Wakarusa returns to Mulberry Mountain 



Downtown Eureka Springs.

Head for the hills, blues fans: For four days, the mountains and valleys of Eureka Springs are going to be echoing with electric, Delta, Chicago, Texas, 12-bar and just about every other type of blues you can imagine when the annual Eureka Springs Blues Weekend returns to a slew of venues and bars in the historic downtown. The lineup includes Elvin Bishop, the Chicago blues icon and founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band; Coco Montoya, the celebrated southpaw who spent years backing John Mayall as one of the legendary Bluesbreakers, and Tinsley Ellis, the high-energy and higher-volume electric guitarist, headline the festivities. Rounding out the line-up: Marquise Knox, a 20-year-old making waves in blues circles; Little Joe McLerran, who was recently tapped by Jazz at Lincoln Center and the U.S. State Department to be an American musical ambassador to the Middle East; and Rosie Ledet, an award-winning zydeco musician, among dozens of others. Weekend passes are sold out, but tickets to most individual shows are still available at the festival's website, EurekaSpringsBlues.com.


Mulberry Mountain, Ozark. $29 and up.

It's been three years since Wakarusa, the annual music and outdoors festival, relocated to Arkansas and, since, organizers have been focused on recreating the sights, sounds and smells of your dad's hippie fests: jam bands, light shows, knotted hemp, stray clouds of sticky icky icky smoke. Stay fast, we say. But we're thrilled to see the festival flirt with big names outside of the proverbial drum circle. This year's line-up welcomes back the regular cast of friendlies — Ben Harper and Relentless 7, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Umphrey's McGee, STS9 — while making room on stage for a few bright-lit names. Leading the pack of surprises: My Morning Jacket, the not-Southern-rock Southern rockers whose career path has taken the band from fuzz-ball "Live Rust" acolytes to ambitious, epochal critical darlings. The festival showcases other drawling indie acts like Mumford & Sons, the folk ravers who were handed the "Best New Artist" and "Best Rock Song" Grammys last year; the Oscar-winning songwriter Ryan Bingham; and a soon-to-be-huge Nashville grrrl-country act, Those Darlins. The festival seems to be expanding its techno offerings, as well, booking Thievery Corporation, the jazzy, trip-hop duo; Shpongletron, a jam-friendly electro-eclecticist; and Austin electro-rockers Ghostland Observatory. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, those much-celebrated soul revivalists, also duck into the festival for a Friday evening set. Other notable names: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Toots & the Maytals, Lucero, Minus the Bear, Budos Band, Lanhorne Slim, Peelander-Z and, one of Arkansas's contributions to the festival, our beloved two-headed beast, Tyrannosaurus Chicken.



9 p.m., Cornerstone Pub. $20 adv.

With every new track, it gets harder to justify listening to any post-Rikers Lil Wayne. Jay Electronica is brilliant, but – imperfection be damned – he won't make a peep for months at a time. Ditto Andre 3000. Bun B and Scarface are already part of the canon. So who are we supposed to get in a tizzy about? Right now, I and thousands of others are looking to Big K.R.I.T. to take the wheel and keep the South on track. Only 24, the Meridian, Miss., native has gone from rap-blog favorite to emcee-to-beat over the last year, writing, producing and releasing two of the best mixtapes in years with "K.R.I.T. Wuz Here" and its follow-up, "Return of 4Eva," my pick for the best rap album of the year by a country mile. It's essential listening, the sound of a buzzy draftee defying the high expectations and knocking any potential "over-" labels off of "over-hyped." Since, K.R.I.T. (and his logo, a repurposed Basquiat crown) has broken through the Internet bubble, getting co-signs from NPR and the New York Times. He's crossed the Mississippi to visit Little Rock a few times over the years, but this may be your last time to see the next big thing up close and without binoculars. K.R.I.T. gets local support from members of the Conduit Fam: Arkansas Bo, one half of Suga City, opens alongside 607, who, alongside his brother Bobby, uses the night to release the latest Ear Fear album, "Art Class." Because, as Lord Six says, "everyone enjoyed their mandatory art class."



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