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A Fat Tuesday beer dinner at @ the Corner

At the Corner restaurant at Scott and Markham streets will celebrate Mardi Gras with its first "Fat Tuesday Beer Dinner,” featuring brews from Lost Forty, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Butts out at The Sports Page

Stop the presses! Or toss out the ashtrays at least. No longer does The Sports Page serve its great cheeseburgers and ginormous chilidogs with a hint of Marlboro.

Bohm's District Fare: Charcuterie, a glass of wine and more

Tomas Bohm, the owner of Czech and German eatery The Pantry in West Little Rock and The Pantry Crest in Hillcrest, has settled on a name for his new venture in the old Hillcrest Artisan Meats spot: District Fare. The name “suits the Hillcrest location," Bohm said. And besides, he added, "everything else is called Hillcrest” in the neighborhood.

Dining Review

Love for Sonny Williams'

February 23, 2017
Love for Sonny Williams'
River Market steakhouse hits all the marks. /more/

Dining Search

To-Do List

Marilynne Robinson at Trinity Cathedral

February 23, 2017
Marilynne Robinson at Trinity Cathedral
Also, MVP Jazz Quartet, Selwyn Birchwood, Parker Quartet, Arkansas Flower & Garden Show, Circular Calls/Resonant Shadows, Spooky Talk Show Benefit, Marcella and Her Lovers /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

Stand up for Little Rock

If Little Rock deteriorates because of substandard schools, there will be blame aplenty /more/

Ernest Dumas

Hating the media

Presidents, with the exception of George Washington, never found much joy with the media, although Donald Trump is the first to use the scarily freighted words "enemies of the people." /more/

Gene Lyons

Trump and Russia

If you think about it, no wonder Donald Trump prefers the imaginative stylings of Fox News to the presidential daily briefing. He's pretty much the network's target demographic: a daffy old-timer with time on his hands. /more/

Movie Reviews

One for the money

February 23, 2017
One for the money
CMT's 'Sun Records' gets dramatic about Sam Phillips and the roots of rock 'n' roll. /more/

Pearls About Swine

Momentum

February 23, 2017
Sure, I'd like to think that Pearls About Swine, that modest batch of haphazard prose, had something to do with motivating Arkansas's beleaguered basketball program to rise from a seemingly inestimable late-season swoon to re-emerge in the NCAA Tournament discussion. /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Eat Arkansas

For food lovers

Eye Candy

On art in Arkansas

Street Jazz

A view from Northwest Arkansas

Arkansas Blog

Monday, February 27, 2017 - 16:23:00

Criminal justice reform bill clears Senate

click to enlarge SEN. JEREMY HUTCHINSON: Sponsor of SB 136. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • BRIAN CHILSON
  • SEN. JEREMY HUTCHINSON: Sponsor of SB 136.

An omnibus criminal justice bill that aims to stem the growth of Arkansas prisons and save the state money cleared the Senate on Monday 27-4. SB 136 spent weeks in committee, while sponsors negotiated with state prosecutors over a provision that would redirect parolees and probationers who commit minor violations of the terms of their supervision from prison to community correction facilities. The bill has been amended four times.

SB 136 also would require law enforcement to receive crisis intervention training, so they could better respond to someone having a mental or behavioral health episode and deescalate the situation. The bill would also create Crisis Stabilization Units, where people having behavioral health episodes would receive treatment. Governor Hutchinson has allocated $5 million in his budget for the CSUs. Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Little Rock), the lead sponsor of SB 136, said that money would be paired with federal dollars to open at least three facilities throughout the state.

The bill is the culmination of a 18 month justice reinvestment project by the nonprofit Council of State Government's Justice Center, which was invited by state leaders to come to Arkansas and analyze our criminal justice system and recommend ways to do things better while keeping folks safe and saving money. Justice Center appeared before a Legislative Criminal Justice Task Force over the course of about a year, and the task force ultimately endorsed its proposals.

The most substantive change from the proposals to the bill in current form was the removal of the creation of a right to appeal sentences handed down by a judge that departed from the state's sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors feared this was a first step toward making the state's guidelines mandatory.

 

Monday, February 27, 2017 - 16:17:00

ABC board gets two new members, including new chair Dan Greenberg

The board of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division is now chaired by Dan Greenberg, the president of a conservative think tank and a former Republican legislator from Little Rock.

The gubernatorial appointment has not yet been formally announced by Governor Hutchinson's office, to my knowledge (but since Greenberg presided over this morning's meeting of the ABC board, the news seems safe to report). At the meeting, Greenberg said the governor asked him to serve on the board last week.

He replaced former ABC chair Janet Moore, whose term expired in January. Greenberg left the legislature in 2011.

He now runs the Advance Arkansas Institute and remains active in Republican politics.

The ABC board also got a second new board member in Jamie Anderson, a farmer from Lonoke. Anderson replaced Chris Palmer, who was appointed to the Workers’ Compensation Commission by the governor in December.

 

Monday, February 27, 2017 - 15:35:00

Grocery store wine bill fails on first vote in House

SB 284, the bill to allow sale of all wines in grocery stores, failed on its first run in the House today, with the vote 47-33 and 12 present. So it will receive another vote.

This is the so-called compromise between Walmart, some major grocery retailers and owners of so-called county line liquor stores that operate big stores that profit from sales in neighboring dry counties.

In return for approval by some liquor stores to wine sales in grocery stores, Walmart and grocery stores agreed not to seek local option elections in dry counties for eight years. An agreement on this bill circulated as early as November — powered by lobbyists Bruce Hawkins and Joe Bell — said the governor's office was on board with this proposal though the governor's office has denied taking any ownership in enforcing it, as the agreement says.

Under current law, grocery stores can only sell Arkansas wine or wine from small producers elsewhere.  The proposed legislation also provides some grants to Arkansas wineries and encourages building of a wine tourism center in Arkansas.

Owners of some 400 retail liquor stores in Arkansas have opposed the legislation saying it would put a damaging dent in their profits. As a sop to them, the bill allows some expansion to the amount of food that retail liquor stores are allowed to sale, by regulation of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.


 

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Monday, February 27, 2017 - 13:26:00

Check out slideshows from the Root Beard and Mustache Contest and SoMa Mardi Gras Parade


The throngs descended on South Main Street and Bernice Garden on Saturday for the annual SoMa Mardi Gras Parade and the 5th Annual Root Cafe/Arkansas Times Beard and Mustache Contest. As usual, ace photographer Rett Peek was on the scene to capture handsome portraits of all the contest participants. And our own Brian Chilson was on the scene to grab shots of the rest of the revelry.

St. Michael's Episcopal Church won the parade float contest.

Beard and Mustache winners:

Best in Show and Lifetime Achievement Award for Best Groomed Beard: Patrick Otto
Most Original Beard: Mark McCluskey
Shave-in Fullest Beard: Jake Snowden
Lifetime Achievement Award for Best Mustache: Asa Harvey
Lifetime Achievement Award for Best Santa Claus: Mark Knoke
Lifetime Achievement Award for Best Natural Beard under 6-inches: Jonathan Freyer
Best Lifetime Achievement Award for Best Natural Beard Over Six-Inches: Adam Cocchiaro
Best DIY Created Beard: Kristin Alexander



 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 11:31:00

Architecture lecture: Sheila Kennedy on "soft" design

click to enlarge Tozzer Anthropology Building, Harvard University. - KVA MATX
  • KVA matx
  • Tozzer Anthropology Building, Harvard University.

Sheila Kennedy, a professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of Kennedy & Violich Architecture Ltd., will give the June Freeman lecture tonight at the Arkansas Arts Center, part of the Architecture + Design Network series at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Kennedy's lecture, “Mix, Mix, Max, Min,” will address her firm's design strategies, including "soft" infrastructure for networked cities. There will be a reception at 5:30 p.m.; the free talk starts at 6 p.m. in the Lecture Hall.

Read more here.  

 

Friday, February 17, 2017 - 16:26:00

UPDATE: Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round 4: Sextets, Septets and Martyrs

click to enlarge Brae Leni - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Brae Leni

The Winner: Brae Leni and the Evergreen Groove Machine (formerly Soulution) took the win with a commanding frontman and a band that I wish would play any wedding reception I am ever invited to ever again. Leni sports a D'Angelo falsetto and a ton of energy, and the two women singing Supremes-style backup might have stolen the show were he not so fun to watch. Their drummer was effortlessly solid, the band's call-and-response game was strong and the final tune veered intriguingly from dance territory to something that resembled freeform jazz.

Some comments from our judges:

"The frontman is charismatic and the backing vocalists swaying really gives it that 60s-70s flavor."

"Lead guitarist MVP of the showcase. Phenomenal understated style. Drummer is a stone cold badass, too."

"Youthful exuberance, ska melody."

"I felt like the set got off to a rocky start, but the grooves got hotter and hotter with each song."

click to enlarge Jaimee Jensen-McDaniel of CosmOcean - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Jaimee Jensen-McDaniel of CosmOcean
click to enlarge Ron McDaniel of CosmOcean - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Ron McDaniel of CosmOcean

The Runner-Up: CosmOcean. In what may very well have made showcase history with the inclusion of a B5 (as in, a B above the treble clef) leading into the opening groove, CosmOcean showed off the major vocal chops of its two frontpeople: Ron McDaniel and Jaimee Jensen-McDaniel, two classically trained singers who also happen to be spouses. Jensen-McDaniel took the stage like a badass Bettie Page in a pink satin bomber jacket monogrammed with the word "FEMINIST," and the pair played to the crowd with some sexually charged duetting. For my taste, they were at their best when the band's grooves leaned toward bass-heavy funkadelic (which was most of the time).

Some comments from our judges:

"Theater-style presence. All movement on stage has a very deliberate feel to it."

"Choreographed stage jump!"

"Delightfully retro guitar tones."

"I imagine 'Hair' would have sounded like this if a funky prog rock band had written the music."

click to enlarge Scott Diffie of The Martyrs - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Scott Diffie of The Martyrs

The Martyrs:
It's a pretty amazing feat for four people to have made more noise than the other three 6-7 person acts, and The Martyrs put on a true blue rock show with AC/DC riffs and songs about the Arkansas State Fair and girls who drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. Rose City's resident tattoo lord Scott Diffie seemed like he pretty much sprung from the womb ready to climb on speakers and shred guitar solos, even when he was singing syrupy lyrics like "All I know is I really wanna have your hand." One of our judges put it pretty succinctly: The Martyrs f*cking rocked.

Some comments from our judges:

'Scott Diffie is a classic frontman. First-class banter between songs. Fantastic stage presence."

"First rock band that has had big enough amps."

"These guys do exactly what they came to do - rock hard!"

"'Exile on Main St.' abandon."

"You guys f*cking rock!"

click to enlarge November Juliet - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • November Juliet

November Juliet: Man, it's been a long time since I've seen a band with a bonafide hype man. November Juliet kept it weird with an American flag draped over the keyboard and a "Stop Making Sense"-style build that added members each song (including itsjusbobby) until there were six people on stage, all of whom sang. The sextet came across like some sort of super secret club that met in an undisclosed location to polish tight R&B harmonies and 90s-style makeout songs. Moments when an audience is slightly uncomfortable because they don't know what to expect are some of my favorite performance moments, and despite what one of our judges rightly called "uneven execution," the group sailed through an ambitious medley and a game of instrument-switching musical chairs.

Some comments from our judges:

"Hall & Oates harmonies with soul rap. ...Interesting concept with the white bearded sage shouter/rapper."

'A lot going on."

"There are some good ideas about putting on a show, but the execution of that needs work."

"Shout out to grey-bearded Ron Swanson in the back. Where's your saxophone?"


Brae Leni and the Evergreen Groove Machine put their Motown grooves up against DeFrance, Dazz & Brie and Rah Howard for the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase finals at Revolution Friday, Mar. 10.

UPDATE: In the past, the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase has often included a "wild card" slot in the Showcase finals: typically a band who didn't win their round but was a clear audience favorite or the Runner-Up who scored the most points overall. This year, we'd planned to do the latter and offer a spot at the finals to the Runner-Up with the top score. We tallied up the points and compared rounds. The top runner-up, Spirit Cuntz, wasn't available for the finals on Mar. 10. The next highest scores were from two runners-up in a dead tie: Fayetteville's The Inner Party and Little Rock's CosmOcean. Both CosmOcean and The Inner Party will advance to the finals at Revolution on Friday, Mar. 10, for a total of six competing bands.

 

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