Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.
"When I am run down and flocked around by the world," begins Barry Hannah's story "Water Liars," the first in his 1978 collection, "Airships," and it is a great beginning, the kind of beginning that stays with you. Not long ago I was feeling run down and flocked around by the world, and so I drove down to Oxford, Miss., where Hannah finished out his career and died. I went to Proud Larry's and saw the band Water Liars play; they're from Oxford (though singer Justin Kinkel-Schuster is Arkansan by birth), but maybe that's obvious. It was so cold. On the porch, they had those stem-shaped space heaters set up, and you had to get so close as to practically touch them to feel anything. The band was good, kind of like Will Oldham in his Palace days, indie rock with real traces of scary, atavistic hillbilly discordance. Songs like "Cannibal" and "I Want Blood" might even take you off guard, but as Hannah once wrote, "Some days even a cup of coffee is violence." They'll share a bill with Little Rock's The See.
THURSDAY 3/13-TUESDAY 3/18
VALLEY OF THE VAPORS
Various venues in Hot Springs. $35.
Hot Springs' 10th annual Valley of the Vapors independent music festival will be held, not by accident, immediately after SXSW this year, and will feature 41 bands from all over the world, many of them stopping by on their way home from the other, better-known and vastly more crowded and expensive festival. This year's lineup includes R-Ring (featuring Kelley Deal of The Breeders), Diarrhea Planet, Fenster and, in case you miss them Thursday night, Water Liars. Concerts will be held at Low Key Arts, Maxine's, the Ozark and Superior bathhouses and, best of all, deep in the woods of Hot Springs National Park: The National Park Service will be providing tour guides to pair small audiences with a given performer for hikes that include "an unplugged, acoustic performance among the trees, birds and squirrels." The festival will also host daily workshops on topics like DIY screen printing, guitar building and "basic clowning skills."
"A FACE IN THE CROWD"
5 p.m. Old State House Museum. Free.
Budd Schulberg's "A Face in the Crowd" (his second collaboration with director Elia Kazan, after "On The Waterfront") is an adaption of one of his short stories, "Your Arkansas Traveler," about a drifter (here played by Andy Griffith) who maneuvers his way into cynical media celebrity and decadence. Much of the location shooting was done in Piggott, where Hemingway also lived briefly and wrote portions of "A Farewell to Arms." Five thousand extras from the Natural State were hired and paid a dollar a day in August 1956. The production team even built the city a swimming pool. The film is dark and prescient — a "political horror film," as critic J. Hoberman has called it — and Griffith's prison-blues sequence is one of the best Arkansas-set Hollywood scenes ever made.
BOLLY HOLI DAY
Noon. Ron Robinson Theater.
The Ron Robinson Theater will celebrate the Hindi spring festival Holi with a day of Bollywood screenings, including "Sholay" at noon, "Bhool Bhulaiya" at 3 p.m. and "Om Shanti Om" at 6 p.m. "Sholay" is a classic, a 1975 Western homage directed by Ramesh Sippy and produced by his father, G.P., with music by the seminal Indian film composer R.D. Burman. "Bhool Bhulaiyaa" is from 2007 and looks completely wild, a horror-comedy about a family whose ancestral home is haunted by the ghost of a Bengali classical dancer named Manjulika. "Om Shanti Om," which is about reincarnation and the '70s Bollywood industry, is also from 2007 and was for a while the highest-grossing Hindi film of all time. All three are filled with vibrant visuals and lavish, hallucinogenic dance sequences.
KENNETH JOHNSON SEMINAR
7 p.m. St. James United Methodist Church. Free.
A modest and unsung Pine Bluff native named Kenneth Johnson will give a lecture Friday titled "Cheats That Work: Tricks of the Filmmaking Trade." Who is Kenneth Johnson to give such a lecture? In the 1970s he wrote for "The Six Million Dollar Man," "The Bionic Woman" and "The Incredible Hulk." He created and directed the seminal 1983 sci-fi miniseries "V," and all of its offshoots. He directed the sequel to "Short Circuit." He directed — this authentic Arkansan visionary — "Steel," the 1997 superhero movie starring Shaq as a "RoboCop"-like crime-fighter who says things like "It's hammer time." (As he had done the year before with "Kazaam," Shaq also contributed to the soundtrack, rapping alongside Ice Cube, KRS-One and Cypress Hill's B-Real on the theme song, "Men of Steel.") Kids who watched television in the '90s — or parents of those kids — may also remember Johnson for a pair of strange and resonant Disney movies he directed in 1999: "Don't Look Under the Bed" and "Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century." So yes, Kenneth Johnson knows the tricks of the filmmaking trade.
8:30 p.m. Stickyz. $12 adv., $15 day of.
King Buzzo is Melvins guitarist and singer Buzz Osborne, who founded the group with some high school friends in the early 1980s and never left. Today, the Melvins are most often mentioned as an extensive footnote in the early history of Nirvana, as Osborne went to high school with Cobain, played bass in his first band, introduced him to Dave Grohl and influenced the whole grunge community in fundamental, unarguable ways. The group was weirder than Nirvana though, slower and heavier and less compulsively catchy — not catchy at all, actually. They foreshadowed sludge metal, imitating Black Sabbath at their heaviest and druggiest but with the instrumentation and recording aesthetic of a hardcore punk band. This has been billed as King Buzzo's solo acoustic tour, promoting his new, well-titled acoustic record, "This Machine Kills Artists." As he told Rolling Stone, "What I'm doing, it's not folk music, it's not heavy metal. It's 'molk,' how about that?"
"THE RAID 2: BERANDAL"
7 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater, $10.
"The Raid: Redemption," the 2011 action film by Welsh director Garth Evans, was an object of fascination in the American market, which had been for the most part otherwise unexposed to the Indonesian fighting style, pencak silat, on display in almost every frame of the film. It was pulsing and elaborately aggressive, and the sequel, "Berandal" is supposed to up the ante considerably. There is a certain breed of action movie that, due maybe to patient, unobtrusive cinematography and the complexity of the fight choreography, leads critics to invoke Fred Astaire — this is exactly that sort of movie. There are quick and well-executed fights in all manner of rooms, climates and emotional states. The film will screen in Little Rock for one night only as part of the Gathr Film Series.