-ally feature a walk-through green home that'll show off green building and remodeling materials and all sorts of natural products. New, too, this year is a green playhouse competition; full-size entries will be on display. As ever, this production of the Sustainability Network will include scores of exhibitor booths hawking sustainable products of all stripes. The event lasts until 4 p.m. LM.
7 p.m., the Village. $20 adv., $23 d.o.s.
??Some people are born into the music business, and then there's Nikka Costa. The daughter of legendary producer Don Costa (Dinah Washington, Tony Bennett) and goddaughter of Frank Sinatra, Costa made her live debut opening for Don Ho at age 5. Two years later, she performed in front of 300,000 Police fans. Her teen years only got better. Albums released across Europe, Central and South America went platinum. She became huge in Australia. Her stateside introduction came with 2001's “Everybody Got Their Something,” a modern soul stomper produced, in part, by a then relatively unknown Mark Ronson. The song “Like a Feather” became a hit after Tommy Hilfi-ger used it in an ad. After a follow-up pushed Costa more into female Lenny Kravitz territory, her just-released debut for a reconstituted Stax finds her firmly in throwback mode. It's sure to make for a good excuse to dance on the Lord's day. LM.
2008 TOUR OF GYMNASTIC SUPERSTARS
3 p.m., Alltel Arena. $22.50-$74.50.
You watched them outperform the Chinese tots on television this summer; now you can see “America's Golden Girls” live when Olym-pic medalists Shawn Johnson and Nastia Luikin come to Alltel with the 2008 Tour of Gymnastic Superstars. Johnson, all-around gold medalist; Luikin, balance beam gold medalist; former Olympian Paul Hamm, and other sterling (and bronze) athletes from Team USA will perform athletic routines to recorded and live music from Disney Girlz, Jordan Pruitt and KSM. LNP.
‘TALES OF THE CRYPT'
5:30 p.m., Mount Holly Cemetery. Free.
The dead will walk again as Parkview Arts/Science Magnet High School students portray Mount Holly's famous denizens in “Tales of the Crypt.” The 13th annual event at the city's oldest cemetery, at 10th and Broadway, features 45-minute candlelight tours starting every five min-utes at the front gate from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Parkview acting class students will use original scripts to bring to life cemetery residents Mary, a slave freed by the Trapnall family; Cherokee chief John Ross; the Rev. Cephas Washburn; William Booker Worthen, boy spy David O. Dodd and others. The event is free and tickets are not needed. LNP.
Also, American Princes at Lost Forty and White Water, Arkansas basketball at Verizon, "The Great Russian Nutcracker" at Robinson Center Music Hall, Kwanzaa, Festivus at the Firehouse, 'The Polar Express' in Hot Springs, Noon Year's Eve at the Mid-America Science Museum and Peckerwolf and co. at Dogtown Sound.
by Stephanie Smittle, Lindsey Millar, Stephen Koch and Leslie Newell Peacock