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Matt White's 'Portraits in a bar' 

Candid shots from White Water Tavern.

Matt White might be the most widely beloved figure in the Central Arkansas music scene. The co-owner of White Water Tavern is only 31, but he's been booking and promoting concerts for almost half his life. Where most promoters book shows with an eye toward the bottom line, White has always sought out bands and performers that, first and foremost, he admires — often willing them into popularity through repeat bookings and promotion. That — along with his gentle demeanor and willingness to stand in front of the stage while everyone else lurks in the back — has made him a friend, and White Water a home, to musicians across the country.

Last year, he took a picture of someone in the bar's entryway and liked the way it looked. It dawned on him that it would make a good spot to stage a series of portraits of those who perform and hang out in the bar, "a kind of running document of a particular era in the bar's history." The candid shots, which number more than 100, are wonderfully expressive. White captures flirty eyes, sly grins and stoned impassivity. A couple furtively making out. You can almost hear the shit-talking and yelps of laughter in a few of them. They make you want to head to the bar.

Someday, White hopes to put them together in a book. Until then, find them on Facebook and Instagram.

Gerald Johnson image
  • Matt White
  • Gerald Johnson

Peter Read of Nightflying image
  • Matt White
  • Peter Read of Nightflying

Chanticleer of Magic Mouth image
  • Matt White
  • Chanticleer of Magic Mouth

Jimbo Mathus image
  • Matt White
  • Jimbo Mathus

T-Model Ford's drummer and grandson, Carl "Stud" White image
  • Matt White
  • T-Model Ford's drummer and grandson, Carl "Stud" White

Charles Woods image
  • Matt White
  • Charles Woods

Ron Eoff image
  • Matt White
  • Ron Eoff

Laura and Lydia Rogers of The Secret Sisters image
  • Matt White
  • Laura and Lydia Rogers of The Secret Sisters

Billy Joe Shaver image
  • Matt White
  • Billy Joe Shaver

Richard Buckner image
  • Matt White
  • Richard Buckner

Jamaal Lee of Velvet Kente image
  • Matt White
  • Jamaal Lee of Velvet Kente

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Speaking of Matt White, White Water Tavern

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  • White Water gets Southern Salted

    October 21, 2016
    Lauren McCants, the Southern Salt Co. food truck founder and chef, is now serving food at the White Water Tavern Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday. On the menu: hamburgers and cheeseburgers (of course) as well as deep fried pork tenderloin sandwiches, deep fried chicken sandwiches, a smoked bologna and over-easy egg sandwich (real good, she says), chicken nachos and a special, like coconut curried chicken. There are vegetarian options, as well: Deep-fried tofu sandwiches, prepared with avocado and like a fish taco; and sweet potato and avocado tacos. /more/
  • White Water Tavern gets cameo in new Leon Bridges documentary

    May 5, 2016
    White Water Tavern gets a cameo in a new short documentary about soul singer Leon Bridges. /more/
  • Here are the 2015 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase semifinalists

    January 20, 2015
    After weeks of deliberation, violent debate and black magic, we’ve come up with our final and definitive list of semifinalists for the 2015 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase. If you’ll notice, there are 20 of them. Also, this is one of the strongest lineups we’ve ever had, with great artists in a variety of genres from all over the state. /more/
  • Best of Central Arkansas bars and booze 2014

    October 16, 2014
    Times readers pick their favorite watering holes in Central Arkansas. /more/
  • Goose, remembered

    October 16, 2014
    White Water Tavern owner a loveable rascal, friends say. /more/
  • Larry 'Goose' Garrison, long time White Water Tavern owner, dies

    September 23, 2014
    Larry “Goose” Garrison, the longtime Little Rock bar owner known for rebuilding White Water Tavern three times after three separate fires nearly destroyed it, died Saturday, Sept. 20. He was 63. /more/
  • Ginsu Wives to release new EP in pill bottle form

    June 11, 2014
    Locals Ginsu Wives, who we noted in this week's paper will almost definitely give you nightmares, are playing a record release show on Saturday June 14 at White Water Tavern, and here's one more reason you should go: The EP, titled "Panic," will come in the form of a prescription bottle containing a pill-shaped USB flash drive that includes the EP in three formats, music videos for each track and other stuff. Check out the infomercial above. The album will be available online July 1 at Thick Syrup Records. /more/
  • Stream the new Glittercore album (or even buy it)

    May 1, 2014
    Little Rock trio Glittercore has a new album out today. One of the tags on Bandcamp is "90's," which I guess means they aim to sound like a band from the `90s, which they arguably do, like tuneful, drop-d, Dinosaur Jr.-era indie rock or like a band that might be on Merge or Rough Trade. You can find it at iTunes or at Bandcamp, or you can wait and see them live with Mad Nomad at White Water on June 10. But then June 10 seems like a long time to wait, maybe you'd better go ahead and listen. /more/
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