Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
THURSDAY 10/20-SATURDAY 10/22
RED OCTOPUS THEATER: #SQUADGHOULS
8 p.m. The Public Theater. $10.
The comedy troupe whose spoof of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns suddenly went "trending" earlier this year on the Funny or Die website — which brought us "Between Two Ferns" and, this week, "Danny Elfman's Trump Stalks Hillary" — is preparing for its annual Halloween show, #Squadghouls. Red Octopus has been making raunchy, low-budget slapstick comedy for over 25 years, a longevity owed to the tenacity and devotion of a core group of performers, a loyal local audience and to the late, great Sandy Baskin, the troupe's longtime driving force and muse. #Squad-ghouls has a runtime of about two hours with intermission and, like other Red Octopus shows, the comedic material can get pretty blue, so it's recommended for mature audiences only. Come in costume and get $2 off your ticket.
ALCEE CHRISS III
8 p.m. First Presbyterian Church. Free.
Organist Alcee Chriss III earned a bachelor's degree in organ performance and a master of music degree in historical performance at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, collecting a few first prizes in organ competitions along the way. He's also a harpsichord player, a jazz pianist and a conductor who's now earning his doctorate at McGill University. Fortunately for Central Arkansas listeners, he's keeping up a rigorous performance schedule, including a trip here to play the ornate pipe organ at Little Rock's First Presbyterian Church, an oak and burl eucalyptus behemoth built in 2004 by Little Rock's own Nichols & Simpson Inc. Chriss' program comes to Arkansas courtesy of the Central Arkansas Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He'll perform works by Bach, Schumann, Faure and a 1930 "toccata" (literally, "touch," and usually involving a highly technical display of an organist's speed and dexterity) by French composer Guillou, as well as works from American organists and composers Leo Sowerby and Calvin Taylor.
MISSISSIPPI BLUES SHOW
8 p.m. White Water Tavern. $15.
Most of the time, the way we see and hear music that characterizes the Delta blues tradition is in the rearview mirror, on a scratchy record or a remastered historical album. We're left to speculate, for example, on the power Robert Johnson's performances had on the women he seduced while playing shows across the Delta under alias surnames, or the electrifying effect Memphis Minnie had on her audiences when she famously upstaged Big Bill Broonzy in a 1930s "battle of the bands" at a Chicago nightclub, winning a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of gin. So, if you get the chance to put aside your Robert Palmer documentary and hear the Delta blues in the flesh — and in a place that resembles a juke joint more than it does a festival lawn — you should probably do so. The list of legendary names on this bill is the stuff of history, the kind of lineup worth ditching your camping weekend for: Leo Bud Welch, Robert Bilbo Walker, Lightnin' Malcolm, R.L. Boyce, Terry "Harmonica" Bean and Anthony "Big A" Sherrod. For tickets, visit lastchancerecords.us.
11 a.m. Hillcrest Neighborhood. Free.
Every year, the Hillcrest Merchants Association organizes an all-day neighborhood festival, essentially an excuse to hang around on Kavanaugh in crisp fall weather while you listen to local bands play and let the kids run rampant in the bouncy house (there will be two this year). Though the festival officially kicks off at 11 a.m., early birds — and early birdwatchers — can tag along on the Audubon Bird Walk that departs from the ballfield at Allsopp Park at 7 a.m., or head to the Hillcrest Farmers Market in front of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church, where there will be a pancake breakfast at 9 a.m. If you don't make it for breakfast, buy a $2 ticket to sample the entries in a gumbo cookoff from noon to 2 p.m. The music lineup spans across two stages and includes Adam Faucett, Mojo Depot, Little Joe and the BKs, Paul Morphis, Runaway Planet, Bombay Harambee, Good Time Ramblers, Dangerous Idiots, Rock Candy, The Uh Huhs, mömandpöp, New Motto and Kevin and Gus Kerby. Partial proceeds from sales of beer and wine at this year's shindig benefit The Allen School, a prekindergarten program for kids with special needs.
ARKANSAS TIMES HOG ROAST
1 p.m. Argenta Plaza. $18-$22.
You can do a lot of things with a pile of cinder blocks (see: the internet). One of those things will be demonstrated this Sunday when, in a doggedly porcine and substantially less dusty version of Burning Man, temporary installations of concrete will be constructed for the purposes of roasting whole pigs for our collective enjoyment. Farm Girl Meats outside Perryville will supply humanely raised whole hogs for 12 professional teams, to be served with sides from Ben E. Keith. Edwards Food Giant will supply nine amateur teams (who will craft their own sides for tasting) with pork butts for aspiring pitmasters. Lost Forty Brewing will be on site with a beer and wine garden, the Cooking Channel's "Big Bad BBQ Brawl" will be filming onsite and The Salty Dogs and Bonnie Montgomery will be holding down the honky-tonk on a live music stage. Samples from the competitors will be served at 2 p.m. (a few on your plate makes for a sizable meal; eat a light breakfast). A $1,000 first prize goes to the best professional team, judged by local food bloggers.
8:30 p.m. South on Main.
Like the shared vocabulary among the members of The Highwaymen or between the Emmylou Harris/Dolly Parton/Linda Ronstadt trio, the sound of the Wildflower Revue was born of years of the singers listening to one another, of professed mutual admiration. Amy Garland, Mandy McBryde and Bonnie Montgomery — each solo artists in their own right — made the trio official while working on music for the film "Valley Inn," and are putting the finishing touches on an album of originals, collaborations and covers, featuring the all-star band that typically accompanies Garland live — Nick Devlin on guitar, Brent LaBeau on bass, Bart Angel on drums and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's Geoff Robson on fiddle — as well as Jeff Coleman and Matt Stone.
WEDNESDAY 10/26-SATURDAY 10/29
MADE BY FEW
Various Times. Downtown Bentonville. $187-$425.
On Sally Nixon's vibrant tableau that serves as the welcome banner for the Made By Few conference's website, a Brian Posehn lookalike wears a gray shirt emblazoned with the slogan "Make Epic Shit." That's a fairly accurate summary of how the element of play is incorporated into the annual gathering of designers and developers. This year's conference moves from Central Arkansas to downtown Bentonville so visiting speakers and creatives like Mozilla's Cassie McDaniel, Codepen's Chris Coyier and Cards Against Humanity's Amy Schwartz can experience places like the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the 21c Museum Hotel and the winery at Sassafras Springs Vineyard. "There's a ton of stuff going on there. For the people coming in for the conference, we feel like it's a duty of ours to give them new experiences in the state," founder Arlton Lowry said. This year's conference features an outdoor session called "Fireside Talks," themed this year toward "the connection between our work and play"; a "Handmade by Few" artisan craft expo organized by The Little Craft Show; a design competition; workshops with titles like "Stuck: How to Manage Change Without Dying Inside"; and a killer afterparty in Ropeswing Hospitality Group's new event space, the Record Building, in the former home of the Benton County Daily Record. For tickets and a full schedule, visit madebyfew.com.
Building a lead so rapidly and holding it in games, even professional football, is difficult…