Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal
THURSDAY, NOV. 17
'BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK'
7 p.m. Riverdale 10. Free, but registration required.
Ben Fountain's 2012 debut novel "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" is a biting satire about the disconnect between the realities of war as it's waged and the ways we celebrate and exploit veterans at home. Much of it takes place during a Dallas Cowboys game. Beyonce is a character. So is a barely disguised version of Jerry Jones. It's funny and sad and perceptive. Go read it. Ang Lee, the Academy Award-winning director of "Brokeback Mountain" and "Life of Pi," directed the adaptation of the book, with newcomer Joe Alwyn in the lead role and Steve Martin as the Jerry Jones-inspired team owner. Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker and Vin Diesel also star. Much of the early press surrounding the film had to do with Lee's decision to shoot at 120 frames per second, five times the standard rate. Lee has said he wanted to deepen the audience's connection with his characters, but most critics have found it to have the opposite effect. But as most theaters don't have the capacity to screen at such a high resolution, most audiences probably won't be subjected to the new technology. Otherwise, reviews have been mixed, though David Edelstein, usually spot-on in New York magazine, says the film "gets the little things wrong — and that matters — but the broad outlines right." The Central Arkansas Library System is sponsoring this screening as part of its "Fiction & Fact: A War Dialogue with Veterans" project. Reservations, which can be made via cals.org, are required. There will be a post-screening discussion. LM
Reception 6-9 p.m. Argenta Gallery/Rock City Werks.
"Periculum," an exhibition of impressionist landscapes and cityscapes of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, by Arkansas painter Trey McCarley, opens with a reception Thursday at Argenta Gallery/Rock City Werks (413 Main St. in North Little Rock). The exhibition will be accompanied by a short film of the same name (which translates to "danger") produced by McCarley and directed by Adam Viera at 7 p.m.; the gallery doors will be closed at 7 p.m. while the 9-minute video shows and will reopen afterward. Latino Art Project founder Will Hogg curated. LNP
ALEX DE GRASSI
7:30 p.m. The Joint. $20.
In a video discussion with neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Levitin called "This Is Your Brain on Music," fingerstyle guitarist Alex de Grassi claimed he began composing his own music out of necessity, that when it comes to showing eager young guitarists how to imitate "that Led Zeppelin solo thing" or uncover the secrets of difficult repertoire, he's "useless ... . I'm just not that good at cataloging other people's music." Though he'll occasionally throw in The Carter Family's "Single Girl" or a folk standard, you won't likely hear any intricate renditions of "Sultans of Swing" at de Grassi's performance Thursday night. Born in Japan and raised in San Francisco, where his grandfather played violin in the San Francisco Symphony, de Grassi was an early member of the Windham Hill Records clique, and has spent his 30-year career playing steel-string guitars with a classically informed technique that's more often used with the warmer, softer sounds of nylon strings. Although he's not specifically branded as someone who plays children's music, he composed "Beyond the Night Sky: Lullabies for Guitar," and spent time in La Paz, Bolivia, helping collect Andean music for teen musicians to perform exclusively on instruments indigenous to that area, culminating in the Contemporary Orchestra of Native Instruments' album "Arawi: The Doctrine of Cycles." He's played at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and at the Montreux Jazz Festival, but by the looks of his engagement lists, he spends a good deal of time performing at colleges and universities for students of guitar. De Grassi typically plays without the aid of amps, picks or the types of custom guitars that his fingerstyle peers are known for toting around, and he makes use of the lesser explored parts of the guitar, like the bits of the strings just under where they're wound around the tuning pegs. SS
AUDUBON ARKANSAS BIRDING AND SEED COLLECTION
8 a.m. Prairie Ridge, Terre Noire preserve, Clark County.CANCELED DUE TO RAIN FORECAST
Arkansas's rare blackland prairie ecosystem — preserved by The Nature Conservancy of Arkansas at Terre Noire and elsewhere — supports nearly two dozen rare plants and animals besides hundreds of other native plant species. On Friday, volunteers are invited to join Audubon Arkansas to help keep the preserve healthy by collecting seeds from native plants — some endemic to Prairie Ridge — to use in habitat restoration. Before the seed gathering, Audubon Arkansas Director Dan Scheiman will lead volunteers in early birding (8 a.m. to 10 a.m.) — the rare Bachman's sparrow, grasshopper sparrows and prairie warblers could be seen here. The seed collecting will run from 10 a.m. to noon. Bring gloves and a reusable water bottle (Audubon will provide the water) and wear boots and clothes you don't mind getting grubby; Audubon Arkansas will provide insect repellant and work equipment. For more information, call Uta Meyer at 244-2229. LNP
TRUE FAITH, TRUE LIGHT: THE DEVOTIONAL ART OF ED STILLEY
Reception and musical performance 6-8 p.m. Old State House Museum.
Ed Stilley of Hogscald Hollow is a one of a kind, an Ozark preacher and farmer who said a vision from God inspired him to make musical instruments and give them away to children. He toiled over a quarter of a century to make some 200 fiddles, dulcimers, banjos and guitars of scrap wood, saw blades, a stack of dimes, pot lids and such, according to numerous articles about Stilley, and gave them all away. The instruments are inscribed "True Faith, True Light, Have Faith in God," hence the name of a book about Stilley, "True Faith, True Light: The Devotional Art of Ed Stilley," and the exhibit at the Old State House. Twenty-eight of his instruments, along with photographs and his "blessed router," will be on exhibit. Kelly and Donna Mulhollan, who perform as Still on the Hill, are guest curators for the show, and will perform at the reception using some of Stilley's creations. LNP
DANCING INTO DREAMLAND
7 p.m. Dreamland Ballroom, top floor of Arkansas Flag & Banner Building. $25-$69.
The Taborian Hall at 800 W. Ninth St. — commonly known as the "Flag and Banner Building" — is 100 years old, the last remaining original structure from the time when Ninth Street was a bustling black business district. When the USO purchased the building during World War II, its physicians' offices and various commercial ventures were vacated to create a hub of nightlife for African-American officers stationed in Central Arkansas. The third floor, known as the Dreamland Ballroom (and in the 1950s as Club Morocco), was a dance hall and event venue that in its heyday billed performances by the likes of Duke Ellington, Etta James, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway. By the 1970s, Taborian Hall was abandoned. Kerry McCoy, the current owner, purchased the building in the 1990s with the vision of restoring it to its former pizazz and preserving its unique history. This Friday, for the seventh year, the nonprofit organization Friends of Dreamland will host Dancing into Dreamland — a dance competition among troupes of various styles — the proceeds of which benefit the ongoing restoration of the Dreamland Ballroom. In addition to performances by the dancers, Amy Garland & the Dreamland Songbirds will play, and there will be refreshments. General admission tickets are available for $69, and there are ticketing options for group tables, balcony seating for students, and sponsorships. Celebrity judges will decide the winners, and audience members will vote via text for their own favorites. AG
ELIZABETH COOK, JESSIE AYCOCK
9 p.m. Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack. $15.
Like her close friend and past tour mate Todd Snider, Elizabeth Cook's songwriting register lies somewhere between cheeky and emotionally resonant. She does rollicking honky-tonk (see "Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman" from 2007's "Balls") and elegiac and confessional ballads (see "Heroin Addict Sister" from 2010's "Welder": "We all say thank God mama / Ain't here to go through it this time / She's in heaven telling them Macon County cops / Better give her baby a ride") as well as anyone today in country music, where she's more critical darling than radio mainstay. Though she's stayed busy — hosting a Sirius XM show on the Outlaw Country channel 60, doing voiceover work on Cartoon Network's "Squidbillies" and making regular appearances on "The Late Show with David Letterman" — the six years between "Welder" and her new album, "Exodus of Venus," marked a tumultuous time in her personal life: She got divorced, entered rehab, saw a few family members die and suffered a house fire. So while longtime fans will still recognize Cook's songwriting and big vocals, "Exodus" marks a departure from previous records. It's moodier, more in the range of the psychedelic and swampy Americana folks like Sturgill Simpson have made popular in recent years. "Everything's different, everything's new," Cook told Rolling Stone Country. "How can the record not be different? I'm on a different planet than I was six years ago." Tulsa singer/songwriter Jesse Aycock, who played lap steel on Cook's album and has also played with The Secret Sisters and Hard Working Americans, opens the show. LM
THIRD FRIDAY ARGENTA ARTWALK
5-8 p.m. Downtown North Little Rock.
The monthly after-hours gallery event features work at several venues, including Argenta Gallery/Rock City Werks (where "Periculum" continues); the Thea Foundation (401 Main St.); Mugs Cafe (515 Main St.); the Argenta branch of the Laman Public Library; and Greg Thompson Fine Art (429 Main St.). Fayetteville photographer Kat Wilson is showing portraits in which the subjects created the setting in "Habitats: Bentonville" at Thea. The walls at Mugs will be hung with "Figure It Out," an exhibition of work by graphic designer Claire Cade, multimedia artist Lilia Hernandez and printmaker Catherine Kim. The 2nd annual "Juried Arkansas Art Teacher Exhibition" opens at the library; artist and Drawl gallery owner Guy Bell was juror. At Thompson Fine Art, see work by Carroll Cloar, Clementine Hunter, Donald Roller Wilson, William R. Dunlap, Dolores Justus and others in the gallery's extended "Best of the South 2016" exhibition. LNP
COMMUNITY HOLIDAY ART SALE
6 p.m. Gallery 360, 900 S. Rodney Parham Road. $5-$7 suggested donation.
Since March of 2008, CJ Boyd's been on what he calls an InfiniTour, a perpetual road trip through North America in his "Jambulance," a "re-purposed ambulance that runs on vegetable oil," as stated on his label Joyful Noise's website. Under the umbrella of his label Obsolete Media Objects, Boyd's recorded with violist Dominique Hamilton and cellist Molly McDermott as the Kurva Choir, with Stockholm electronica artists Ways to Walk, with Brooklyn indie rockers Shy Hunters and as part of the Brussels-based trio Rhonya. Boyd improvises on electric and upright bass guitars accented with vocals and harmonica, and often performs solo creating a set of live recorded loops. After teaching a free workshop on loop recording at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library at 2 p.m. (call 978-3870 to register), he'll join St. Louis performance artist Janet, classical guitarist Joel Richardson, live-action poetry duo Half Sestina 811 in accompanying an art/photography sale featuring work from over 40 local artists, including John Kushmaul, Kat Wilson, Sulac, Katherine Strause, Crystal Mercer, Phillip Rex Huddleston, Layet Johnson, Robbie Brindley, Diane Harper and more. Viva Vegan will have a special menu featuring all-vegan burritos, tamales and cupcakes, and you'll have a chance to get acquainted with Little Fox Foods Co-Op, a worker-owned cooperative that used six acres of farmland gifted from Meadowcreek Inc. to grow a variety of "holy basil" for use in its signature Tulsi Tea. SS
8 p.m. UCA, Reynolds Performance Hall. $25.
While it's kinda interesting to speculate — between our bouts of abject horror about the next four years and beyond — on whether "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart might have been able to have an impact on Democratic voter apathy and thus the election had he not retired in August 2015, now is not the time for looking backward. Now is the time to stockpile rice and beans, and bury ammo under the toolshed. That said, it's also the time for a new hero of rationality and political truth to rise. That's why we're willing to give new "Daily Show "host Trevor Noah a second look. Noah will be coming to UCA's Reynolds Performance Hall at 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20 for a visit to the darkest heart of Trumplandia as part of a book tour for his new memoir, "Born a Crime," about growing up in South America during apartheid as the son of a white father and a black mother. A note on the Reynolds Performance Hall page says the event will be for a mature audience, and thus, no one under 17 will be admitted. When it comes to what "mature" means, our money's on a drunk, shirtless, wild eyed Noah screaming "WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKKK?!" over and over into the microphone for an hour, but we'll see. DK
SATURDAY 11/19-SUNDAY 11/20
RETURN TO ROBINSON CENTER: PINES OF ROME
7:30 Sat., 3 p.m. Sun. Robinson Center. $39-$67.
With the sub-seat carpeting gone and the stage dropped over 30 feet, the new performance hall at Robinson Center is a shapeshifter: a bowed acoustic shell that can be used to "hug the orchestra," as Gretchen Hall of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau said. Its acoustical draping can be used to clarify the sound or to dampen it for amplified performances like "The Lion King," set to be staged at Robinson in 2018. After two years of performing in the Maumelle Performing Arts Center — and selling out shows, at that — the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra has spent the last week or so in the hall, working with Mark Holden of JaffeHolden, the Connecticut-based acousticians who engineered the hall's sonic environs. The fruits of that work will unfold first in "Pines of Rome," a concert named after the second work in Respighi's "Roman Trilogy." The four-movement piece's score calls for enhancements from a phonograph in one movement and offstage flugelhorns in another. It paints impressionistic images of pine trees in a Roman villa where children are playing, near a catacomb, against a full moon near the Temple of Janus and finally, in Respighi's words, amid pines seen along the military road into Rome as "trumpets sound and, in the brilliance of the newly risen sun, a consular army bursts forth towards the Sacred Way, mounting in triumph to the Capitol." (So, depending on how you sway politically, either a foreboding siege or a glorious resistance.) The program also features the overture to Glinka's second opera, an adaptation of an Alexander Pushkin story called "Ruslan and Lyudmila," as well as Mozart's "Symphony No. 35" (the Haffner), which was intended to celebrate the composer's longtime friend Sigismund Haffner Jr.'s rise to nobility, but had to be reworked after Mozart, ever the procrastinator, missed his deadline. Finally, guest violinist Philippe Quint has Jascha Heifetz to thank for the impossibly explosive finale of Korngold's "Violin Concerto in D Major," as the Lithuanian virtuoso requested before premiering the work in 1947 that Korngold make it more difficult. Quint's no stranger to Korngold, or even to the film world in which the composer found a home; he earned a Grammy nomination in 2009 for his recording of this very concerto, and co-starred with Nellie McKay in producer Michael Hausmann's film "Downtown Express." He plays a 1738 "Senhauser" Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu violin, a historic instrument that the concerto will undoubtedly put through its paces. SS
HAR MAR SUPERSTAR
8:30 p.m. Stickyz. $8.
Sean Tillmann conjured up the alter ego Har Mar Superstar — named after the Har Mar Mall in Roseville, Minn. — when he was performing with his pop outfit Sean Na Na, expanding on the part of the group's set when it would launch into a note-for-note version of R. Kelly's "When a Woman Is Fed Up." Live, he's a guileless fireball. Looking like Ron Jeremy in a color-blocked poncho (or, more often, in just his briefs), Tillmann delivers gut-punching vocals that channel Otis Redding and Sting at turns, and he does a sweaty striptease that manages to be tongue-in-cheek and body positive at the same time. He's penned hits for Jennifer Lopez, The Cheetah Girls and Kelly Osbourne and, ever the picture of modesty, told So Magazine "It can be fun, but it's a real rat race writing for pop singers. Kind of like playing the lottery. The good part is that I have my own career, so whatever doesn't make the cut is open for me to slay." That's not all talk: When Britney Spears' management put the kibosh on his tune "Tall Boy," he recorded it himself, complete with a bombastically weird sci-fi video featuring Eva Mendes and Alia Shawkat. Tillmann inspired a cult following for his sexually charged appearances in commercials for Vladivar Vodka, and appeared in the films "Pitch Perfect," as Ben Stiller's disco dance-off nemesis in "Starsky and Hutch," and on Comedy Central's "Broad City." Catch him with Minneapolis' Tickle Torture, a hypersexualized pop group with glittery homespun costumes and tunes like "Fuck Me with the Lights On" and "Maybe I Need to Go Home." SS
48TH COLLECTORS SHOW & SALE
Arkansas Arts Center, Tuesday-Sunday.
The "Collectors Show and Sale" opened last week with 150 contemporary drawings and sculpture from New York galleries, all selected by the Arts Center's Collectors Group in its September trip to the Big Apple. The annual holiday show and sale features work by big-name American and European artists, including Will Barnet, John Marin, Henry Farrer, Jon Schueler, Winold Reiss, Jean Iskandar and many others. Prices range from below $1,000 to $95,000, for that special person on your holiday list. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Arts Center. The Collectors Group will vote on a work to be acquired by the Arts Center for its permanent collection. Arts Center members are welcome to attend a Collectors Show brunch 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 19. LNP