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'No Tears Suite' at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center 

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click to enlarge PHOTOGRAPH OF ELIZABETH ECKFORD FROM THE WILL COUNTS COLLECTION - INDIANA UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES
  • Photograph of Elizabeth Eckford from the Will Counts Collection - Indiana University Archives

'NO TEARS SUITE'
SATURDAY 3/2 | 8 p.m.
Mosaic Templars
Cultural Center | $40.

"I was drowning in unfamiliar activities and sounds," Melba Pattillo Beals writes in the fourth chapter of her memoir "Warriors Don't Cry," "the sound of the constantly ringing telephone, of people talking loud in my ear and expressing their views about integration, of reporters' urgent voices about what integration might do to the city and to the South." It's Beals' memories of cacophony and chaos that dominate this chapter of her life — the one where she walked into Central High School and became one of the Little Rock Nine. That memoir, and the tumult therein, inspired this 60-minute jazz suite from Little Rock jazz pianist Chris Parker and vocalist Kelley Hurt, which was commissioned by Oxford American magazine and premiered in 2017 at the 60th anniversary of the Nine's entrance into Little Rock Central High School. Since that time, acclaimed bassist and composer Rufus Reid has expanded the suite with a supplement of symphonic arrangements, to be played by 15 members of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. For this performance, an addition to the Oxford American's 2018-19 concert series, ASO Associate Conductor Geoffrey Robson conducts Reid, drummer Brian Blade, tenor saxophonist Bobby LaVell, trumpeter Marc Franklin and saxophonist Chad Fowler. Get tickets at arkansassymphony.org/no-tears or by calling 666-1761, ext. 1. SS
Elise Davis - GREGG ROTH
  • Gregg Roth
  • Elise Davis
ELISE DAVIS
SATURDAY 3/2 | 9 p.m.
Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack | $12-$15.

In the world of color theory, there's an illustration used by artists, scientists and psychologists alike: the color wheel, as it's called, a visual map of the relationships between primary, secondary and tertiary colors. Red and green — the hallmark hues of each of Elise Davis' last two albums — sit exactly opposite one another on that wheel, and I can't help but think of it when the Little Rock native discusses her vastly different approaches to those albums, "The Token" and "Cactus." Davis holed up in a cabin in Maine for 10 days with her band and producer Sam Kassrier for "The Token," tracking nearly everything live. "There's a beauty in that," Davis said on her session for Paste Magazine last month. "You capture something in this time." Davis' latest, "Cactus," on the other hand, was recorded over the course of six months. It's swaddled in strings, with markedly less vocal reverb, allowing her lyrics to read less like a diaristic fever dream than a deadpan guidebook to the perils of emotional growing pains. (See: "Man.") Best of all for this particular listener, it's given a whole new audience a chance to fall in love with the sage, lush retrospective that first sparked my own Elise Davis fandom: "Married Young." The perpetually stunning Adam Faucett opens the show. See arkansaslivemusic.com for tickets. SS

'URINETOWN: THE MUSICAL'
THURSDAY 3/7-SUNDAY 3/24
The Studio Theatre, 320 W. Seventh St. | $20-$25.


If you're a person for whom the political, environmental and economic climate seems abominably awry and perhaps irrevocably damaged, here's the good news: All that bad news? It makes satire even more resonant and delicious. And, every so often, satire goes full-throttle meta, bypassing the act of mocking the cultural climate in which the performance is situated and lampooning the history of socially conscious performance itself. Take Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis' "Urinetown," the next production in The Studio Theatre's 2018-19 season. Therein, an extended drought forces the masses into a hierarchical, for-profit network of public toilets, entrance to which is tightly controlled by a corporation called Urine Good Company. Violators are exiled to a mysterious dystopia and a pee-for-free rebellion builds steam. (Think: David Cross and Bob Odenkirk are tasked with developing an episode of "Black Mirror" for Broadway, poking fun at "Les Miserables" along the way.) Fourth walls are shattered, theater tropes are mocked and an exhaustive litany of euphemisms for going No. 1 are trotted out with earthy gusto from the pee-bound proletariat. This one's gonna be a good time. See centralarkansastickets.com for tickets. SS

click to enlarge Descendents
  • Descendents
DESCENDENTS
SATURDAY 3/9 | 8:30 p.m.
Rev Room | $35.


Add this quote to the list of Sentences Not Often Heard From Punk Rock Legends: "When I got laid off, I could have pivoted real quick and gotten a university job, but I just thought, 'Yeah, the environment is not right, and the band is going great, and might as well have some fun and let it play out and maybe in a few years I can get back into science.' " Descendents frontman Milo Aukerman's biochemistry career hitting a snag means that fans of skate culture, surf and hyper-caffeinated drum fills are a ticket purchase away from seeing the California rockers live, and the band's longevity means trading in relics like "No FB" for more socially awakened fare like "Who We Are," profits of which benefited ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center: "Woke up this morning to a different world/They're stomping on immigrants and groping girls/There's nothing American about us now/A whole population driven underground." See arkansaslivemusic.com for tickets. SS

Esther Rose - AKASHA RABUT
  • Akasha Rabut
  • Esther Rose

ESTHER ROSE
TUESDAY 3/12 | 10 p.m.
Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack | $10.


The marvel of Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams lies in lucidity; the simplest guitar chords are a backdrop for country music's most memorable melodies, and seemingly pedestrian turns of phrase take on universal meaning, ripe for interpretation. Esther Rose plays in that same sandbox, and her penchant for recording straight to tape landed her album "This Time Last Night" into the hands of Jack White, who featured her vocals on his 2018 record "Boarding House Reach." Rose carved out a niche as a singer and percussionist in New Orleans' traditional blues and jazz scene before the songwriting bug bit, and if "Don't Blame It on the Moon" is any indication, her forthcoming sophomore album will be painted in the same stunningly simple palette as the first: tender, lilting and austere. See stickyz.com for tickets. SS

click to enlarge Grandchildren - AARON BREWER
  • Aaron Brewer
  • Grandchildren
VALLEY OF THE VAPORS MUSIC FESTIVAL
FRIDAY 3/15-MONDAY 3/18
Maxine's, Low Key Arts, The Big Chill (Hot Springs) | $10-$120.

In 2005, Bill Solleder and Shea Childs hatched a plan to lure compelling performers from across the globe to picturesque Hot Springs National Park, hoping to catch them on their way to and from the annual SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. It worked, and 14 years later, the staff at Low Key Arts is still throwing what's very possibly the best fest in the state, giving groups like Downtown Boyz and Water Liars a chance to ditch the outdoor stadium vibe and put on intimate shows for fans — most of whom read as eternally grateful to be seeing their favorite groups without the aid of binoculars or a $480 festival pass. What's more, the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival thrives on art, hypercommitment and a healthy sense of mischief: Kelley Deal hosted a knitting workshop at VOV one spring. Devotees put out an annual VOV-specific zine. Brooklyn rocker Zuli played at the Waffle House as part of VOV's trove of secret popup shows, occasionally using a sugar dispenser as a guitar slide. Up this year at the fest's three venues are The Bright Light Social Hour, Dazz & Brie, Grandchildren, The Holy Knives, McKinley Dixon, Sea Moya, Modeling, Hnry Flwr, Big Piph, Crush Diamond, Goon, Dendrons, Various Blonde, Sun Parade, Dead Rider, TIME, The Ferdy Mayne, Miles Francis, Colour Design, Stef Chura, Slights, Korine, Paul Cherry, Billy Ruben & The Elevated Enzymes, Death Hags, A Deer A Horse, Empath, Mimico, Vertical Scratchers, Beams, Jamie Lou & The Hullabaloo, Locate S, 1, Carinae, Fossils of Ancient Robots, Adventureland, Godcaster, Parrot Dream, Dead Soft, Charity and Big Bliss. A day pass is $10, a $40 pass will get you entrance to all VOV shows. A $120 VIP gets you all-show access plus unlimited food and drink in the VIP lounge at Low Key Arts. See valleyofthevapors.com for tickets. SS
click to enlarge todo_list1-6-f17bc8ae9e7844e4.jpg

ARKANSAS TIMES FILM SERIES: 'SET IT OFF'
TUESDAY 3/19 | 7 p.m.
Riverdale 10 Cinema | $9.


In 2018, the Arkansas Times Film Series programmed a succession of classic heist films: "Point Break," "Rafifi" and "Bob Le Flambeur." In 2019, bank robberies are the theme: In January, it was George Roy Hill's "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," in which the increasing difficulty in being a successful bank robber signals the end of an era; in February, it was Barbara Loden's "Wanda," in which a despondent divorcee becomes an unwitting accomplice to a failed robbery. We'll cap off the bank robbery theme with "Set It Off," F. Gary Gray's 1996 action crime drama, and the follow-up to his stoner comedy-turned-cult classic "Friday." In "Set It Off," bank teller Frankie (Vivica A. Fox) finds herself falsely linked with a bank robber and, with her dreams of rising through the ranks of the bank hierarchy shattered, she joins three friends who work for a cleaning service: Cleo (Queen Latifah), Stony (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Tisean (Kimberly Elise). Together, they hatch a plan to get ahead in a society that's designed to hold them back. The film works not only because it's compelling crime fiction, but also because it allows each of the four women their own interior lives. Frankie, of course, wants payback for the way she was unceremoniously fired. Stony wants to help her brother pay his college tuition. Cleo is openly gay and wants to purchase elaborate gifts for her girlfriend, and Tisean is trying to raise (and keep custody of) her child. Set against a backdrop of the violence and unrest in the '80s and '90s in Los Angeles, "Set It Off" was conceived as a socially conscious film. The protagonists' impetus for getting into the business of bank robbing isn't frivolous. It's a means to an economic end, catalyzed by a rooftop conversation about the disappearance of factory jobs that pay a living wage. So many of the societal ills depicted in "Set it Off" — racism, classism — still resonate over 20 years after its release, and the idea of an all-female crime caper still feels novel, even with last year's "Oceans 8" and with Steve McQueen's "Widows." "Set It Off" uses the crime genre to make timely critiques of the way the most marginalized people in society are themselves robbed of social mobility and fair economic opportunity. OJ

'BEHIND THE BIG HOUSE'
FRIDAY 3/29-SATURDAY 3/30
Historic Arkansas Museum.


You've always wanted to camp on the Historic Arkansas Museum grounds. Or at least I have. Thanks to Preserve Arkansas, the Black History Commission of Arkansas, the Arkansas Archeological Survey, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and the Arkansas Humanities Council, there will be an opportunity to do just that AND learn about the importance of slave dwellings to the interpretation of African-American history and their role in heritage tourism. On Friday at 5:30 p.m., libations and samples of the antebellum cuisine of the enslaved will be served; a lecture by Dr. Jodi Skipper on roots tourism in the United States will follow. Then Joseph McGill, the founder of the Slave Dwelling Project and whom people will remember from last year's "Behind the Big House" event, will give a Fireside Chat before bedding down in the Brownlee Kitchen. A lecture on documenting and preserving slave dwellings and a genealogy workshop will be part of Saturday's half-day programming. Prospective campers should RSVP to info@preservearkansas.org. Educators may receive professional development hours. For more information, email rpatton@preservearkansas.org. LNP
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