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Gladys Knight at Robinson Center 

Also, Paul Rucker at Inverse Performance Art Festival, Funkanites kick off Jazz in the Park, Kate Campbell, Sad Daddy and more

click to enlarge FROM THE TREES: Cellist and composer Paul Rucker performs at Crystal Bridges with cello and loop pedal set to animated postcards of American lynchings in his show "Stories From the Trees," part of Northwest Arkansas's Inverse Performance Art Festival. - WENDY JOHNSON
  • Wendy Johnson
  • FROM THE TREES: Cellist and composer Paul Rucker performs at Crystal Bridges with cello and loop pedal set to animated postcards of American lynchings in his show "Stories From the Trees," part of Northwest Arkansas's Inverse Performance Art Festival.

THURSDAY 3/30

'STORIES FROM THE TREES'

7:30 p.m. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville. $10.

Shortly after the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray, a 34-page newspaper called Rewind circulated the chaotic streets in Gray's native Sandtown, an area of Baltimore that became the locus of the civil protests surrounding the 25-year-old's demise. The newspaper was a product of an installation by composer Paul Rucker at the Maryland Institute College of Art and Creative Alliance, where Rucker was in residence. The "Rewind" installation focused on the relationship between the history of slavery and the prison system, incorporating objects like a $100 Confederate bill, an 1860 judge's gavel and a book called "White Supremacy and Negro Subordination." In "Stories From the Trees," Rucker focuses on a specific aspect of slavery and its aftermath: lynchings. "For this project," Rucker said on his website, "I purchase and animate vintage lynching postcards and add original music compositions performed on cello using a looping pedal." Many of the postcards will be on view during the show. Rucker's performance is one of many events on the schedule for Northwest Arkansas's Inverse Performance Art Festival, curated by Cynthia Post Hunt and Emma Saperstein and taking place March 30-April 1 at the University of Arkansas Jim and Joyce Faulkner Performing Arts Center, Crystal Bridges, the Foxhole Public House, 21c Museum Hotel and the University of Arkansas Art and Design District. For a full schedule of festival events, check out inverseperformanceartfestival.org. SS

click to enlarge BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson

FRIDAY 3/31

BRIAN NAHLEN BAND

10 p.m. Four Quarter Bar, Argenta.

If you're one of the few who have yet to see a show (or eat a meal, or drink a beer) at Four Quarter Bar, you have yet to discover a truly great bar and music venue. Four Quarter Bar serves tasty craft suds and is a fantastic place to hear live bands. On Friday, it welcomes The Brian Nahlen Band. Nahlen, a sunny person and a good songwriter, fronts a battery of fine musicians. The group recently clocked in as semifinalists in the 2017 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase — no easy feat for any artist, considering the river of great music that flows in our fine state. What I like the most about Nahlen's music, specifically, is his songwriting. Though the band fills the room with superb rock (and terrific vocal harmonies) at each performance, way down at the subatomic level, Nahlen's lyrics — simple, positive and ultra-catchy — are what drive the music. I've said this before and I'll say it again: Nahlen's "Better Than I Thought It Could Be," is this century's Coca-Cola song — his tunes are that catchy. If you are looking for something to do on a Friday night, might I dissuade you from your normal weed and TV binge-a-thon? This music scene is crackling with great music, and Four Quarter Bar is hosting so many good bands. Get out of your head and back into this scene. We miss you. And "Iron Fist" sucks. AS

click to enlarge 'SPITTIN' IN CURSIVE': TV Mike and The Scarecrows join Kevin Kerby for a show at South on Main Friday, March 31, 9 p.m., $10.
  • 'SPITTIN' IN CURSIVE': TV Mike and The Scarecrows join Kevin Kerby for a show at South on Main Friday, March 31, 9 p.m., $10.

FRIDAY 3/31

TV MIKE AND THE SCARECROWS

9 p.m. South on Main. $10.

There are far too many bands identifying as "folk stomp" for that phrase to have any real meaning, but TV Mike and The Scarecrows get a pass anyway. Matt Lundquist's pedal steel guitar is Texas-y, the organ sounds are tasteful and the Indiana-to-San Francisco outfit has an easy, lived-in swing on tunes like "It's a Drag" and "Water for Friction," thanks in part to Andrea Delarosa and Michael Klinge's vocal harmonies. The ever-clever, ever-laconic Kevin Kerby joins TV Mike on the bill, so if you haven't been wrecked by "Paper Mills & Broken Wills" or "Beautiful & Bright" by the proposed candidate for poet laureate of Pulaski County in a while, now's a good time to catch up. SS

click to enlarge 2ND LIFE WOOD
  • 2nd Life Wood

FRIDAY 3/31-SATURDAY 4/1

ARKANSAS MADE ARKANSAS PROUD

6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday. War Memorial Stadium. $5-$25.

In partnership with the War Memorial Stadium Foundation, the Arkansas Times presents a consortium of crafters at this two-day event, which highlights over 85 local artisans, creators and small businesses. Local screen-printers Electric Ghost, Rhinodillo Designs and AR-T's make up part of the apparel contingent, as well as Country Deep Clothing, Hillcrest Waterbugs, Blue Swallow Clothing Co. and Roche Apparel. Natural State Leather Goods, Juli Odum's Urban Jungle Jewelry, Mintaka Design and Itty Bitty Boots offer repurposed and handmade jewelry and accessories, and self-care products like handmade soaps and lotion bars are available from Serenity Naturals, Ozark Apothecary and Jaxon Marz Goods. While you're there, stock your kitchen with edibles from Mount Olive Pepper Co., great Ferments, Honeysuckle Lane Cheese, Swalty Kernel and Cocoa Belle Chocolates. A $25 ticket gets you advance admission to a preview party Friday night, 6-9 p.m., to benefit the War Memorial Improvement Trust. Mimosas and Bloody Marys will be on hand for Saturday's early crowd; the market runs to 7 p.m. Admission is $5. SS

click to enlarge springfest2.jpg

SATURDAY 4/1

SPRINGFEST

10 a.m. Riverfront Park. Free.

For those keeping score at home, Springfest is the exclusively family-friendly Riverfest offshoot for those who prefer not to commingle their kid fun and their adult fun. To that end, Saturday's events will include such youth Riverfest mainstays as cheerleading, dance and art displays, the Jesse White Tumblers, a petting zoo, Ronald McDonald, the canine water long jump/splash zone, live music from Trout Fishing In America, a disco-themed dog parade and a video game truck so the young ones can play video games, just like they were at home and not actually outside with their (ugh) families. In short, it's got all the wonderfully childish things the buzzed of-age Riverfesters also used to stop and enjoy in awe-filled wonder on their way to the next adult concert. Well, suck it, ancients — see you in June for Riverfest, 'cause this one's for the kids! SK

click to enlarge ROSARYVILLE: Mississippi-born songwriter Kate Campbell has become known for her odes to place, race and religion in the American South, and she performs at Hibernia Irish Tavern 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 1, $8-$15. - MICHAEL WILSON
  • Michael Wilson
  • ROSARYVILLE: Mississippi-born songwriter Kate Campbell has become known for her odes to place, race and religion in the American South, and she performs at Hibernia Irish Tavern 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 1, $8-$15.

SATURDAY 4/1

KATE CAMPBELL

7:30 p.m. Hibernia Irish Tavern. $8-$15.

If you're lucky enough to have a copy of the very first music issue the Oxford American magazine put out in 1997, you could skip past (or listen through, if you're smart) Skip James' "I'm So Glad" and Jim Dickinson's "Down in Mississippi" to find folk singer Kate Campbell's "When Panthers Roamed in Arkansas": "Every afternoon I'd watch 'Dark Shadows' on TV / Scared to death that Barnabus would take a bite of me." The folk singer has penned meditations on everything from the decline of the steel industry to snake-handling religious zealots to her upbringing at the Hollywood Baptist Church in Sledge, Miss., where her father was pastor. A conservative man who advocated for racial tolerance during the tumult of the civil rights era, Campbell's father, Jim Henry, opened the church's doors to Freedom Riders and bused the 10-year-old Kate to an integrated school, as she told The Washington Post in 2004. "My father is very organized, uses a lot of alliteration and works off of titles. ... I've heard so many sermons in my life from my father that I definitely think that on a very subtle level, I compose some of my songs that way." Campbell's 18th album, "The K.O.A. Tapes, Vol.1," features the likes of Spooner Oldham and Missy Raines and was recorded on an iPhone 5 in Campbell's living room and "at various impromptu locations across America," as Campbell notes on her website. Her show at Hibernia comes courtesy of the Little Rock Folk Club, which you can check out at littlerockfolkclub.org. SS

click to enlarge FRESH CATCH: Eureka Springs-based quartet Sad Daddy brings tunes like the pacifist anthem "Worthless Gun" to King's Live Music 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 31, $5, and to the White Water Tavern 9 p.m. Saturday, April 1.
  • FRESH CATCH: Eureka Springs-based quartet Sad Daddy brings tunes like the pacifist anthem "Worthless Gun" to King's Live Music 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 31, $5, and to the White Water Tavern 9 p.m. Saturday, April 1.

SATURDAY 4/1

SAD DADDY

9 p.m. White Water Tavern.

If we're to believe the lyrics John Sebastian penned for The Lovin' Spoonful's "Jug Band Music," a washboard and a guitar chord and "a little do it yourself" are the cure for heat exhaustion and dehydration (and possibly drowning)? Whether or not any of that holds up in court, it's hard to argue with the song's central assertion: Jug band music does indeed tend to "make you feel just fine." Brian Martin, Melissa Carper, Joe Sundell and Rebecca Patek of Sad Daddy manage to incorporate a jug band cadence and joie de vivre even if their instruments involve no kitchen accessories. That's evidenced by the band's live shows as well as its 2010 self-titled record, with tunes like "Mama Don't Cook It" and its latest effort, "Fresh Catch." The quartet charms with tongue-in-cheek lyrics about marijuana and goats, and bassist Carper has a velvety dream of a jazz voice; she makes one wonder how Madeleine Peyroux or Diana Krall might fare alongside a banjo and a fiddle. Bring your dancing shoes, and if you can't make it to hear "Weed Smoker's Blues" Saturday evening, catch Sad Daddy Friday night at King's Live Music in Conway. SS

13398787_1110745658983398_1800653537_n.jpg

WEDNESDAY 4/5

JAZZ IN THE PARK: THE FUNKANITES

6 p.m. History Pavilion, Riverfront Park. Free.

Fans of free jazz (meaning jazz music shows that can be attended without charge, as opposed to the sub-genre of jazz that is defined by freedom from tonality and rhythmic restrictions) can rejoice, because Jazz in the Park begins its Spring 2017 concert series in just a few days. Which band has the distinction of being able to kick off the season? None other than Little Rock powerhouse jazz ensemble The Funkanites. Sponsored by the River Market and the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jazz in the Park is decidedly family-friendly. Without a doubt, exposing one's children to jazz music is considered to be pitch-perfect parenting, and all the other concertgoers will look favorably upon your skills. I ask you to try to imagine a finer way to spend a balmy Arkansas spring night than by listening to jazz at the History Pavilion, watching the sun set on the Arkansas River. One caveat: Attendees are asked not to bring their own coolers and refreshments. Beverages, koozies and popcorn are available for purchase; proceeds go to Art Porter Music Education Inc. Add it all up: You can listen to sumptuous jazz for free on the banks of the river while drinking tasty beverages, supporting your community and showing off what a remarkable parent you are. Top that, Netflix and Papa John's. AS

click to enlarge A LITTLE KNIGHT MUSIC: The Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight, performs hits from her 50-year career at Robinson Center 8 p.m. Monday, April 3, $40-$65.
  • A LITTLE KNIGHT MUSIC: The Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight, performs hits from her 50-year career at Robinson Center 8 p.m. Monday, April 3, $40-$65.

MONDAY 4/3

GLADYS KNIGHT

8 p.m. Robinson Performance Hall. $40-$65.

"Midnight Train to Georgia" was originally named "Midnight Plane to Houston" which, with apologies to Houston, doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Based on a conversation songwriter Jim Weatherly had on the phone with Farrah Fawcett, the song spent 19 weeks at No. 1 in 1973 and cemented Gladys Knight's staying power on the Motown scene, thanks to another Weatherly wonder of a ballad, "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)." In the video for "Neither One of Us" that aired on Soul Train, the "Empress of Soul" seems a perfectly apt nickname. Knight wields effortless power in a red, white and blue dress — substituting immovable gravitas for the vocal fanfare favored by contemporaries like Diana Ross, as the three suited Pips coo and strut in unison. The Atlanta native acted and sang in Tyler Perry's 2009 film "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," and has survived many of her peers (as well as a prickly lawsuit to remove her name from the troubled restaurant chain formerly known as Gladys Knight's Chicken & Waffles), a longevity she no doubt owes to the fact that she abstained from so many of the excesses to which her life exposed her. "I have seen it all, to be sure, but rarely participated in it," Knight said in her 1998 autobiography, "Between Each Line of Pain and Glory." SS


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