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Preview: Arkansas Times: Entertainment

Entertainment, Arkansas Times

Daily Arkansas news, politics and entertainment. Featuring the state's most trusted blog, dining guides and dining reviews, movie times and more.

Published: Tue, 24 Apr 2018 00:00:01 -0500

Last Build Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2018 14:00:00 -0500

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Ian Moore returns to White Water Tavern

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

Also, Jamie Lou & The Hullabaloo, winners of the 2018 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, perform at Blue Canoe Brewing Warehouse THURSDAY 4/19 Guitarist and songwriter Ian Moore returns to the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m., $10. Stoney LaRue takes the stage at the Rev Room, 8:30 p.m., $15-$20. The Arkansas Travelers face off against the Springfield Cardinals, 7:10 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 6:10 p.m. Sat., 2:10 p.m. Sun., Dickey-Stephens Ballpark, $7-$13. (Or catch them playing the Tulsa Drillers 7:10 p.m. Mon., 11 a.m. Tue., 7:10 p.m. Wed.-Thu.) Rita Coburn Whack, Genine Latrice Perez and the Celebrate! Maya Project honor the legacy of Maya Angelou with a luncheon in the Clinton Presidential Center's Great Hall, 11:30 a.m., $90. "Disney on Ice: Reach for the Stars" kicks off at Verizon Arena, 7 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., $16-$61. Comedian and actor Brian Scolaro goes for laughs at The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $8-$12. Hendrix College hosts Arkie Pub Trivia at Stone's Throw Brewing, 6:30 p.m., free. Lance Daniels plays for happy hour at Cajun's Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, or come later for Roxy Roca, 9 p.m., $5. FRIDAY 4/20 Jamie Lou & The Hullabaloo, winners of the 2018 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, perform at Blue Canoe Brewing Warehouse, 8 p.m., $5. Genine LaTrice Perez & The Sound present a concert, "You Ain't Heard the B-Side Yet," at South on Main, 10 p.m., $15-$20. Gear up for that by catching the jazz ensembles from local schools and colleges at the Riverfront Park pavilions for the Arkansas Jazz Festival, 4 p.m. Fri., 9 a.m. Sat., free. Catch Jet 420 on the band's namesake day at Thirst N' Howl Bar & Grill, 8:30 p.m., $5. I Was Afraid, Black Horse and Witchsister share a bill at Maxine's, 9 p.m. Richie Johnson kicks off the weekend with a set at Cajun's, 5:30 p.m., free, and later, Tragikly White takes the stage, 9 p.m., $5. Amy Garland Angel and Nick Devlin join Ten Penny Gypsy at Unity of Little Rock, 2610 Reservoir Rd., as part of the "Sounds of Unity" concert series, 7 p.m., $10. Four Quarter Bar celebrates 4/20 with a Lagunitas Party, 8 p.m., and music from Aaron Kamm & The One Drops, 10 p.m., $10. Heavy blues trio Greasy Tree shares a bill with Hoodoo Blues Revue at Stickyz, 7 p.m., $5. Steamboat Bandits take the stage at Kings Live Music in Conway, 8:30 p.m., $5. SATURDAY 4/21 Kim Sanders of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies gives a talk, "The American Dream Deferred: Japanese-American Incarceration in World War II Arkansas," 2 p.m., Faulkner County Library, Conway. Drag queen and cannabis activist Laganga Estranga lands at Sway, 9 p.m. Folk duo Native Harrow channels Laurel Canyon with a set at South on Main, 9 p.m., $10. Low Key Arts in Hot Springs hosts the Altercation Punk Comedy Tour, 8 p.m., $10. Love and A Revolver takes the stage at Four Quarter Bar, 10 p.m., $7. Intruders play Thirst N' Howl, 8:30 p.m., $5. Listen Sister, Collin vs. Adam and Polly's Pockets share a bill at White Water Tavern, 9 p.m. Over at the Rev Room, Corey Smith performs, with an opening set from George Shingleton, 8:30 p.m., $20-$25. Rustenhaven performs at Cajun's, 9 p.m., $5. The Big Catch, a community fishing event, kicks off at 9 a.m. at MacArthur Park, free, register at Acclaimed pianist Lee Tomboulian gives a concert at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 7 p.m., $15. Ronnie Heart, North X North and Landrest share a bill at Maxine's, 9 p.m. SUNDAY 4/22 Folk icon and Arkansas native Iris Dement follows up her appearance at Oxford American's "True Grit" festivities with a performance at South on Main, 7 p.m. The Loony Bin hosts "Just Jokes," a special Sunday show with Steve Brown, Moufpiece and J. Jones, 6 p.m., $29-$39. MONDAY 4/23 The Kaleidoscope Film Festival hosts dinner, rooftop drinks and a show for its annual fundraiser, "An Evening with Paul Sand," 7 p.m. The Joint, $100. Songwriter, performer and "recovering attorney" Lucas Jack gives an intimate concert at Heights Corner Market, 7 p.m. TU[...]

Brad Paisley & Co. at Verizon Arena

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

It was a 'hell of a night.' Brad Paisley switches guitars more than his friend and perennial Country Music Association awards co-host Carrie Underwood changes outfits during a concert. Maybe twice as much. And that's, um, saying a lot. We stopped counting somewhere around 20 times. No problem, though. When you can play a guitar with the finesse he does, go for it. He is almost as well known for his picking as for his singing. And fortunately for the 5,665 fans in attendance for the Central Arkansas stop of his "Weekend Warrior" World Tour on April 12 at Verizon Arena, he did a lot of both. The show, which also featured Dustin Lynch, Chase Bryant and Lindsay Ell, provided a great time and terrific music. Paisley has so many songs that can put you in a good mood, it's really kind of hard to pick a favorite. But the clever "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)" has to be up near the top. I smile every time I hear it, and I think that was true of most of the concertgoers, almost all of whom sang along to that one. It's classic Paisley. "Mud on the Tires," "Ticks," "Celebrity," "Online" and "I'm Still a Guy" all have to be near the top of the list as well. They're songs he'll probably need to always include in concerts no matter how many more years he performs. He brought Lynch out to sing along on "I'm Still a Guy," and the two of them hammed it up on the hit about ladies trying to make their men more respectable. Likewise, he teamed with Bryant on a revved-up "American Saturday Night," the song that celebrates the American melting pot. And he didn't leave Ell out, bringing her out for a guitar-playing showdown as he finished "She's Everything." He's had a lot of songs featuring outstanding lyrics, but he's also happy to let his guitar do the talking — flawlessly — amid many of his songs with some incredible note-bending action on one of his many colorful guitars. And as energetically as ever. Because we prefer our country music to sound like country music, it's a pleasure to hear the fiddle and steel guitar during Paisley's shows, and it's appropriate that one of his numbers is "This Is Country Music." Along the way, he teased the crowd with a number of Razorback-related lines. "It's great to be with all you fightin' pigs," he told the crowd. "This is the only state I can say that in and not make people really mad." And, after bragging on some great barbecue he'd had the last time he played Central Arkansas, "You're probably the only college team that eats its mascot." Even in a long, impressive set of hits, you know Paisley's gonna save room for "Alcohol," which he used as his encore. Like so many of his hits, it contains more than a little truth as well as plenty of funny lines. The rousing version Thursday night with Lynch, Bryant and Ell was a fitting end to a grand, good-time show. Paisley's playlist is so big and so recognizable that he can't work everything in. We were expecting "Whiskey Lullaby," but he didn't include it this time around. We consider that heartbreaker to be one of the best country songs ever, but leaving it out of this show still didn't leave us feeling let down. This was maybe the fourth time we've seen him in concert, and we've come to realize that he never disappoints. Paisley is witty and clever and self-deprecating, but he's also an accomplished, skillful entertainer. That was all evident Thursday evening. Lynch, who can give Luke Bryan a run for his money in the tight-fittin' jeans category, gave a pretty good clue about his engaging nine-song set when he started out with "Hell of a Night." In a performance that was over all too soon, he also delighted with "Small Town Boy," "Seein' Red" and the heartfelt "Cowboys and Angels" — inspired by his grandparents — with lines like "I've got boots and she's got wings, I'm hell on wheels and she's heavenly." Bryant's big, powerful voice serves him well, outshining even his hip hairstyle for which he took some good-natured ribbing from [...]


Thu, 19 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

Dave Van Horn has had some fine baseball squads in his tenure as Arkansas's head coach. He took over for the well-regarded Norm DeBriyn in 2003, had his overachieving bunch in Omaha the next spring, and then took the Diamond Hogs back to college baseball's Valhalla three more times over a seven-season span from 2009 to 2015. But what happened in 2016 might well have proved his genuine value to the athletic program at large. Dave Van Horn has had some fine baseball squads in his tenure as Arkansas's head coach. He took over for the well-regarded Norm DeBriyn in 2003, had his overachieving bunch in Omaha the next spring, and then took the Diamond Hogs back to college baseball's Valhalla three more times over a seven-season span from 2009 to 2015. But what happened in 2016 might well have proved his genuine value to the athletic program at large. That squad, fleeced of its most experienced pitching from the tremendously accomplished team the year before, ended up under .500 overall and had an unthinkably bad stretch to end the season. With the program's first-ever Golden Spikes winner, Andrew Benintendi, leaving for MLB riches after 2015, the offense had no catalyst and the staff was bereft of depth. After beating second-ranked Texas A&M on the last day of April to open a pivotal conference series, the Hogs promptly lost their final 12 games and not only fell out of contention for another NCAA tourney berth, but posted the school's worst showing in SEC play (7-23) by a long margin. At times in late May, with the whole campaign sort of drifting away, the fielders got sloppy and lazy and the hitters looked very much like they were checking out for summer vacation. It was startling to watch. And Van Horn, it seems, was appropriately angered by it all. The only losing, non-tourney team of his entire 16-year tenure now seems like such a distant memory. In 101 games since, Arkansas has posted 72 wins, the kind of clip that isn't seen often in the rough-and-tumble SEC. The 2017 team battled its way to the conference tournament finals after a stellar second-place finish in the West Division, and the 2018 team, proudly featuring a bunch of seasoned guys who weathered that awful torrent from two years ago, is trying to eclipse that success. Halfway through an SEC slate that is even nastier than usual — Arkansas's first five conference foes included four Top 15 teams and a South Carolina program that is just a tick or two below the talent level that the Gamecocks have customarily had — the Hogs are a robust, division-leading 10-5. Most impressively, four of those five SEC losses were of the agonizing one-run variety, so this is a team that, with a few less miscues afield and a bit more ability to deliver clutch hits, could easily be 14-1 in league play. This is against the likes of, mind you, Kentucky, Florida, Ole Miss, Auburn and South Carolina. Collegiate baseball is a lot harder to project now than most sports because its unusual but effective draft eligibility rules have allowed teams like Arkansas to bolster themselves even after bad years like the one that happened in 2016. Among the Hogs' top hitters this season, you have the likes of Carson Shaddy (nine homers and a robust .368 average, both team-leading stats) and Luke Bonfield, who suffered through that miserable campaign and undoubtedly remember what it felt like to watch the season slip away hopelessly in the final month. Shaddy was also the leading hitter on that squad, and the Fayetteville native has been a steady cog again for a lineup that now has considerably more depth than it did even last fall. The Hogs' undisputed ace on the hill, Blaine Knight, was a wiry freshman on the 2016 team who made 18 appearances, but only seven starts. Despite all the woes, Knight was one of the steadiest arms in the rotation by the end of the year and ended up being the only Razorback pitcher with more than 20 innings pitched to post a sub-3.00 earned-run avera[...]

Ozark Foothills Film Fest returns

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

And much more. THURSDAY-SATURDAY 4/19-4/21, FRIDAY-SATURDAY 4/27-4/28 OZARK FOOTHILLS FILMFEST Various times. Melba Theater, University of Arkansas Community College, Batesville. $3-$30. Once a year, film nerds have a good reason to set their phone's GPS to Independence County, where for 17 years the folks at the Ozark Foothills FilmFest have been bringing groundbreaking cinema to Batesville, of all places. Highlights include the "Reel Rural" focus of the festival with screenings of films that depict small town life: Cheryl Nichols' "Cortez," Nick Citton's "My Good Man's Gone," Arturo Perez Torres' "The Drawer Boy" and Jamie Sisley's "Farewell Ferris Wheel," all of which screen Saturday and are introduced with a panel discussion that morning with the four filmmakers. To open the festival, the Lyon College Jazz Band will play an original score to accompany the 1925 silent film "The Lost World." The film, a byproduct of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's paleontology phase that pits humanoids against dinosaurs in a remote part of the Amazon, will be screened opening night in the historic (and now, beautifully restored) Melba Theater. Forty-five films will be screened overall, many of them Arkansas premieres, and they're scheduled in blocks with their genre fellows: Arkansas shorts, documentary shorts, international animation, etc. Even better, they're priced by the block at $3-$7 with some free events mixed in, making this one of the more affordable film fests in the country ($30 gets you the "Red Eye" all-movie pass). Check it out at SS THURSDAY 4/19 #METOO: TRUE STORIES OF SEXUAL ASSAULT 7 p.m. CALS Ron Robinson Theater. $10-$25. Here's the thing about the #metoo movement: Even if you're not sure where you stand, even if you understand that Harvey Weinstein was 100 percent a predatory monster but aren't so sure how you feel about, say, Aziz Ansari, even if you have your own story but aren't sure where it fits into the "movement": Listening is always a good move. Always. To that end, and in the spirit of giving "other survivors the courage to step forward and join us as we move to end sexual violence in our country," as this event's press release reads, storytelling project The Yarn is partnering with ACASA — the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault — for an evening of true sexual assault stories and a show of support for those brave enough to stand up in front of a crowd and tell them. Get tickets at, where you can choose between $10 general admission or, if your pocketbook can swing a donation, a $25 ticket. SS THURSDAY 4/19 ED GERHARD 7:30 p.m. The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse. $25. In an oral history project for the not-for-profit National Association of Music Merchants, Ed Gerhard describes how, in Lansdale, Pa., in 1970, he'd followed the inspiration he felt seeing Andres Segovia on TV and sought out classical guitar lessons at a music store. There he was stuck with what he called "drudgery," playing one note at a time, on "tunes that you would never hear outside of a music store." Fortunately, he had the good sense to quit after three lessons and delight himself with "Alice's Restaurant" and some Mississippi John Hurt, and now he's widely considered one of the finest acoustic guitarists in the world. The acoustic Weissenborn he strums — his long, silver hair hanging just above — looks like an instrument that'd be featured on the body of an ancient Greek amphora; wooden neck and body are one continuous form, and it's played lap-steel style. Whether it's because of his heralded tone, his approachable demeanor or his tendency to pull tricks like wrappin[...]

As the Hogs turn

Thu, 12 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

The three major men's sports on the University of Arkansas campus recently made waves for myriad reasons. We'll start on a low note, which unsurprisingly is the one that emanated from a basketball program that's practically besotted with turbulence after a sketchy close-out of 2017-18. The three major men's sports on the University of Arkansas campus recently made waves for myriad reasons. We'll start on a low note, which unsurprisingly is the one that emanated from a basketball program that's practically besotted with turbulence after a sketchy close-out of 2017-18. No sooner than freshman wunderkind Dan Gafford has affirmed his intent to return for a sophomore season via social media did rumors begin to swirl about two of the Hogs' other expected returnees. The message boards were alive with speculative-seeming posts about Darious Hall and C.J. Jones departing for other programs, and it was a puzzler, to be sure: Why would two guys, particularly a Little Rock product like Hall, think of bolting when they'd assuredly play a major role next season, given the departures of six seniors? The rumblings died a bit and then exploded when Mike Anderson confirmed the two swingmen were indeed headed to new locations undisclosed. As is typical of the online rumor mill, there was unsubstantiated but healthy conversation about Hall wanting to take his athletic frame to Memphis to play for the Tigers' new coach — and onetime NBA star-turned-high school coach — Penny Hardaway. The jury's out on what Birmingham, Ala., product Jones, who played sparingly as a freshman before becoming a more-or-less everyday bench producer as a soph, will end up doing. Ultimately, the venom directed toward these young men by some will look silly. While players commonly transfer from program to program, it's a little unsettling to see two guys with bright futures leave so quickly. You may recall that when Nolan Richardson secured Chris Jeffries from the West Coast roughly 20 years ago, he left after a promising freshman season to get closer to home at Fresno State, where he eventually parlayed an all-conference season into a spot at the back end of the first round of the 2002 NBA Draft. Jones maybe wasn't all too comfortable being a spot scorer in Anderson's offense, but Hall's departure after one encouraging if erratic season is mind-boggling. And it only casts another cloud over the terminus of the Hogs' Jekyll-and-Hyde 2017-18 season and the onset of the following one. The news on the gridiron is, for a change, better. Nasty conditions kept many fans away from War Memorial Stadium for the first Red-White game in that venue in 30 years, but those who shook off the crappy weather for a couple of hours were treated to what Chad Morris' staff promises to bring. Six quarterbacks played, and while none of them showed great accuracy, it was evident that Ty Storey and Cole Kelley may end up competing for the starting job given how much field time the former actually saw. Once deemed a bright prospect who became a bit of an afterthought, Storey was a modest 7-for-14 throwing it, but seemed pretty comfortable at the helm of the two-back offense and fired a 53-yard score to tight end Cheyenne O'Grady, who himself craves a redemption year after struggling to be a consistent weapon in his sophomore campaign. Kelley was capable enough, 10-for-19 with a pretty scoring toss to LaMichael Pettway, but the really encouraging part of the scrimmage was the tailback rhythm that developed with returning starter Devwah Whaley, who appeared a bit lighter and a lot quicker en route to a game-high 62 yards on the ground for the White. Maleek Williams, who appeared set to contribute last fall but was thankfully able to redshirt when grad transfer David Williams (no relation) shined in his lone year after coming over from South Carolina, also made an impression with 61 yards on the ground and a short tou[...]

Sean Fresh comes to Ron Robinson

Thu, 12 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

Also, Shooter Jennings comes to Stickyz. THURSDAY 4/12 Lenny Schmidt goes for laughs at The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $8-$12. Country superstar Brad Paisley lands at Verizon Arena, 7 p.m., $20-$100. Travis Meadows plays an intimate show at the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m. Acclaimed champions of new music The Debussy Trio perform at Christ Episcopal Church, 7 p.m., $15. Mike Frazier, Nathan Perry and William Blackart share a bill at Vino's, 8 p.m., $8. Maxine's in Hot Springs hosts a rock show from Austin-based Peyote Coyote and San Antonio's Holy Knives, 9 p.m. Also in Hot Springs: Don Marchand joins the Clyde Pound Trio at The Ohio Club, 7 p.m., and "Talk Nerdy to Me" focuses on communication and science, 5 p.m., Mid-America Science Museum. Andy Tanas kicks off the evening with a happy hour set at Cajun's Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, or come after dinner for a set from Mayday By Midnight, 9 p.m., $5. FRIDAY 4/13 Sean Fresh & The NastyFresh Crew take the stage at the Ron Robinson Theater, 7 p.m., $10. Dickey-Stephens Park hosts Food & Foam Fest, with over 400 varieties of craft beer and wine, 6 p.m., $20-$65. Afterward, head to Four Quarter Bar for a set from Weakness for Blondes, 10 p.m., $7. Recognizer and Sabine Valley share a bill at Blue Canoe Brewing Warehouse, 1637 E. 15th St., 8:30 p.m., $5. Randall Shreve plays a set at Kings Live Music in Conway, with Amber Wilcox, 8:30 p.m., $5. Mollie O'Brien and Rich Moore duet at Hibernia Irish Tavern for a concert from the Little Rock Folk Club, 7:30 p.m., $20. That 1 Guy blends music with invention in a one-man show at South on Main, 9 p.m., $12. The Canvas People, The Dull Drums and Notice to Quit share a bill at Maxine's, 9 p.m., $5. Grayslake, Ill., rockers Sworn In join locals Levels, All Is At An End, Past Comfort and Jonesboro's Abimael for a show at Vino's, 8 p.m., $13-$15. Mayday by Midnight performs at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming's Silks Bar & Grill, 10 p.m.; The Pink Piano Show at the casino's Pops Lounge is at 5 p.m. Keep Derby weekend celebrations going with Earl N' Them at The Big Chill, 8 p.m. Elsewhere in Hot Springs, poets Kai Coggin, Jessica Key and Crystal C. Mercer read from their work for "Poet Women of Color Speak," 6 p.m., Landmark Building, 201 Market St. Nuthin' Fancy takes the stage at Thirst N' Howl Bar & Grill, 8:30 p.m., $5. SATURDAY 4/14 DJ Wick-It the Instigator drops the bass for "Exclusive" and other EDM riffs, 9 p.m., $10-$13. If you're still looking to dance afterward, Dominique Sanchez, Chloe Jacobs, Chichi Valdez and Alura O'Shaunacy take the stage at Discovery Nightclub, 9 p.m., show at 12:30 a.m., $10. Songwriter Mark Currey, poet Justin Booth and special guests perform at Dizzy's Gypsy Bistro, 10 p.m. The Creek Rocks channel traditional Ozark folk songs at the White Water, 9 p.m. Fox 16 anchor Donna Terrell's Yoga Warriors Fighting Colon Cancer event begins at the DoubleTree Hotel, 10 a.m., donations. Jaimee and Ron Jensen-McDaniel entertain at Round Mountain Coffee in Conway for "A Taste of Spring," a benefit for the Arkansas Chamber Singers, 6:30 p.m., $50. Or, catch the Jensen-McDaniels with their band CosmOcean at Kings Live Music, 8:30 p.m., $5. Liquid Kitty performs at Thirst N' Howl Bar & Grill, 8:30 p.m., $5. Canvas plays a happy hour set at Cajun's, 5:30 p.m., free, and later, soul siren Charlotte Taylor takes the stage, 9 p.m., $5. SUNDAY 4/15 Video game creator, genre-pusher and country music heir Shooter Jennings lands at Stickyz, 7 p.m., $20-$25. ArkansasStaged puts on Nassim Soleimanpour's experimental play "White Rabbit Red Rabbit" at 21C Museum Hotel, Bentonville, 7 p.m., $5 suggested donation. River City Men's Chorus hosts "The Beat Goes On: A Musical Tribute to the '60s" at Second Presbyterian Church, 3 p.m. TUESDAY 4/17 Members of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra follow up "Beethoven and Blue Jeans"[...]

'Isle of Dogs' unmistakably Wes Anderson

Thu, 12 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

(image) The actors deliver their lines drolly, portioning out emotions in pinches rather than with scoops. The stories flirt with magical realism.

It's easy enough to spot a Wes Anderson movie, be it live or stop-motion. The sets are finely embroidered in fanciful colors and styles. The actors deliver their lines drolly, portioning out emotions in pinches rather than with scoops. The stories flirt with magical realism. And generally, Alexandre Desplat will write original music that will be nominated for an Oscar.

Something about Anderson's style — instantly recognizable, unerringly precise — turns off Academy voters; he has been nominated just once, and lost, for directing. Perhaps it is because he tends to dim his performers, or perhaps it's because his tone and plots lean twee. Either way, his work translates with surprising ease into stop-motion animation, with a recognizability that only Tim Burton, among his coevals, seems to match. In 2009, it was "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," a rich, wry animal crime drama. In 2018, it's "Isle of Dogs," by a slim margin the longest stop-motion movie in history, and likely Anderson's most political and surrealistic film to date. It also has to be considered among his most gorgeous, a fiercely competitive category indeed.

One reason: Everything has to be created from scratch in this miniature world, set in the fictional Japanese metropolis of Megasaki City. There, a generations-old feud between the ruling dynasty (which loves cats) and the city's many flu-stricken dogs has come to a dark end. The mayor decrees that all dogs will be excommunicated to an island of trash, starting with his own family dog, Spots (voiced by Liev Schreiber). Months of deportations follow. Then one day a tight pack — voiced by Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban and Edward Norton — notice a small plane fall out of the sky. The little pilot, as they come to call him, turns out to be the 12-or-so-year-old ward of the mayor, come to try to track down his dog and get him back to the mainland.

Naturally, this being a Wes Anderson film, it all goes deeper: Scientists try to develop a serum only to have tragedy befall them; robot-drone dogs become tools of the state; student reporters and hackers are on the case of the whole tangle. Listen and you'll recognize other voices: Frances McDormand as a translator; Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham and Tilda Swinton as other dogs; Yoko Ono as a character named Yoko-ono; and Scarlett Johansson as a wayward show dog who captures the heart of Cranston's roguish stray. It's in a line of her dialogue that you can hear what makes the entire film so particular: The actress audibly smiles as she tries to convince the stray to help the little pilot, yet the miniature dog on-screen keeps her face expressionless. Anderson's dialogue lends itself to the deadpan, and it's only when someone hops those rails that you can see why his style translates so seamlessly into a realm populated by tiny puppet animals whose every microexpression has to be placed on it deliberately by other human hands.

The whole movie, in fact, is so tightly woven that to pull it apart into strands is virtually impossible. It skews to darker shades as our ragtag band of diseased and injured heroes traverse a land of garbage. It will enthrall you with every set, every visual detail (and, yep, with lush Japanese drumming, courtesy of Desplat). And, if you love a dog, or several dogs, it will have you celebrating the thoughts of your dog. The heroic little pilot is just one, after all, of so many good boys in this film.

Good ol' boys

Thu, 12 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

Joshua Brinlee examines masculinity in the South. By Stephanie Smittle We are all born with a body, and for most of us, it isn't too long afterward that expectations arise about what kind of person we will become, many of which are a direct consequence of what box gets checked on that birth certificate next to "sex." Those expectations tend to narrow as we grow older, taking on all the nuances of culture, family and — as anyone raised in the South can confirm — geography. In his latest collection, "Masculine Projections," artist Joshua Brinlee puts his own face and body at the center of Southern archetypal images of virility and dominance. In "Self Portrait as Provider," Brinlee's face peers earnestly out from under a white cowboy hat, with a torso clad in camouflage and an extended right hand that offers a freshly caught fish, its mouth gaping open. In another, "Self Portrait as Good Ol' Boys," Brinlee's baseball cap is turned backward, his shirtless torso concealing most of a Confederate flag on the wall behind him. The images share a disjointed "cutout" effect, distancing the subject from its original silhouette. Brinlee explains in the artist statement accompanying the show: "As a man who doesn't prescribe to the heteronormative societal expectations of Southern masculinity, I utilize my body as the screen and subject. My attempt to 'fit in' to these types is a performative illusion. Areas of the projections are unaligned, pixelated and disproportionate, while other areas blend perfectly with the appropriated imagery." The imperfectly superimposed images are symbolic, for Brinlee, of "a struggle to conform to traditional notions of masculinity, while at the same time attempting to reject them." "Masculine Projections" is on display at UA Little Rock's Windgate Center of Art + Design through April 27, and Brinlee visits Little Rock to discuss the work at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 12, in Windgate Center Room 101. Ahead of that talk, Brinlee and I caught up via email about the collection and what inspired it. You grew up in Louisiana and Tennessee, and now work in Mississippi, yes? Perhaps it's because I, like you, grew up in the South, but when I see these images, I think, "I know that guy." Did you have specific people in mind as you worked? Yes. I moved from Morgan City, La., to Franklin, Tenn., in the third grade. I work in the art and art history department at the University of Mississippi, where I also serve as the foundations coordinator. I currently live in Memphis with my partner of 18 years. These were the men I was expected to become. They were my brother, friends, strangers, relatives, enemies and lovers. Most of the images reference a particular experience I had in my past. Some of the experiences were good, some were bad. I think the familiarity comes from the conformity found in Southern masculinity. To be part of the "Boys Club," you have to be one of the boys. I think what's so intriguing about these images is their immediate, visceral relevance to this moment. There's a lot of conversation — some peripheral to the #metoo movement, some peripheral to conversations around gun violence — about the ways in which masculinity can be aligned with political and social systems that perpetuate sexism and inequality. Are those types of conversations what sparked this idea for you, or did it come from somewhere totally different? Yes, you hit the nail on the head! I started this series at the end of 2015. The conversations that you mention are the same conversations that I have had with myself most of my life. I think we have all had these conversations, or at least I hope we have. It's only now, in this moment, that they[...]

'Intersections' comes to Fayetteville

Thu, 12 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

And much more. THROUGH 5/2 'INTERSECTIONS' Various times. Stage Eighteen (18 E. Center St.) and Fenix (16 W. Center St.), Fayetteville. Free. Behind the proliferation of art enclaves in Northwest Arkansas are a bunch of talented, formidable women — and in front of them, for that matter. Exhibit A: this month-long series of events and performances under the umbrella of "Intersections," a collaboration between ArkansasStaged, a theater collective devoted to experiential (and experimental) performance in unique spaces; the Inverse Performance Art Festival; "Of Note" with Katy Henriksen, a two-hour classical music program on NPR affiliate KUAF-FM, 91.3; the Trillium Salon Series; the Fenix Fayetteville art collective; and Stage Eighteen, a downtown Fayetteville venue. Coming up: a panel on "intersectionality, identity and the arts" called "Lip Service," 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Stage Eighteen; a performance of Lauren Gunderson's "Natural Shocks" from ArkansasStaged, 7 p.m. Friday, April 20, at Fenix; a Comedy Showcase at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, at Stage Eighteen; the Inverse Performance Art Festival, 7 p.m. Sunday, April 29, at Fenix; and a performance of Sue Coppernoll's "An Old Woman Speaks" from ArkansasStaged, 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, at Stage Eighteen. Following a fundraising model of last year's "Nasty Women" exhibitions in Northwest Arkansas, partial proceeds from the programming and art sales benefit Brave Woman, a movement that partners with victims of domestic violence; and the Arkansas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. SS THROUGH SUNDAY 4/22 'ASSASSINS' 7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sun. The Weekend Theater. $16-$20. Given the difficulty of putting a Stephen Sondheim musical together, it's pretty remarkable that we have two of them running concurrently this weekend, and from around the same time in the composer's career; read on for details about Praeclara/Wildwood Park for the Arts' production of "Into the Woods." "Assassins," staged by The Weekend Theater, is a revue-style portrayal of nine men and women who carried out or attempted to carry out an assassination of a U.S. president. More broadly, it's about the fame-obsessed culture that got them to a murderer's psychology in the first place — fitting thematic territory for a theater whose credo is to reduce "prejudice, cruelty and indifference through quality live theater." John Hinckley, John Wilkes Booth, "Squeaky" Fromme et al. waft through a carnival atmosphere ("Shoot the President — Win a Prize!") laced with spooky calliope music, demented cakewalks, twisted versions of patriotic anthems and distant Sousa marches, chasing the sort of notoriety that we so clumsily grasp at understanding every time another incident of gun violence scrolls across the news ticker. SS THURSDAY 4/12 BIRDS OF CHICAGO 8 p.m. South on Main. $25-$34. If there is a balm for the cynic or an antidote for people who recoil from anything called "folk music," it's this music. Whether she's wielding a banjo or a clarinet or the French refrain to "Baton Rouge," Allison Russell conjures the sweetness, finesse and depth of predecessors several decades removed: Odetta, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joan Baez. The shared aesthetic betwee[...]

Spring hope

Thu, 05 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

Spring football always represents such a fresh veneer, but especially when a new coaching regime has been installed. Spring football always represents such a fresh veneer, but especially when a new coaching regime has been installed. It was hard to get jazzed about Bret Bielema's fifth, and ultimately final, season at the helm of Hog football. The 2016 team closed the year with two awful clunkers, and that altered the landscape for the erstwhile coach and his staff, an underperforming group that was as much his undoing as any other factor. Then Rawleigh Williams III, by far the Hogs' most viable returning source of offensive consistency and productivity, was shelved for good with another neck injury, and the rest of spring and summer had this lingering pall over it. No such case in 2018. I'm excited, dammit, and you should be too. Y'all can't take me off this delusional cloud of mine — not today, Satan! Seriously, Arkansas football is somewhat reborn with Chad Morris here, and that is not to besmirch Bielema for the many good things he did during a half-decade where wins and losses didn't quite tell the full tale of either his achievements or his downfall. This isn't blind optimism talking, mind you. Morris is a galvanizing sort, because of what he's accomplished but also what he represents: a change of pace, an air of swagger and a businesslike methodology to recruiting and program building. It's conventional to brand him as an "up-and-comer" but unlike some of the other possible candidates who were rumored to succeed Bielema, namely Memphis' Mike Norvell, he's veered past middle age and not just fueled by youthful exuberance. At Clemson, Morris simply overhauled the offense entirely and the results have been rather obvious. Since his departure, the Tigers' production has ticked downward ever so slightly and the Brent Venables-led defense has gotten stingier. Over four years as Dabo Swinney's offensive coordinator, the Tigers were a robust 42-11, and even when Morris left to take the reins at SMU, the after-effects of his tutelage were obvious. Clemson spent that four years not only being well-quarterbacked by the likes of Tahj Boyd, and then Cole Stoudt and a young phenom named DeShaun Watson, but their skill position depth was on par with the likes of Alabama. Wide receivers with size and speed were plentiful, and that's a philosophy that Morris carried down to Dallas in 2015 when he got the gig for the Mustangs. DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins became field-stretching superstars on the edge, parlaying that into NFL riches, and now there's a similarly equipped wideout named Courtland Sutton who is set to make a name for himself professionally after shining for SMU the past two seasons. The common thread among this trio of Morris-coached wideouts is that they are physical specimens in every conceivable way, all a shade over 200 pounds, over six feet, and lightning-quick out of their cuts and precise running routes. Arkansas fans thought that Bobby Petrino was going to bring all-world receiving talent to Fayetteville, but of the foursome that starred over his four-year run as head coach, none ended up making waves in the NFL. Greg Childs had uncooperative knees, sadly, as he was by far the most physically gifted of the bunch, and while Jarius Wright and Cobi Hamilton have shown flashes of productivity in the pros, Joe Adams fizzled out quickly. The difference in the Petrino system is that it prized the so-called possession receiver. Morris' philosophy seems to be that if there's a guy who bears a faint physical resemblance to Julio Jones out there, he's going to pursue him, sign him, and make him the centerpiece playmaker in an offense that still deploys two running backs the vast majority of the time. Right n[...]

Jamie Lou and the Hullabaloo play for the benefit of Lucie's Place

Thu, 05 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

Also, Dr. Norman Boehm performs works by Chopin, Delius, Schumann and Scriabin at Pulaski Tech. THURSDAY 4/5 Dr. Norman Boehm performs works by Chopin, Delius, Schumann and Scriabin on a rare 9-foot Kawai Shigeru concert grand piano, 7:30 p.m., Pulaski Technical College's Center for Humanities and Arts, free. #BlackLivesMatter founder Patrisse Cullors hosts "Malcolm Revisited," an interactive performance dedicated to Malcolm X, at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, 7 p.m., free. Comedian and author Gabriel Rutledge performs at The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $8-$12. Cara Brookins, a UA Little Rock alumna, domestic abuse survivor and author of "Rise, How a House Built a Family," gives a talk for Sexual Assault Awareness Month at the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall, UA Little Rock, 6 p.m., free. Galleries along Central Avenue are open 5-9 p.m. for the monthly Hot Springs Gallery Walk. Also in Hot Springs: Song, comedy, drag and striptease are on the stage at Maxine's for The Lewd Awakening Revue, 9:30 p.m., $10-$12. Or, if you're in Little Rock, catch Foul Play Cabaret at The Joint, 8 p.m., $10. Memphis Yahoos hold down the happy hour tunes at Cajun's Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, and check in later for a set from Canvas, 9 p.m., $5. FRIDAY 4/6 Jamie Lou and the Hullabaloo play for the benefit of Lucie's Place, 8:30 p.m., Kings Live Music, Conway, $5. Youth Home's annual "Eggshibition" fundraiser kicks off at 7 p.m., Jack Stephens Center, $60-$100, see for tickets. Buh Jones entertains for happy hour at Cajun's, 5:30 p.m., free; catch the Memphis Yahoos, 9 p.m., $5. Louisiana bluesman Tab Benoit charms at the Rev Room, 8 p.m., $25. Aaron Owens entertains at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming's Pops Lounge, 5 p.m. Fri.-Sat., and later, catch The Pink Piano Show at Silks Bar & Grill, 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Grave Digger, Midnight Rider, Scooby Doo and others get down in the mud for Monster Jam 18 at Verizon Arena, 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $13-$46. SATURDAY 4/7 Squelch, Dog Prison, Bete Noire, Shoe and No Remorse share a bill to benefit the Central Arkansas Free Naloxone project, 9 p.m., White Water Tavern, $7-$10 suggested donation. Ben Byers performs at Cajun's for happy hour, 5:30 p.m., free, and come after dinner for a set of reggae-tinged music from Butterfly & Irie Soul with special guests Tim Anthony, Johnny Burnette and Marquis Hunt, 9 p.m., $5. Lake Ouachita State Park hosts a six-hour Guided Kayak Day Adventure, $25, call 767-9366 to register. Rebel Kettle Brewing Co. celebrates its second anniversary with beer yoga, $5 brews and sets from Sad Daddy, The Nightliners and Drivin' n' Cryin', 11 a.m., free. Rock Town Roller Derby kicks off its season at the Arkansas Skatium with games at noon and 2 p.m., $10. The Deer perform at Four Quarter Bar, 10 p.m., $7. Actor Larenz Tate and FOX16 news anchor Donna Terrell host Designer's Choice Fashion Preview, Clear Channel Metroplex, 7:30 p.m., $40-$75, see for tickets. "Bluesboy Jag" Jagitsch and the Juke Joint Zombies perform at Grateful Head Pizza in Hot Springs, 8 p.m., free. The Blaggards take the stage at Hibernia Irish Tavern, 8 p.m., $10. New Orleans funk outfit Tyler Kinchen & The Right Pieces return to South on Main, 9 p.m., $10. Tulsa-based country star Jon Wolfe takes "Airport Kiss" and others to Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack, 8:30 p.m., $12-$15. SUNDAY 4/8 Musician Andrew Jansen (Loud Sun) leads "Experiencing the Inner Ear as Kinetic Sculpture," a workshop in in-depth listening at Low Key Arts, 1 p.m., donations. The fifth annual Pilgrimage for Peace starts at 2 p.m. at Heifer International, visit for details. Drop into Vino's Brewpub for CanvasCommunit[...]

It's a kinder, gentler God who's not dead this third time

Thu, 05 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

In "God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness." As Leonard Cohen once sang, "There is a war between the ones who say there is a war and the ones who say that there isn't." Like its predecessors, "God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness," the third movie in the "God's Not Dead" series, depicts the supposed "war against Christianity" at the center of white evangelical identity. You may have been unaware of this ongoing conflict, but apparently latte-drinking secularists, like the mythical Elders of Zion, hold fast to the motto: "We shall forbid Christ." Even here in Arkansas, a state whose Capitol grounds will soon feature a new Ten Commandments monument and whose political leaders regularly invoke the name of Jesus. Go figure. The battleground this time is St. James Church, located on the campus of Hadleigh University in "Hope Springs, Arkansas." The church has become a site of conflict between determined secularists who want it gone and good-hearted, doe-eyed Christians who just want to worship in peace. One night, a student chucks a brick through the basement window, breaking a gas line and producing a conflagration that kills Reverend Jude (Benjamin A. Onyango) and destroys the church. Seeing its opportunity, the university board exerts eminent domain to claim the land for its new student union. Pastor Dave Hill (David A.R. White, who also produces), a minor character in the previous two movies, takes the lead in trying to save his church, enlisting the help of his estranged, non-believing brother Pearce (John Corbett), a lawyer specializing in social justice work. "A Light in Darkness" is the second in the series to be filmed in Central Arkansas, and locals will recognize landmarks such as Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Doe's Eat Place, Philander Smith College, the Arkansas River Trail, Two Rivers Park and more. However, the film exhibits some sloppy inconsistencies between story and scenery. For one, the film is set in the fictional city of Hope Springs, which renders the Little Rock sign above the River Market pavilion, seen in one shot, an inconvenient presence. Too, the film employs the Robinson Center as a stand-in for a courthouse, but the establishing shot prominently features the name of the building engraved upon its face. Like Donald Trump, the Christianity at the heart of the "God's Not Dead" movies is obsessed with its representation in the media, and the story is constantly interrupted with characters watching news coverage of the events depicted, imbuing every plot twist with world historical significance. More than the other two movies in the "God's Not Dead" series, however, "A Light in Darkness" attempts to be an actual film. Unlike his predecessor, Harold Cronk, writer-director Michael Mason understands that film is a visual medium; occasionally, his characters actually stop talking, and the camera lingers gently upon them and their surroundings. Too, the story offers something more than just your uncle's Facebook rant about the persecution of Christians, lacking the unambiguous villains of previous installments who proudly proclaimed, "I hate God." Corbett's Pearce is an engaging and likable character, portrayed by someone giving the first genuinely good performance in the entire series. Indeed, Mason highlights how dualistic thinking by Christians themselves can drive from the fold people who have sincere questions about faith. Near the end, a young woman named Keaton (Samantha Boscarino) explains to Pastor Dave the reason why people of her generation are leaving Christianity behind: "Because the whole world knows what the church is against, but it is harder and harder to know what it stands for." Does this seeming engagement with the world re[...]

Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud market returns to War Memorial

Thu, 05 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

On April 14. Some 125 Arkansas artisans will return to War Memorial Stadium this April for the second annual Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud market, a festive day of discovery of handmade items, from food to furniture to fashion accessories. With vendors new and old, including the concessionaires, the event will celebrate the creative minds and hands of Arkansans. The market runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 14, on the field. Keith Sykes at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. will perform on a stage on the field, and the food tent will sell grilled brats, pretzels and soft drinks. Lubricating sales will be bloody Marys and screwdrivers made with vodka by Arkansas distiller Rock Town Distillery and beer from Arkansas brewer Diamond Bear. The event is a partnership of the Arkansas Times and War Memorial Stadium; Ben E. Keith and Edwards Food Giant are also sponsors. Admission is $5; children 5 and under are admitted free. Start early with a shot of caffeine from Fayetteville's Onyx Coffee Lab and begin your investigation of what Arkansas's creative class has to offer.Then check out the scene. Here is a sampling of what you'll find: ArkieStyle: Crafted in a laundry room on a four-color press, the hand-printed apparel of ArkieStyle is the perfect purchase for the vintage T-shirt fan. ArkieStyle shirts use water-based inks on a cotton blend and sport designs that scream Arkansas — Land of Opportunity, Natural State and the Fouke Monster! Bang-Up Betty: From necklaces stamped with "NOT TODAY SATAN" to stickers proclaiming "I Believe in Science" and "Frigid Bitch" can koozies, Stacy Bowers' hand-stamped humorous objects and salty threads are crafted with care in North Little Rock. Bang-Up Betty jewelry has been featured on Bustle, POPSUGAR and Buzzfeed, and for good reason: They're funny and feminist, making the buyer laugh and feel empowered in one fell swoop. Crooked House Herbals: Based in Hot Springs, this business specializes in handmade, organically grown products for healthy living. With beauty products (like facial cleansers, body scrubs and serums), pet care products (natural de-wormers, pet immune boosters and gum and teeth care) and children's products (nourishing baby oil, baby powder and lip balm), there will be something special for the whole family at this vendor's booth. Crooked House Herbals also has subscription packages for monthly deliveries right to your home. Evelyn & Osco: Now celebrating one year in the jewelry business, Evelyn & Osco creates handmade pieces ranging from funky, tiny-bead earrings to elegant, gold-chained necklaces with dangling stone pendants. With prices as low as $16, you can sport the latest fashion without taking a hit to your pocketbook. Fresh Mountain Soaps: Formerly Lady Eureka Boutique, Fresh Mountain now takes its handmade soaps, bath and body products on the road to markets such as Arkansas Made-Arkansas Proud, so you don't have to travel to Little Switzerland for soaps made with cherry almond and citrus cedar sage. Fresh Mountain Soaps' towel turbans make you feel like you just stepped out of the spa. Geri's Jams & Jellies: Using local and organic produce, Geri's features award-winning homemade jams, jellies and fruit butters made in small batches and stirred by hand. Island Butter, a combination of bananas, pineapple and coconut, is Geri's No. 1 bestseller. Honeysuckle Lane Cheese: This cheese-maker operates the only raw-milk cheese plant in all of Arkansas. Using Grade A raw milk produced by its Daley Dairy cows, the cheeses boast a creamy texture and rich flavor. Honeysu[...]

Travs return

Thu, 05 Apr 2018 01:00:00 -0500

And much more. THURSDAY 4/5 RASHOD OLLISON 7:30 p.m. College of Business Auditorium 107, University of Central Arkansas, Conway. Free. Rashod Ollison, writer and culture critic for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., grew up in Little Rock and Hot Springs, navigating his way through childhood and adolescence teased, as he says in an essay called "Gay Man in the Air: My Journey to Embracing a Special Part of Me," for being "so insular, artsy, for having 'too much sugar in [his] tank.' " Not only did he live to tell that tale long after he had applied a "laser-like focus on a path out of Arkansas," he told it through music in his 2016 memoir "Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age Through Vinyl." He recalls his parents' breakup, their subsequent move to Hot Springs and how he could identify his neighbors "by the music they played." He recalls disappearing into his father's old 45s and hearing Chaka Khan, thinking she sounded like "a woman who tamed lions in her backyard and kept a full moon somewhere in her purse." Ollison reads from his work as part of the UCA's Artists in Residence program, and a Q&A session and book-signing follows. SS THURSDAY 4/5-SATURDAY 4/7 ARKANSAS TRAVELERS VS. SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS 7:10 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 6:10 p.m. Sat. Dickey-Stephens Ballpark. $7-$13. Two weeks ago, legendary Arkansas catcher and manager Bill Dickey, the man to whom Yogi Berra said he owed "everything [he] did in baseball," was honored with a plaque bearing his name on the Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail. This week, the ballpark named for Dickey opens for the first Arkansas Travelers game of the season, one of three against the San Antonio Missions. Keep an eye out for outfielder Braden Bishop and relief pitcher Art Warren, two Travs who ended up among the top 10 picks on the Seattle Mariners' Top 30 Prospects List; the Travs are in their second year as the Mariners' Double-A affiliate. Come Friday night for a fireworks show after the game and to meet members of the Arkansas Razorbacks football team hanging out at the ballpark from 6:10 p.m. until the third inning. SS THURSDAY 4/5 DAVID FEHERTY 7:30 p.m. Robinson Center. $48-$172. David Feherty was a pretty good professional golfer from Northern Ireland blessed with a championship-level sense of humor. His dry wit and friendly way with his fellow pros on the European and PGA tours made it easy for him to transition from wielding a golf club to holding a microphone in the fairway and commenting for CBS' golf coverage starting in 1997. It's that job of offering perfectly timed wisecracks and other thoughtfully humorous observations that made Feherty a cult figure among golf aficionados and the casual fans, and it led to the creation of the Golf Channel prime-time show "Feherty" — a weekly hour-long, laid-back, one-on-one interview typically with big-name golfers, rich golf course owners (Donald Trump, before he became president) and retired politicians (Bill Clinton, Barack Obama). The Feherty style would include, for instance, serving as foil for Arkansas's own John Daly, lying on the ground and holding a tee between his teeth while trusting Daly to successful wallop a drive, and not Feherty's head, deep into the Yell County woods. Crazy? Maybe. Feherty, who along with doing his weekly show is an on-course analyst with the Golf Channel's owner, NBC, has taken his comedic (and not just golf) observations and stories on the[...]

Weedeater comes to White Water Tavern

Thu, 29 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

Also, "Orange Is the New White," a new play on politics from North Little Rock comedy troupe The Main Thing, opens at The Joint Theater. THURSDAY 3/29 Saxophonist Dave Williams II sits in with the Clyde Pound Trio at The Ohio Club in Hot Springs, 7 p.m. Christine Stedman counters #dadjokes with mom jokes at The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $8-$12. Urban Pioneers bring their "hillbilly swing" to the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m. Darrell Claypool & Illusion Allstars give a show at Cajun's Wharf, 9 p.m., $5. Deep Sequence takes its intricate arrangements and guitar virtuosity to Kings Live Music in Conway, 8 p.m., free. Four Quarter Bar hosts live music from the Matt Treadway Trio for ALS of Arkansas's Speakeasy Party fundraiser, with prohibition-style cocktails, a costume contest and a seance, 7 p.m., $10-$30. Museum of Discovery hosts "Pranks & Dranks" as part of its "Science After Dark" series, 6 p.m., $10. FRIDAY 3/30 "Orange Is the New White," a new play on politics from North Little Rock comedy troupe The Main Thing, opens at The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse, 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. through June 16, $24. Gianna Colucci hosts "Gaylien Invasion," a drag show at Sway, 9 p.m. Young Dolph and Key Glock team up for a hip-hop show at the Clear Channel Metroplex, 9 p.m., $35-$200. KDJE-FM, 100.3 "The Edge," hosts a show at the Rev Room from Red Sun Rising, 8 p.m., $15. Sad Daddy mashes up banjo with mountain harmonies and wit at White Water, 9 p.m., $10. Richie Johnson plays for happy hour at Cajun's Wharf, 5:30 p.m., free, and stick around after dinner for Jet 420, 9 p.m., $5. Ghost Town Blues Band performs at The Big Chill in Hot Springs, 9 p.m. DeFrance performs live in Dardanelle at the Front Street Grill, 9 p.m. Urban Pioneers reprise their country swing at Kings Live Music, with an opening set from John Severs, 8:30 p.m., $5. Guitar Is Dead, an aggro jazz project from guitarist Tristan Gianola, pairs up with The Federalis at Four Quarter Bar, 10 p.m., $7. River City Overdrive plays a set at JJ's Grill, 8:30 p.m. Find The Pink Piano Show in Pops Lounge, 5 p.m. Fri.-Sat., and Mister Lucky at Silks Bar & Grill, 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming. Surf rock revivalists Daikaiju take the stage at Smoke & Barrel Tavern in Fayetteville, 10 p.m., $7. Liquid Kitty takes the stage at West End Smokehouse, 10:30 p.m., $7. Jimmy Stigma, Depression Expression and Pancho Casanova share a show at The Sonic Temple, 8 p.m., $5. SATURDAY 3/31 Stoner rock pioneers Weedeater share a show with fellow North Carolinian heavy rockers Bask, with sets from Hyborian and Iron Tongue, White Water, 7:30 p.m., $15. Anti-Apartheid activist Dr. Allan Aubrey Boesak speaks at New Millennium Church, 3 p.m., free. "Le Girls," a new drag burlesque show, goes up at Discovery Nightclub, 9 p.m. Oaklawn hosts the $3,000 Arkansas Baggo Championship, 12:30 p.m. Blue Canoe Brewing Co. hosts a Beer Garden Party, noon, 1637 E. 15th St., followed by a danceable set from CosmOcean, 8 p.m., $5. Phillip Phillips, season 11 champion of television's "American Idol" competition, performs at Griffin Music Hall in El Dorado's Murphy Arts District, 7:30 p.m., $30-$160. Six Ten (610 Center St.) is home to the Human Rights Campaign's Big Queer and Trans Brunch, 11 a.m., $20, see for tickets. Pianist and songwriter Karen Jr. performs at Hibernia Irish Tavern with a full band, 8 p.m., free. Bill "Bluesboy Jag" Jagitsch plays a solo set at Cregeen's Irish Pub, 8 p.m., free. Chinese Connection Dub Embassy takes reggae vibes to Kings Live Music, with Joey Fanstar, 8:30 p.m., $5. Texarkana plays a free show[...]

Tough road

Thu, 29 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

It's a perfectly acceptable belief, one which I harbor only passively, that Arkansas will find sustained, meaningful success hard to come by as long as it resides in the Southeastern Conference. It's a perfectly acceptable belief, one which I harbor only passively, that Arkansas will find sustained, meaningful success hard to come by as long as it resides in the Southeastern Conference. We've had a quarter-century-plus to digest it all, and the various digits and metrics simply do not reek of deceit. The basketball team won a national title and went to the championship game the next season, within the first few years of the program being in the conference, but has substantially regressed in the two decades since. Our precious and treasured football team finally made it to a single BCS game during that bygone era (losing it in gut-wrenching fashion, natch) and has gotten steamrolled thrice in the SEC Championship Game while winning only lower-tier bowl games. The baseball team's got a sweet ledger to lean on, what with Dave Van Horn averaging a trip to Omaha every three seasons and also taking the team to the brink of the national title round twice (2009 and 2012), but of course a fellow SEC team knocked the Hogs out of the field both times they advanced that far. It is a rough, rough league, in all sports. Let's not pretend that those alleged down years of late in men's basketball really meant much, either — Kentucky was still a nationally elite, if inarguably reprehensible, program, and nontraditional comers like South Carolina and Texas A&M had tastes of deep postseason success in that purported low-water mark for the SEC. In fact, here's a jarring stat: Arkansas, Mississippi State and Georgia all made it as far as the Sweet 16 in 1996; since that time, the other 11 member institutions have all reached that round of the tournament (Missouri last did it as a Big 12 member), and that leaves the aforementioned trio in a three-way tie for the longest drought since getting to the regional semifinals in the tournament. And there's no question that Arkansas would identify itself as the "basketball school" among that trio, right? Mike Anderson was a proper, if sentimental, selection to take over after John Pelphrey left the program in a general state of ruin in 2011. He had the pedigree, the C.V., the love of the state, all of it — and he's just concluded his seventh season with this weird distinction of winning 64 percent of his games without really getting many Ws of consequence. After an ugly finish to a once-promising year, it's going to take a staff overhaul to convince me that Anderson has the chops and the gumption to take this program to heights that really aren't all that unreasonable to expect. The baseball program just had one of its fine swats of reality, too. Van Horn stacked up the nonconference schedule and the Hogs took a few losses, but started SEC play as beautifully as you possibly could, sweeping fourth-ranked Kentucky and outscoring the Wildcats 39-15 over the span of barely over 24 hours. The Hogs promptly delivered an opening-game win against second-ranked Florida to move to 4-0 in league play and have the fans itching for at least a series victory, if not another sweep, and a possible claim to the top spot in the collegiate baseball polls. That all went by the wayside Saturday when Hogs starting hurler Isaiah Campbell was ineffective early, and the Gators' healthy offense led by Jonathan India, Wil Dalton, and Deacon Liput got untracked big-time. The Gators mashed Campbell and three relievers to the tune of a 12-0 lead over the firs[...]

'Pacific Rim: Uprising' is looser, sillier

Thu, 29 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

Bring in the kaiju. Your friends are going to complain, correctly, that "Pacific Rim: Uprising" isn't as satisfying as the 2013 original. That lavish romp was a live-action paean to a rich genre of mostly Japanese cartoons of the '80s that pitted futuristic robot warriors, usually piloted by people, against invading space monsters called kaiju. In other words, it was totally rad on its face. Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnan and Charlie Day and Ron Perlman made the cast memorable enough; giant robots called jaegers beating the hell out of giant space monsters slurking up from a dimensional portal at the bottom of the ocean made it a satisfying popcorn movie for anyone above the age of about eight months, or whenever it is that babies figure out depth perception. The sequel loses most of the big stars and some of the daft world-building that made the first installment such a delight even when kaiju weren't melting Hong Kong, but it does add a hero in John Boyega that any "Star Wars" fan will appreciate. We pick up a decade after the first film, when a peaceful world has started to piece itself back together, and Boyega, a ne'er-do-well former pilot shirking his hero father's legacy, is mostly scavenging/thieving parts from decommissioned jaegers to maintain a louche lifestyle. He and a spunky teen scavenger (Cailee Spaeny) get dragooned into the flight academy, where they happen to be training when a shady international corporation is set to launch a worldwide drone program aimed at making the jaeger program obsolete. Charlie Day, having saved the world in the first film, is back as a sleazy consultant-type for said corporation. Things appear mostly pretty chill until a rogue jaeger appears to start stomping Sydney and twists, plus rad fights, ensue. You can say this for the sequel: It's looser, sillier. What we lose in the joy of world-building, we get back, partly, in the regular rhythm of a martial action movie. The other pilot cadets at the training center, for example, get just enough screen time and dialogue that you care, a little, when most of them inevitably get croaked. The relatively sluggish first half of the film will have you squirming and wondering when some damn monsters are going to show up — until, hoo boy, here come the kaiju. (Though, as Spielberg would tell you, in the "Jaws" model, it can be just as scary to conceal the monster for as long as possible.) No one should begrudge a movie taking its time to build a plot before releasing the kraken, so to speak, and then bludgeoning it with giant rocket-powered robot fists, again, so to speak. But is anyone here to see "Pacific Rim" for the dialogue, when in no uncertain terms we could watch humongous robots fight gargantuan monsters in, oh, say, downtown Tokyo? You'd better have some pretty cool things to say if you'd rather have me listen to you yammer instead of watching, again, two massive robots duke it out on a crackling ice sheet over a frozen Siberian sea. Boyega, especially, fills up his shiftless character nicely. And director/screenwriter Stephen S. DeKnight, in his big-screen directing debut, embraces the B-movieness of the whole exercise with aplomb. A stinger scene at the top of the credits points the way to perhaps another "Pacific Rim" sequel. We'll see if that ever comes to pass, and whether a true series emerges from this franchise. This installment took seemingly forever to get in motion, and while Guillermo del Toro has been relegated to a producer credit after directing the original, his star is only rising with the Best Picture and Bes[...]

Jackie Venson comes to South Main

Thu, 29 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

And much more. FRIDAY 3/30 JACKIE VENSON 9 p.m. South on Main. $10. At the end of a live rendition of her tune "Always Free," filmed as a submission for NPR's Tiny Desk Contest this year, blues guitarist Jackie Venson announces, "All right, that was a test run." It comes off as comedic in context of what she's just done on the guitar, let alone vocally and lyrically: "I live in a little house on the side of the street where the grass is dead but they water the concrete ... Oh, try to believe that work will set you free/Only wise men see that we were always free." Her delicate voice acts as a counter-agent to the crunch of her guitar — clearly the centerpiece of the act — and she uses a mop bucket absconded from an audience member to climb onto the "desk" housing the keyboard rig. Venson is a badass and a half, a classical pianist-turned-blues-shredder whose niche falls somewhere between Alabama Shakes and Joan Armatrading, and $10 is a steal to hear her play. THURSDAY 3/29 STEVE AZAR 8 p.m. The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse. $35. In 1960s Mississippi, liquor stores could double as community centers. Greenville native Steve Azar's story is one in which a child of Lebanese and Syrian immigrants spends much of his time behind the counter of the family business — the Jigger and Jug Package Store — idolizing the blues musicians that would pick guitars and sing songs there each evening, and grows up to record an album called "Down at the Liquor Store" with a backing band full of former sidemen to B.B. King. Now, he's carved out a niche for himself as an ambassador of Mississippi Delta music and culture, auctioning off bespoke songs and hosting festivals and celebrity golf tournaments to funnel money into Delta health, art and education initiatives through his and his wife's St. Cecilia Foundation. Find tickets at SATURDAY 3/31 JASON MRAZ 8 p.m. Robinson Center Performance Hall. $38-$92. If the age of "fake news" and sloppy partisan clickbait has taught us anything, it's that we tend to be biased toward information that confirms what we already believe. Evidently, Jason Mraz isn't immune; the songwriter and avocado farmer went to a palm reader in New York's Central Park, who called him a "youth" and encouraged him to "avoid the questioner and just go with what you know," as Mraz told NPR last December. What he knew was that he wanted to drop out of theater school and pursue a career in songwriting, so he did. It worked out, too; if you turned on a radio or rode in a car equipped with one at any point in the year 2008, you've heard Mraz's "I'm Yours." The bubblegum wordplay-as-percussion that reigns supreme on that tune and other radio earworms ("The Remedy," "I Won't Give Up") has landed Mraz fans across the world as well as a starring role in Sara Bareilles' Broadway play, "Waitress." See for tickets. SATURDAY 3/31 MAKING MOVIES 9 p.m. South on Main. $10. It's amazing how a seemingly simple three-beat pattern can sound so different depending on what hands are interpreting it. In a Bill Monroe waltz, for example, the beats are equal, churned out lazily in an easy shuffle. In "Tell M[...]

Justin Warren's 'Then There Was Joe' was a long time coming

Thu, 29 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

The 2018 comedy film was a family affair. There's a slapstick scene in a video explainer for the film "Then There Was Joe," a 2018 comedy from Little Rock-born filmmaker Justin Warren. Now a Los Angeles resident, Warren is walking at the Old Mill, the bucolic concrete gristmill in North Little Rock that makes a cameo in the opening credits of "Gone With the Wind." He gives the viewer a short primer on Arkansas, noting the usual suspects: Walmart, Bill Clinton, Razorback football. Then, just as he's adding a footnote about Arkansas having "the largest concentration of KKK members on the face of the planet," a robed figure in white with a pointy hood walks past in the wooded background. Warren, who's black, does a sort of "gee whiz" gesture with his arm and says, in a chipper tone, "I've missed this place!" It's true. He did miss it. In fact, when Warren — whose homemade stop-motion featurettes from childhood are excerpted just after that opening at the Old Mill — decided to make his first movie, he left LA and returned to Little Rock. He even recruited his family to star in the film — his brother, Jamie, and his father, former Little Rock school official James "Butch" Warren, who would play themselves in the very home where Jamie and Justin were raised. "The whole experience was designed to kind of bring my family together," Warren said. "I've always had a difficult time connecting with my brother, but I knew that if I were to make a movie, that would be an opportunity where we could actually talk." His idea was to write a film, script things he and his family might never say to each other in real life, laugh about it, attain catharsis. Cinema therapy, right? All of the payoff from those role-playing exercises on the therapist's couch, with none of the awkward setup to muddle through. "Hopefully, in the process, [Jamie] could come to see himself in a different light," Warren said. "I could see myself in a different light. That was the entire point of the movie." That didn't happen, though. Instead, the day Warren finished the script, he dialed up his brother to talk about how to proceed, only to find the number had been disconnected. Shortly thereafter, he learned Jamie was on the run, dodging the police. It was, of course, disappointing for many reasons, not the least of which was that the screenwriting process had been long and tedious, and Jamie had been involved in fine-tuning the script along the way. It was a "painful moment," Warren said, but that's not to say that it was necessarily a shock. "In a strange way, I was prepared for it," Warren said. "That was the most we had ever spoken on the phone. In the past, his number was always changing, and disconnected frequently." Jamie is — as Warren puts it in the "Then There Was Joe" director's statement — "well versed in ghetto-fabulous living, but flourishes at the country club. ... If you told me he charmed his way into President Obama's Cabinet," the statement continues, "I'd totally believe you. He's absolutely brilliant. But he does dumb things." That charisma is at the heart of "Then There Was Joe," a comedic study in opposites that unfolds as the lives of two radically different brothers, Ben and Joe, based on the Warren brothers, intersect. In it, Ben's bar exam studies are waylaid when he's tasked with keeping Joe — who's been released on bail after being arrested on charges of attempted robbery in a bowling alley full of third-graders — out of trouble until his cou[...]

Lexington Porter, Clyde Pound at The Ohio Club

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 04:00:00 -0500

Where Als Jolson and Capone once held forth. THURSDAY 3/22 LEXINGTON PORTER, CLYDE POUND TRIO 7 p.m. The Ohio Club. Hot Springs. Free. This old gangster hangout on Bathhouse Row, est. 1905, hosts a free jazz show every Thursday night in the same halls trod by Al Jolson and Al Capone. This week, that concert features Lexington Porter, the grandson of the late Art Porter Sr. and the nephew of Art Porter Jr. — both Arkansas jazz virtuosos in their own right. Lexington has become known for coaxing sophisticated improvisations from two instruments we don't often get to hear in a jazz context: violin and mandolin. Check out the footage of Porter from the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame's 25th anniversary celebration in 2017, in which I'd swear there's a melodic reference to the theme from "Inspector Gadget" just after the two-minute mark. Porter is backed by the seasoned Clyde Pound Trio: Pound on keyboards, Byron Yancey on upright bass and Patrick Chan on drums. SS THURSDAY 3/22 POTLUCK AND POISON IVY: LAGNIAPPE LOVE SHOW 7 p.m. The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse. $35. For fans of "The Moth" storytelling series who find themselves thinking, "I could totally do this," well, here's your shot. The Potluck and Poison Ivy series is taking a break from its features on insightful poets and writers like Beth Ann Fennelly and Molly McCully Brown, instead holding an open mic of sorts wherein the bravest amongst us can throw their names into the StoryShare hat for a chance to tell an audience about that time when a disagreement over cake flour escalated to an altercation and, eventually, fisticuffs, upending what was otherwise a lovely Mason jar-lit backyard wedding. Arkansas Symphony Orchestra violinist Katherine Williamson, violist Ryan Mooney and cellist David Gerstein — the ARtriTrio — entertain. Get details and tickets at SS THURSDAY 3/22 DAVID HIGGINBOTHAM 8 p.m. South on Main. $10. There's a great jazz tune by an upright bassist named Jay Leonhart titled "It's Impossible to Sing and Play the Bass." With dexterity and finesse that lends the song its irony, Leonhart details the many things that can go wrong when the rhythm section puts their mouths to a microphone: "You see, the bass is fretless, it's not like a guitar/Bass, you spend your whole life wondering where the hell you are/ To remember lyrics, melodies, bass lines and chords/Is no less a miracle than the Lord's." The song came to mind thanks to jazz bassist/singer David Higginbotham's new release "Blues on the Corner"; in addition to Leonhart and Higginbotham's rather obvious similarities, Higginbotham's work with the Bob Boyd Sounds (and with Arkansas jazz wizards like Clyde Pound, Chris Parker, Joe Vick and Brian Brown) shares Leonhart's penchant for sweet humor and hidden downbeats. With "Blues on the Corner," he and jazz cohorts Chris Parker, Brandon Dorris and Paul Stivitts have mashed up original tunes with jazz standards — some to which Higginbotham has added lyrics — and an ultra-mellow cover of an undersung tune from fellow Arkansan Bob Dorough, "Love Came on Stealthy Fingers." SS FRIDAY 3/23 HEADCOLD, FISCAL SPLIFF, BROTHER ANDY AND HIS BIG DAMN MOUTH 9 p.m. White Water Tavern. [...]

Chris Cash at South on Main

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 04:00:00 -0500

Aaron Watson lands at the Rev Room. THURSDAY 3/22 Winston-Salem, N.C., singer-songwriter Caleb Caudle brings mellifluous ballads like "Carolina Ghost" to the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m. DeCarcerate, a coalition dedicated to end mass incarceration in the state, screens the documentary "The Gathering," Central Arkansas Library System's Main Library, 6 p.m. St. Clairsville, Ohio, quintet Down They Fall shares a bill at The Cavern in Russellville with locals Princeaus and Ginsu Wives, 8 p.m., $3-$5 suggested donation. Kamikaze Zombie plays a show with Rats at a Bar Grab at a Star, 8 p.m., The Sonic Temple, 4603 E. Broadway, NLR. Vermont-based folk duo Hungrytown plays a free show at the Faulkner County Library, 7 p.m. Brian Nahlen and Nick Devlin duet at Cajun's Wharf for happy hour, 5:30 p.m., free, and later, LLC takes the stage, 9 p.m., $5. Grant Lyon, Brent Terhune and Todd Johnson form a triple feature at The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $8-$12. FRIDAY 3/23 Chris Cash brings his velvety vocals, loop station and percussive guitar back to South on Main, 9 p.m., $7. Eureka Springs-based Red Oak Ruse brings its brand of Ozark boogie to Four Quarter Bar, 8 p.m., $7. Texas country star Aaron Watson lands at the Rev Room in support of his latest, "Vaquero," with opening sets from David Adam Byrnes and Bree Ogden, 8 p.m., $20. Dozens of women's barbershop choruses from the Southern U.S. descend on Little Rock for the Sweet Adelines International competition and convention at Robinson Center Performance Hall, see for tickets and details. Gigi's Soul Cafe & Lounge hosts "A Tribute to Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross," 9:30 p.m., $20-$25. Group meditations, camping and live sets from Yuni Wa, Deep Sequence, Ryan Viser and more are on the lineup for Optica 7, a family-friendly festival at the Crystal Chill Campground, Forest Road, NLR, 5 p.m. Fri.-11 a.m. Sun., see for tickets and details. Kentucky blues rock quartet Otis lands at Midtown Billiards for a late-night set. Dennis Carrow plays a set at Guillermo's Coffee, Tea & Roastery, 6:30 p.m. Highway 124 entertains at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming's Silks Bar & Grill, 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; The Pink Piano Show is in the Pops Lounge, 5 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Nicnos performs at Kings Live Music in Conway, with an opening set from Edward Briggler, 8:30 p.m., $5. Bill "Bluesboy Jag" Jagitsch plays a solo set at the John Daly Steakhouse in Conway, 6 p.m., free. Howard & Skye duet at Markham Street Grill & Pub, 8:30 p.m. East Nashville stomp blues duo Smooth Hound Smith takes the stage at Stickyz, 8 p.m., $10. DeFrance and Stephen Neeper & The Wild Hearts team up for a show at Smoke & Barrel Tavern in Fayetteville, 10 p.m., $5. The Mallett Brothers, Matthew McNeal and Dylan Earl share a rowdy countrified bill at Maxine's in Hot Springs, 9 p.m., $7. Adam Tilly entertains for happy hour at Cajun's, 5:30 p.m., and later, the Brian Nahlen Band performs, 9 p.m., $5. SATURDAY 3/24 Kyle Cook (Matchbox Twenty, New Left) plays a solo set at South on Main, 9 p.m., $10. The Brian Nahlen Band brings tunes from "Cicada Moon" to Four Quarter Bar, 10 p.m., $7. Maxine's hosts a whopper of a rock 'n' roll show: Dazz & Brie, DeFrance and Stephen Neeper & The Wild Hearts, 9 p.m., $7. "The Voice" contestant Levelle Davison and jazz siren Bijoux join Rodney Block and The Real Music Lovers for a tribute to The Fugees and Lauryn Hill at White Water, 9 [...]

Beyond the Big House, with Jerome Bias

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 04:00:00 -0500

A Q&A with the furniture maker, culture educator. It's been over 150 years since the 13th Amendment to abolish "slavery and involuntary servitude" in the United States was passed, but the fight to affirm the humanity of enslaved people in U.S. history is alive and well among historians, museum tour guides and textbook manufacturers. Count North Carolina furniture maker Jerome Bias among the many whose work helps us understand that the struggle and suffering endured by enslaved people in America didn't constitute the whole of their existence, and that the traditions enslaved people brought with them from Africa informed much of what we've come to think of as Southern culture today. Bias comes to Arkansas for Preserve Arkansas's "Behind the Big House," a series of live demonstrations and lectures at the Historic Arkansas Museum March 23-24 that looks beyond the grand historic homes and plantations to the experiences of the enslaved people who maintained them. Can you talk a little bit about your work at the Stagville State Historic Site [in Durham, N.C.]? I was on the board at Historic Stagville. I was the treasurer, and I took on the challenge of how to increase the number of African-American visitors to our site. And that was in response to some evidence that African Americans were being missed? Statistically, for museums, especially for plantations and historic sites, you'll find that African Americans make up a very small percentage of the local visitorship. I hesitate to ask you to conjecture on why that is. On the other hand, I suspect you've spent some time thinking about why that is. From our polling that we took in our visitorships, the response was, "Why do I want to come hear about suffering?" People were generally ashamed of the suffering and the experience that their ancestors had, and that's the only vision or perception that they have of the enslaved population. What they aren't seeing is that they were whole human beings. Was there a moment that called you to this line of work? Yes. I was shopping for a bed at Furnitureland South, a huge mall of a store. And I came across a bed that was made by a rather nice furniture company. And I was with my fiance at the time, my spouse-to-be — for the moment, at least. And we looked at it and looked at the little card and it was described as being made by Thomas Day, a free black cabinetmaker from Caswell County, N.C., and that he was the largest cabinetmaker in the state, and he was making furniture between 1820 and 1860, and that he made furniture for the governor, and that this was a copy of a bed that he made for the state attorney general. And I was just blown away. 'Cause I didn't know that black folks did anything besides pick cotton and work in the kitchen. 'Cause that's what I had been told. So I fell in love with this bed. And it cost $11,000. Oh, my God. That's what I was sayin.' And I was in school at the time, so I said, "You know, if we did this kind of stuff, I'm game to try it." I'd never made anything before in my life. So I endeavored to make a king-size, four-poster bed with a canopy. And that's what my wife got for her wedding day present. Do you still have it? Yeah. I have the bed. I don't have the wife. As you've studied these traditions, whether it was furniture or food, has there been anything that surprised[...]

'Mamma Mia!' charms

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

Sophie steals the show. I had tickets to the national tour of "Mamma Mia!" two years ago, but I was not excited to go. The protagonist, an ultra-chipper 20-year-old girl, wants her father to walk her down the aisle, but doesn't know who he is, so she invites the three men it might be without letting her mom know what she's doing? What was this — "The Parent Trap" set to the cheesy songs of Swedish pop group ABBA? But there is a reason why "Mamma Mia!" was the ninth-longest running show in Broadway history and one of only five musicals to have run for more than 10 years on the Great White Way. There is a reason why it has been seen by more than 54 million people in 38 productions in 14 languages in over 400 cities. And there is a reason why I was glad to see it again Friday night at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre: It is one of the most charming musicals ever to be put on stage. On the Greek island of Kalokairi, Sophie is getting ready to marry her fiance, Sky. She has read her mother's old diary and discovered that her mother, Donna, dated Sam, Bill and Harry all around the time Sophie was conceived. Sophie (who has never known the identity of her father) has coerced all three men to come to the island, hoping to discover which one is actually her dad. Of course, she didn't tell the men why she was inviting them, and didn't tell her mom that she was inviting them, so hilarity ensues — to a soundtrack of ABBA's finest. The Rep's set designer for the show, James Youmans, whose credits include "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and "West Side Story" on Broadway, perfectly pulls the audience into the Mediterranean spirit with a proscenium arch painted like dappled water, a blue-backlit scrim revealing tiny clay houses dotting a far-off horizon, and a thoughtfully constructed partial house complete with working fountain and flower vines cascading beneath a second-story veranda. Even the stage floor was painted to look like cobblestone. I've come to expect great sets from The Rep, and this one for "Mamma Mia!" absolutely fit the bill. A successful production of "Mamma Mia!" does not happen without a strong choice for the young female lead, and here, too, The Rep nailed it. Sarah Daniels, a New York City-based actor and professional video gamer (yep, you read that right) who's appeared as Elle Woods in "Legally Blonde" and Kate/Lucy in "Avenue Q" (one of my favorite musicals of all time), unquestionably shines as Sophie. Her voice is clear and lovely. Joyful, in fact. She is adorable and, just like "Mamma Mia!" itself, undeniably winning. Another bright spot in the production: the dads. T.J Mannix, who played adventuring travel writer dad Bill Austin, was a charismatic bumbler who'd win anyone's heart. Peter Simon Hilton, who played British banker Harry Bright, dazzled with his rocker-aging-into-stodgy-adult comedy. Sam Carmichael, played by Cooper Grodin (who played the title role in the New National Tour of "Phantom of the Opera") matched The Rep's Donna (Erin Mosher) note for spectacularly powered note. A few of the dance numbers were outstanding. In "Lay All Your Love on Me," the actors wear flippers and scuba masks and inner tubes as they cavort across the stage, even indulging in a kick-line at one point. It was one of the most well choreographed numbers in the play, and the chemistry between Sophie and Sky (played by Zane Philli[...]


Thu, 22 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

There was something about that NCAA Tournament draw that just had to make you nervous, right? There was something about that NCAA Tournament draw that just had to make you nervous, right? It wasn't simply that Arkansas felt unjustly seeded with that No. 7 tag, because at least that was an arguably proper slotting for a team that wasted its one fleeting entry into the Top 25 in January and got swept by a mediocre LSU team after that. In fact, though Arkansas entered the field with a decent enough 23-11 record, eight of those losses at least came at the hands of fellow tourney-going teams. Even the Razorbacks' loss to Mississippi State didn't seem so terrible, considering that the Bulldogs are a strong NIT quarterfinalist now, with 24 wins to boot. Those dual chokings against a very average LSU squad, however, did some serious damage, as did the fact that of those 11 losses, the Hogs were beaten by double digits in nine of them, including a listless showing against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament semifinals. Then you had that feisty bunch from Butler, which 15 years ago was just a little backwater Indiana bunch that played its home games in a hangar-style gymnasium far more famous for its role in a Hollywood masterwork, "Hoosiers," than anything else. They weren't your typical No. 10 seed, but rather, a tourney regular that went to back-to-back championship games a few years before and resiliently survived an upwardly mobile coach's departure to acquit itself well most of this season. The highlight of the Bulldogs' up-and-down campaign was unquestionably the 101-point outburst it authored against then-unbeaten No. 1 Villanova in a January upset. And the geography was, well, just awful. Hoping Nashville or Dallas regionals would be welcoming, fickle Hog fans were told last Sunday that if they wanted to see their team get past the first weekend for the first time since before Clinton's impeachment, it would have to be in the prestigious confines of Little Caesars Arena in opulent, scenic Detroit. Butler fans eagerly drove on up; Hog fans, it was evident from the broadcast, clearly preferred the big screens and beer specials available in their own neck of the woods (I'm not lashing out here, because that's the approach I took, too). Everything unfolded as you should've expected. Arkansas did what it has done with shocking regularity in the Mike Anderson era, which is to say, it played an utterly lethargic and disinterested first 10 minutes or so before coming to life. Butler was off and running with a 21-2 start, only to watch Arkansas attempt the same brand of oh-shit-the-game-already-started comeback it put together last spring against eventual national champion North Carolina. The Hogs enjoyed a nice 27-6 surge that didn't seem to be the result of any one player doing anything remarkably well, although Darious Hall delivered a big dunk and some spark on defense and Daryl Macon accounted for eight points during the run. That single Razorback lead, 29-27, lasted all of 25 seconds. Butler settled back into a rhythm before halftime to retake a 5-point edge at the break, and the second half was an even bigger farce than the first few minutes. The Hogs didn't get closer than that same 5-point margin the entire second half, and the last gasp was with eight full minutes left. By then, nobody on the team seemed energized enough to hoist the rest [...]

Mark Thiedeman's "Alex in the Morning" screens at CALS Ron Robinson

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 01:00:00 -0500

"Dirty Dancing" goes up at Robinson Center Performance Hall. THURSDAY 3/15 The Chamber Music Society of Little Rock presents a concert from violinist Miroslav Ambros, 7:30 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. "Hand to God," a satire that mashes up puppets, lewd comedy and religious contempt, runs at the Studio Theatre through March 18, see for details. Sharon Farmer, the first female and first African-American appointed director of White House photography, discusses her work at UA Pulaski Technical College's Center for the Humanities and Arts, 6 p.m., free. Nashville's Birdcloud takes its raunchy, pithy satire to the stage at Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack, with an opening set from Dylan Earl, 9 p.m., $10-$13. The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History hosts Arkie Pub Trivia at Stone's Throw Brewing, 6:30 p.m., free. The Gold Show Drag Show takes over Maxine's in Hot Springs, 9 p.m., $5. Steve "Mudflap" McGrew goes for laughs at The Loony Bin, 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $10-$15. Ballet Arkansas Artistic Director Michael Fothergill gives a talk on the evolution of movement as a classical form, 6 p.m., with a 5:30 p.m. wine reception, Arkansas Arts Center, $10. FRIDAY 3/16 The Arkansas Cinema Society screens Mark Thiedeman's "Alex in the Morning" and Gus Van Sant's "Paranoid Park," 6:30 p.m., CALS Ron Robinson Theater, $12. Vocalist and trombonist Tiko Brooks previews his debut solo project at South on Main, 10 p.m., $15. Maria Fasciano, Marisa Colon, Matthew Newman and Stephen Edds join the Arkansas Chamber Singers for a performance of Mozart's "Coronation Mass," 7:30 p.m., St. James United Methodist Church, $15-$25. "Hairy-Kate Olsen" hosts the "Hairyoke" drag show at Club Sway, 9 p.m. The White Water Tavern hosts a DJ-and-drums mashup with Trap Beatz, 9 p.m., $10. Jamie Lou & The Hullabaloo brings velvety vocals and slow crescendos to Stickyz, 9 p.m., $6. The Human Experiment, Ambitions, Levels and Rats at a Bar Grab at a Star share a bill at Vino's, 8 p.m., $8-$10. Green Jelly, envelope-pushers and arch nemeses of Kraft Foods, take "Three Little Pigs" and other rockers to Four Quarter Bar with Queen Anne's Revenge and The Damn Randys, 9 p.m., $10. Go watch Fayetteville-based Brother Moses' serial-murder video for "Crazy Eyes," and then catch the band at the Rev Room with The Wldlfe and Rock Eupora, 8:30 p.m., $10. Katrice "Butterfly" Newbill takes her gospel, old school and reggae blend to the stage at Gigi's Soul Cafe & Lounge, 9 p.m., $15-$20. Mayday by Midnight entertains at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming's Silks Bar & Grill, 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; catch The Pink Piano Show in the casino's Pops Lounge, 5 p.m. Fri.-Sat., free. Gas Station Disco performs at West End Smokehouse, 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., $7. The Wandering Troubadours kick off a set at Hibernia Irish Tavern, 7 p.m. Galleries will be open on Main Street from 5-8 p.m. for the Third Friday Argenta Art Walk. SATURDAY 3/17 A stage version of "Dirty Dancing" goes up at Robinson Center Performance Hall, 3 p.m. Sat., 7:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m. Sun., $28-$77. Gigi's Soul Cafe & Lounge hosts Soul Session Live with Dee Dee Jones, 9 p.m., $15-$20. Conway County bluesman Akeem Kemp and his backing band return to White Water, 9 p.m., $7. The St. Patrick's Day celebration at Vino's gets heavy with Eyehategod, Cro-Mags, Colour De[...]