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Nick Cave comes to Crystal Bridges 

click to enlarge NICK CAVE: The performance artist and creator of the soundsuit speaks at Crystal Bridges.
  • NICK CAVE: The performance artist and creator of the soundsuit speaks at Crystal Bridges.

THURSDAY 12/1

'6X6' UALR ART SALE FUNDRAISER
6-8 p.m. Applied Design Studio. $15 students, $20 UALR employees, $45 general admission. (Also 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Fri., free.)

Get a jump on other acquisitive fine art fans by heading to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Friends of the Arts' fundraiser "6X6," a silent auction of artwork by UALR faculty, alumni and students that precedes a free-admission sale the following day. The event is at the school's Applied Design Studio at University Plaza, Suite 300. In keeping with a tradition started with the first "6X6" six years ago, small works on canvas will be auctioned, along with work in other media. Artists will demonstrate art-making while guests enjoy heavy hors d'oeuvres, wine and locally brewed beer. Then, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, shop what wasn't snapped up at UALR's Holiday Art Sale at the studio, no admission charged. Last year, work by 25 artists was featured; expect around the same number this year, Mia Hall, head of UALR's furniture design program, said. LNP

FRIDAY 12/2

NICK WATERHOUSE
9 p.m. Stickyz. $10-$12.

From calypso beats to thick-rimmed glasses, Buddy Holly borrowed liberally from Bo Diddley. About 60 years later, from somewhere along the aesthetic line that connects those two giants, Nick Waterhouse emerged. Sporting the kind of infectiously fat, staccato sax beats that helped the Squirrel Nut Zippers' "Hell" skyrocket to the top of the charts, Waterhouse's sound is thick, fuzzy and, at moments, exactly the kind of surf rock you'd expect to come from someone who spent his adolescence browsing Bay area used-record stores like Rooky Ricardo's. Though you'd have to forgive the cursory listener's inclination to classify Waterhouse in the category of throwback music — his music videos lean heavily toward "Mad Men" suits and dry martinis, and he's collaborated with Leon Bridges — he's come by the sound honestly. "When I was making the record, I was making exactly what I wanted to make," he told the Chicago Tribune about his first record, "Time's All Gone." "It's not about, 'You're into old stuff.' It's a matter of taste. ... I hear people playing music indebted to other times and never felt like I fit in with them, because it sounds mannered to me, not as direct." In September, he released his third full-length, "Never Twice," which sounds as if it had been recorded in a real room, avoiding the sort of overproduced sheen that might otherwise have relegated his sound to the realm of the banal and derivative. SS

FRIDAY 12/2

NICK CAVE
7 p.m. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville. $10.

Performance artist and educator Nick Cave, famed for his body-covering wearable soundsuit sculptures that rustle and make music with movement (Crystal Bridges has two), will talk with museum curator Chad Alligood about his art and philosophy. As an example of Cave's aesthetic goals, consider his immersive exhibition "Until" (at MassMOCA in North Adams, Mass., through Sept. 3): It includes millions of beads, ceramic birds, gilded pigs, 10 miles of crystals and cast-iron lawn jockeys; he said the idea for the installation arose from thinking about gun violence and racism. "And then I wondered: Is there racism in heaven?" he told the New York Times. "That's how this piece came about." Cave is a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Crystal Bridges' soundsuits include one made with tin toy noisemakers and another with long strands of loosely attached buttons. LNP

FRIDAY-SUNDAY 12/2-12/4

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE IN HOT SPRINGS
5-9 p.m. Art galleries on Central Avenue and at other locations.

The Spa City's galleries are pulling out the stops and putting out the wine and cheese for more than Friday's Gallery Walk: They've got a weekend planned of festivities, including art demonstrations, ornament painting, children's activities, fine art shopping and the second annual "Ugly Sweater Contest." Friday night, you'll find mosaics by Suzie Burch and Erma Steelsmith, paintings and ceramics by Polly Cook, mobiles by Gerald Lee Delevan and a demonstration of painting by Patrick Cunningham at Alison Parsons Gallery; a pine needle basket-weaving demonstration at American Art Gallery; live music, elves and a craft corner at the Artists Workshop Gallery; a demonstration of spirit stick-making at Blue Rock Studio; Linda Palmer signing copies of her book "The Champion Trees of Arkansas" at Gallery Central; work by Beverly Buys, Robyn Horn, Kristin DeGeorge, Randall Good, Emily Wood and others at Justus Fine Art and a book-signing at Legacy Gallery. On Saturday, there will be ornament painting with Carole Katchen and Elizabeth Weber and more; Artists Workshop Gallery will host live holiday music and children's events on Sunday. And don't forget: Emergent Arts will feature small works of original art in its Art-O-Mat vending machines during Gallery Walk. Find the schedule and more events on Facebook at It's a Wonderful Life in Hot Springs. LNP

click to enlarge AT THE CRAFT GUILD: Kate Baer will sell her fossil-imprinted necklaces and rings in gold and silver at the Christmas Showcase.
  • AT THE CRAFT GUILD: Kate Baer will sell her fossil-imprinted necklaces and rings in gold and silver at the Christmas Showcase.

FRIDAY-SUNDAY 12/2-12/4

CRAFT GUILD CHRISTMAS SHOWCASE
10 a.m.-8 p.m. Fri., 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun. Statehouse Convention Center. $5 (free 5-8 p.m. Fri., 8-10 a.m. Sat.).

The Arkansas Craft Guild's Christmas Showcase has been going on longer than most of the reporters at the Arkansas Times have been alive. For 38 years, the Arkansas Craft Gallery in Mountain View has sent its artisans down from the hills to Little Rock to sell their jewelry, weaving, ceramics, jams, glass, woodworks, and, yes, wooden swords to us big-city types longing for things made by Arkansas hands. There will be craft beer tastings, door prizes and live music, along with the crafts for sale: fine turned-wood vessels by Gene Sparling, silver and stone jewelry by Ryan Rathje and fossil-impressed necklaces and such by Kate Baer, stained glass by Christy Marchand, Santas by Doris Fountain, leather by Larry and Rebecca Brockman, fiber art by Jeanette Larson, ceramics by S&J Pottery, blown glass beads by Sage Holland, hats by Leigh Abernathy, brooms, quilts, photographs, honey, watercolors, soaps ... you get the picture. Oh, the swords — they're from Hollow Earth Swordworks, up there in Newnata (Stone County). More than 100 artisans are participating. Get a gander at some of what you can snap up at the Arkansas Craft Guild Annual Christmas Showcase page on Facebook. LNP

SATURDAY 12/3

HOLIDAY HANGOUT: LIVE FROM THE BREWHOUSE
2 p.m. Lost Forty Brewing. Free.

Tickets for Last Chance Records/White Water Tavern's venerated Holiday Hangout concerts were gone in a couple of days, but you can still catch some auxiliary acoustic music at Lost Forty, the hangout's offsite venue, on Saturday afternoon. "Holiday Hangout: The B-Side" will feature performances by the Belfast-born frontman of Minneapolis' Romantica, Ben Kyle, along with Roger Hoover, an Ohio songwriter whose Arkansas connections run deep. Hoover's latest solo effort on Last Chance Records, "Pastures," opens with a memory Hoover made in Little Rock, "Get What You Give Back." "Pastures" was recorded at a cabin in northwest Pennsylvania and at producer Ryan Foltz' house on Lake Erie, an 11-song catalogue of literate middle-American anthems, alternatively raucous ("Dust") and melancholy ("St. John"). Aaron Lee Tasjan, the wry wordsmith who shared a stage with Ray Wylie Hubbard at the White Water Tavern earlier this year, brings tunes from his October release, "Silver Tears." Produced by Father John Misty's bassist, Eli Thomas, the album's been polished to more pearlescence than was evident on 2015's "In the Blazes," but shows its teeth with the same punchline-laden cultural criticism: "There's a redneck bummer in an H-2 Hummer, and he sure does hate the queers/I guess some life choices are cries for help that nobody ever hears." And, for anyone who's sound-tracked a weekend house-cleaning session or a walk to work with 2008's "See Thru Me " or 2012's "Antivenin Suite" but has yet to see him live, here's a rare chance to hear resident mensch Isaac Alexander play before the sun goes down. SS

click to enlarge HIGH-FLYING HOLIDAY: Contortionists, acrobats and stilt walkers from Arkansas Circus Arts interpret Christmas traditions for the "Holiday Cirque Spectacular" at Wildwood Park for the Arts' Cabe Theater, 7:30 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., $15-$25.
  • HIGH-FLYING HOLIDAY: Contortionists, acrobats and stilt walkers from Arkansas Circus Arts interpret Christmas traditions for the "Holiday Cirque Spectacular" at Wildwood Park for the Arts' Cabe Theater, 7:30 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., $15-$25.

SATURDAY 12/3-SUNDAY 12/4

HOLIDAY CIRQUE SPECTACULAR
7:30 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Wildwood Park for the Arts Cabe Theater. $15-$25.

Barnum & Bailey hasn't elbowed out the moms-and-pops of the circus world just yet. What started as a network of friends interested in partner yoga and aerial arts blossomed into the business Arkansas Circus Arts, now the state's only professional circus arts troupe. The acrobats specialize in dangling from aerial silks hung from the ceiling, juggling, playing with fire, double point trapeze and walking on stilts — usually in elaborate costume. With trainer Camille Rule at the helm and membership in American Circus Educators and the American Youth Circus Organization, the company's made a home at Re-Creation Studios (1101 Cumberland St.), complete with 8-inch thick crash mats and a 25-foot ceiling from which to dangle. There, its company develops routines for parties and teaches youth and adult classes in aerial arts, circus tumbling and hoop dance. For this event, Rule and Bekah Poland directed the company's acrobatic Christmas show, featuring contortionists, stilt walkers and "other circus surprises." For Saturday's performance, there's a cocktail hour beforehand, at 6:15 p.m., with beer from Stone's Throw Brewing, wine from Chateau Aux Arc Vineyards in Altus, delights from The Southern Gourmasian food truck parked outside the theater and Kent Walker's artisan cheeses. SS

SUNDAY 12/4

ART OF THE BAR
6 p.m. South on Main.

Spice up what would most likely be a lazy Sunday and get ahead on holiday shopping with seasonal drinks and Arkansas crafts for sale by talented locals AR-T's, Bang-Up Betty, Bumble Bri, Crow and Arrow, Dimestore Diamonds, Dower, Electric Ghost Screen Printing, Lane Emily Pottery, Little Mountain Bindery, Noah Noble Jewelry, Roll & Tumble Provisions, Sally Nixon, Southern Girl Soapery and StephSpace. Lucie's Place will be around to wrap up the gifts so they can go straight from there to under your tree as you catch a buzz. The event is hosted by South on Main, so you know the food is guaranteed to be fantastic. There will be a raffle; you'll get one ticket just for showing up and will get an additional ticket for each purchase you make from the artists. There will also be a photo booth, run by the gifted Katie Childs. Doors will open for free at 6 p.m., but if you want to beat the crowd and get the first pick of what the vendors have to offer, join them at the 5 p.m. preview party. Preview tickets are $25 and include a welcoming cocktail and a shopping tote; they'll be limited, so act quickly. CL

click to enlarge INDESTRUCTIBLE MACHINE: Bloodshot Records' Lydia Loveless joins labelmate Cory Branan, along with Brent Best, Roger Hoover and JKutchma at Breakfast, Books and Booze, the conclusion to Last Chance Records' Holiday Hangout concerts, 5 p.m., White Water Tavern, $10.
  • INDESTRUCTIBLE MACHINE: Bloodshot Records' Lydia Loveless joins labelmate Cory Branan, along with Brent Best, Roger Hoover and JKutchma at Breakfast, Books and Booze, the conclusion to Last Chance Records' Holiday Hangout concerts, 5 p.m., White Water Tavern, $10.

SUNDAY 12/4

BREAKFAST, BOOKS AND BOOZE
Noon. White Water Tavern. Free-$10.

Travis Hill's birthday is Dec. 2, and thank heavens for that. If the Last Chance Records founder had been born in July, he might not have thrown himself the birthday party he did in 2009, featuring, as he told us, "three of [his] favorite bands — Glossary, Slobberbone, and Two Cow Garage." The party has grown into the annual Holiday Hangout concerts and its auxiliary events: the Holiday Hangout offsite sessions (at Lost Forty this year, and mentioned earlier in this To-Do List) and Breakfast, Books and Booze. The latter is exactly what it sounds like, and has become a hallmark of the season for music lovers in Capitol View and Stifft Station. (Even when a paralyzing early December ice storm hit in 2013, Hill said, "we prevailed and filled the White Water with fans and music.") The White Water Tavern will open at the crack of noon, filling the dive up with books and zines from Mary Chamberlin's literature distribution company Tree of Knowledge, brunch from the Southern Salt Food Co. and, starting at 5 p.m., acoustic sets from Cory Branan, Lydia Loveless, Brent Best, Roger Hoover, JKutchma and more. SS

SUNDAY 12/4

'HOLIDAY CHEER'
Historic Arkansas Museum, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, Old State House Museum, Governor's Mansion.

The state Department of Arkansas Heritage does its bit to get families in the holiday spirit with "Holiday Cheer" open houses at its museums and at the home of the governor and first lady of Arkansas. The Historic Arkansas Museum celebrates a 19th century Christmas with living history, carols, re-enactments, live music, readings of "The Night Before Christmas," dancing, photos with Santa and other activities at its 48th annual Christmas Frolic from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Mosaic Templars Cultural Museum will host its annual "Say It Ain't Say's" sweet potato pie contest and live entertainment from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (take part in the judging!); a toy to support Say McIntosh's Holiday Toy Drive gets you in. Children can make holiday cards and more at the Old State House Museum, which will also feature caroling and cookies from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The Governor's Mansion, which has been decorated around the theme of Handel's "Messiah" and which turned the Grand Hall into a Renaissance cathedral, will be open to the public from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. LNP

click to enlarge CHORDS OF INQUIRY: Songwriter John Willis celebrates his birthday with a tribute to Joni Mitchell at South on Main Wednesday evening, 8:30 p.m., $10.
  • CHORDS OF INQUIRY: Songwriter John Willis celebrates his birthday with a tribute to Joni Mitchell at South on Main Wednesday evening, 8:30 p.m., $10.

WEDNESDAY 12/7

JOHN PLAYS JONI
8:30 a.m. South on Main. $10.

Late Romantics frontman, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John Willis celebrates his birthday Wednesday evening with a tribute to his favorite songwriter, someone whose music he's been studying for 20 years: Joni Mitchell. Willis was born long after "paved paradise, and put up a parking lot" had entered the popular lexicon, but found a gateway to Mitchell's music by way of other piano-forward artists like Tori Amos, whose list of influences led Willis to dig around in Mitchell's discography. Eventually, he picked up the guitar to "figure out her songs and her 'weird chords,' " Willis told us. "To this day, the songs I write on guitar have a different feel, maybe a different muse, than my piano songs, although I've "branded" myself more as a piano guy. I don't really write in her tunings anymore — because I can't afford the multiple guitars or guitar techs to tune to all of them when I perform! But the awareness and the place that working with that vocabulary created within me is one that is very native to me now, like a second home." For this show, Willis (along with a host of other local musicians, including this writer) pays homage to Mitchell's music thematically, rather than chronologically, working in lesser-known bits from the corners of her repertoire as well as mainstays like "Big Yellow Taxi." "I mean, Amy Grant did it, so little gay Southern boys like me knew it," Willis said. "Big Yellow Taxi" is "perhaps her most-covered, best-loved hit ... but it's also a song about the negative impact our human selfishness is having on the planet and on each other, a cautionary message that just gets stronger with 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem,' her 1991 reworking of Yeats' poem 'The Second Coming,' and reaches a crescendo with 'Bad Dreams' and 'Shine,' from her last album of original material in 2007." Tables can be reserved by calling 244-9660. Check out our interview with Willis on the Arkansas Times' entertainment blog, Rock Candy. SS


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