Who doesn't love a good cocktail, right? And who doesn't love "Jersey Boys," the Tony- and Grammy-winning jukebox musical that tells the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons?
Say, here's an idea: what if the Arkansas Times was to have a contest for the best "Jersey Boys"-inspired cocktail, and give the winner a pair of tickets to see the musical June 19 at Robinson Center Music Hall, plus entry to the official after-party at Boscos, where that person's winning cocktail would be served? Sound keen? Bet.
Here's the deal: email your cocktail recipe to firstname.lastname@example.org and put "JERSEY BOYS COCKTAIL" in the subject line. We'll select the most promising recipes, then your trusty and (very) seasoned Times cocktail experts will try them out and anoint a winner. The contest is open from through June 6, and the usual caveats apply (no Times employees, don't scalp the tickets, etc.).
Feel free to get all crazy and "mixologist" with this thing, but know that if your recipe is too out-there, calling for emulsified durian oil or pulverized fresh loganberries or something else that no self-respecting bartender has ever heard of, then you might not win. Cool? OK. Aaaand... go!
607 PRESENTS: BLOCK MONSTER PARTY
9 p.m. Revolution. $10.
Her new record, "The Mad Teacher," boasts ethereal synthesizers ("Dumb Girlz"), icy-sounding dubstep touches ("Stranger Danger") and a club-ready jam about having a double life ("She Wolf"), among others. The album's title is a reference to JLaur's day job as a teacher for the North Little Rock School District.
In addition to JLaur, there will be performances from ItsJusBobby, GM tha Boss, Sarah Cecil and TGE, with Shortfuze on the steel wheels and host DJ No Name. It's an 18-and-older show.
New Orleans veterans The Dirty Dozen Brass Band bring the swinging second-line sounds to Revolution Friday, for an all-ages show, 8:30 p.m., $12 adv., $15 day of.
UPDATE: I just got word that Little Rock Film Festival pass-holders can get into this show for just $5.
GOOD TIME RAMBLERS
9 p.m. Stickyz.
The Good Time Ramblers are probably a familiar name to most Times readers. The five-piece has spent the last several years honing an Americana sound with roots in the classic rock canon, playing steadily and sharing the stage with some notable country and Red Dirt acts.
This is an 18-and-older album-release show for the band's new full-length, "Bigelow Strange," the follow-up to the 2009 recording "Nashville Cowboy." The 8-song album sounds fantastic (it was produced by keyboardist/vocalist Jeff Coleman and engineered by Coleman and Jason Tedford), especially the keyboards and shimmering pedal steel.
"Illegal Things" gets the record off to an energetic start, with tales of youthful hijinks. "Six Feet Deep" finds the Ramblers considering the pursuit of material things and asking whether it was all worth it. "Last in Line" has some subtly sophisticated, Knopfler-esque guitar playing. It's an earnest, driving rocker and one of the best tunes on the album. "Nothing Left" closes out the album with hypnotic, chiming guitar/keyboard interplay, gorgeous leads and a moving chorus. It's a bit of a departure from the Ramblers' signature sound, but it's a bet that paid off and a fantastic track.
'J DILLA CHANGED MY LIFE'
9 p.m. The Joint. $10-$15.
James Yancey — or as he was more widely known, J Dilla — was one of those rare, brilliant musical minds who died too young and whose influence and unique vision wasn't properly recognized during his time on the planet. The Detroit native had been obsessed with music since he was a child. By the time he was in his teens, he'd already mastered several instruments, started a band and begun experimenting with drum machines and samplers, making forays into the production work on which he would make a career.
Dilla worked with some of the biggest names in hip-hop: A Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, Pharcyde, Questlove, De La Soul and others. He'd long suffered from a rare blood disorder, and he passed away in 2006 at the age of 32.
His legacy shows no signs of diminishing, though, with numerous tribute albums, posthumous releases and critical accolades continuing unabated. At this show, Rodney Block & The Real Music Lovers will perform with Damarcus "Blaze Beatz" Pettus, Osyrus Bolly, Fiyah Burnz, Sutter Kaine, Asylum and DJ Swift to pay tribute to the late, legendary musical genius.
Revolution. 8:30 p.m. $17 adv., $20 day of.
See, here's the thing about Cinderella: The band is sometimes unfairly lumped in with many of their blow-dried '80s hair-metal band peers. But "Long Cold Winter" and "Heartbreak Station" are solid, quality rock 'n' roll albums. Sure, they have their share of period production touches that maybe you'd do differently now.
But the songs are tough, coming from a Stones/Faces sorta mold, way more strutty and bluesy than anything by White Lion or Nelson or whoever. Seriously, go blast the first two tracks off "Long Cold Winter" — "Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin' Apart at the Seams" and "Gypsy Road" — and tell me they don't rock.
Frontman and founder Tom Keifer recently released a solo album, "The Way Life Goes," that's cut from a similar cloth. It's 14 tracks of blues-informed, swaggering rock that'll make you forget everything that happened to mainstream rock radio between 1991 and, say, right now. That could be a very good thing indeed, depending on one's particular feelings about post-grunge and Nu Metal and whatever it is that followed those two low points. Expect Keifer to play some of the more rocking cuts from the new album (opener "Solid Ground" is great), along with some Cinderella hits.
John Corabi, formerly of The Scream and who sang for Motley Crue in the Vince Neil interim, opens the 18-and-older show.
Jason Aldean dished out small-town imagery and described a perfect shindig, Jake Owen unleashed his passion for Southern summer nights and Thomas Rhett contemplated having a little talk with Jesus over a beer.
Welcome to the North Little Rock stop of Aldean’s "Night Train Tour." The three talented young vocalists dispensed their own brands of country — all heavy on pop and rock influences — Saturday night at Verizon Arena in a concert that ran well over three hours.
Best known among the three and the reigning Academy of Country Music Male Vocalist of the Year, Aldean likes singing about towns in the South. In this concert alone, he served up “Crazy Town,” “Tattoos on This Town,” “This Nothin’ Town” and “Hicktown,” the latter an up-tempo number that has become his signature song. It pays homage to football games, muddin’ and buying beer at Amoco.
A hologram of duet partner Kelly Clarkson joined Aldean on their nice Grammy-winning ballad “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” and he saved his anthem to good times, “My Kinda Party,” for the encore. It’s the one where he’s “in the back of a jacked-up tailgate … chillin' with some Skynyrd and some old Hank.”
Before Aldean hit the stage, fans got an hour’s worth of Owen, a past ACM Top New Male Vocalist honoree. We won’t try to say he upstaged the headliner, but with a confident and incredibly energetic stage presence, an infectious smile and a handful of hits, he more than held his own.
“Barefoot Blue Jean Night” was, of course, a crowd favorite, with lines like “we were shining like lighters in the dark in the middle of a rock show.” And he sent the crowd of 13,139 into a frenzy when he and his band mates belted out the Beastie Boys’ "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)"
Wearing an Arkansas flag T-shirt during his stint on stage, Owen slowed it down for perhaps his best song, “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You,” and also pleased with “Alone With You,” “Southern Summer” and “Eight Second Ride.”
Opening-act Rhett, aka Thomas Rhett Akins Jr., son of singer-songwriter Rhett Akins, only had time for five songs, but he made the most of it. “Something to Do With My Hands” and “It Goes Like This” were enjoyable, but it was the curiously terrific “Beer With Jesus” — “ask him how'd you turn the other cheek to save a sorry soul like me” — that was the most memorable.
If you're interested in catching the standup comedy of Bill Cosby, the gentle country stylings of Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan, an evening with Tony-winning actress and singer Audra McDonald or an mind-blowingly intriguing presentation from astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, you will be pleased to know that all of those folks are on the bill for the University of Central Arkansas's upcoming Public Appearances series.
Other highlights: "The Addams Family Musical," journalist Lisa Ling, The Haifa Symphony Orchestra and a performance from Bela Fleck and Chick Corea.
A press release with the full schedule is available after the jump.
Country favorite Jason Aldean comes to Verizon Arena on his "Night Train Tour," with Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett, Saturday, 7:30 p.m., $41-$69.
ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: 'CIRQUE DE LA SYMPHONIE'
8 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $10-$58.
What goes really well with a boisterous orchestra performing a lineup of lively classics? How about high-flying acrobatics? Sound good? Of course it does.
In this, the fifth installment of the Acxiom Pops Live Series, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will be joined by a talented array of dancers — mostly from Russia — who'll perform feats of derring-do, including acts of contortion, dance, acrobatics, juggling, balancing and that thing where they hang and twirl around in midair on really long pieces of fabric.
Musical highlights include Strauss' "Overture to Die Fledermaus," selections from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" and "Sleeping Beauty Suite," Debussy's "Suite Bergamasque: Claire de Lune" and works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Bizet, Bartok and more. Geoffrey Robson conducts. The program also runs Sunday at 3 p.m.
If you think of Alvin Youngblood Hart only as a Handy and Grammy award-winning interpreter of roots and blues music of bygone eras (as many seem to continue to try to do), you would be missing the majority of what the multifaceted artist has created thus far and continues to create. It would be akin to judging a bowl of gumbo base solely on a single ingredient, a folly to be sure. That fine gumbo has a roots and blues component, sure enough, but there is also R&B, soul and good ol’ fuse-blowing Southern rock 'n' roll, just to name a few of the ingredients.
Hart hits the White Water Tavern Saturday night with his three-piece band, Muscle Theory. The smart money would seem to indicate that this show will be loud, in your face and will make you shake what you got. Nothing quaint or overly nostalgic seems very likely.
I recently got to talk to Hart about coming to Arkansas. Turns out, he's no stranger to our fair state, his history here dating back to the 1980s, cleaning navigation channels in the Ouachita River. Hart has worked with many Arkansawyers throughout his career. Arkansas-born Memphis record legend Jim Dickinson produced Hart’s album “Start with the Soul,” which contains a blistering cover of Black Oak Arkansas's “Cryin’ Shame.” Hart, along with Dickinson’s son Luther (of The North Mississippi All Stars) and the “Arkansas Son-In-Law” Jimbo Mathus make up the South Memphis String Band. Memphis bass mainstay and Pine Bluff native Mark Edgar Stuart (The Pawtuckets, One Four Fives et al) handled the bass chores for Hart’s band in the early 2000’s. He has also shared the stage with our own Greg Spradlin, the pride of Pangburn.
Though Hart has played Little Rock before, this is his first appearance at the venerable White Water Tavern. Given his history of defying musical categories while still acknowledging the past, the sometimes-cramped White Water should be a perfect fit for his huge sound. If you still need categories to enjoy music, categorize this show under “not to be missed.”
ARKANSAS DELTA ROCKABILLY FESTIVAL
3 p.m. Downtown Helena. $30.
All right rockabilly lovers, check it: They're gonna be havin' a party over in Helena, and they invited Wanda Jackson, who probably needs no introduction, so notable are her contributions to the history of the genre. The tireless Sonny Burgess & The Legendary Pacers are also performing at the 3rd Annual Arkansas Delta Rockabilly Festival.
That right there makes for two bona fide, genuine, real-deal rockabilly innovators (they both play on Saturday). But wait, there's more: Sleepy LaBeef's playing on Friday, along with Brandon Cunning & The Stunning Cunning Band, C.W. Gatlin, The Cate Brothers (in tribute to Levon Helm) and Cooter and Cooter's Garage Band.
Saturday kicks off at 11 a.m. with the great drummer D.J. Fontana performing with Stan Perkins (son of Carl Perkins), followed by Reba Russell, W.S. Holland (drummer for Johnny Cash), Ace Cannon, Linda Gail Lewis (sister of Jerry Lee), Burgess and The Pacers, Jackson, Travis Wammack and The Kentucky Headhunters.
Kids younger than 12 are free with a paid adult.
THICK SYRUP ANNIVERSARY SHOWS
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.
It's been seven years (eight really, but he doesn't count the first one) since Travis McElroy got the itch to become a record label mogul.
In that time, his Thick Syrup Records has given us such notable releases as: Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth's "Mystic Indian Hitmakers," which will one day be widely recognized for the brilliant work of twisted rock genius it is; the works of Smoke Up Johnny, who soundtracked so many of our hazy evenings with their goodtime beer-drinkin' rock 'n' roll; Ezra Lbs, whose self-titled debut was a highlight of last year; the sophisticated arch-power pop of The Alpha Ray's "Follow the Ghost" — and those are but a few of the local releases Thick Syrup has graced us with.
McElroy has also released a raft of records from some of the underground's leading lights, such as Half Japanese, Chrome Cranks, zinester legend and filmmaker Dave Markey, Weird Paul, Don Fleming and so many more. To mark the anniversary of Thick Syrup, this Thursday, White Water Tavern hosts Ginsu Wives, Hamburguesa and The Bloodless Cooties (TSR will be releasing the band's first full-length in 20 years in July!), and on Friday, Bryan Frazier, Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth and Richie (of Tennessee trouble-causers Ghostfinger).
9 p.m. Juanita's. $10 adv., $12 day of.
Like a good many singer/songwriters, Ben Taylor has spent the last several years honing a brand of laid-back songcraft that's thoughtful without being ponderous and adventurous without trying to reinvent the wheel.
Unlike the bulk of his peers, Taylor's parents (Carly Simon and James Taylor) are legendary musicians. That caliber of comparison might intimidate a lot of star progeny, but Ben Taylor seems very comfortable and confident. His voice is a bit similar to his father's, but not uncannily so. His 2005 album "Another Run Around the Sun" (produced by actor Kevin Bacon) earned Taylor critical accolades, with Allmusic calling it "sure-footed, impossibly warm, and engaging enough to deserve an attentive audience."
His 2012 album "Listening" will be a good bet for anybody into contemporary folk and singer/songwriter-types like Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson. Treva Blomquist and Cliff Hutchison are also on the bill.
THE DEVIL MAKES THREE
8:30 p.m. Revolution. $13 adv., $15 day of.
At this point, bands that mix it up at the intersection of country, folk, blues, hillbilly, ragtime, rock 'n' roll and punk aren't really a novelty anymore. That's just a normal thing, now that everyone figured out it was all pretty similar to begin with and stopped acting like genres are these walls that are necessary to keep things separate. What a silly way to be that was, right?
The Devil Makes Three is one of the bands that figured that out about a decade ago. They're a trio out of Santa Cruz, Calif., and their drummer-less, all-string approach doesn't keep them from kicking up a ruckus. Just give a listen to any of the band's albums, but especially their live sets, "A Little Bit Faster and a Little Bit Worse" from 2006 or 2011's "Stomp and Smash."
Also on this bill is Jonny Fritz, (formerly known as Jonny Corndawg), a country performer with a gentle lilt and a yen for humorous tunes. He's got a new album out: "Dad Country" on ATO Records.
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