Was Little Rock at the turn of the century a stranger, headier, more ambitious place? Was it more fun? I'm perennially haunted by these questions, and if art-rock duo Chinese Girls is any indication, the answers are clearly yes. We're in luck, though: the band's recordings are set to be reissued this spring by Drawing Room Records (also home to band member Andrew Morgan's new project Country Florist). Started at a Halloween party in 1999 by Morgan and Sam Murphy, the band made delay-heavy, energetic post-punk (some of which you can find here).
If you’ll recall a moment (and there are many) when a Disney princess is dancing through the air and just when her foot is about to make contact with ground that isn’t there, a “step” (or lilypad, or cloud, or what have you) appears beneath her feet, then you know what it looks like when Dolly Parton floats around the stage at Verizon Arena — or any large arena, for that matter. /more/
The Paragons were a group from Searcy, Ark., that in 1965 traveled to Sun Studio in Memphis to record a British Invasion-flavored rendition of “Black and Blue,” a song dating back to the 1920s. It had been famously adapted by Louis Armstrong to reflect the era's racial discrimination, and had also previously been recorded by Frankie Laine, who had a Top 40 hit with it in 1947. I spoke recently with Paragons guitarist Bill Benz, along with Doris James, who recalled Zay-Dee Records, her ex-husband George Whitaker's label, which had released the Paragons record in early 1966. /more/
Like the girl in his ode to a short-lived summer love, country music’s reigning Entertainer of the Year had a crowd of 13,312 Friday evening at Verizon Arena twisting all night long like that old beach “Roller Coaster": Twisting and swaying and dancing and singing along. /more/
An email from the folks at Wakarusa, the annual music festival at Mulberry Mountain, claims they'll be taking 2016 off due to financial problems. The letter makes reference to pending legal actions against "partners" who "lied" to festival management. So far, they're calling it a "hiatus" rather than a complete shut-down, so there's some good news. /more/
Searcy native Bonnie Montgomery has been nominated for Outlaw Female in the 2016 Ameripolitan Awards, an Austin, Texas-based award show that honors musicians whose work doesn’t match with today’s notions of country music. The awards ceremony will be held in Austin on Feb. 16, 2016. /more/
North Little Rock native and free jazz legend Pharoah Sanders has been named as one of the recipients of a 2016 Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, along with vibraphonist Gary Burton, saxophonist Archie Shepp and Wendy Oxenhorn, director of the Jazz Foundation of America. Sanders, who turned 75 last week, will receive "a $25,000 cash award and perform a free concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on April 4 that will be streamed live on arts.gov." /more/
This fall The Polyphonic Spree is celebrating the 15th anniversary of their debut, "The Beginning Stages of ...", with a tour of Europe and North America. The Dallas, Texas band formed in July 2000, born from the sparkling mind of lead vocalist Tim DeLaughter. Tim and his band — a group of about 20 musicians — are currently on tour and performing their entire debut along with other originals and a few surprises. Returning from their stint in Europe, they came through Little Rock with a blazing performance at Stickyz Tuesday night., /more/
The podcast Design Matters, published by Design Observer, is celebrating its 10th year and they are revisiting some of their best episodes from the last decade. I just finished this week's replay of the interview with the Scottish born illustrator Marion Deuchars. At the end of the wonderful interview, her two young sons are invited into the studio near where they pitch in some of their own thoughts on art and, in particular, drawing in the art books their mother created for children and adults.
by Will Stephenson, Bryan Moats, Kaya Herron and Lindsey Millar
World wide weird duo Rural War Room (Donavan Suitt & Byron Werner) is celebrating 10 years of broadcasting and production here in Little Rock and abroad. RWR Radio on KABF 88.3 FM (10 p.m. Tuesdays or anytime on their website), features the duo alternating records in an effort to surprise one another.
BRASHER: Hello Arkansans, this is the first piece from us, Brasher and Rowe and we are some dudes who work in downtown Little Rock and we eat lunch and just talk about all the exciting things around here.
When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
As mentioned in the previous post about the new Arts Council director, which was prepared before the official announcement, the Department of Arkansas Heritage announced today that Missy McSwain, longtime director of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, has resigned. Her resignation takes effect March 15.