MEMPHIS | If you’re like us, you’ve spent the past few months dreaming of sunshine, sandals and long days spent outside—basically, you’ve been counting down the days to the Beale Street Music Festival, which brings The Avett Brothers, John Fogerty, Lenny Kravitz, Ryan Adams and more to Memphis beginning May 1. Quell the impulse to just throw some SPF and sunnies in a bag and head that way—there are just a few more things about the weekend you’ll need to know before you go.
IN THE BAG
Avoid holding up festival-ground security lines, and know what you can and can’t take in. Each person is allowed one water receptacle (CamelBaks permitted) and even a small backpack—perfect for a blanket for lounging at the back of that Wilco show.
BE AN EARLY BIRD
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is skipping out on earlier billings, where you just might discover your next favorite earworm. Keep an eye out for Birmingham’s Shovels & Rope, as well as singer-songwriter Elle King—who happens to be comedian Rob Schneider’s daughter.
RAIN OR SHINE
Layer up. As Arkansans, we’re fluent in unpredictable weather. Tanks, sweatshirts, ponchos, SPF, rain boots and sandals—with straps, or you’ll risk losing them in mud—are all fair game, especially along the Mississippi River side of the stages, where it can get chilly at night. Layer up.
MAKE A PLAN
Grab a fest schedule and map when you enter the grounds—the official app is popular, but you’ll want to save precious smartphone juice for late-night Ubers. You can leave the festival only once per day, and note the last-entrance times at each gate—you didn’t come all this way to miss Ed Sheeran.
KEEP YOUR COOL
Sure, you might end up behind someone very tall at your favorite show, and yes, it’ll probably rain only if you forget your poncho. But take the setbacks in stride, and remember that you and hundreds of thousands of others are here for the same reason: the music.
BENTONVILLE | Much as we enjoy scribbling the film fest’s acronym in our notes—BFF!—the name really doesn’t give the Bentonville Film Festival anywhere near the justice it merits. It doesn’t suggest the star power scheduled to attend—Robert DeNiro, Soledad O’Brien and Rosie O’Donnell, among others. Or the patchwork of venues spread across the city (and on into Rogers) set to screen some 75 films that range from indie films to feature-length studio premieres. But most of all, it doesn’t cover the inaugural festival’s purpose of broadening the lens to encompass casts and crews more representative of the general population—to say nothing of the fact that every submission had to meet certain guidelines of diversity. But of course, the lesson here is that it’s always important to question the face value of what’s offered. (bentonvillefilmfestival.com)
LITTLE ROCK | Honestly, if you can avoid it, we’d recommend veering clear of the Greek Food Festival’s website around lunchtime. Or at breakfast. Or ever. Because given the dishes featured and pictured—including, swoon, chocolate baklava—to promote what’s roundly touted as the largest ethnic festival in the state, it’ll be tough to stomach even a second’s wait. (greekfoodfest.com)
LITTLE ROCK | You’ve probably heard the woeful, wistful eponymous first single off The Lone Bellow’s sophomore album, Then Came the Morning, released in January, and if you didn’t know better, you’d think that sound was bred right here in the South. But the trio behind that soulful mix of folk, rock, Americana and country hails from Brooklyn, and they make a stop in Little Rock en route to Gulf Shores, Alabama, for the Hangout Music Festival. (revroom.com)
HOT SPRINGS | Last year, the pretzel necklaces went quickly. As did the armbands. As did the water. Mostly owing to the 700-odd people who’d shown up at the doors—which, considering organizer Rob Pratt had been concerned he’d thrown a party for himself (advance ticket sales had failed to top even a hundred), wasn’t so bad of a turnout. This year, however, with 90 breweries from across the country—with a handful of VIP entries tapping some very special pours, including Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout, Dogfish Head Noble Rot Ale and Victory Brewing HopDevil Ale—a couple pallets of water and a thousand pretzel necklaces, Pratt says he’s ready. (hscraftbeerfest.com)
May 1-3: The 34th Annual Toad Suck Daze in Conway
May 2: The 11th annual Syllamo’s Revenge Mountain Bike Challenge near Mountain View
May 3: Chicago at the Walmart AMP in Rogers
May 5: Hurray for the Riff Raff at South on Main in Little Rock
May 6-10: Disney on Ice: Worlds of Fantasy at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock
May 8: Feufollet at Stickyz in Little Rock
May 11-17: The Ninth Annual Little Rock Film Festival
May 14: Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Baroque by Candelight at Trinty Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock
May 15-16: The 27th Annual Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-Off in Magnolia
May 16: The 10th Annual Stueart Pennington Running of the Tubs in Hot Springs
May 16: The Steve Miller Band at the Walmart AMP in Rogers
May 16-Sept. 14: American Encounters: The Simple Pleasures of Still Life at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville
May 19: The Dave Matthews Band at the Walmart AMP in Rogers
May 22-24: Riverfest 2015 in Little Rock