Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.
A is for Ashlie Atkinson, the Arkansas native who has won serious acclaim onstage (she won the 2005 Theater World Award for Breakthrough Performance for her role as Helen in Neil Labute's "Fat Pig") and has taken on numerous roles of all stripes on the big screen ("Inside Man," "Compliance," Martin Scorsese's forthcoming "The Wolf of Wall Street") and the small ("Law & Order," "30 Rock," "Louie"). She had a major role in Fox's "Us and Them" (a Yankee remake of the U.K. hit "Gavin and Stacey"). The pilot and six episodes of the original 13-episode order were filmed earlier this year, though the order was cut back and the remaining six episodes weren't filmed. The seven episodes in the can will be aired most likely in March, according to a representative for Atkinson. If the response to the show is strongly positive, there's a possibility that the show could be put back into production. Atkinson commented via Facebook that "no bullshit, this was the funniest, loveliest, most professional group of folks I have ever had the pleasure of working with on television. I miss it already, but I know what I learned is going to serve me well throughout my life and career."
B is for The Body, whose new album "Christs, Redeemers," was met with near universal acclaim. PopMatters gave the album an 8/10, noting that "The Body makes difficult music, and 'Christs, Redeemers' is that difficulty at its most masterful and controlled, even as it seems at every turn unruly, deeply and truly dangerous." A Pitchfork review said that the album "finds The Body at the apogee of their brutality." The duo, Little Rock natives Chip King and Lee Buford, is headed across the pond in April to play at the prestigious Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands.
C is for Cruelty, such as that exhibited toward Colonial Wine & Spirits manager Paul Lewis by his underlings, Jake Dell and J.T. Jumonville, who played a brutal prank on their boss. The two cruel subordinates set up a hidden video camera in the stockroom, which caught Jumonville leaping out of a huge box and scaring the everloving crapola out of Lewis. Granted, Lewis's terrified, arm-waving reaction was subjectively hilarious, which is probably why the video was a huge hit on YouTube (where it is mysteriously no longer available). Back in October, late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel played the video on his show and interviewed the three about the in-store chicanery. "We've been scaring Paul for about five years now," Dell admitted. Lewis was a good sport about it all though, even if when frightened he does look, in Kimmel's words, "like a baby pterodactyl being born."
D is for Downtown Music Hall. The venue closed its doors in December after several years of providing a home to the metal, hip-hop and dance music scenes in Central Arkansas. Owner Samantha Allen posted on Facebook that she will be "taking a very small break to focus on getting my health on track and then I will be back doing what I love more than anything in the world ... booking shows, promoting bands and trying my best to build the best local music community in the world!"
E is for effortless, which is how the Razorback football team made it look all season long on their march to 12-0, an SEC title and a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. Psych! Just kidding! Wasn't that hilarious? No, it wasn't, and neither was the Hogs dispiriting 3-9, first-ever-winless-in-the-conference inaugural season under head coach Bret Bielema. No need for another full autopsy on Hogpocalypse 2013 though; let's just hope things get better next year and move on to F.
F is for festivals (again). There were several of note this year, including perennial favorites and newer entries. Riverfest is the biggest of the bunch of course, and this year as in all years there was plenty of bellyaching about the lineup from the usual collection of wet blankets and Debbie Downers. But odds are thousands of folks enjoyed music from Florida Georgia Line, Darius Rucker, Kelly Rowland, Peter Frampton, Lupe Fiasco and the other acts. Up on Mulberry Mountain, there was a wet and muddy Wakarusa, with music from Widespread Panic, Snoop Lion, The Black Crowes, Gogol Bordello and Of Monsters and Men, among others. The very next weekend saw the birth of Waka's boot-scootin', whiskey-shootin' little brother festival Thunder on the Mountain, which had Toby Keith, Luke Bryan, Big and Rich and plenty more big-time country artists. The Yonder Mountain Harvest Festival in October was a hit, with Tedeschi Trucks Band headlining alongside many more folk, Americana and bluegrass bands. King Biscuit boasted Robert Cray, Marcia Ball and Gregg Allman as headliners. There was also the Fayetteville Roots Festival, which featured Arkansas-born folk fave Iris Dement. The Johnny Cash Music Festival got a little more traditional this year with Vince Gill, Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers and Jimmy Fortune, along with Tommy Cash and Joanne Cash Yates. The Butler Center's Arkansas Sounds festival was back with a great lineup for its second year, including Collin Raye, Tav Falco and Panther Burns, Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks and many more. Down in Hot Springs, you had Valley of the Vapors in the spring and Hot Water Hills in the fall to bookend your summer. And of course Eureka Springs hosted its long-running annual blues, jazz, folk and bluegrass festivals.