Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries
7 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $5.
"Casablanca" director Michael Curtiz was the Spielberg of his day, for better and for worse. One of the best-compensated of Hollywood's mercenary, work-for-hire filmmakers in the 1940s and '50s ("hack" might be too strong a word, or maybe not), Curtiz directed hundreds of World War II propaganda efforts ("Mission to Moscow"), top-shelf noir melodramas ("Mildred Pierce") and, particularly, action films ("The Adventures of Robin Hood"). He was never especially admired by film buffs — being less an auteur than an example of bureaucratic, studio-system competence — though his films were generally effective, unobtrusive and profitable. Which is what makes the enduring reverence for "Casablanca" so surprising. It didn't seem like a classic right away. The New Yorker called it "pretty tolerable," and Variety's rave, that it's "splendid anti-Axis propaganda," hasn't aged well. What has remained entertaining and relevant over the years is its all-pervading atmosphere of nostalgia and light cynicism. It makes sense that we look back on it fondly, because the film is itself about looking back, fondly ("Play it once, Sam, for old times' sake," "We'll always have Paris," etc.). Bogart is bleakly funny and the bit players — Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt — are unusually inspired. The L.A. Times has cited "the purity of its Golden Age Hollywoodness," and I think that's right — it's the platonic ideal of the old studio movie. Not revelatory or challenging, just comfortable and familiar and good. WS
AN EVENING WITH DIANNE REEVES
7:30 p.m. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. $50.
Dianne Reeves is a five-time Grammy Award-winning jazz singer who has been called, by the jazz historian Scott Yanow, "a logical successor to Dinah Washington and Carmen McRae." She's toured with Harry Belafonte and Sergio Mendes and frequently works with the pianist Peter Martin (who's performed at South on Main more than once in the past year). She's recorded with Lou Rawls, Solomon Burke, Billy Childs, Lionel Hampton and many more. She has an honorary doctorate from Juilliard, and a longtime association with the legendary jazz label Blue Note. But don't take my word for it; take George Clooney's: When the actor needed to cast a jazz singer for 2005's "Good Night, and Good Luck," he picked her. Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers open, and all proceeds from the show will go to the Mosaic Templars' various educational and outreach programs. WS
ARKANSAS VS. TOLEDO
3 p.m. War Memorial Stadium. $55.
For curmudgeons like me, who don't like getting up early to stake out a prime tailgating spot or drinking in the heat or sitting in the stands with your knees jammed tight next to sometimes-obnoxious strangers, the SEC's TV deal with ESPN is a godsend. Every Razorbacks game is now available to me in beautiful HD from the comfort of my living room, where I only have to contend with my sometimes-obnoxious children. But! I remember days spent at War Memorial before I became a curmudgeon, and they were often magical: tailgate hopping, gawking at elaborate grilling and roasting rigs, owning folks at cornhole, witnessing the first flashes of brilliance from Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, losing it after the Miracle on Markham. So, if you haven't yet crossed over to the dark side, by all means go. Even if just to do the tailgating business, go. Last year, the university extended its contract with War Memorial for one football game a year through 2018. After that, the smart money says the number moves to zero. So four more opportunities to go Hog wild. Make 'em count. LM
3RD ANNUAL URBAN RAW FESTIVAL
3-9 p.m. Dunbar Community Garden Project.
The Urban Raw Festival is unlike most other Little Rock block parties in that, along with the food trucks and live music, it "seeks to nurture our creative and spiritual potential." It will do this with yoga (bring your mat), workshops on D.I.Y. screen printing and food co-ops, gardening tips, chakra balancing (bring your crystals), vegan food, fermentation (bring your mason jars) and music by 9th Scientist, Osyrus Tha God, Crystal C. Mercer & Buddy Case, CJ Boyd and The Cult of the Butterly Foddess & The Vudu Hippies (featuring Empress Rootwork). Most inspiring of all, it's free. WS
TUESDAY 9/15-WEDNESDAY 9/16
ACANSA ARTS FESTIVAL KICKOFF
The five-day performing and visual arts festival ACANSA opens its second year with a pregame show at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at The Rep's new Black Box Theater at 550 Main St. The Rep's producing artistic director, Bob Hupp; Arkansas Symphony Music Director Philip Mann, and gallery owner Greg Thompson will talk about upcoming festival events, which run through Sept. 20. The event is free, but registration is requested (acansaartsfestival.org). Also on Tuesday, the exhibition "A Little Poetry: the Art of Alonzo Ford" opens at the Arkansas Arts Center as part of the festival. At noon Wednesday, artist Bob Snider will give a painting demonstration and talk at the Thea Foundation, 401 Main St. in North Little Rock, as the first of three Lunch and Learn Days (free). At 5:30 p.m. the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, hosted by First Lady Susan Hutchinson, will take to the middle of Main Street between Fifth and Sixth to perform, and ReCreation Studios will provide entertainment (free). At 7:30 p.m., the Hi-Balls alt-country band will play at McLeod Fine Art at 108 W. Sixth St., around the corner from the Symphony "stage"; tickets are $25. A gold pass ($350) gets you into all festival events plus "Meet the Artist" receptions, a silver pass ($250) gets you into all events (but not "Meet the Artist" events) and a VIP ticket of $35 gets you into a Black Box party during the Symphony performance Wednesday. LNP
8:30 p.m. Revolution. $10 adv., $13 day of.
Of the three Detroit teenagers who founded Slum Village in the early 1990s, two of them have since died. There was Baatin, a memorable and unpredictable rapper who could lapse into loony impressions in the middle of a verse. He had the group's most quotable line: "Fuck this rap shit; I listen to classical." He was also diagnosed as schizophrenic and manic depressive. "The confusion started verbally," he once explained. "I would be angry and lash out and go crazy. I was like: Do I got demons? I couldn't control it." He left the group in 2003 and died at home in 2009 at age 35. The other, better-known casualty was producer J Dilla, a crucial martyr-figure in the history of the genre, often credited for elevating the art of rare-groove sampling from a tired cliche to an introspective, visionary practice. He died of an uncommon blood disorder in 2006, three days after the release of his now-canonized solo instrumental record "Donuts." I can't help preferring his beats with voices over them — he was at the center of the post-D.A.I.S.Y. Age-conscious rap axis, producing tracks for De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Common, et al. But he was close to his best with Slum Village, his high school friends, and particularly their album "Fantastic Volume II," full of warm and weird production (building entire songs from single words or phrases he found on obscure '70s jazz and funk albums) and guest appearances by Busta Rhymes and D'Angelo. Today the group consists of T3 (the other original member) and producer Young RJ, though their 2015 release "Yes!" features posthumous production from J Dilla, and they remain Detroit's best-loved rap group that isn't the Insane Clown Posse. WS