"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
THURSDAY 5/30-SUNDAY 6/2
11 a.m. Mulberry Mountain. $150-$660.
It's a bummer, but there just aren't too many times or places where one can unfurl one's freak flag, hoist it waaaay up high — super, duper, ultra, mega high — and just proceed to let it fly, free from concerns about any squares, prudes, nags, scolds, authoritarian-types or what-have-you coming along to try to toss a bucket of cold harshness on your good times. But brothers and sisters, there is one such place and time, and that place is Mulberry Mountain, and that time is called Wakarusa. This marks the festival's 10th year, and the fifth year that it has been hosted in Arkansas, having been relocated from its original home in Kansas on account of harassment from the authorities. But the site near Ozark is private property, which means more privacy and less intrusion from you-know-whos. That said, they'll be hanging around the vicinity for sure. So take some smart precautions: Drive cautiously (but not, you know, like suspiciously so), make sure you've got all your insurance info and registration, make sure you don't have a tail light out or anything else that might make you an easy mark. And have fun. It's a beautiful location, and if you're into the jam-band, electronic or bluegrass scenes, there will be a ridiculous amount of music for you to enjoy. This year's headliners are Snoop Lion, Widespread Panic, Dispatch, The Black Crowes, Gogol Bordello, Son Volt, Umphrey's McGee and STS9, among many, many other acts. Full schedule at Wakarusa.com.
10 p.m. White Water Tavern.
It's been in the works for a few months now, but Iron Tongue's debut full-length is out this week on the esteemed Neurot Records label, and it was so completely worth the wait. "The Dogs Have Barked, The Birds Have Flown" perfectly captures the seven-piece band's amp-destroying blues/soulful classic rock hybrid. The album was recorded by Billy Anderson, who is, bar none, one of the best metal producers working. Just for full disclosure: I wrote some press materials for the band, but not for any money or other consideration — only because I think the album is start-to-finish killer. It's crushingly heavy, but with real-deal emotional turmoil at its core — a combination that's tough to get right. And on this record, Iron Tongue absolutely nails it. Opening the show will be Opportunist and J.Kutchma and The Five Fifths.
FRIDAY 5/31-SATURDAY 6/1
KEITH SYKES WEEKEND
8 p.m. Arlington Hotel. $60.
Any of you budding singer/songwriters out there probably ought to go to this here gathering and take really good notes, because the collected wisdom and decades of experience on hand will be mighty. The Keith Sykes Weekend boasts a lineup of artists who have penned hits for a plethora of notable performers. You've got Sykes, of course, who's written tunes for Jimmy Buffet ("Volcano"), The Judds and many others. Roger Cook co-wrote the Coca-Cola jingle "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," "Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)" and the Don Williams hit "I Believe in You." Dickey Lee has written songs for George Strait and Reba McEntire. Larry Joe Taylor is responsible for writing cuts for Jerry Jeff Walker, Gary P. Nunn and others. Jerry Lee Lewis, Mel Tillis, Rick Nelson and many others have recorded tracks by Buzz Cason. There will be several other songsmiths performing as well. The weekend kicks off with a concert Friday night and keeps rolling Saturday with the Bloody Mary Guitar Pull with Jedd Zimmerman and Delta Joe Sanders at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Sykes will interview Lee about his work at 3 p.m., and there's another concert Saturday night at 8 p.m. Seating is first-come, first-served.