Modern rock band Collective Soul was part of one of the biggest nights in Riverfest history back in 1999. You might recall that Friday night and the ocean of people, thousands and thousands, filling the now long-gone parking lot between the Interstate ramp and where the Acxiom Corp. building now sits.
So, when Collective Soul became available to play Memorial Day weekend this year, the Riverfest crew didn't hesitate. Because of contractual reasons, it couldn't be announced officially until after Collective Soul played Memphis' Beale Street Music Festival last weekend.
"We're excited about having Collective Soul. That's been one of our biggest concerts we've had," says interim Riverfest director DeAnna Shannon.
Collective Soul completes a festival music lineup that includes Al Green, Hootie and the Blowfish and the Spin Doctors on Friday night, May 28; Collective Soul, Uncle Kracker, Brian McComas and Brad Paisley on Saturday, May 29; and Eddie Money, Gary Allen and Little Feat, plus the annual Arkansas Symphony Orchestra performance and Jennings Osborne family-sponsored fireworks on Sunday, May 30.
Hootie, the Spin Doctors, Collective Soul, Uncle Kracker, Gary Allen and Little Feat all will perform on the Budweiser-sponsored stage in North Little Rock. Riverfest this year has cut out one of the two stages it's had on the north side since 2002.
"What we did was reduce the stages but not reduce the national entertainment," Shannon said. "We decided to put it on one stage and schedule differently. It will help us production-wise and will offer the festival-goer more to do on one stage."
The four stages on the Little Rock side are the Acxiom kid's stage (which will feature Stevie Brock, who some are calling the next Justin Timberlake or Aaron Carter, on Sunday), the Yarnell family stage, the Triple S Alarm stage (nearest the Main Street bridge and the best place to view the Sunday night fireworks) and the Miller Lite Amphitheatre stage, where yours truly will set up as soon as the gates open at 5 p.m. Friday for a seat to see Al Green.
"I'm excited about the lineup," Shannon said. "We're already getting people calling from all over - from Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Colorado - calling about tickets, and all of them wanting to see different people."
Shannon didn't have to say it, but she did: The festival will offer something for everyone. And, it very well may be the best-priced festival anywhere for the entertainment offered. Look at it as costing $2 a day - a $6 three-day pass is for sale now at all Harvest Foods stores; it will cost $10 at the gate.
Alistair Cooke, writing in the 1996 book "The Greatest of Them All: The Legend of Bobby Jones," about a man he greatly admired, said: "Let us thank God that Hollywood has never made a movie about Jones; it would almost surely be more inept and more molassic than the dreadful "Follow The Sun," the alleged 'epic' about Ben Hogan …"
Well, they went and made the movie anyway. At least "Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius" is, unlike "Follow the Sun," in color. And at least the star, Jim Caviezel, can swing the golf club in a manner that resembles the subject, unlike Glenn Ford's lame attempt to emulate Hogan in his 1951 move.
But, while much was made of Caviezel trying to get Jones' swing down, director Rowdy Herrington should have worried about his actor getting Jones down. Caviezel seems to still be in pain from playing Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ," and he exhibits none of the charisma one would expect of a 1920s golf champion who captured hearts the world over. The great youngsters who play Jones as a child - Devon Gearhart and Thomas Lewis - have far more winning smiles and enthusiasm that Caviezel can muster. To find someone with more the Jones style, the director didn't have to look further than to supporting actor Jeremy Northam, who gives a winning performance as Walter Hagen. Hagen, a noted charmer and carouser in the day, probably would have wished he had Northam's looks to go with his others skills.
But forget all that, forget that though Herrington and his story and script writers tried to stay true to every Jones fact and still had to invent more of a rivalry between Jones and Hagen than existed to add drama, and forget the many other obvious plot holes in trying to cram it all into two-plus hours. And forget that horrid, one-track James Horner orchestration. The budget was small, indeed.
Instead, enjoy the overall lesson of Jones, a man of humility and honor who loved his family above golf and fought much personal adversity. And enjoy the biggest plus of the film, the work of cinematographer Tom Stern and his sweeping vision of St. Andrews and other golf meccas.
Then, spend an idle summer day reading a book about Jones - maybe some of the ones he penned himself, or the comprehensive "Greatest of Them All" by Martin Davis, with its great pieces by Cooke, New York Times columnist Dave Anderson and golfer/historian Ben Crenshaw.