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The Hot Springs Blues Festival kicks off 

THURSDAY 8/30

HOT SPRINGS BLUES FESTIVAL

8 p.m. The Ohio Club. $10-$15.

The 16th annual Hot Springs Blues Festival will once again convert the Spa City into an oasis for blues-lovers. Things get rolling with the festival kick-off party at the Ohio Club, with Jackson, Miss., bluesman Zac Harmon. On Friday, there are a variety of afternoon workshops at Star Gallery that'll no doubt be useful for musicians, with topics such as lap steel guitar, music photography and using the iPad to record music. The music starts at Hill Wheatley Plaza at 5 p.m., with The Eric Hughes Band, Brandon Santini and his band, Ray Bonneville and another performance from Harmon. After-parties start at 9 p.m. at The Ohio Club, The Big Chill and Chunky Dunks. Saturday's workshops start at noon, and include slide guitar, blues harmonica, Arkansas blues history, and a presentation from Joe Whitmer, deputy director of The Blues Foundation. The music starts at 4 p.m., and includes Ben "Swamp Donkey" Brenner, Clover Blue, First Step Blues Revue, the Marquis Knox Band, the Bart Walker Band and festival headliners the Fabulous Thunderbirds. There are more after-parties at the aforementioned clubs, as well as Fat Jack's, starting at 9 p.m. On Sunday, there's the Festival Decompression Party at Fat Jack's starting at 2 p.m.

THURSDAY 8/30

BACK ROOM TO THE MAIN STAGE

8 p.m. Vino's. $5.

Here's the scoop on Back Room to the Main Stage: Each Thursday for four consecutive weeks, up-and-coming bands will face off at Vino's for a chance to win a 10-stack of crispy new hundos (a.k.a., a cool grand or $1,000 U.S.) and a spot playing on the main stage at the Arkansas State Fair, opening for The See on Oct. 17. The four finalists will square off at a date not yet determined to compete for overall winner. This week's lineup includes Little Rock roots/folk rockers This Holy House, Conway-based classic rock revivalists Neon Skin and Little Rock MC Mista Cade. The Arkansas Times is a co-sponsor of this event.

THURSDAY 8/30

MUTANTS OF THE MONSTER FEST II

6 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $7-$25.

All you metal fiends residing in Arkansas, or really anywhere remotely nearby, just need to go ahead and scrap any other plans you might've had for Labor Day weekend, because Mutants of the Monster II is going down and good Lord, it is going to be ridiculously killer. Here's the lineup: Thursday is Vore, Fallen Empire, Dead to a Dying World, Ritual Decay and Severe Headwound. Friday starts at 5 p.m. and includes Rwake, Hull, The Ascent of Everest, Broken Teeth, Dakhma, Beneath Oblivion, Sound of the Mountain and Chronic Ritual. Saturday kicks off at 1 p.m. and features Pallbearer, Biipiigwan, Laser Flames On The Great Big News, Holy Angell, ((Thorlock)), Snakedriver, Tyrannosorceress, Peckerwolf, God City Destroyers and Madman Morgan. Sunday also starts at 1 p.m. and closes out the weekend with Deadbird, Yakuza, Epoch Of Unlight, Sons of Tonatiuh, Savagist, Black Pussy, Red Shield, Fister, Crankbait, and Mainland Divide. Whew! That right there is four days' worth of whiplash-inducing riff carnage. If you need something to help ease you through the mornings on Saturday and Sunday (and this seems likely), Downtown Music Hall is having breakfast and Bloody Mary specials, with acoustic tunes from Candler A. Wilkinson IV of Austin. The daily cover charge ranges from $7-$10, but you can get a four-day pass bracelet for $25 and save yourself some money.

THURSDAY 8/30

BEST OF THE LITTLE ROCK 48-HOUR FILM PROJECT

7 p.m. Argenta Community Theater. $10.

Well, another 48-Hour Film Project has come and gone, the teams of exhausted filmmakers have finished their mad-dash scurryings about and their last-minute tasks, the films have been edited and screened and last week, audiences voted on the top 10 films. Actually, make that the top 11. There was a tie this year. As per the ancient protocols of the 48HFP, the teams of filmmakers — 27 of them this year — agreed to write, film, edit and score a movie of between four and seven minutes in length over the period of 2,880 nonstop, action-packed minutes. On the first night of the project, the teams are given a character (this year it was Tammy or Tommy Shuttles, singer), a prop (a melon — cue Gallagher-style hijinks) and a line of dialogue ("What do we have here?") that must be used in the film to ensure that no one gets a head start. Full disclosure — this year, as in many years past, the Arkansas Times has a filmmaking team up in the mix. Our own tireless scribe David Koon somehow found time to write "Left." In addition to that film, the others vying for the top spot are "La Petite Mort," "Snipe Hunters," "Faith," "God & Jesus Living in a City Apartment," "Reboot," "Love is in the Hair," "Fire Engine Red," "A Touch of Death," "Chime" and "Hey Kid."

FRIDAY 8/31

DC4L OLD SKOOL CONCERT

7 p.m. Riverfest Amphitheatre. $25.

The Delta Classic 4 Literacy was started by Dr. Fitz Hill, president of Arkansas Baptist College, when he was head football coach of the San Jose State Spartans. He moved the event to Little Rock, and since 2006, the DC4L has raised more than $55,000 for literacy programs and has brought in thousands of volunteer tutors, all of which has helped thousands of people across the state improve their reading, writing and English skills. The Old Skool Concert portion of this year's event includes funk giants Cameo, R&B quartet Dru Hill and New Jack Swing vets Troop. This year marks the seventh annual football matchup between HBCUs, with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff taking on Langston University. The weekend gets started at 6 p.m. with the Multi-Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame reception and awards ceremony at the Holiday Inn Presidential, followed by the concert at 7 p.m. Things get rolling Saturday morning with a parade at 9 a.m. that starts at Central High School. Tailgating starts at 9:30 a.m. at War Memorial Stadium, with the Delta Resource Center's Book Giveaway at 11 a.m. Kickoff time is 5 p.m. and after the game, there'll be a fifth-quarter battle of the bands.

FRIDAY 8/31

THICK SYRUP SUMMER COMP RELEASE SHOW

9 p.m. Stickyz. $5.

This here 18-and-older shindig is the release show for the Summer Comp 2012 from Thick Syrup Records, Travis McElroy's sonically adventurous indie label that has released a ton of stuff from a rogue's gallery of avant-garde legends, including Half Japanese, Chrome Cranks, To Live and Shave in L.A. and numerous projects from members of Sonic Youth. This latest comp has been released in a couple of formats. You can get the 26-track CD or a 61-track download, both of which offer an exhaustive array of Central Arkansas-made rock 'n' roll of damn near every flavor. I don't even have room to list all the artists included, but here are just a handful of highlights: Collin Butler's "Here I Am" is an awesome lo-fi nugget a la Guided by Voices; "Old Kids Know," 1:22 of early SST-style aggression from R.I.O.T.S.; "She Wears Leather" by Older Women, a blast of nervy garage pop; Color Club's "Femes" is a snarly, pulsing slice of what I'm gonna call hypno-wave; Adam Faucett's "Blood is Blood" is great, rollicking fare that swings like Crazy Horse. As I noted, these are only a few of the many, many excellent tunes on this thing. It's definitely one to pick up. Performing at the show are the country-psych blender known as The Frontier Circus (their positively violent take on the garage rock classic "You're Gonna Miss Me" is a must-hear), The See (check the triumphant "Bring it Back") and Ginsu Wives ("Tent Revival," from the comp, is sinister synth pop that comes off like Prince in a K-hole).

SATURDAY 9/1

SPIN OFF: BATTLE FOR THE RIVER

9 p.m. Revolution. Free for 21 and older, $5 for 18-20.

So the folks at Verizon Arena are bringing in Colorado-based DJ Pretty Lights for a show at Riverfest Amphitheatre on Sept. 26. When it came time to find an opening act, they thought a battle of the DJs might be an interesting way to go. Thus, Spin Off: Battle for the River, which will include five electronic artists squaring off to determine which one of them will get to open what will be one of the biggest electronic shows of the year. Full disclosure: the Times is a sponsor of this event and I'm going to be one of the judges. One of the artists had to drop out of the show, so the final lineup isn't settled, but here are the semi-finalists as of Tuesday's press deadline: Bass Munst3r, Doug Kramer, Dylan Dugger and Explicit.

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