'I Am Not Your Negro' screens at Ron Robinson Theater 

And much more.

click to enlarge James Baldwin - ALLAN WARREN
  • Allan Warren
  • James Baldwin



6 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. Free.

"To look around the United States today," James Baldwin wrote in an essay titled "The News From All the Northern Cities," "is enough to make prophets and angels weep, and, certainly, the children's teeth are set on edge." That was in 1978. He died in 1987, and you've got to wonder if that sentiment would have been expressed with even more urgency had he been privy to the shooting of Michael Brown, the so-called "Unite the Right" rallies in Charlottesville, Va., or the church shooting in Charleston, S.C. Not that he was ever prone to holding back while writing about race in his lifetime: quite the opposite. His status as an expatriate of the United States afforded him an unyieldingly objective view of the corrosive effects that racism, homophobia and "ignorance, allied with power" had on the lives of Americans in Baldwin's lifetime. "I Am Not Your Negro," the 2016 Samuel L. Jackson-narrated documentary from Raoul Peck, cobbles together writings from Baldwin's unfinished "Remember This House" with nonlinear footage depicting three of Baldwin's influences and friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Authors Daniel Black ("Perfect Peace") and Vincent Tolliver ("James Baldwin: Striking a Match to America") will lead a discussion. SS

click to enlarge CITIZEN: MacArthur "Genius" Grant-winning poet Claudia Rankine speaks at Hendrix College's Reves Recital Hall Thursday night.
  • CITIZEN: MacArthur "Genius" Grant-winning poet Claudia Rankine speaks at Hendrix College's Reves Recital Hall Thursday night.



7:30 p.m. Reves Recital Hall, Hendrix College, Conway. Free.

A 30-minute trek for poetry may sound like a lot of trouble, but the journey will be well worth it to hear Claudia Rankine, a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow. Rankine will read and discuss her work as well as answer questions from audience members. Although she is a multigenre author, Rankine became a literary sensation after the publication of her most recent book-length poem, "Citizen: An American Lyric." In "Citizen," Rankine weaves together jarring national events, images of racial discrimination and gripping personal encounters with anti-blackness. Part essay, poetry, prose and art, "Citizen" elevates witness writing and the poetic genre into groundbreaking territory by dissecting the power of America's public stage, white imagination in the context of a supposedly "post-racial" society and the psychological pressures that overwhelm individuals subjected day in and day out to racial oppression. The reading will be followed by a book signing and reception. LZ

click to enlarge Mariel Capanna - GOOD WEATHER
  • Good Weather
  • Mariel Capanna



6 p.m. Sturgis Hall, Clinton School of Public Service. Free.

For the last five years, Haynes Riley has been curating contemporary art shows in his brother's Lakewood garage under the name "Good Weather." It's part extension-of-domicile, part art gallery and part community gathering space, and it has housed everything from the intricate, monochromatic velvet work of Amy Garofano to unsettling commentary on the digital world, as in Sondra Perry's "netherrrrrr." Unlike more traditional galleries, Good Weather's exhibitions are full-fledged installations, often requiring the garage itself to be modified — painted bright blue, or its walls pierced with tiny SD cards as if flung there by hurricane-force winds. To seal the deal on a long run of over 30 shows, Philadelphia muralist Mariel Capanna will install a "permanent fresco" from lime plaster, and she and Riley will discuss the work at this Clinton School talk. SS

click to enlarge Lucinda Williams
  • Lucinda Williams



6 p.m. UA Pulaski Technical College, Center for the Humanities and Arts. $125-$175.

Before you balk at the ticket price, consider this: A front-row VIP ticket to see Lucinda Williams on Nov. 4 in St. Louis would cost you about the same amount of dough, and you wouldn't get to leave knowing you backed your hometown's National Magazine Award-winning nonprofit, dedicated to curating, commissioning and archiving the literature of the American South. For its 25th anniversary fundraising gala, the Oxford American invited Williams — a daughter of Arkansas by way of art, if not by birth — and the person responsible for lean, bracing jewels like "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" and craggy laments like 2016's "Dust." Admission includes a reception in the CHARTS lobby with appetizers and drinks, 6 p.m., before the concert starts at 8 p.m. SS

click to enlarge COUNTRY BOY: Aaron Lewis, formerly of Staind, performs at Verizon Arena Thursday night.
  • COUNTRY BOY: Aaron Lewis, formerly of Staind, performs at Verizon Arena Thursday night.



7 p.m. Verizon Arena. $40-$55.

There are a few things that make Aaron Lewis a less-than-typical headliner for a big stadium country music show. For one thing, he didn't always play country. Before he was crooning tellingly titled two-steppers like "That Ain't Country," Lewis was the guy from Staind, the band responsible for monopolizing the mid-aughts airwaves with angsty pop metal rockers like "It's Been Awhile" and "Outside," an acoustically bent ballad about drug addiction: "And you can bring me to my knees again/All the times that I could beg you please in vain." Speaking of drugs, Lewis was also on the cover of "High Times" in January 2002, cradling a bouquet of marijuana buds and an intricately sculpted bong. (How's that for "outlaw country?") He's also, though, a hunter and a self-described "constitutional conservative," one who's been making a name for himself calling out the Luke Bryans of the genre and picking up with the classic country he heard growing up — as things stood pre-Kenny Rogers. He's joined by Southern rockers Blackberry Smoke and twang rocker Alex Williams. SS

click to enlarge Cosmocean - SHIORI SOYA/MATTHEW BOWLIN
  • Shiori Soya/Matthew Bowlin
  • Cosmocean



9 p.m. Maxine's, Hot Springs. $5.

This funk-forward septet has no qualms with its operatic bona fides; the two lead singers — voice teachers by day — imbue their duetting with insanely high notes and still manage not to lose a continuous thread of sensuality and choreographed theater. Like any good bar band, their set is utterly danceable, coaxing even the too-cool-for-school to the floor for some late-night abandon and eliciting testimonials like: "OMG they are so fun." SS

click to enlarge SYMPHONIC DANCES: The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra plays works by Prokofiev, Kabalevsky and Rachmaninoff this weekend at 
Robinson Center Performance Hall. - KELLY HICKS
  • Kelly Hicks
  • SYMPHONIC DANCES: The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra plays works by Prokofiev, Kabalevsky and Rachmaninoff this weekend at Robinson Center Performance Hall.



7:30 p.m. Sat., 3 p.m. Sun., Robinson Center, $15-$65.

Third time's the charm, they say. Prokofiev, after his "Romeo and Juliet"-based ballet got the cold shoulder from the Bolshoi Theater and the Leningrad Opera and Ballet Company, was eventually able to get two concert suites heard in Moscow and the United States before the ballet's eventual premiere in 1940. The second of those suites, which ends (is there a statute of limitations on spoiler alerts?) with the tragic death of the two title characters, will be performed by the ASO this weekend, bookended by the overture to Dmitri Kabalevsky's opera "Colas Breugnon" and Rachmaninoff's final composition, "Symphonic Dances," a three-movement suite that draws from medieval plainchant and requiem liturgy and that utilizes a too-often pigeonholed alto saxophone (cradled by bassoon, oboe and clarinet voices) to voice one of its chief haunting, contemplative melodies. SS

click to enlarge Shambala Mobile Vegan Kitchen LLC
  • Shambala Mobile Vegan Kitchen LLC



1 p.m. Viva Vegan, 4601 W. 12th St. Free.

Whether you're a lifelong devotee to the plant-based diet or you just found yourself suddenly and seriously freaked out by "What the Health" on Netflix, this is the spot to hang with the city's vegans and hash it all out. Admission is free, and vendors include Harambee Market, Hoodveganchic, The House Of Mental, Katmandu MOMO, Little Alchemy Garden, Shambala Mobile Vegan Kitchen LLC, Trisha's Treats, Thyme for Grace, Vegans in Space and Viva Vegan, which is presenting the event in partnership with Little Rock's Vegan Dinner Club. SS

click to enlarge 1491528484-america_tickets.jpg



7:30 p.m. Reynolds Performance Hall, UCA, Conway. $27-$40.

On paper, it sounds pretty iffy: Three dudes meet at London Central High School, start jamming some wispy Crosby, Stills & Nash-style harmonies on borrowed acoustic guitars, name themselves "America" to address their own borrowed sound before it became A Thing, and go on to create some of the most recognizable folk rock riffs of the 1970s — "A Horse With No Name," "Sister Golden Hair," "Ventura Highway." Sans Dan Peek, the member who left in 1977 to chase a new artistic direction (and newfound sobriety and religion) and who died in 2011, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell are on tour playing the aforementioned classics for an auditorium audience, some of whom, no doubt, first heard "Tin Man" outstretched somewhere on a sunny festival lawn, smoking some bygone mild strain of grass. SS

click to enlarge William Grant Still - CARL VAN VECHTEN
  • Carl Van Vechten
  • William Grant Still



2 p.m. Hillary Clinton Children's Library. Free.

From the Irish opera "Eithne" to Scott Joplin's "Treemonisha," operas outside the canon are getting some love these days. William Grant Still's little-known "Troubled Island" gets a concert performance at the children's library this weekend from a cast of Opera in the Rock singers: baritone Ronald Jensen McDaniel, mezzo soprano Nisheedah Golden, bass Kenneth Gaddie, mezzo soprano Satia Spencer, soprano Candice Harris and tenor Christopher Straw, with LaSheena Gordon as narrator and Janine Tiner as accompanist. Langston Hughes' libretto tells the story of Haitian slaves in 1791 who, in the wake of an exhilarating rebellion, want to establish community schools and are met with resistance from the white power establishment, a tale that shares a bitterly poetic resemblance not only to the events surrounding the desegregation of Central High School in 1957, but to the ways in which Still himself was edged out of the elitist upper echelons of the New York opera world in his time. I can't imagine a more fitting place for Still's opera to further inspire than at a children's library in Little Rock, the town where the often-overlooked composer spent so much of his life. "Troubled Island," to be performed in full next May at UA Pulaski Technical College's Center for the Humanities and Arts, will be excerpted at the library and followed by a Q&A session with the singers. SS

click to enlarge Sumokem - GRAYSON SHELTON
  • Grayson Shelton
  • Sumokem



8 p.m. Vino's. $12.

With heavy guitar fuzz, an infatuation with nautical culture and mathematical etudes that would work as well on a violin as they do on electric guitar, Seattle's Helms Alee is stepping away from its tour supporting Tokyo noise rockers Boris long enough to play a date in Little Rock with our own purveyors of relentlessly trudging doom rock, Sumokem. If you loved Sumokem's "The Madness of Lu Shen Ti, Vol. 1" and haven't caught up with its latest, "Guardian of Yosemite," brace yourself. Except for the leitmotifs that open "Ogama" and "Mescalito," the seven-track, mixed-meter monstrosity abandons every bit of its predecessor's moodiness and slow fuzz for staccato guitar punches and crushing drums. SS

click to enlarge "DOUBLE" REEDS: Twice Sax performs Wednesday night at South on Main's "Sessions" series.
  • "DOUBLE" REEDS: Twice Sax performs Wednesday night at South on Main's "Sessions" series.



8 p.m. South on Main. $10.

In a YouTube video filmed at the River Market pavilions, saxophonists Dave Williams II and Brandon Dorris rip into Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean" at a blistering tempo, showcasing both their penchant for taming songs that are rhythmically beastly and their love of tunes with full, bracing stops — the kind of stops that cut you off short when you're loudly relating a story to a companion, suddenly yelling above four beats of hard silence. The quintet, bound together from years of session work, local jams and wedding gigs, aims to head into the studio and record an album, and this concert raises funds for that project. SS




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