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Big Cats return to White Water 

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CHRISTMAS AT WHITE WATER TAVERN: Josh Bentley, Colin Brooks, Burt Taggart and Jason White —Big Cats — reunite for a show at the White Water Tavern with Joshua Asante. - RETT PEEK
  • Rett Peek
  • CHRISTMAS AT WHITE WATER TAVERN: Josh Bentley, Colin Brooks, Burt Taggart and Jason White —Big Cats — reunite for a show at the White Water Tavern with Joshua Asante.

FRIDAY 12/28

BIG CATS, JOSHUA ASANTE

9 p.m. White Water Tavern.

It's that time of year: Central Arkansas expats are back in town, which means Little Rock's Big Cats — Josh Bentley, Colin Brooks, Burt Taggart and Jason White — are using part of their holiday reprieve to play a show at White Water. Formed from the dissolution of some of the bands that shaped Little Rock's punk-rock identity in the '90s — Towncraft-era bands like Chino Horde and Substance — Big Cats put out a triple LP called "The Ancient Art of Leaving" in 2011 (their "Sandinista," they've joked), and manage to remind us annually of their power-pop prowess, despite family obligations, geographical distance and White's role as touring guitarist for Green Day. Expect to hear folks you haven't seen since your punk-rock friends started making babies, in the hazy, soft-focus glow of that golden week between Christmas and New Year's Day. Vocalist/loop composer/Amasa Hines frontman Joshua Asante opens the show. SS

FRIDAY 12/28

SEAN FRESH & FRIENDS

10 p.m. South on Main. $10-$15.

Three of Little Rock's most charming soul/R&B singers are on this late-night bill at South on Main, so believe us, the mood will be elevated and the singing will be robust and polished. Sean Fresh, the perpetually well-dressed and silver-tongued crooner behind the two-part "Teshuvah Project" album, shares the stage with Ashley Evans and with Davison and Bijoux — two fellow vocalists who have followings in their own right. Call 501-244-9660 to reserve a table. SS

SATURDAY 12/29

CELEBRATE KWANZAA

1-3 p.m. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

Saturday is the fourth day of Kwanzaa, the seven-day holiday season celebration of African-American culture and values, and it's focus is Ujamaa, the concept of "cooperative economics." Mosaic Templars will celebrate the day with its Arkansas Made, Black Crafted initiative to teach children crafting skills, business basics and money management. Mosaic Templars is particularly appropriate for the celebration because of its mission of recording black entrepreneurship in Arkansas. There will be sale in the Museum Store, as well. LNP

FRIDAY 1/4

ICE BOX 4

7 p.m. Gallery 360, 900 S. Rodney Parham Road.

Artist and organizer Matthew Castellano talked in early November 2018 with the Arkansas Times on our entertainment podcast, "No Small Talk," and in that session he described the ways in which events like this one — part of a series called "Ice Box" — are not exclusively about the art on the wall, but about the social phenomenon that happens when people gather around it. "It's just social experiments, really," he said. "Little Rock is such a putty; you can mold it into something if you're just diligent enough." The "Drink and Draw" sessions Castellano hosted in 2018 molded friendships and tiny networks of emerging artists, some of whom present their work here, at this fourth "Ice Box" show: Hannah V. Lemke, June Pham, Rayna Mackey, Anaka Njeri Smith, Olivia Pate, Lauren Crosthwait, Jennifer Perren, Brittney Marie and Hannah D. Hinojosa. The show remains up at Gallery 360 through Jan. 26. SS

click to enlarge MINI-FEST AT THE MALCO: Devin Castle's music video for Ghost Bones' "Lipshifter" is part of the lineup at Low Key Arts' Arkansas Shorts: A Night of Short Film, Saturday, Jan. 5. - DEVIN CASTLE
  • Devin Castle
  • MINI-FEST AT THE MALCO: Devin Castle's music video for Ghost Bones' "Lipshifter" is part of the lineup at Low Key Arts' Arkansas Shorts: A Night of Short Film, Saturday, Jan. 5.

SATURDAY 1/5

ARKANSAS SHORTS

4 p.m. Malco Theatre, 817 Central Ave., Hot Springs. $10-$20.

Low Key Arts' annual film throwdown is manyfold: It's a raucous marathon of a party inside a vintage moviehouse on Hot Springs' Bathhouse Row. It's an entire evening of short films. It's an excuse to get out and commune with creative people just when you might need it most: at the onset of the January doldrums. The 12th annual such festival is directed by Jennifer Gerber, the badass at the helm of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. The day kicks off with a reception at 4 p.m. A block of international shorts follows, 4:30-5:30 p.m., then a block of U.S.-made shorts, 6-7 p.m. Jury-selected short films made in Arkansas run from 7:30-10:15 p.m. with a brief intermission and include Ron Teague's "A Day with Bigfoot"; Brooklyn Nicole Alexander's "Bingo Night"; Lisa Cole's "Buford Gomez, Jr. Wants You to Vote!"; Denzel Jenkins' "Chess"; Devin Castle's music video for Ghost Bones' "Lipshifter"; Baylie Kilian's "Grasp"; Madeline Finne Snapp's "Gwen"; Thomas Tanner's "Haircuts"; Dan Anderson's "Kipple Project"; Robbie Brindley's music video "Clean Gift"; Havilah Rodgers' "My Story"; Johnathan Woodson's "Spiderland"; Trevor Davis' "Stay/Go"; Kelly Griffin's "The Company"; Aaron Buckley's "The Great Pizza Race"; Matthew Magdefrau's "Trails" and "Yellow"; David Malcolm Rose's "Virtual Reality Check"; Amy Evans' "Wonderful World"; and Michaela Skaggs' "Wonderland." Plus, Thomas Petillo will be on hand taking photos, so you can bust out that New Year's Eve outfit one more time. An awards ceremony and an after-party at SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint follow the screenings. See lowkeyarts.org for tickets. SS

THURSDAY 1/10

ROCKEFELLER STRING QUARTET

6:30 p.m. Dee Brown Library, 6325 Baseline Road. Free.

Did you know that Central Arkansas Library System's Arkansas Sounds has a program in which local musicians perform free concerts in area libraries? Sounds in the Stacks has hosted sets from pianists, guitarists, and now, string quartets. The Rockefeller String Quartet — violinists Trisha McGovern Freeney and Katherine Williamson, violist Katherine Reynolds and cellist Ethan Young — takes a chamber music set to Southwest Little Rock's Dee Brown Library. The quartet next plays at the Sue Cowan Williams Library, 1800 S. Chester St., Tuesday, Feb. 12. See the "Education/Community" tab at arkansassymphony.org for more about the Rockefeller Quartet tradition, and see arkansassounds.org for more on the Sounds in the Stacks series. SS

MONDAY 1/14

'WOMEN OF A NEW TRIBE' 6 p.m. UA Pulaski Tech Windgate Gallery. Free.

A reception opens this exhibition of black-and-white photographs of African-American women by Jerry Taliaferro of Charlotte, N.C. Taliaferro's photographs, of women of all ages and walks in life, made use of dramatic lighting to emphasize their "physical and spiritual beauty," UA Pulaski Tech says in a news release. Garbo Hearne, owner of Hearne Fine Art, will give a talk at 6:30 p.m.; music will be provided by Tech jazz professor Dr. Barry McVinney on saxophone and Julia Buckingham on piano. LNP

click to enlarge ACOUSTIC IN ARGENTA: Fingerstyle guitarist and composer Hiroya Tsukamoto lands in North Little Rock - BRANDON MUSIC
  • Brandon Music
  • ACOUSTIC IN ARGENTA: Fingerstyle guitarist and composer Hiroya Tsukamoto lands in North Little Rock

THURSDAY 1/17

HIROYA TSUKAMOTO

7:30 p.m. The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse. $30.

This Kyoto, Japan, native and cohort of Esperanza Spalding picked up a five-string banjo when he was 13 years old, moved to the guitar soon afterward and doesn't seem to have put it down much since. In a video of a live performance at Oberlin College in Ohio, he gets laughs when he confesses unfamiliarity with the dialect in the Okinawan folk song he's about to perform, "Asadoya Yunta," saying, "I hope you don't understand." What follows is proof positive Tsukamoto's as dexterous with the staccato strikes and five-note pentatonic scale germane to that tradition as he is with the lush eight-note landscapes he employs when performing more traditional acoustic fingerstyle fare. Tsukamoto visits the Argenta Arts District as a guest of the Argenta Acoustic Music Series; see argentaacoustic.com for tickets. SS

THURSDAY 1/17

'ON THEIR OWN TERMS'

UA Little Rock Windgate Center for Art and Design.

A seminal exhibition of works by important African-American artists, including 19th century masters and 21st century superstars, opens Jan. 17 in both the Brad Cushman Gallery and the Small Gallery of the Windgate Center. From landscape artist Robert Scott Duncanson (1821-1872) to social justice artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988), from wry stereotype-busting artist Kerry James Marshall (1955-) to Michelle Obama portraitist Amy Sherald (1973-) and former Arkansas multimedia artist Delita Martin (1972-), "On Their Own Terms" portrays a family tree of artists addressing the issues of their times and illustrates their influences on one another. The works were assembled by curator Brad Cushman from the Juan Rodriguez Collection in New York, Hearne Fine Art, Darrell and Lisa Walker, Karen and C.J. Duvall, Karen and Kevin Cole, Pamela and Anthony Vance, Dr. Imani Perry, Pierrette van Cleve, the Arkansas Arts Center, UA Little Rock's permanent collection and individual artists and other collectors. LNP

THURSDAY 1/17

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE

7:30 p.m. Verizon Arena. $53-$228.

He's here, the pop mogul who's giving Madonna a run for her money in the Reinventing Yourself game: formerly of boy band NSYNC, formerly formerly of "The All-New Mickey Mouse Club," now the suavely baby-faced tenor responsible for lusty pop confections like "SexyBack," "Cry Me a River" and "My Love." (Let us agree not to speak of "Dick in a Box.") The year 2018 has Timberlake trading in his tailored suits and driving bass beats for a lumberjack look; expect this concert's momentum to be stalled only by the innocuous, breezy pop tracks like the title track for Timberlake's latest, "Man of the Woods." See verizonarena.com for tickets. SS

MONDAY 1/21

THE BEACH BOYS

7 p.m. Robinson Performance Hall. $63-$83.

Who could fault the baby boomers for sidling up to decades of Beach Boys melodrama with a wide grin and a bucket of popcorn? The California Dream was, after all, sold to those original fans with such devotion and verve. Never mind that Dennis was the only one who could really surf; to hear the Beach Boys' debut is to hear Malibu in 1962 distilled into crystalline ear candy — not as that beach party scene was in actuality to those on the coast, but as it was presented to listless teens in landlocked suburbia — in Omaha and Wichita and, probably, in Cabot and Conway and Malvern. And, whatever mess has been made by way of all the dirty laundry aired — battling memoirs, revolving lineups, the tabloid fallouts and the hasty cinematic caricaturizations of Brian Wilson and Mike Love — "Pet Sounds" remains clean as a whistle, one of the most important and thrilling records ever cut. For what it's worth to those who have kept up with post-50th anniversary reunion quibbles, this concert comes from Mike Love's lineup, sans any Wilsons at all: founding member Mike Love and Bruce Johnston (who joined in 1965), along with Tim Bonhomme, John Cowsill, Jeffrey Foskett, Keith Hubacher, Christian Love and Scott Totten. SS

FRIDAY 1/25

TERMINAL NATION, MY HANDS TO WAR, GO FOR GOLD, COLOUR DESIGN

7 p.m. Vino's. $10 suggested donation.

Sometimes you've got to take matters into your own hands, as these four bands are doing to remodel Vino's wobbly, ancient stage at Seventh and Chester streets. The pizzeria and brewery has hosted shows people still talk about decades later: Green Day, Gossip, Jawbox, Evanescence, Queens of the Stone Age, Fugazi. From the bands that made Little Rock's '90s-era music scene so powerful — Soophie Nun Squad, Ho-Hum, Lucero, Trusty, Substance, Sugar & The Raw. All that sweaty, beer-soaked history has taken its toll on the Vino's stage, and four heavy-hitting Central Arkansas bands — Terminal Nation, My Hands to War, Go For Gold and Colour Design — are raising money to rehabilitate it. Your suggested donation of $10 goes toward a $1,600 goal, which organizers say should cover all materials and labor needed to make sure no future rockers fall through the damned thing. SS

SATURDAY 1/26-SUNDAY 1/27

ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: CHOPIN & MENDELSSOHN

7:30 p.m. Sat., 3 p.m. Sun. Robinson Performance Hall. $16-$68.

Thanks to a gift from supporters Pat and Jim Wallis, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra has a bangin' Steinway now, and what better to do with a world-class piano than invite a world-class player for a good rollicking bout of Chopin, right? Pianist Andrew von Oeyen, who made his debut at age 16 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, whoa, pays a visit to Little Rock to play Frederic Chopin's demanding "Concerto No. 2 in F Minor" with the full orchestra, bookended by Verdi's commanding, majestic overture for "La Forza del Destino" and Mendelssohn's jaunty, pastoral "Symphony No. 3 in A Minor," known more widely as the "Scottish Symphony." Von Oeyen sticks around for a chamber concert Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the Clinton Presidential Center as part of the River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series, at which he'll perform selections from Chopin's works for solo piano and George Enescu's "Piano Quintet in A Minor," introduced by Haydn's "String Quartet No. 4." See arkansassymphony.org for tickets and details. SS

click to enlarge 'TO THE SUNSET': Violinist/vocalist Amanda Shires takes center stage for a Sunday show at the Rev Room. - ELIZAVETA PORODINA
  • Elizaveta Porodina
  • 'TO THE SUNSET': Violinist/vocalist Amanda Shires takes center stage for a Sunday show at the Rev Room.

SUNDAY 1/27

AMANDA SHIRES

8 p.m. Rev Room. $17-$20.

That Amanda Shires could do much more than fiddle and sing ginger harmonies in the service of spouse Jason Isbell's songs has long been clear. Shires has played violin with no less than the Texas Playboys, and she recorded solo before her marriage and creative partnership. That she'd translate a master of fine arts degree in poetry and a well-earned sense of self into an album like "To the Sunset?" — I'm not sure that was predictable, maybe even to Shires herself. "I assumed my range was, like, three or four notes," she told Rolling Stone in October, speaking about the early days of finding her voice as a songwriter — a songwriter everyone figured for just a good fiddler. It's safe to say, with driving, danceable anthems like "Take on the Dark" and keening enigmas like "Mirror, Mirror" under her belt, three or four notes was a woeful miscalculation. The record reminds me of Dolly Parton and Luscious Jackson and Tom Petty all at the same time, and I'm so thrilled a Little Rock audience gets to see what it's like when Isbell's other half shifts to center stage for a while. SS

click to enlarge 'FREE OF FORM': Educator and composer Sarah Elizabeth Charles and her band Scope give a concert at South on Main Thursday, Jan. 31. - MATTHEW PANDOLFE
  • Matthew Pandolfe
  • 'FREE OF FORM': Educator and composer Sarah Elizabeth Charles and her band Scope give a concert at South on Main Thursday, Jan. 31.

THURSDAY 1/31

SARAH ELIZABETH CHARLES

8 p.m. South on Main. $35-$44.

Vocalist and composer Sarah Elizabeth Charles' third album with her jazz outfit, Scope, is called "Free of Form," and it seems to me that is exactly what her compositions want to be. In a performance at the Community School of Springfield in January 2018, Charles looped and layered her soaring vocals atop glassy piano accents and inquisitive guitar chords. Charles is an educator who works with Rise2shine, an early childhood education nonprofit in Haiti, and with Carnegie Hall's Musical Connections program at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, and her public performances exemplify that exploratory, workshopping spirit. This is amorphous jazz at its best, tied less to answers and more to questions: As she told NPR in 2017, the question "What is needed for the change to come?" was born of Charles' need to respond artistically to the injustices she's seen through her work in Haiti and here at home, with the deaths of Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and others. This one's for fans of Esperanza Spalding, Tori Amos or Miles Davis. Sarah Elizabeth Charles appears at South on Main as part of the Oxford American concert series. SS

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