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Arkansas Blog

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Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Dining Review

More pub grub for Little Rock

November 16, 2017
More pub grub for Little Rock
Brewski's does it right, mostly. /more/

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Columnists

Max Brantley

The smell of the swamp

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has been ravaged by the industry-wide decline in circulation and advertising, but it continues to invest in important state Capitol reporting. /more/

Ernest Dumas

Another fox

Is "draining the swamp" a national joke yet? Owing to the virility of the swamp, which commonly describes corporate influence on government bureaucracy and Congress, it may never be laughable. /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

Beaten down

November 16, 2017
Not many expected Arkansas to challenge LSU in Baton Rouge over the Veterans Day weekend, but there were enough odd variables in play that might have suggested a dogfight was to ensue. /more/

Blog Roll

Arkansas Blog

Hourly news and comment

Rock Candy

The guide to Arkansas entertainment

Arkansas Blog

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 16:04:00

ASU announces $29 million athletic project backed by private booster foundation

click to enlarge dpgw_dvqaex6ik.jpg

The Arkansas State University Board of Trustees today approved a ground lease with the Red Wolves Foundation which will take the responsibility for building $29 million worth of improvements to the football stadium.

The Foundation will raise private money (some of it in the form of contributions for premium seating at football games) to pay for the project. The school hasn't yet released the details of borrowing, if any, by the private foundation to do the work, annual debt service costs and revenue expectations from premium seating.

A news release said the foundation will build a 66,533-square-foot "athletics operations facility" and premium seating and other improvements in the north end end zone of the stadium.

ASU President Charles Welch touted the work as benefitting more than football, but also addressing Title IX issues on equity for women's sports. A spokesman explained later that the work wasn't solely for football but training, rehab and weight-room facilities will be used by multiple sports and coaches in women's sports will get improved offices.

ASU competes at the top level in college athletics. Its most recent NCAA report showed $43 million in annual spending on athletics. It draws $5 million from student fees, $8 million from direct institutional support and another almost $15 million in "other" revenue (about $4 million from campus funds and $11 million from the Foundation),



 

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 15:15:00

Monday's open line


Here's the Monday open line and today's news roundup. Looks like a slow week.

 

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 14:09:00

Protest set on tax legislation

A coalition of groups will demonstrate at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday in front of the state Human Services headquarters at Seventh and Main to show displeasure with the Senate tax legislation.

Clergy, community groups, seniors, children and others will take part, said the Arkansas Community Organizations.

As it stands, the group notes, the bill would repeal part of the Affordable Care Act to finance a major corporate tax cut and individual tax cuts weighted in favor of the wealthy. The Congressional Budget Office said the health insurance change will drive 13 million people off insurance and increase premiums for those who remain insured.

Said ACO:

At the same time, the $1.4 trillion dollar package gives people with incomes over $1 million an annual tax cut of about $14,890 and those with incomes of over $3.1 million an annual cut of about $94,540. The federal budget resolution passed last month also allows Republicans to cut $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and Medicare next year to pay for these massive tax breaks.

Arkansans have much to be thankful for. ARKids brought health coverage to hundreds of thousands of children whose parents could not afford to buy health insurance. Through Medicaid expansion the ACA cut Arkansas's uninsured rate in half. Medicare brings health security to 595,000 seniors in our state. That's why people tomorrow will call on Senators Cotton and Boozman to say "No, Thanks" to a bill that would harm so many Arkansans.

 

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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.







 

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Arkansas joint ventures

November 16, 2017
Arkansas joint ventures
With dispensary and cultivation applications pending, hundreds of Arkansas entrepreneurs are sitting on go for a medical cannabis gold rush. How will it pan out? /more/

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Soccer takes hold in SWLR

November 2, 2017
Soccer takes hold in SWLR
New Boys and Girls Club program helps kids envision a world beyond Little Rock. /more/
 

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