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

Friday, November 24, 2017 - 19:51:00

Guards taken hostage at state prison unit

This just in from Solomon Graves, spokesman for the Arkansas Correction Department:

Earlier this evening, two correctional officers were taken hostage by two inmates in a housing area at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker, Arkansas. Additional details will be released as they become available. Emergency Response Teams from the Department of Correction are on scene. The Arkansas State Police has been notified.
That's it.

UPDATE:  Confrontation over  Two guards suffer minor injuries. Two inmates hospitalized after use of force to subdue them, according to KARK.

 

Friday, November 24, 2017 - 19:06:00

Here's Bret Bielema's termination letter

Loose ends remain to be tied up about Bret Bielema's firing as head football coach, including what payout he'll be due and what happens to his roster of assistant coaches.

I've sent a variety of FOI requests for information and so far, have produced this (though university officials note the campus is closed until Monday). So far only his termination letter, note that a referece in the letter indicates this wouldn't have been a surprise to the coach:



click to enlarge screen_shot_2017-11-24_at_7.03.19_pm.png

I should add, because UA officials have made this point, that the private Razorback Foundation is the guarantor of Bielema's buyout and responsible under his contract for paying what he's due. I haven't heard from them yet on a request for information. They are looking between fired AD Jeff Long and Bielema at a couple of a million a year in payments out of their receipts to meet the maximum terms of buyouts (which could be reduced by new job income). But the Foundation has said previously it is in sound financial shape from contributions and payments for premium seats and suites at Hog athletic events.

Interim Athletic Director Julie Cromer Peoples is to take questions at 7:30 p.m.

Social media is running strong for Bret. He won the news conference. And the speedy — if long expected — firing is gettng some fan heat. But 4-8 in your fifth year at $4.2 million a year? It's not a recipe Romero for a return invitation.

Update: Cromer Peoples said she’d kesd the job search. Paul Rhoads is named interim coach.


 

Friday, November 24, 2017 - 17:01:00

The Bye Bye Bret open line: Bielema fired as expected

click to enlarge BYE BYE BRET?
  • BYE BYE BRET?
Here's the Saturday night open line. Whale of a football game  underway today. Arkansas is up 42-38 as I write this, with about 10 minutes left in the game. UPDATE: Hogs lost another, in last seconds, 48-45.

Is this the swan song for Bret Bielema, the head football coach at Arkansas? I've been told for weeks the answer is yes. A failure to act on Bielema, without a breakout season in five years at Arkansas, finally coalesced a majority on the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees to fire Athletic Director Jeff Long. So it's always seemed unlikely he'd go and his failed pick as coach of the marquee team at the university would stay.

Like a lot of people — and apparently the players — I like ol' Bret. But the evaluation of a $4.2 million-a-year employee has one metric, and it isn't likability.

UPDATE: The news release was in the can. Minutes after the game ended, a news release was issued announcing Bielema's firing.

Sports reporters say Bielema was a class act at his post-game news conference. He spoke well of the University of Arkansas and teared up when he said he'd do anything he could to help the transition. He said he hoped to coach again. "This just didn't work out," he said.

Quote on Twitter from Thomas Murphy of Democrat-Gazette:

One of the things that will come out of this is I have a beautiful wife and a beautiful daughter, who will forever be born in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The official release:

Bielema dismissed as head football coach

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema has been dismissed by the University of Arkansas, it was announced by Interim Athletics Director Julie Cromer Peoples. Bielema completed his fifth season as the Razorbacks’ head coach on Friday.

“Shortly after the completion of today’s game, I met with Coach Bret Bielema and informed him of our decision to move forward with new leadership in the Razorback Football program,” Cromer Peoples said. “During the course of the past five seasons, we have not been able to sustain the success on the field that is expected and required at the University of Arkansas. There is no question that Coach Bielema has been a valued and respected member of our department and has made a positive impact on the lives of our student-athletes, including supporting them in their pursuit of graduation. We are grateful for his contributions to our program and most importantly his investment in the lives of our student-athletes. We wish him the very best both personally and professionally.

“Our goal has been and will always be to compete and win in the SEC and nationally. I firmly believe that with all that the University of Arkansas has to offer, including our history and tradition, our facilities, our passionate fan base and competing in the nation’s best conference, we will attract the interest of many of the top coaches in the nation.”

Named the 32nd head coach in program history in December of 2012, Bielema compiled a 29-34 record over his five seasons. He led Arkansas to three straight bowl appearances, highlighted by wins over Texas at the 2014 Texas Bowl and Kansas State at the 2016 Liberty Bowl. In 2014, Arkansas became the first unranked team in college football history to post back-to-back shutouts over ranked opponents after blanking No. 20 LSU and No. 8 Ole Miss.

No details yet of the buyout of Bielema's contract and what the future holds for his assistant coaches.

The Hogs are on the hook for up to $4.6 million to pay Jeff Long through 2022. Bielema's contract runs through 2020 and one estimate for his buyout puts it between $5 and $6 million, though that's not bee officially confirmed. Almost $4 million worth of assistant coaches have contracts through June 30, except for coordinator Dan Enos, whose $800,000 job is under a contract that runs through 2020.

 

More Arkansas Blog

Featured Videos

STAFF BLOGS: ARKANSAS BLOG

Today's headlines: Football, taxes, sexual misconduct

Rock Candy

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.







 

More Rock Candy

Cover Story

Long gone

November 23, 2017
Long gone
lt's curtains for the Arkansas AD. /more/

VIEW PRINT EDITION

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

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/
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation