Malcolm Holcombe comes from the Blue Ridge Mountains — Weaverville, N.C., just outside of Asheville. But his folk blues sound more reminiscent of the Delta sounds Bob Dylan's been mining for the last decade or so than any holler-bred folk. Or maybe it's Holcombe's beat-to-hell voice and nimble way with lyrics that recalls Dylan. For more than 20 years, the singer/songwriter has danced along the fringe of obscurity, earning plaudits from the likes of Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle (who called him “the best songwriter I ever threw out of my recording studio”), but never quite stepping out from their shadows. That hasn't slowed his productivity. Since 2004, he's released an album a year. He comes to White Water, for the second time this year, behind “For the Mission Baby.” Should be a good one.
This year's the debut of the magazine's new state series. Appropriately enough, Arkansas goes first. The magazine comes with two CDs, one that's the traditional mix of music from the South spanning wide eras and genres and another that does the same but limits its scope to Arkansas. The 192-page issue includes articles on all 52 artists featured on the two CDs.
Even the deepest crate-diggers are going to be impressed with the Arkansas mix. Billy Lee Riley is just about the only widely familiar name. Fans of contemporary local music will recognize acts like American Princes, Suga City, Jim Mize and Chris Denny, but otherwise it's mostly forgotten gems.
Full disclosure: I pitched some songs and wrote a couple of articles. So did a lot of contributors to the Times and familiar local names — Sam Eifling, Derek Jenkins, Natalie Elliott, Rod Bryan, Stephen Koch, Red Neckerson.
Pick one up.
And mark your calendar for the next OA music issue party:
Below are some of the highlights and after the jump is a letter to the editor from Josh Malcome (Juggalo handle, Payaso), who runs arkansasjuggalofamily.com.
*"No matter where you are, if you're a juggalo, or a juggalette, and you see someone rocking an ICP t-shirt, or rocking the hatchetman, you feel instantly connected to them, and there are no harsh feelings, ever. There is a comraderie and a feeling when you're in a room packed full of juggalos, and lettes, that can only be described as pure magic."
*"Dude, makes me wanna get ig'nant up in this mug!!"
*"...to talk on the faygo, that is low. I am sure if Coke or Pepsi was sprayed into the air you would have been all for it! Right? Right! Faygo basically simulates unity and shows that anyone can afford it. While coke and Pepsi is 1.48 a pop Faygo tastes the same and is only 0.78 a bottle. TASTE the same! So stop hating and show us the love."
*"I am a Juggalette And a Nurse.. yes you can be both. Just because we are lo's and lette's does not me we can't do shit and be smart."
*"So we like some twiztid shit, we like the wickid shit, does that make us wrong? Only in the eyes of the ignorant, the unlearned."
*"If you start with carnival of carnage and make your way through the cards, and end up finally with what we all witnessed sunday night in Bang Pow Boom, you will see a much bigger picture than just a handful of freaks in makeup."
BIG SILVER / LOVE GHOST 9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
The dozen or so dudes playing White Water on Saturday represent the most prolific side of Little Rock pop music. In one corner, you've got Isaac Alexander, who not only leads Big Silver and the Easys, he's got his own solo project and he plays drums with the Boondogs and occasionally Chris Michaels in the Cranks. In the other, you've got his pal Jason Weinheimer, who co-heads the Boondogs and plays in all the other bands Alexander does, too, save Big Silver. Every time you turn around one or both of them has got a new project. Saturday, Big Silver celebrates the release of “Tributary.” It was recorded over a weekend in the fall of 2007, but inexplicably languished until now. It sounds, awesomely, like Elvis Costello channeling the Band. Max will have a limited-run of CDs for sale; otherwise it's a digital release. Love Ghost came together much quicker. In September, Weinheimer assembled a crack backing unit that includes Jeff Matika (Green Day, Ashtray Babyhead) on guitar, New Orleans pedal whiz Dave Easley and the Boondogs' Dylan Turner on drums and knocked out eight pop gems that are already available to stream and for purchase. This will be the band's Central Arkansas debut. Molten Lava, yet another of Alexander's bands (which also features the Nobility's Stephen Jerkins), opens.
So far this year, 607's landed a song on MadDecent.com, one of the most influential DJ blogs in the indie world; appeared on a panel with industry bigwigs at Harvard Law School's Black Law Student Association's spring conference, and guest-starred in a Russian rap video. It's been a relatively quiet year.
Since the early aughts, no one's outworked the Little Rock rapper. In that span, the 30-year-old, whose driver's license gives his name as Adrian Tillman, has released 31 full-length albums and performed, literally, thousands of shows. Until recently, when he wasn't recording or performing, he was out chatting up people, wherever there were people — from Applebee's to the Arkansas Arts Center — always with a briefcase, always filled with CDs of his latest album.
But since spring, after he returned from several weeks in Russia and Africa, 607's been oddly quiet. Turns out he was just expanding his horizons, which isn't exactly an easy task for a rapper who loves goth culture and counts Fiona Apple as one of his favorite artists.
For much of the last six months and for a less concentrated time before that, he's focused on learning to play the violin and cello. His brother and fellow rapper Bobby's taken the trek with him; he's learned to play bass guitar.
THANKS FOR THE LAUGHS COMEDY TOUR 8 p.m., Robinson Center. $17-$27.
A traveling laugh brigade intent on delivering a one-two-three punch to the diaphragm, this triple bill features seasoned comics who cut their teeth the traditional way, working clubs and harvesting the fanbase. Headlining jokester Bruce Bruce, aka the “Mayor of Comedy” (due to his support of talented newcomers), traces his comic roots to tickling customers while cooking BBQ and lightening up board meetings as a Frito-Lay salesman. It's no secret Bruce two-times loves all things caloric, but the current national spokesman for Popeye's says he's given up devouring entire pizzas after performances. No word if his position on skinny women (outlined/immortalized by Too Short) has changed. Lavell Crawford overcame childhood obesity, a near drowning and paternal abandonment to earn a break when his open mic hosting led to appearances on Def Comedy Jam, Comicview, Showtime at the Apollo and a second place slot on Last Comic Standing. Rounding out the bill is Gary Owen, a recent cast addition to Tyler Perry's “House of Payne,” who harnessed widespread praise throughout comedy land when he devoted 45 minutes of a headlining set to psychological dismantling of a heckling patron. The video clip is worth investigating.
BRIAN POSEHN 9:30 p.m., Juanita's. $20 adv., $23 d.o.s.
Brian Posehn's been a dork for 30 years. Or so he confesses on his 2006 album “Live In: Nerd Rage.” Maybe so, but he's like the king of dorkdom. He wrote for and appeared on most all of the episodes of “Mr. Show.” Which led to an amazing string of guest spots on TV (as Ray Liotta's fictional cousin on “Just Shoot Me,” the Wisdom Cube on “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and himself on “Tim and Eric Awesome Show”) and roles in a string of movies he's not afraid to admit mostly suck (“Dumb and Dumberer,” “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” and, playing against type in the decidedly not-suck-y “The Devil's Rejects”). He's a stoner (he was in “Super High Me”). He's written a comic book about a zombie-slaying Santa Claus. He does voices for videogames. And he knows a lot about metal (he hosted a metal award show presented by Revolver magazine earlier this year). If you fall into any of those demographics, you should probably go to this show. Dry hilarity should ensue.
Last year, Hayes Carll's third album, “Trouble in Mind,” made him something of a critical darling. His song “She Left Me for Jesus,” which Don Imus called the “greatest country song ever,” won Song of the Year at the Americana Music Association awards, and big name critics stumbled over themselves trying to capture his particular charisma. Anthony DeCurtis called his singing voice “a drawl that's as sexy as it is smart.” Robert Christgau almost redeemed “Type-A mush mouthed drawler” with “funnier than shit.” And the LA Times said he has the face of a “prairie dog.” In Arkansas, we're less focused on his totem animal or the tenor of his drawl. It's his lyrics we're keyed into, especially those like this, from the song “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart”: “Arkansas, my head hurts/I'd love to stick around and maybe make it worse.” That's bound to get the crowd going. It's likely to be full of family (Carll's wife is from Arkansas) and friends (he graduated from Hendrix) and lots of hollering. New Braunfel's Midnight River Choir opens.
A friend once assured me that hipsterdom was moving past its characteristic ironic appreciation of the banal, plastic and wearily commercial. She said she’d read somewhere that the kids were practicing something called “New Sincerity.” This phrase, whether an actual cultural movement or not, is the best way to describe the popularity of such an oddity as the airy pop/soft-rock sound of Brooklyn's Tigercity.
It’s like this: falsetto vocals from front man Bill Gillim, backed by falsetto harmonies from bassist Joel Ford, who each look like they should be serving you a Pabst in a Williamsburg dive. Accompanied by white-boy funk vamps from guitarist Andrew Brady, and Greg Settino beating a sparkly drum kit with the aerobic enthusiasm of one of those legendary Studio 54 busboys. The constant whispery synths, and the danciest number “Are You Sensation” with its looped beat and heavy harmony, indicate they are not only pupils of the Hall and Oates catalogue. They strive to become a part of it.
Admittedly, at times it feels a little too derivative to be real. The intro to “Fake Gold” in particular mimics the overdone power-licks popularized by the likes of Journey or Survivor. There are a few moments in their set when the tunes are just a little too smooth to dance to—perhaps a soundtrack better suited for a 1989 roller skating rink. Despite the all-things-earnest pop performance, the patron not yet sold on this sincerity stuff might worry she’s enjoying the equivalent of a cruise ship cover band for the hipster set. However, with Tigercity, they sell it just hard enough, and it goes down so easy.
At White Water, Jonathan Wilkins and Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth, both backed by full bands, share a bill, 10 p.m., $5.
The O.D. is a jam-packed local hip-hop showcase at Cornerstone that features just about everyone: Epiphany, 4X4 Crew, DK & Soulja T, Kwestion, Da Saw Squad and more, 8 p.m., $10.
More white rappers making jokes: The long running duo Grand Buffet returns to town to play a bill with local noise act Ginsu Wives and the Super Smashed Brothers. At ACAC, 10 p.m., $7. Open to all ages.
At Gusano's, J-One returns with his Second Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Day Bash at Gusano's. J-One performs and DJ K-One keeps it moving, 9 p.m.,
Screamo act Breathe Carolina shares a huge bill with Cash Cash, Fight Fair, Kill Paradise and Stephen Jerzak at Juanita's, 6:30 p.m., $14 d.o.s. All ages.
At the Afterthought, it's Dave Williams Jazz, 8 p.m., $5.
CHRIS DENNY AND THE NATIVES 9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $7.
It's the 10th edition of Sticky Fingerz' Wild Turkey Wigout, an annual pre-Thanksgiving get-down, where the club gives away some turkeys and everyone gets cozy with family and friends in town for the holiday. After an appearance at CMJ in New York earned them nice plugs from Paste magazine and elsewhere and a last minute gig at Midtown last weekend, Chris Denny and the Natives make their first big local club appearance. Next up, the plan is to release an album on Partisan early next year and more touring. If you haven't seen them lately, you're likely to be bowled over. The juice of touring nationally and a new record deal has the band sounding punchier than ever. Dawes, a band Denny and the Natives met on a recent tour, shares the bill. The California quartet plays a meditative brand of folk-rock that should fit right in.
"Front Row" returns to AETN 6:30 p.m., Wednesday. The "Austin City Limits"-style show captures local bands at AETN studios in front of a live audience. Tomorrow, Fayetteville folk act 3 Penny Acre stars. It's the lovely and talented Shannon Wurst's latest project. Sounds worth checking out. Sample music online here. "Front Row with 3 Penny Acre" repeats on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 6:30 p.m.
On Dec. 16, "Front Row with the Ted Ludwig Jazz Trio" airs.
The Hot Springs native is third on Forbes annual Most Overpaid Stars list, behind only Will Ferrell and Ewan McGregor. For every dollar Thornton was paid, his films only earned $4. Compared to Shia LaBeouf, who topped the magazines Best Actors for the Buck list and whose films bring in an average of $160 for every dollar he's paid, that's not so hot.
Before last Friday night, the saddest, most "depressing" Depression-era story I had read was Horace McCoy's "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" However, after watching The Arkansas Repertory Theatre's opening performance of William Inge's "A Loss of Roses," I can attest that this play is as rough and unflinching as that Depression-era tale, or any other.
Perhaps U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin might want to reconsider his earlier decision not to include Republican Rep. Loy Mauch on the list of Republican candidates he'd asked not to use his campaign contributions, having read some of what they'd written.