Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries
YVETTE 'BABYGIRL' PREYER BENEFIT
7 p.m. Revolution. $10.
You've got to hand it to musicians in Central Arkansas. If one of their friends or colleagues needs a hand, they're willing to step up. Ditto for Chris King and Suzon Awbrey of Stickyz and Revolution, as well as several other venue owners in the area. They've hosted numerous benefits over the years, which have no doubt helped folks who've experienced misfortune. Yvette "Babygirl" Preyer is an Arkansas native who studied music at Philander Smith College and the University of Arkansas. She's a badass drummer who's played with a ton of notable artists, including Isaac Hayes, Luther Allison, Rufus Thomas, The Bar-Kays and Michael McDonald, whose band she's played in for some time. Preyer recently suffered a non-life-threatening illness that required two serious surgeries and three to six months of recuperation. We all know how expensive it can be to get sick here in the United States. Even if you have good insurance, not being able to work can put a strain on your finances. So a bunch of folks have come together to help Preyer with some of those expenses. This show will include performances from Nicky Parrish, Ramona Smith, Julia Buckingham Group, Gerald Johnson, Butterfly, Tonya Leeks, Darrill "Harp" Edwards and more. RB
ARGENTA FILM SERIES: 'UNDEFEATED'
7 p.m. Argenta Community Theater. Free.
If your heart was warmed by Sandra Bullock's turn in "The Blind Side," then a sound bite oft-repeated in similar varieties to describe Oscar-winning documentary "Undefeated" might be all you need to hear: "It's 'Friday Night Lights' meets 'The Blind Side' and the whole movie is true" (as George Stephanopoulos said on ABC). If you actively avoided Bullock's role as a Southern Belle savior of a gentle black giant, plenty of other critics have begun their reviews with an acknowledgement: We know this might sound like inspirational treacle, but it's really good! How to reconcile the two takes? I don't know; I haven't seen the film. But I do know that filmmakers T.J. Martin and Dan Lindsay embedded with the woeful Manassas High School football team in north Memphis for about a year and turned 500-hours of footage into a 113-minute documentary. With that much material on a football team made up of kids from a forgotten part of town, hungry for a future that may never come and led by a white volunteer coach they call Big Daddy Snowflake, there's bound to be some lasting moments. I'll interview Coach Bill Courtney (Big Daddy Snowflake) in a post-screening Q&A. Like all of the films in the Argenta Film Series, the screening is free, but an RSVP at lrff.eventbrite.com is required. LM
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern. $7.
A good many fans of Americana here in Central Arkansas are probably already familiar with Oklahoma singer/songwriter Samantha Crain. She's played at White Water Tavern on numerous occasions, and returns Friday on tour for her new record, "Kid Face," out this week. The album isn't a radical departure from Crain's mostly country- and folk-steeped songs. Spare piano chords, a whining violin and ghostly pedal steel make fleeting appearances that keep the listener's ears on their toes. "For the Miner" has an almost-funky bass line that wouldn't sound out of place on something from Ditch Trilogy-era Neil Young. There are some woozy strings and keys that add an air of tension to an otherwise low-key tune. John Vanderslice's production is excellent throughout, giving the record a wide-open sound, the songs augmented by instrumental flourishes that never distract from Crain's words. Which is nice, because she gets in some good ones, like these from "Taught to Lie," the album's second track: "You'd think I'd get a phone call from your rolling mansion / It's been four years, you gotta know that I've changed, you gotta know that I am different / I did a pretty bad thing but it's nothing that I wouldn't mention." Compared to Crain's previous album, 2010's "You (Understood)," "Kid Face" is quite a bit darker and more subdued, but it also sounds like a big step forward. Also on the bill is the redoubtable singer, songwriter, storyteller and all-around enjoyable dude Kevin Kerby. RB
FRIDAY 2/22-SUNDAY 2/24
6 p.m. Wildwood Park for the Arts. $10.
I was a kid from the sticks in my youth, back in the dim days before Internetin' and textin' and X-Boxin' and all the other bleep-bloop-bleeping that keeps modern young whippersnappers indoors and pasty. In my day, our nighttime entertainment was going outside!
In the dark! And if you got snake bit or bear mauled or went temporarily blind from shoddy moonshine likker, you just rolled with it. These days, as a city dweller, I recall fondly those days of tromping the moonlight. But you don't have to be a "Gran Torino"-grade old fart like me to enjoy the nightlife, and the Lanterns! Festival at Wildwood Park sure makes the dark a lot more pretty than my daddy's Army flashlight. The festival, which is scheduled to coincide with the first full moon of the lunar new year, kicks off Friday night and runs through Sunday. One of Arkansas's only festivals made to be best enjoyed after dark, the Lanterns! Festival allows visitors to walk the trails of Wildwood Park for the Arts by the glow of beautiful, flickering displays of fire and light built around a series of cultural themes. This year's themes include the Caribbean, Germany, New Orleans, Shakespeare's England, Venice and Rio De Janerio, with international foods and beverages available for purchase. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6-12, and kids 5 and under get in free. DK
SATURDAY 2/23-SUNDAY 2/24
ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: 'TRUTH & TRIUMPH'
8 p.m. Robinson Center. $14-$52.
"Truth & Triumph" will no doubt be one of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's biggest productions this season. Visiting the ASO will be Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon, whose "Concerto for Orchestra" has been hailed as one of the best orchestral compositions in recent memory. In a video detailing the show, ASO Composer Philip Mann said Higdon's work will show off "the technical virtuosity of every section including the brass, percussion, wind and strings, and all done with the beautiful color palette of a virtuoso composer." In the second half of the show, the symphony performs Shostakovich's 10th Symphony, which "features a large orchestra taken to its limits," Mann said. The Sunday performance will be at 3 p.m. RB
NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS
9 p.m. Revolution. $20.
It's a testament to the strength of the form that the blues continues to fascinate listeners and musicians lo these many, many decades after it emerged from the Delta. It's been through so many iterations, duplications, permutations, mutilations, rebirths and revivals that it's almost meaningless to try to determine what's "authentic" anymore. Sure, your average bar-band blooze-wailers are still annoying, but in the hands of inspired players — even those reverent of tradition — the blues can still sound awesome and electrifying. You'd be hard-pressed to find any finer practitioners currently going than the North Mississippi Allstars. You're all probably pretty familiar with the band by now; they're from just down the road and they've played in Arkansas a bunch. The Dickinson brothers — Luther and Cody, sons of the legendary Jim Dickinson — are pretty much Southern music royalty. Together with bassist Chris Chew, they lay down a grimy, funk-informed take on the blues that's irresistibly fun while still conveying a lot of soul and substance. Add it all up and you'd have to be a real stick in the mud to find fault with the Allstars. Opening the 18-and-older show will be The London Souls. RB
7:30 p.m., UCA College of Business Auditorium, room 107. Free.
I don't think I've read a book I've liked more than Jennifer Egan's "A Visit from the Goon Squad" since it was published in 2010. The novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011, is made up of chapters each told from a different character's point of view, with characters later popping up in supporting roles as the book zips back and forth through time. Most all the stories orbit around an aging punk rocker-turned-record executive and the troubled woman who works for him. Egan's often categorized as a post-modernist, but "Goon Squad," for all its non-linear-ness, is grounded in always compelling realism. As Egan told Heidi Julavits in Bomb magazine, "More and more I feel you'd better not try and say anything too clearly or too loudly in fiction, because you end up eliminating the mystery that's at the heart of any great literary experience." Egan will read and sign books on Tuesday and talk craft and answer questions at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Thompson Hall 331. LM