Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Dining Review

42 gets a winning overhaul

November 23, 2017
42 gets a winning overhaul
At the Clinton Center. /more/

Dining Search

A&E Feature

'Bullets and Fire'

November 23, 2017
'Bullets and Fire'
Arkansas's history of lynchings in the rearview mirror, barely. /more/

To-Do List

Noruz at Four Quarter

November 23, 2017
Noruz at Four Quarter
And much more. /more/

Columnists

Max Brantley

The Clintons

I wasn't particularly excited about the 25th anniversary celebration of Bill Clinton's election. Life goes on. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Selling tax cuts

Making tax law is always pretty simple, despite the arcane references to S corporations, pass-throughs, carried-interest deductions and the like, which define the ways that lots of rich people get their income. /more/

Gene Lyons

Trust in Putin

The more Donald J. Trump talks about Russia, the harder it is to believe he's actually loyal to the United States. He's dedicated to his money and to his grotesquely inflated ego. He enjoys pomp and parades. The end. /more/

Pearls About Swine

The end

November 23, 2017
If Bret Bielema is going to prep a video reel of the best moments he's had during a five-year run as Arkansas's latest polarizing head football coach, he's ostensibly going to use something like the first quarter against Mississippi State. /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 16:52:00

The Marshmallows on Sweet Potatoes Edition

The legacy of Bill and Hillary Clinton and answers to readers' questions on politics, ancient canoes and more — on this week's podcast.

Subscribe via iTunes.

Download.

 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 13:24:00

The Thanksgiving eve open line


Here's an open line. And a batch of headlines for the day before Thanksgiving — Razorback news, tax news, sexual misconduct news.

 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - 13:09:00

UPDATE: UA names search committee for new athletic director; also sets game in LR with Ole Miss next year

click to enlarge warmemorialpregame.jpg

UPDATE: University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz has
 announced the members of a committee that will help in the search for a new athletic director.

Jeff Long was fired as athletic director last week after almost 10 years on the job and will take a severance deal worth up to $4.6 million through 2022, offset by any earnings in a new job. Steinmetz said there'd been a loss of confidence in Long. His decision followed a closed meeting with the UA Board of Trustees, a majority of whom also wanted to see Long dismissed. The primary reason was the poor performance of the football team under Bret Bielema, in his fifth year and with a losing SEC record under a contract that runs through 2020 and has a multi-million buyout clause negotiated by Long.

The UA release on the committee quotes Steinmetz:

“I sought to assemble a committee representative of the university, spanning past and present in our academics and athletics history, with knowledge and perspective about Arkansas, and, notably an appreciation of the source of pride the Razorbacks are for the state of Arkansas,” Steinmetz said. “I have great faith in the approach that each of these advisors will bring to the process and I’d like to thank these folks for their time in this endeavor.”

Steinmetz formed the committee in consultation with Julie Cromer Peoples, interim director of athletics. He has indicated he wishes to move the search along as quickly as possible.

Members of the public wishing to contact members of the committee are encouraged to send email to feedback@uark.edu
.
The members:

Lance Harter, the head coach of the Razorback womens' track and field and cross country teams.

* Ben Hyneman, a Jonesboro banker who's chair of the UA Board of Trustees. Hyneman, sources tell me, was one of Long's last defenders on the Board.

* Gerald Jordan, the faculty athletics representative and associate professor of journalism.  Jordan is black and the supplied biography notes his work in recruitment of minority students at UA.

* Stacy Lewis, a pro golfer and UA graduate.

* Peter MacKeith, dean of architecture at UA. He's called the only UA dean with intercollegiate athletic experience at the Division I level. He was captain of the soccer team at the University of Virginia and later an assistant coach.

* Rick Massey of Little Rock, a lawyer and partner in Westrock Capital Partners among other financial ventures, he's a member of the Razorback Foundation Board of Directors. It's the private nonprofit that raises money for athletics.

* Bill Montgomery of Dallas. A former star quarterback at UA, he's had a career in investing in New York and Dallas and has worked in university fund campaigns.

2018 SEASON NOTE: The UA announced today that the Hogs will play Ole Miss Oct. 13 in War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. That's the last contracted game for the Hogs in Little Rock. Jeff Long had angered some members of the UA Board by trying to get out of that last contracted game and play all future home games in Fayetteville, which has more seats and more private suites and the potential to produce $2 million more or so for the treasury than a Little Rock game. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has made it clear, however, that he'd like to see the Hogs continue to play a game in Little Rock every year. No announcement was made beyond filling in the name of the promised SEC opponent for the Little Rock date.

Had Long still been athletic director I think you can bet, had any game been played in Little Rock in 2018, it would have been with Vanderbilt, not a historic rival like Ole Miss.

From the release:

“We look forward to our return to Central Arkansas to take on Ole Miss at War Memorial Stadium in October 2018,” Interim Athletics Director Julie Cromer Peoples said. “I know Razorback fans will be excited and ready to cheer on our team in a key Southeastern Conference Western Division matchup. Arkansas and Ole Miss first met on the football field more than a century ago and we look forward to the next chapter in this rivalry, in a venue that has hosted so many important games in this series.”

“We are thrilled to have an SEC game back at War Memorial next fall, especially one that pits the Razorbacks against Ole Miss,” Arkansas Director of Parks and Tourism Kane Webb said. “Given the tradition and decades-long rivalry the Hogs have had with the Rebels, including some great games in Little Rock, it’s a fitting match-up as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the stadium. I look forward to a festive atmosphere, a great turnout, and a great time in the capital city.”

“I am both excited and grateful that the leadership of the University of Arkansas has chosen our longtime rival Ole Miss as the game at War Memorial Stadium in 2018,” War Memorial Stadium Commission Chairman Kevin Crass said. “As we celebrate the 70th year of the stadium, we need the fans in this part of the state to support the Hogs by assuring a sellout.”

A funster suggests Houston Dale Nutt and his attorney, Tom Mars, as honorary captains when the Hogs and Ole Miss square off.

 

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Friday, November 17, 2017 - 16:35:00

Art partying on Friday night: McLeod's, Museum School sale preview, New Deal, Argenta Art Wall

click to enlarge Holmes and Massey at McLeod.
  • Holmes and Massey at McLeod.
So here's the scoop for tonight:

Matt McLeod Fine Art is celebrating its 2nd anniversary from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 106 W. Sixth St. See paintings by Cindy Holmes, alabaster sculpture by Bryan Massey and more, plus blown glass ornaments and art, and hear Rena Wren sing and play guitar. You will be plied with snacks and drinks, too.



click to enlarge Artist Robert Bean's booth at the AAC Museum School Sale.
  • Artist Robert Bean's booth at the AAC Museum School Sale.
Buy a membership to the Arkansas Arts Center at the door to get first dibs on paintings, jewelry, pottery and more at the Museum School Sale, 6-9 p.m. at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds.


Head to New Deal Gallery, 2003 Louisiana St., to see "We Dissent: An Exhibition of Protest Photography." No music, but beer and wine.


North of the River, Argenta galleries are open until 8 p.m. for the Third Friday Argenta Art Walk: "Under the Influence: Scott Lykens/Tom Richard" at the Argenta branch of Laman Library, "Best of the South" at Greg Thompson Fine Art, Jake Jackson at the North Little Rock Heritage Center, David Murphree at StudioMain and Chad Maupin at the Thea Foundation.


 

Friday, November 17, 2017 - 11:42:00

Review and slideshow: Chris Stapleton and Marty Stuart at Verizon Arena

click to enlarge Chris Stapleton - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Chris Stapleton

Given the sparse Western desert landscapes and the Hunter S. Thompson-esque horror stories of behind-the-wheel pill popping that characterize Marty Stuart’s new album, I half expected Stuart’s set to create an unexpectedly trippy warm-up to headliner Chris Stapleton last night at Verizon Arena. True to a showman’s form, though, Stuart ripped through a variety show-style set of hits he’d co-written for other people (“The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’ Anymore”), his own hits (“This One’s Gonna Hurt You”) and hits from the formidable repertoire he’s developed as a country music sideman of the first degree, like “Orange Blossom Special.” Stuart invoked former bandmate (and former father-in-law) Johnny Cash with “Ring of Fire,” introduced with the squarely nonrhetorical question: “Y’all ever heard of Dyess, Arkansas?” Even the younger country fans – otherwise concerned with filing through the crowd of 13,445 to find their seats, and without spilling their craft beer – could get excited about that one, and cheered again when Stuart declared that “Little Rock is the surf music capital of the world right now.” He and his dapper band, The Fabulous Superlatives, were more Grand Ole Opry than desert mirage in their delivery, taking time to let each of the longtime band members step up to the center stage microphone. And – though they handled it with finesse – I’ve no doubt that those who were there for Stapleton would have left in awe of Stuart’s musical prowess, had the openers been afforded a fraction of the luxuriously present sound afforded to the headliner on this “All-American Road Tour.”

Guitarist “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan sang his own “Country Music Got a Hold On Me,”  followed by a number from true Nashville cat session player and former member of BR549 Chris Scruggs. Finally, “Handsome” Harry Stinson stepped up to show off his skilled brushwork on a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd,” and might well have stolen the moment with his “Mule Skinner”-style breath control, had the camera not been so careful to close in on shots of Stuart’s storied mandolin, with the initials “JRC” scratched into it unceremoniously from the time Johnny Cash “ruined his mandolin,” as Stuart recounted to CMT in a 2005 interview:

“Well, I’d saved my money to buy that mandolin when I got a job with Lester Flatt, and it was $650. For years, I was real proud of the fact that it never had a scratch on it. It looked like a brand new instrument for probably 12 or 13 years. When I got a job with Johnny Cash, he got on a kick of wanting me to teach him how to play the mandolin. And he was a horrible mandolin player. He’d take my mandolin on the stage and just play along with June Carter when she was singin’. One night I looked over there and he had his pocketknife out and scratched a huge cross on it and put his initials, “JRC,” on it and then flipped the mandolin over and autographed it and signed, “Johnny Cash.” My heart fell. After the show, I said, “What did you do that for?” and he said, “I didn’t want you to forget the Lord.” And I told him I could have remembered the Lord without him wrecking my mandolin. But it was all in good fun. And that started a trend after that. People just felt compelled to sign the mandolin. It has Stephen King, President Clinton, Bob Dylan, Billy Bob Thornton, Chuck Berry, Quincy Jones, Natalie Cole, ex-girlfriends, my momma and a lot of people I don’t know on there. I’m about to run out of places for people to sign.”

The crowd, mostly listless during Stuart’s set, piped up loud and clear in the intermission before Stapleton’s set for Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’.” The aisles were a parade of leather, fringe, suede and cowboy boots; all the sartorial signifiers of a stadium country show, if a somewhat traditionalist one. A stray Miller Lite was passed around for anybody willing to drink a beer from an unknown source – which, as far as we could tell, was nobody. The couple in front of us, who’d initiated impromptu trivia during intermission about the original lineup of The Eagles (or, as it was put chidingly between debaters then: “The founding members, dipshit!”) snuck down to the stadium floor for a sweet waltz or two. When the lights went down, the crowd went wild, but it was a false alarm — “Cripple Creek” kicked in on the loudspeakers. Finally, around 9 p.m., there was a great bass rumble that gave way to a cold open; a solo Stapleton ripping into a weed-loving lament from his debut record “Traveller,” “Might As Well Get Stoned.” The crooner's lean outfit was remarkably loud for such minimal instrumentation: guitar, bass and drums. For my taste, they were maybe even a bit too sonically homogenous, but nevertheless solid and in the pocket, with polished arrangements that recalled the “Black Velvet” heyday of 1980s country radio — the era when country fell back in love with blues rock.

Morgane Stapleton, Chris’ wife and an accomplished Nashville singer and songwriter (Carrie Underwood’s “Don’t Forget to Remember Me,” LeAnn Rimes’ “You Ain’t Right” and two tunes with the late Guy Clark) filled in on some muscular vocal backup to songs like “Hard Livin’,” and Stapleton called Stuart back up for a rendition of Rodney Crowell’s “I Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This,” made famous by Waylon Jennings.

Don't get me wrong: Chris Stapleton is wildly accomplished and in complete command of his voice. He’s probably the closest thing, vocally, that we have to Chris Cornell on this earth, and capable of blending his blues leanings with his bluegrass history (Stapleton is a former member of The SteelDrivers) so seamlessly that you’re not even all that mad at him when he solves the eternal “Freebird” conundrum by actually playing the damn thing. Dude’s racking up CMA Awards like they’re Pokemon, and he’s definitely the name pulling in the ticket revenue for a 13,000-plus audience.

But somewhere, there must be an unwritten rule that the headliner is to be afforded the luxury of a superboosted presence, something that lets the audience know, as I knew when my entire body began to rumble seismically upon his grand entrance, that things were cranking up to eleven, that we were “really gonna party now.” I don’t know that Stapleton’s set needed that glitz – which, to be fair, was understated in comparison to a few of the stadium’s 2017 shows. Somehow, though, it felt a little artificial to roll out the acoustic red carpet for Stapleton when legends like Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives got the short end of the stick, sonically speaking.







 

Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 17:06:00

Announcing the inaugural Central Arkansas Music Awards

click to enlarge cama_logo.jpg

In partnership with Arkansas Sounds, a project of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, the Arkansas Times presents the first ever Central Arkansas Music Awards, a concert and ceremony of recognition to take place at the Ron Robinson Theater.

With the help of an esteemed board, we've put together a list of nominees in 22 categories. Now, we need your help! Visit arktimes.com/cama to add your favorite musicians to the list of nominees by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26. We'll combine your responses with those from our board, and our board will cast its final votes.

Then, mark your calendars for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, where host Kevin Kerby and a panel of presenters will name the winners. Keep an eye out here and on the Times’ Rock Candy Facebook page for announcements about live performances from a few of Little Rock's finest, and make plans to celebrate the changing landscape that makes up the Little Rock music scene.







 

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Arkansas Reporter

Ripe for juvenile justice reform

November 23, 2017
Ripe for juvenile justice reform
In DYS director, some see a potential force for long-sought change. Part 1 of 2. /more/
 

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