Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned
SUMOKEM, PRIMITIVE MAN, COLOUR DESIGN
9 p.m. Vino's. $7.
Founded in 2013 by Jacob Sawrie, Drew Skarda and the late Josh Ingram, Sumokem's already evoked comparisons to Little Rock's champions of doom-guitar layering, Pallbearer. It's a fair comparison, sure, but Sumokem's blend is more "Sorrow and Extinction" than "Foundations of Burden." It's darker, smokier and, judging by the heavy noise that characterizes the band's debut EP, "The Madness of Lu Shen Ti: Vol. 1," tends a bit more toward ripping guitar solos than the harmonic duos for which their fellow hometown doom rockers are known. Sumokem started with no bass at all, then incorporated Alan Wells (Shitfire, Napalm Christ) into the brew for a time; now Dustin Weddle holds down the low end, with Tyler Weaver on lead guitar. Their solid sound inspired Diamond Bear's Zac Thompson to create a "Sumokem Saison." Joining Sumokem on the bill are the self-described "funeral punk" of Denver's Primitive Man and self-described "shoegaze post-hardcore" quintet Colour Design. Come early and catch the Vino's Brewpub Cinema screening of the hallowed 1984 Rob Reiner mockumentary that reportedly made Tom Waits cry, "This Is Spinal Tap," 7 p.m., free.
THURSDAY 7/28-SATURDAY 7/30
ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS
7 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $5.
If the idea of driving to a movie theater and gambling on a feature film leaves you disenchanted, here's a safe bet. Ron Diamond, the curator and producer of this collection of 11 short animated films, started Acme Filmworks in the '90s with the idea that "a brilliant animated short film makes the world a better place," as he said on the Kickstarter campaign page that funded this particular tour. The same set of films will be shown each night, interspersed with three-minute documentaries on the filmmakers, seven of whom are women. They include two Oscar-nominated shorts, Don Hertzfeldt's "World of Tomorrow" and Konstantin Bronzit's "We Can't Live Without Cosmos," as well as musician Amanda Palmer's "Behind the Trees." Palmer, who told Brain Pickings she "regularly amuses herself by engaging half-asleep Neil [Gaiman, her husband] in semi-sensical conversation, plunging into this unguarded rabbit hole into the surreal wonderland of his mind," documented one such rumination in a voice memo on her phone, discovered it a year later and, with the help of animator Avi Ofer, turned it into this short film, complete with her own original soundtrack. Now a nonprofit, Diamond has taken the collection to Spain, South Africa, Canada, Australia and the U.S. in hopes of introducing audiences "to the wonders of great animated short films that otherwise would never get seen," as he told Animation World Network. Although I probably should have watched it on a screen bigger than my laptop's, I was utterly charmed by the whimsy and depth of this 97-minute mix Diamond is rescuing from underexposure; ditch the multiplex and pencil in one of these dates.
8 p.m. The Undercroft, Christ Episcopal Church. $10.
One of Little Rock's most atmospheric venues is in the basement of a 175-year-old church, and it's been home to intimate shows from Adam Faucett, The Salty Dogs, Mandy McBryde, Kevin Kerby, Fret and Worry, Nedelle Torrisi and a host of others. This week, it'll be filled with the sounds of Brent Best, the frontman for Denton, Texas, alt-country heroes Slobberbone, whose songs have been name-dropped by the likes of Rachel Maddow and Stephen King. Best released his first solo album last year, "Your Dog, Champ," with the help of Last Chance Records' Travis Hill, some well-timed inspiration from a song he wrote with Kevin Kerby as a teenager, and from all the fans who donated to make the record happen.
PASSING OF THE KEY: A FUNDRAISER FOR LUCIE'S PLACE
8 p.m. Revolution. Donations accepted.
Aaron Reddin and his crew at The Van have done it again. Last Thursday, the crew at The One, Inc., a local group that provides Central Arkansas's homeless population with clothing and personal hygiene supplies and helps them find housing and steady income, signed over the deed to a house in midtown Little Rock to Lucie's Place for homeless LGBTQ young adults. In 2015, Lucie's Place opened an office and drop-in center on Spring Street, but it's been a long-term goal for the organization to purchase a home in which to launch its transitional living program. The house will become home to four LGBTQ young adults and, to get the place in working order (the house needs a heating and air unit and a few other repairs, Reddin says), Lucie's Place is holding a fundraiser with musicians Bonnie Earlywine, Buh Jones and Ryan Viser; DJ Chat Room Bears; a silent auction; the official "passing of the key," and other special guests to be announced. Drop in and give what you can.
BLOCK ON ROCK 3RD BIRTHDAY BASH
4 p.m. Stone's Throw Brewing, adjacent streets. $3-$5.
When the homebrewing endeavors of Stone's Throw Brewing founders Shawn Tobin, Brad McLaurin, Ian Beard and Theron Cash took a turn for the serious, the quartet opened a craft nanobrewery at the corner of Ninth and Rock streets — a mere one block away from where Papa Geyer's, a biergarten that served as the gathering place for the German immigrant community that developed around the arsenal in the MacArthur Park neighborhood after the Civil War, once stood. Saturday, they celebrate three years of organized beerhood with a block party featuring brews from home team Stone's Throw, as well as Lost 40, Blue Canoe Brewing Co., Bubba Brew's Brewing Co., Damgoode Brews and Diamond Bear Brewing Co. Plus, there will be spirits from Rock Town Distillery and food from Black Hound Bar B Q, Fork in the Road, Hot Rod Wieners, Katmandu Momo, Loblolly Creamery, Luncheria Mexicana Alicia, Roxy's Twisted Sandwiches, Slader's Alaskan Dumpling Co., Solfood Kitchen Coop and The Southern Gourmasian. The Big Dam Horns and my group, The Smittle Band, hold down the live music, and for the third year in a row, a portion of the revenue from the event will go to Preserve Arkansas.
SATURDAY 7/30-SUNDAY 7/31
CHARLES PORTIS WEEKEND, TIFT MERRITT
6:30 p.m. Sat., Capital Hotel; 7 p.m. Sun., South on Main. $40-$150.
To those who know his work best, it might feel a little odd spending a weekend heaping attention and adoration on a man who, as New York Times' Charles McGrath says, "shuns photographs with the ardor of a fugitive in the witness protection program." We must, though, right? Or rather, if we, his neighbors (well, at least geographically, if not exactly socially) don't, who will? A Coen Brothers revival of "True Grit" notwithstanding, Portis' status is still cultish; impossibly, he's still a literary underdog, and maybe that's exactly what compels such stubborn fervor among Arkansas's Portisheads. He's our underdog, dammit. Maybe that's why Roy Blount Jr., who will participate in the celebration, described "Norwood" as "the text reread most often by Portis devotees, who say things like 'The way I decided whether to marry my wife: I gave her "Norwood" and waited. And then I heard her laughing upstairs.' " Oxford American, a nonprofit literary magazine that's made stewardship of Southern writing its chief responsibility for almost as long as "Gringos" has been out and to which Portis has contributed, hosts a 75-minute variety show celebrating the 50th anniversary of "Norwood." Doors open at 6 p.m. for food inspired by what Ed Park called Norwood's "decidedly humble (call it American)" menu, and at 7 p.m., there will be performances and readings from Blount, Fred Newman (the radio sound-effects whiz from "A Prairie Home Companion"), songwriter Tift Merritt and writers Jay Jennings and Harrison Scott Key. The night before at 6:30 p.m., there's a fancy "Southern supper" at the Capital Hotel with Blount, Key and Jennings in attendance. Merritt, who Emmylou Harris once said "stood out like a diamond in a coal patch," sticks around for a show on Monday evening. For tickets to any of those three events, call 800-293-5949.