Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
The nation's longest-running folk music festival is back for another three-day pick 'n' grin, drawing in folkies the world over for its 63rd year. This time around, the organizers are keeping their tradition of bringing in top-tier singers with headliner Eliza Gilkyson, the Texan singer/songwriter whose 40-year career of airy, meditative albums has given her a permanent spot in the high tiers of Austin's folk royalty. She plays Saturday night at The Auditorium, Eureka Springs' historic theater, with Fayetteville bluegrass quintet 3 Penny Acre and Folk Fest veteran Wes Casto. Friday, the festival offers an afternoon of free music in Basin Spring Park from various local musicians before taking to the 1905 Basin Park Hotel for the Barefoot Ball, which offers music from the neo-hillbilly bluegrass shredders of Big Smith and, for our money, one of the most reliably mind-blowing acts Arkansas offers in any genre, Cletus Got Shot. For schedules and more information, visit ozarkfolkfestival.com.
Who should we talk to about making David Kimbrough Jr. an honorary Little Rockian? For years, he's been no stranger to stages around town. No doubt, he knows his way around Little Rock's barstools. And we can always use someone as flat-out fun to watch as the contagiously exuberant son of Junior Kimbrough, the eternal emperor of the Delta blues. What I'm getting at is this: Have you seen David Jr. yet? If not, it may be time to stop denying yourself the foot-stomping, butt-shaking good time he brings to town every time. This weekend sees a two-night stand in town, playing Parrot Beach Cafe on Friday night, supported by husband and wife duo Jawbone and Jolene, and his regular hang-out, White Water Tavern, at 10 p.m. Saturday, supported by singer/songwriter (and his blues co-conspirator) Stacey Mackey.
It's a concept that has churned up a bit of controversy during its off- and off-off-Broadway runs, not to mention one that's guaranteed to strike you as either perverse, hilarious, or, if you're like me, a bit of both. Okay, so the "Peanuts" gang has grown up, bypassing the "lovable misfit" stage and going straight into "borderline sociopath" territory. Or at least "notably troubled." C.B.'s doing a little more than "good grief"-ing over Snoopy's death by rabies, his sister Sally has gone goth and their old football friends have blossomed into potheads, homophobes, hoes and institutionalized ne'er-do-wells. I shudder to think what the authors would subject "The Family Circus" clan to. "Dog Sees God" continues for the next three weekends, closing its run on Nov. 20.
Happening only once every two years, the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame's induction ceremony remains a must-do for state jazz aficionados. This time, the organization honors two native Arkansans for their contributions to the genre. The late Jerry Atkins, saxophonist, jazz writer for Down Beat, Metronome, Coda, and host of the "Enjoyment of Jazz" radio show for 22 years, will be added to the ranks alongside Amina Claudine Myers, whose gospel-infused piano stylings have placed her beside jazz notables such as Bill Laswell, Zoot Sims and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. The night includes performances by 1998 Jazz Hall of Fame inductee Roseanne Vitro and Afterthought regulars Joe Vick, Tom Cox and Dave Rogers.
Even before I was able to turn my opinions about music into a way to pay the light bill, I've been a big fan and proponent of Ben Kweller, the nebbish Texan power-popper who, for reasons beyond me, has toiled away on the sidelines of fame since fronting teen-rock act Radish as a 14-year-old and finding himself semi-famous because of it. Sure, his earnest penmanship can steer him closer to "indie rock for your little cousin" territory instead of the critically-preferred Jerry Jeff Walker, et al. roads, but to my ears, he's remained one of the most endearing, biting songwriters of his generation. From his 2002 teen-pop debut, "Sha Sha," which for eight years has had a permanent place in my "on the road essentials" CD binder, to last year's "Changing Horses," his matured, 10-track exercise in traditional country storytelling and saloon harmonies, Kweller has managed to keep me — and thousands of others in his dedicated fanbase — interested.
Films, by the nature and definition of the word, should be seen on the big screen, with a roomful of people being drawn in to the talking, moving, acting figures projected onto the screen. Sure, you won't miss out on the full "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot" experience by watching it for the umpteenth time on your blown-out 14" Sanyo, but for sprawling, cinematic epics that define "classic" like "The Godfather," you owe it to yourself to take it in with a proper theatrical viewing. Unfortunately, repertory theaters are nowhere to be found in Arkansas, leaving local cinephiles with precious few opportunities to see the greats the way they were meant to be seen. But with this, the latest installment of Market Street Cinema's invaluable monthly "classics" series, our local art-house is offering up the chance to see (spoiler alert) Luca Brasi get strangled, Sonny get riddled with bullets and Kay get betrayed the way Coppola intended.
At my house, I still have one of the many, many spray paint-stenciled "Rod Bryan for Governor" cardboard signs that popped up around the state — especially in the Stifft Station/Capitol View neighborhoods — during the elections of 2006. In fact, I'm pretty protective of it. I like to think that one day I can tell my grandkids about the year my buddy who hung out on my porch during house shows and let me loiter in his record store decided to up and run for governor. Thankfully, it's a story I won't have to stumble through now that Huixia Lu's long-awaited documentary about Bryan's unconventional, one-liner-packed summer of politics is finally being released. The (fantastic) trailer for "Independent for Governor: An Idealist's Grueling Run" hit the Internet last week and, as of press time, Lu, the Cannes Festival-featured UCA professor, is still pruning her final cut of the film for next week's world premiere. Expect a good bit of gadfly politics, a Ho-Hum heavy soundtrack and a flood of one-liners from Rod "Quips Ahoy!" Bryan.
Building a lead so rapidly and holding it in games, even professional football, is difficult…