"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
BENNIE WALLACE QUARTET
8 p.m. South on Main. $20.
The New York Arts Journal has called Bennie Wallace "the most important reed player since [Eric] Dolphy's and [Ornette] Coleman's startling work in the early sixties." Wallace is from East Ridge, Tenn., just outside of Chattanooga. Often, on record, his tone can take on a warm, still smoothness that sounds more like Stan Getz than Eric Dolphy or Ornette Coleman. But unlike Stan Getz, Wallace wrote the soundtrack to the film "White Men Can't Jump." Also unlike Stan Getz, he has recorded with Aretha Franklin, Dr. John and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He has released an album ("The Old Songs") that is about as close to being simultaneously kid-friendly and psychedelically off-putting as it is possible for jazz to be. So — he's unpredictable. He's not averse to melody. He's brilliant, by all accounts. He is, as DownBeat magazine once put it, "a modernist who understands the past."
MULEHEAD RECORD RELEASE
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern. $7.
Mulehead, the beloved Little Rock alt-country band that broke up 11 years ago only to return stronger and sleeker, wiser and more powerful, has finished a new record, "Forever Out Of Tune," which will be out via Max Recordings on April 28. For those of you who can't wait that long or who feel inclined to support an important and deserving local cultural institution, you can also pre-order the record today at Pledge Music (pledgemusic.com/projects/mulehead) and get immediate access to a free download. They're offering a CD, an LP and a digital copy — plus other things, like signed posters, woodcut prints and handwritten lyric sheets. Serious fans (or very lonely people) can pay extra to have coffee with front man Kevin Kerby ($100), have Kerby give a solo acoustic show at your house ($300) or have the full band play ($1,000), provided you live within 200 miles of Little Rock. Also, more pertinently, another great option would be to come celebrate the release of the record this weekend at White Water Tavern, with Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth and Conway's Matt Ross. CDs will be available for $10.
FRIDAY 4/3-SATURDAY 4/11
OZARK FOOTHILLS FILMFEST
University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville. $5-$25.
The Ozark Foothills FilmFest, held at Independence Hall on the campus of the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville, includes 28 features, documentaries and shorts, including "Northern Borders," starring Bruce Dern; "The Frontier"; "Stomping Ground" (billed as "a scary relationship comedy about love and Bigfoot hunting"); "Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound" and "Misfire: The Rise and Fall of The Shooting Gallery," a crowd-funded documentary about the production company behind "Stand By Me" and "Sling Blade." The festival will also screen a rediscovered and restored print of the silent film "Lonesome" (described by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum as a "classic example" of silent cinema's "perfection of expression"), with live musical accompaniment by the Doug Talley Quartet. Other screenings include "Eureka! The Art of Being," about Eureka Springs, and "Woke Up This Mornin' in the Arkansas Delta," a travel film directed by Benjamin Meade. Twenty filmmakers whose works are part of the schedule will be in attendance for Q&As. A complete list of films and ticketing information can be found at the festival website.
8 p.m. Quarter Note Club.
Three of my favorite performances by Errol Westbrook (a.k.a. E-Dubb, a.k.a E Dubya Bush) are "Gettin' It," "Mobbin'" and "How My Day Go," off his 2008 record "E-Dubb." They're about his routine, his habits, his inner monologue. They're full of jokes that are only casually funny, and all of them feel honest and stark. They're self-reflective and profoundly local in a way that I think traditionally makes for good country rap, and that's the mode Westbrook has always thrived in. He's from another era — literally, in the sense that he's from the Arkansas rap scene in which Playboy Shane and Rod-D (and, of course, he himself) were royalty. But also stylistically. We spent an afternoon on the phone once, after he'd just gotten out of prison. He'd been there for two-and-a-half years and his return to Little Rock was undeniably a culturally significant event. But he seemed confused and a little lost. He talked about listening to the radio and feeling out of touch. His son put on a Migos record and, he told me, "I can't even understand what they're saying." Still, he was committed already to coming back. He owed it to us, as he put it. "FREE E-DUBB" was a common refrain in his absence, and now he's free. He feels an unusual and gratifying degree of pride in his Little Rock prominence. "I've been on stations you can't even get on now, like [Hot] 96.5," he said. "There's clubs in Little Rock that people will never get to perform in that I have performed in. Like the White Diamond, people probably don't even know what the White Diamond is. The Palace, it's burnt down now." He laughed at himself, saying this. It showed his age. "I've been doing this rap thing for a minute," he said. By now he's gotten his voice back, and his confidence. It's on us now, in a way. We've already welcomed him back; now we have to make him feel welcome.
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
Based in Brooklyn now, Iska Dhaaf is nevertheless still considered a Seattle band. Macklemore was in one of their music videos; that's about as Seattle as it gets, I guess. There are only two members — Benjamin Verdoes and Nathan Quiroga. There were supposed to be more of them, I've read, but sometimes this is the way things work out. "We wrote music for three people," Quiroga told The Stranger in an interview. But, he said, "We couldn't figure out who the third person was. Then we found out that there wasn't a third person." In that same interview, they cite Faulkner, Rumi, the book of Revelation, Lars von Trier and T.S. Eliot as influences. Their band name is Somali for "Let it go." Verdoes speaks fluent Somali. I think he went to grad school. The band, which plays moody indie rock, certainly sounds like the work of more than two people — they are adept multitaskers. No drummer in this band, unless he is also triggering samples and fiddling around on a miniKORG with his left hand. "Nothing's changed, not even my laundry," they sing on a track called "Same Indifference." Why bother with laundry, they seem to suggest. Why bother. Let it go — this is their sinister grad school creed. Little Rock's The Coasts will open.
Arkansas State University. Free.
The 21st annual Delta Symposium of Arkansas State University's Department of English and Philosophy features lectures, presentations and performances that explore Delta history and culture, with a particular focus on blues and other regional music. "The South Goes to the Movies" is this year's theme, so the event will include a Delta Film Festival (screenings of "A Face in the Crowd," Elia Kazan's "Baby Doll," a documentary on the Carter Family and more), as well as scholarship focusing on Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, gospel and rockabilly, Creek and Seminole songs, Louis Jordan, Sonny Burgess and other topics. On Friday, April 10, the folk musician John McCutcheon will give a free concert in ASU's Riceland Hall. This year's Roots Music Festival, held on Saturday from noon until 6 p.m., will feature the great Black Oak Arkansas, plus Little Rock's Lucious Spiller and Jessie Charles Hammock.
Congratulations Tara, beautifully written!