Jonathan Wilkins, with help from Will Boyd (drums) and Matt Floyd (bass), earned the final spot with an impressive set that showed off his sharp songwriting and deft guitar work. The set went from folk-bouncy to raucous. More in the morning. Or afternoon. Or Sunday.
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"No need for frills or gimmicks, a great, solid three piece band."
Guest Judge Brad Williams
"Spirited, soulful performance. Jonathan's a gifted songwriter and guitarist. Boyd and Floyd help take his songs to the next level."
"Americana rock 'n' roll! This is the real deal. Great songwriting. Great musicianship. Who could ask for more?"
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"Anybody who can put the words "George Michael" and "Chuck E. Cheese" in a song with a straight face has my attention."
Ariston Jacks and Susan Williams are African-American artists who have in common substantial talent. Both have stories to tell as well, so HAM has paired them up for an exhibit, “The Visual Narrative,” that will be up through May 10.
Jacks is a painter, and his work is heavy on symbolism, commenting on African-American identity. He isn’t afraid to step away from usual forms, techniques and surfaces, an approach that will serve him well as long as it is not forced. “Visual Narrative” features, for example, his paintings on paper that have been folded like the memorial ribbon now used in various causes — pink for breast cancer, red for aids. Jacks has put the face of Barack Obama in the middle of one ribbon, set against a mosaic of stars, black faces, a dollar bill, portraits of our greater presidents. He’s used a tall thin shadowbox to frame his painting of a man with a hoe. A thought balloon shows the man to be thinking about cotton, or what cotton stands for in his world. The lens of his eyeglasses are painted with a thick, pale polymer that obscures, as glass would, the man’s eyes. He has a halo around his head — a motif that Jacks uses in his portrayal of generations past. Three long paintings — separate but a triptych — combine symbols of American capitalism and African tradition, and Jacks juxtaposes with great effect a pale wash over the hovering symbols against the vivid color of the African-American subjects. His painting “Ill Equipped” shows a black man in shirt and jeans holding a spear.
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Susan Williams "Medicine Man." Williams is a sculptor, and her narratives are told, more often than not, in the tilt of a head, the look in the eye and the movement of an arm. Her “Medicine Man” — for some reason displayed on a pedestal so low you have to get down on the floor to get a good look at it — is a graceful, beautifully sculpted figure of a man moving through the air, dreds flying, body twisting, holding on to some sort of ribbons or sticks. Her female heads are, in some instances, too manikin-pretty but the multi-bunned “Her Majesty” is strong. Her “Smiley Girl,” the head of a pouting child, is wonderfully textured. I’d like to see Williams’ work on a larger scale. It would cost a bundle, no doubt, but the impact would be terrific.
The December before last, this 11-piece Austin-based orchestra played to a criminally small crowd at Revolution. It was one of the best shows I saw that year. In the tradition of Fania, Nu Yorica and boogaloo, Grupo Fantasma blends traditional Latin genres like cumbia, merengue and salsa with deep, infectious funk. It's music made for dancing, and even though an empty-ish room is a powerful deterrent and I'm almost rhythm-less, I got out and got down. It's easy to get distracted by the activity onstage, though. The band features a four-piece horn section, four percussionists (including one on timbales and another on congas) and three guitarists. Everyone stays in the pocket. The jams never get wanky or meandering, and when the conga player or guitarist took a solo turn, they don't outstay their welcome. Look: This band, well before it reached current heights, was probably the biggest Latin funk band in the world, on that Prince often conscripted as his backing band. And if it's funky enough for the Purple One …
‘ODE TO JOY' 8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $17-$52.
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks series returns with a nice balance: an iconic piece, recognizable to even the most musically ignorant, and a provocative 20th century composition inspired by jazz and African creation myths. The latter, Milhaud's “La creation du monde, Op. 81,” prominently features the saxophone and clarinet concertino, which, in the original ballet production, “heralds the dance of desire.” Watch out. The former, Beethoven's “Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125,” is best known for its fourth movement, which incorporates Frederich Schiller's poem “Ode to Joy.” Beethoven's Ninth has been described as “one of the highest achievements of man, ranking alongside Shakespeare's Hamlet and King Lear.” The ASO reprises its performance on Sunday at 3 p.m. Same place, same price.
In case I haven't plugged it enough: The last semi-final round of the ARKANSAS TIMES MUSICIANS SHOWCASE is tonight at Sticky Fingerz. Four great acts fill the bill — the Weisenheimers, Jonathan Wilkins, Riverboat Crime and Apples and Spades, 9 p.m., $5.
Grateful Dead tribute act the Schwag is at Juanita's, 10 p.m., $8.
At Satellite, literate singer/songwriter Kevin Gordon of Nashville plays a free set, 9 p.m.
White Water hosts Hendrix alum Graham Wilkinson and his band the Underground Township and the Chris Denny Band, 9 p.m., $5.
Local bluegrass standouts Runaway Planet do their thing at Studio Joe, 8 p.m., $10.
The Afterthought hosts young lounge singer Cody Belew and company, 9 p.m., $7.
The Diving Bell Ball, at Revolution, brings together local rockers-with-followings Kingsdown, Bear Colony and Benjamin Del Shreve, 9 p.m., $5-$10. The show's open to all ages.
From San Francisco, the Pine Box Boys play ramshackle bluegrass-y folk at White Water, 9 p.m., $5.
At Discovery, Platinumb spins in the disco with DJ Jared Lawler, while g-force keeps it movin' in the lobby, 9 p.m., $5.
Until Conway's Kris Allen gets famous enough to snatch away domain names or Google's algorithms catch up with pop reality, Kris Allen of Kris Allen and Southern Thunder (call him Kris Allen Jackson) will top Google search results for "Kris Allen."
Time to take advantage of some accidental traffic, Kris Allen Jackson. Post some more pictures from the annual Christian Truck Show and unleash Southern Thunder.
Started performing: Late last year, but rapper Maxx, who's a freshmen in college, started rapping when he was in third grade.
From: Little Rock.
Members: Sam Baxter (bass), Max Farrell AKA Maxx (raps), Lucas Murray (guitar) and Daniel Olah (drums).
Albums: Solo, Maxx's released "The Rise of Maxxism," which, for a limited time, he's giving away as a free download that also includes Apples and Spades' lead single, "My Soul." The band's finishing an EP for release in the near future, too.
It's an embarrassment of riches for Lucero fans. We're not even through February and Friday's show marks the third time the Memphis band has played Little Rock. Sure, they've been averaging around 200 shows a year. But, on the other hand, this is a band that recently did two nights at the near 3,000-capacity Terminal 5 in New York (with an assist from the Black Keys). This looks to be a full year for the band. Already, front man (and Little Rock native) Ben Nichols has released a solo album, “The Last Pale Light of the West.” In March, he and the band will appear on Craig Brewer's new web series on MTV.com, “$5 Cover.” Last year, the band signed a four-album deal with Universal/Republic. They've been holed up in Young Avenue Sound cutting demos, so cross your fingers, maybe they'll debut some live numbers.
UPDATE: Just got word that there's only 150 tickets left, so show up early or pick em up now if you're set on going.
The monthly dance party Cool Shoes, curated by long time party promoter TJ Deeter and hosted by the local mp3 blog thediscoitch.com, seems to be a pretty established commodity at this point. Every month, for at least the last three, throngs of young people come and get down to the same sorts of fresh-off-the-web jams hipster kids in far more metropolitan spots are getting down to (three cheers for the democratizing power of the web). This installment harkens back to the roots of Cool Shoes. Folks who've been around a little while remember the Hush Hush parties Deeter used to throw at the Public Theater. Friday at Cool Shoes features vets from those parties, DJs Ettiem, I.K.E. and Deeterix. Also, the much-buzzed about electro-pop trio Style Guide returns to party for a short set, and Cameron Holifield continues his vivid and bizarre video art installation.
THE MOVING FRONT/ MAGIC HASSLE 9 p.m., Circa '76. $5.
Joey Lucas is flying in the face of the economy. As independent bookstores and record stores shutter the country 'round (they've been fading fast here for some time), Lucas has opened a humble store with grand ambitions. He's only using a fraction of the 4,000 square feet he has at 1910 W. Third St. (next to Warehouse Liquor and what's soon to be the Star Bar). The entry way holds all the records, an adjacent space serves a recording studio and a bedroom-sized room for in-store shows. Look for the store to have the sweaty, lets-get-up-close-and-personal vibe of a house show on Friday as two of Little Rock's finest rock acts, the Moving Front and Magic Hassle, share the bill with experimental rockers Ten Speed.
‘THE LAST FIVE YEARS' 7:30 p.m., Weekend Theater. $14-$18.
Here's something we don't do around these parts too often: a modern musical. This one, penned by Jason Robert Brown, tells the story of a five-year relationship between a rising novelist and a struggling actress. The modern romance takes a novel approach to plot. The actress' storyline begins at the end of the couple's marriage and travels backwards, while the novelist's starts with the couple's first date and travels forward. The actors' only interaction happens mid-way through the play, during a wedding scene. Andy Hall directs and Steve Whaley provides musical direction. The musical continues through March 7.
Juanita's, the venerable Tex-Mex restaurant and music venue, is leaving the South Main Street location it's called home since 1986 for the River Market and the former home of Bill St., 614 President Clinton Ave.