This small south Arkansas city was once one of the top oil producers in the nation.
CENTRAL HIGH SYMPOSIUM
8:30 a.m., Philander Smith College. Free.
In honor of the 52nd anniversary of the desegregation of Central High, Philander Smith, UALR and the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site team to offer a two-day symposium, “Speaking the Truth on Social Issues and Politics in the 21st Century.” That bold goal confronts on five topics — education, race relations, economics, politics and health and wellness. On Thursday, the Times' Max Brantley facilitates discussion by the education panel (10:15 a.m.), which includes, among others, Dr. Terrence Roberts and civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez (famous for her role in Mendez v. Westminster). Later, Carlotta Walls LaNier and Ralph Brodie are among those who discuss race relations (1:15 p.m.), and Delta Trust's French Hill and others talk economics (3 p.m.). Missouri State Sen. Maidi Coleman kicks off Friday with a keynote address (9 a.m.), to be followed by a session on politics (10:15 a.m.) moderated by Mayor Mark Stodola and featuring Ernest Green, state Rep. Kathy Webb and others. A session on health and wellness (1:30 p.m.) concludes the sessions, and descendants of Homer Plessy and John Ferguson provide closing remarks. To get more info go to http://www.nps.gov/chsc.
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $26.
Despite appearances, as Times' contributor Jonelle Doughty finds in her Q&A with the Avett's Bob Crawford (page 54), the Avett Brothers have not enjoyed a meteoric rise. Just because they took home an Emerging Artist Award at the Americana Music Awards two years ago does not mean that they were just emerging. Their recent bumps, from North Carolina independent Ramseur Records to American/Columbia, from touring clubs in a van to traveling in a giant bus to play theaters, from self-producing to working with Rick Rubin, all go back to a novel philosophy for music industry success in these blog-addled times: winning over fans one at a time, through prolific recording and touring. Friday, the band unveils new material from its forthcoming “I and Love and You,” out on Tuesday. Like the group's previous record, it fits under the big umbrella of expansive folk rock. All the harmony, urgency and melancholic hooks are there, just with more pop melody than in the past. It should translate well to the stage. Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers, a band that I predicted last year would soon be playing big stages, opens the set with mesmerizing folk rock.
9 p.m., Revolution. $25.
The L.A.-based quartet Silversun Pickups has left several prominent music critics drunk on descriptive adjectives. The New York Times' Jon Pareles writes, “Silversun Pickups' songs are fascinated by instrumental possibilities — pealing, crashing, shimmering, pinging, blaring,” while Rolling Stone's David Fricke does 'em one bettter: “The guitar distortion that eats up much of the air on [the band's new album] comes in many forms, including wounded-bear roars, pissed-off-snake hisses and black-syrup rivers of drone.” You might need a psychotropic assist on Friday if you're hoping to hear all that, but the band's layered, distorted guitars will undoubtedly star. Expect Smashing Pumpkin's style alt-rock that somehow manages to shimmer and sound dour at the same time. The bill's openers could headline alone. Atlanta's Manchester Orchestra blends post-grunge, indie rock and alt-country jangle, while Cage the Elephant, a swaggering rock band from Bowling Green, enjoys a reputation for its much-ballyhooed live show. LM.