Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal
TRAVS SEASON OPENER
7:10 p.m., Dickey-Stephens Park, North Little Rock. $6-$10.
It's a new year for the defending Texas League champion Arkansas Travelers, and one that could prove just as exciting as last. In minor league ball, of course, there's no predicting the vagaries of call-ups. I'd venture that most of those who take in games care more about seeing prospects passing through or flashes of offensive brilliance than about the team's record. There should be plenty of the former this year. The Travs' opening day roster features eight of Baseball America's top 31 prospects in the Los Angeles Angels organization, including power hitting catcher Hank Conger and first baseman Mark Trumbo, both of whom played, for a time, for the Travs last year. New faces include outfielder Peter Bourjos, who stole 50 bases with Rancho Cucamonga last year; second baseman Ryan Mount, who got 49 RBIs and 16 home runs in Class A, and the organization's number two prospect, right-handed pitcher J.T. O'Sullivan, who'll start on opening night. Thursday marks the start of a six-day home stand for the Travs, who'll take on Midland through Saturday and Frisco Sunday through Tuesday. LM.
10 p.m., Revolution. $20.
Continuing an impressive streak of attracting neo-soul talent, Little Rock gets another potentially rising star on Friday. Anthony David, from Atlanta, comes to town co-signed by India-Arie, whose Soulbird imprint (distributed by Universal Republic) released his “Acey Deucy” last year. Ironically, it was David who encouraged his longtime friend Arie to get started performing professionally and even bankrolled some of her early sessions with his rent money. Karma seems to be coming round. David was nominated for a Grammy this year for the single “A Part of My Life.” His “Bill Withers meets Mos Def” sound, as Arie has described it, should bring out the crowds in droves. Particularly since it's also a joint birthday party for local trumpet standout Rodney Block and One Stone front man Christopher Bowen, who'll also perform. LM.
MUSIC OF DISNEY'
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $17-$66.
You can't accuse the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra of being inaccessible. In two performances (same time, place and price on Saturday), it takes on the music from Disney classics such as “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Hercules,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Lion King,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Mary Poppins,” “Mulan” and more. Movie stills, from each featured film, will be projected during the performance. Pre-show, at 6:45 both nights, actors and dancers from Radio Disney's “Rockin' Road Show” will perform on the steps of Robinson. LM.
JOHNATHAN WILKINS/ THE REDS/THE SEE
10 p.m., White Water Tavern, $5.
Three's not always a crowd, but this three-band group of 2008-09 Musicians Showcase performers, all trios, coincidentally, should certainly attract one. The evening begins with the See, a powerful modern rock outfit that continues to hone its live delivery with an increasing gig schedule. They'll set the mood for sure. With a scarce live presence bordering on criminally (but understandably, due to jobs and families) absent, the Reds, hands down one of my faves from last year's competition, have re-emerged. After re-familiarizing myself with their “Economy of Motion” disc, I carved my Friday night's plans in stone, still pondering whether the name could represent Communism, old-school slang for barbiturates or simply colors. And Jonathan Wilkins' songs, strong as they are when performed solo, are a much thicker sandwich when bassist Matt Floyd and drummer Will Boyd apply the rhythmic mustard (with a possible assist by sometimes keyboardist Isaac Alexander). Not much else to say about this show except try to arrive early and plan on staying late. PP
PARTY AT THE T
4 p.m., Broadway and Main, North Little Rock. Free.
New this year, on the five spring and summer Saturdays that the Travs and Twisters host home games, the clubs are teaming with the North Little Rock Visitors Bureau, the Argenta Downtown Council and other local sponsors to present a block party on Main Street between Third and Fourth in downtown North Little Rock. It's called the “T” because the block ends at Broadway, the road that Alltel and Dickey-Stephens front. On Saturday, Whale Fire, the relatively new indie-pop band from North Little Rock, serves as the entertainment. Look for alternating lead singers, three-party harmonies and catchy hooks. If you're hoping to hear the music with a cold drink in your hand, you'll have to grab a seat near the window of one of the block's restaurants or pubs, all of which will be offering drink and food specials. LM.
GREAT AMERICAN TAXI
9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $10.
The modern Americana sound has been further established in the two years this band has been together. Expect a folk and country sensibility with heavy doses of improvisation and good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll. Just as Vince Herman's name should ring a bell to those familiar with Leftover Salmon, Great American Taxi has developed quite a reputation for its high-spirited performances and tireless road ventures, becoming veterans in one form or another of festivals such as Wakarusa and 10,000 Lakes. Self-described by keyboardist Chad Staehly as an “electric folk band,” the Taxi came together in 2005 as a seven-piece collaboration to benefit rainforests, and the group enjoyed their stage time so much that they whittled the band down to a permanent five-piece. A quick listen brings to mind flavors of Little Feat and the Band, storytelling numbers with a true moonshine-on-the-front-porch vibe. PP.
9:00 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
It's always gratifying when former band mates succeed. Thanks to a referral by Amy Garland in 2000, Dana invited me onboard as drummer for perhaps one of the most intellectual and downright rocking acts I've ever been involved with, all Hendrix-related in one way or another: The social sciences dean and one of Dana's professors on lead guitar, a computer code-writing bassist alum, and Dana, who crafted her own major by combining classes in music and business, while studying Delta blues and Ozark Mountain folk for her senior thesis. Falconberry and the guitarist cut a disc at Sun Studios in Memphis titled “Two Birds on One Wire” before she graduated and relocated to Austin. Fast forward a bit. Now Falconberry, whose Michigan origins are musical (her uncle is noted Detroit scene blues hero “The Reverend” Marc Falconberry), earns praise from the Austin Chronicle as one of the city's “most promising singer-songwriters” and “most arresting female vocalists.” On the road supporting her full-length national debut, “oh skies of grey,” she returns to White Water, which she's lit up on more than one occasion and which is still bound to be among her favorite venues, to give us a sweet, soulful performance. I'm sure she will. PP.
7 p.m., Walton Arts Center. $35-$75.
If you're prone, as I am, to making actuarial judgments about performers before you, say, drive three hours to see a concert, let me help you along. They don't get any more last-of-a-dying-breed than this. There are no other jazz performers from the era of Miles and Monk, Coleman Hawkins and Don Cherry still around. In fact, it's hard to think of an artist, of such established genius, with a longer active career. Sonny Rollins, widely considered the greatest jazz saxophonist ever, is 88, but still blowing strong and still committed to improvisation. Not long ago he told a Catalan magazine, “I am convinced that all art has the desire to leave the ordinary. … But jazz, the world of improvisation, is perhaps the highest, because we do not have the opportunity to make changes.” His stop in Fayetteville, his first in the Ozarks, marks his first stage performance of the year. LM.