Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned
THURSDAY 1/22-FRIDAY 1/23
MOZART'S MAGIC FLUTE
7 p.m. Albert Pike Memorial Temple. $25.
The first interesting thing you learn from Mozart's Wikipedia page is his full name: Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. Born 1756, the year St. Patrick's Day was celebrated for the first time in New York and the first chocolate-candy factory opened in Germany. There is an anonymous portrait painted of him at age 7. He looks pompous, bratty, unbearable even: There is an unearned adult intensity to his expression, and one hand is kept tucked arrogantly into his regal button-up vest. It is hard not to hate him. The youngest of seven children, at this point he has been composing harmonically complex music for years (he'd write his first symphony at 8).
By 35, as Alex Ross has written, "Mozart was a sick man who felt his life slipping away." Paraded around Europe in his youth, he's spent the bulk of his career in Vienna. A contemporary, a singer, describes him as "a remarkably small man, very thin and pale, with a profusion of fine, fair hair of which he was rather vain." He has two pet birds, one of which he has taught to sing. When he isn't writing music, he's shooting darts with his buddy Emanuel Schikaneder, a Bavarian actor, singer and notorious womanizer. Schikaneder operates a theater with his ex-wife known for "flying machines, trapdoors, thunder, elaborate lighting and other visual effects including fires and waterfalls." The theater's fall season culminated in "The Magic Flute," which Mozart wrote fairly quickly with help from Schikaneder (who also wrote the libretto). Mozart died a few weeks after the premiere, and we still don't know why.
Antonio Salieri, best remembered as the jealous friend in "Amadeus," said "The Magic Flute" was "worthy of being played at the greatest festival for the greatest monarchs," an impression that has generally held up over the years. On Thursday and Friday night, it will be performed at the Albert Pike Memorial Temple (appropriately, as Mozart was a lifelong Freemason), in collaboration with Opera in the Rock. WS
THURSDAY 1/22-SUNDAY 4/5
"PIGSKIN PEANUTS" AND "HEARTBREAK IN PEANUTS"
Clinton Presidential Library. Free with library admission except for special free family days.
For 50 years, Lucy pulled the football out from under Charlie Brown in funny papers all over the country. Fans of Lucy's treachery will be able to see her do it again at the Clinton Presidential Center, which is showing "Peanuts" football and love-themed cartoons by way of celebrating the life and career of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. The exhibitions won't just be two-dimensional: They'll be accompanied by 5-foot-tall replicas of Charlie Brown and Snoopy. There will be free family programs in conjunction with the exhibitions on Jan. 31 (a pre-Super Bowl party), and Feb. 7 and 14 (Valentine's Day programming). LNP
'LIGHTBULB CLUB: A YEAR IN THE LIFE'
9 p.m. Lightbulb Club, Fayetteville.
In the past seven years, Fayetteville photographer John Moore, who maintains the blog noir33, claims to have shot over 15,000 images documenting the city's music scene on his 1974 Minolta rangefinder, in the form of "house parties, small clubs or makeshift venues." "As a photographer," he writes at his blog, "it stands as the largest and most extensive body of work I've done ... it is doubtful that I can ever do something greater." As the Fayetteville Flyer put it recently, "No one has captured the Fayetteville underground music scene better." Friday night, Moore will host a release party for his new book, a small slice of this ongoing project, titled "Lightbulb Club: A Year in the Life." The book records performances by over 75 bands and, in its own way, marks a significant contribution to the cultural history of the region. The night will also feature sets by Grim Creeper, Thunderlizards, Mud Lung and Auric. WS
FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE
7:30 p.m. Verizon Arena. $45-$71.50
From Ormond Beach, Fla., and metro Atlanta they came to Nashville looking for God. Not to agnostic Vanderbilt, that is, but to Belmont, the state's largest Christian university, known increasingly as a backdoor into the still-vital country industry (with an alumni roll-call that includes Brad Paisley, Trisha Yearwood and Lee Ann Womack). Tyler Hubbard had shoulder-length blond hair, a vaguely distracted look and a propensity for denim vests. Brian Kelley wore a gold chain, gelled his hair vertically and looked winningly stoned. "Me and my friends rode trucks, listened to Garth Brooks, Alabama, Lil Wayne and Eminem," Brian would brag, and Tyler's did, too. They met at worship group, where they shared personal testimonials, cried openly and played uplifting, spiritual music on acoustic guitars.
They began spending time together, creating together. Their masterpiece was a song called "Cruise" that would spend a record 24 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. In it they watched a woman emerge "right out of the South Georgia water," and fantasized about driving with her through "every little farm town" with their windows rolled down. It is tempting to imagine all their music set in this particular geography, this zone around the actual Florida-Georgia line. It is their "apocryphal county," as Faulkner once described Yoknapatawpha. Their music evokes the warm physicality of the area, with song titles like "Sun Daze," "Dirt," "Smoke," "Hell Raisin' Heat of the Summer." It's like you're standing by an apartment complex swimming pool, your mouth dry and sticky from cigarettes, a solo cup in one hand, thinking, "I will never be alone." WS
KABF TRIBUTE TO TOM PETTY
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
Community radio station KABF-FM, 88.3 has made a tradition of its benefit tribute concerts, all-night odes to The Rolling Stones or Neil Young or whomever, performed by a revolving cast of local artists. We should consider ourselves blessed that they've finally made their way down the classic rock canon to Tom Petty, a counterintuitive but genuinely promising choice. Petty is from Florida, which shouldn't be at all surprising considering his accent, his hair, his boldness and his genius. He was abused by his father, he worked as a gravedigger, he met Elvis Presley on the set of a movie in 1961. He started bands with awful names like The Epics, The Sundowners, Mudcrutch. He played dive bars all over Gainesville and recorded a white reggae anthem called "Depot Street" that's better than it should be.
With The Heartbreakers, Petty would go on to record something like 13 albums — two of them nearly perfect, a handful great. He has declared bankruptcy once or twice. He specializes in a brand of deceptively straightforward guitar rock that wasn't all that different, most of the time, from what Jonathan Richman or Lou Reed was doing. But, you know, he's from Florida. Usually considered a patriotic, heartland-rock icon, there has nevertheless always been a darker, more enigmatic edge to Petty's music, too. It's why Bret Easton Ellis has a heroin addict in "Less Than Zero" sing Petty's "Straight Into Darkness." Or for that matter, listen to "Luna," the song right before the much better-known "American Girl" on the band's self-titled debut. It's a prog dirge, and when he sings "I am a prisoner," he is too convincing. WS