Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
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THE BODY, R.I.O.T.S., HUMAN BEAST
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.
Indulge my sentimentality for just a sec: A while back — almost 15 years ago, now that I think about it (side note: Man! Gettin' old!) — a gaggle of slouchy, un- or under-employed nogoodniks piled into a deathtrap of a van and drove from Little Rock to Detroit in late winter. The van had a name: MegaLon, or just The 'Lon. Her heat wasn't real hot and her windshield wipers didn't wipe and there was a hole in her floorboard near the accelerator. The passengers included, among others, Mary Chamberlin, yours truly, Chip King and Everett Hagen. We were going up to attend some kind of music thing outside the city, in Romulus, Mich. It was a long drive, filled with goofin' and riffin' on silly jokes and lots of music talk. We took turns at the wheel. It was a lot of fun, and the sort of thing that I haven't done in a really long time. But it makes me proud that I knew those folks back then and still do now, and that Mary's still running her underground literature distributor Tree of Knowledge, and that Chip's playing critically adored avant garde metal with The Body (alongside fellow Arkie Lee Buford) and that Everett's playing in R.I.O.T.S., a rad hardcore band that sounds good now and would've sounded good then. Awesome people still doing awesome stuff all these years later, warms my heart.
'THE JAM SESSION'
9 p.m. Stickyz. $10.
Little Rock MC Epiphany has had quite the year, as pointed out in last issue's 2012 A-Z story: There was his full-length studio album "Such is Life," MC and opening slots on shows with Twista and Flava Flav, trips to The Gambia and Mauritius that were sponsored by U.S. embassies. For this show, he's performing with the band Tomorrow Maybe again. They just collaborated on a video for the track "Feel Alright" that shows off the chops of everybody involved. In addition to playing with Big Piph, Tomorrow Maybe will be performing with jazz saxophonist J.White and veteran rapper Arkansas Bo. It'll be a very good night for anyone who appreciates jazz and hip-hop with a real live badass backing band.
FRIDAY 12/28-SATURDAY 12/29
9:30 p.m. Friday. Revolution. $10.
10 p.m. Saturday. White Water Tavern. $10.
Without question, The American Princes are one of the best-loved and successful Arkansas rock bands of the last decade plus. The band stopped playing in 2009 when their bassist, Luke Hunsicker, became ill. Hunsicker passed away in August 2010. This weekend marks the band's first shows since his passing. The Times caught up with singer/guitarists David Slade, Collins Kilgore and Will Boyd via e-mail about this weekend's shows. The band plays with The See on Friday and Saturday with Magician Michael Casey, of North Carolina.
When did you guys decide to get the American Princes back together for these shows?
David Slade: The four of us have been talking about this since autumn of 2010. Any time we'd get together, the question always seemed to be hanging out there, and then after a few beers one of us would pipe up.
And it became apparent over the summer that we were pretty much going to have to do this now or, like, seven years from now, since Collins is about to head to California for a job that will keep him from coming back for extended periods over the holidays.
These songs are burned into our brains, mind you, as we played them for years and years, but it's a lot easier to remember how to play your material when you're three years out of practice than when you're 10 years out of practice.
Collins Kilgore: We had been toying with the idea since last spring, but we didn't commit to it until some time in the fall. I think we all realized that if we didn't do it now it might never happen. I was a little blown away when I realized it had been three years since we last played. That's too long.
Are these a one-time thing, or is there any possibility of more shows and/or new music?
DS: I'm certain we'll play again after these shows, although when it'll happen is significantly less certain. We'll probably have at least one new president, in the interim. But it's impossible to imagine never doing shows with these guys anymore.
Writing new songs is an exciting prospect, but at the moment I'm intimidated by the idea. There's an almost immutable rule in rock 'n' roll that once you settle down and start a family, you become incapable of writing any more good material. So if we were to do something new, it'd probably have to be entirely on Collins and Will. My stuff would just be about changing the bag in the Diaper Genie or trying to get my kid to eat something other than chicken nuggets, which I'm guessing aren't really resonant topics for pop songs.
And, of course, the idea of writing material without Luke contributing to the process puts up this brick wall in my mind. Whichever song we'd do would be The First Song We Wrote Without Luke. I wonder what circumstances would let us cross that line. I mean, I think we all feel a solidarity and devotion to each other and to what we've done, so I think it could be something very cool and meaningful for us (and I'd like to believe they'd be really good songs), but it would also require a certain reckoning that I imagine we're all hesitant to have. I know I'm a little afraid.
CK: I'd say there's always the possibility of more. We've been having a lot of fun getting prepared for these shows. And even though David and I are about to become lawyers, we'll always be musicians, too. I hope we're able to play more holiday shows in the future. As far as new music, I've always loved writing with David. I don't think it's unlikely that we'll work together on stuff. But honestly, I'm not sure where he's finding the time even to practice right now. David is about the busiest person I know.
Another Little Rock band that lost a member is The Big Cats. I wondered whether you all felt any sort of bond with those guys, with both of your bands having experienced such a loss.
Will Boyd: Of course there's a bond with the Big Cats but to be perfectly honest I'm not sure how much it has to do with Luke. It mainly feels like there is a bond because they are such rad dudes!
DS: Agreed. I don't hide the fact that I've looked up to Burt Taggart pretty much from the minute that I moved here in 1993, and over the years we've all established a great friendship with each of those guys, individually. Certainly, they have a special understanding of what we've gone through and vice versa, so sure, I think it adds another layer of empathy and mutual regard to our interactions. But we've been close with them for many, many years.
CK: I've never thought of it that way, exactly. Rather, I see those guys as having been around a long time and having experienced everything the music business has to offer, including tragedy and disappointment. In that sense, I think we look up to them a lot. We probably wouldn't be doing this without their example.
7 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $28-$57.
What a year it's been for Cody Belew. Something like 45,000 people auditioned to be on the NBC hit show "The Voice," and the Beebe native made it all the way to the top eight, in the process getting to work with CeeLo Green on a regular basis during his time on the show. Belew shone with making-them-his-own renditions of the Dolly Parton hit "Jolene," Beyonce's "Crazy in Love," Queen's "Somebody to Love," and Tina Turner's "The Best," among others. The judges reiterated this often, but Belew's progress was remarkable. He went from looking a little apprehensive early on in the proceedings to practically owning the stage, especially on "Somebody to Love," with that sharp green suit and gospel choir.
NIGHTFLYING MAGAZINE ANNIVERSARY PARTY
8 p.m. Stickyz. $10 or $8 if wearing a Nightflying or Stickyz shirt.
Here's why I love Nightflying Magazine: because it is the product of people who really, truly, love music, especially live music, especially live music of a bluesy/jammy/folksy/classic-rock-y nature. I love it even though the font size is so small I have to read it in three-minute spells so as to not get all cross-eyed and headachey. Ditto for the white-text-on-black-background website. I love it because it is a tie-dyed, free-spirited, freak-flag-flying holdover from another era that keeps on keepin' on here in the age of Twitter. Sure, Nightflying has a website and is on Facebook, but the spirit of it is firmly planted in the days when if you wanted to know what bands were coming to town and catch up on all the club scene goings-on, you had to pick up a paper and get your fingertips all inky. Call me nostalgic, but it makes me happy whenever I see a stack of the latest issue of Nightflying. This is one of the magazine's jam-packed birthday celebrations — its 32nd — and it follows similar throw-downs in Fort Smith and Hot Springs. On the bill are The Schwag, Lucious Spiller Band, Amy Garland Band, Gil Franklin Band, Stella Luss and John Calvin Brewer Band.
SATURDAY 1/5-SUNDAY 1/6
THE YOUNG RAPSCALLIONS
10 p.m. Juanita's. $8 adv., $10 day of.
OK, so I suppose the first thing to get out of the way regarding The Young Rapscallions: McLovin' plays drums for the band. Yessir, I refer to none other than actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse, known for his memorable roles in "Superbad," "Role Models," "Kick-Ass" and others. Which, hey, that's kinda cool. And that's all it would be if the band sucked. But the band does not suck. I was kind of expecting some whiny teenybopper stuff, but was pleasantly surprised by muscular guitar rock that wears its influences well. After listening to the band's solid recent EP "it is what it is," I'm convinced that these dudes might just have a really good record, or even several, in 'em. Influences from the rock canon abound, such as on "it is what it is/Quit Milling About," which boasts some really satisfying Radiohead/Floyd guitar heroics on. "Ideas" is a heavily Smashing Pumpkins- and Nirvana-inspired 3-minute rager with just a hint of Sabbath worship. The band plays Saturday with The Revolutioners and The Supporting Cast and Sunday at 8 p.m. with JT Woodruff (of Hawthorne Heights), Mark Rose and Boom the Wheel.
7 p.m. Central Theatre. $7.
The great thing about short film festivals is that if you find yourself watching a sucky film, hey — no big deal, it'll be over in probably five to seven minutes. Of course, you probably won't have to worry about any stinkers at the sixth annual Arkansas Shorts, which is organized by the folks at Low Key Arts in Hot Springs. This year, they had more than 50 submissions that were whittled down to 16, so as to fit into an 80-minute program. Genres include documentaries, narrative works, experimental films and music videos. Some of the intriguing titles include "Commercial Suicide" (dir. Bob Nagy), "The Wanted Fly of the FBI" (dir. Sallie Colbert and Kian Tyler) and a music video from the Ginsu Wives (dir. Tracy Parker). Two films created through Low Key Arts' "Inception to Projection" after-school film program will be screened, along with a best-of collection of last year's films. Should be a fun night for film lovers.