On the Outlaw,Christmas music 

Sure, there was a lot of fuss about the return of Tommy Smith — for years known as “The Outlaw” on KMJX-FM (Magic 105) — to the airways last week as morning host on KABZ-FM, 103.7, “The Buzz.” Deservedly so, we have to say. Smith, sent home for three months by Clear Channel corporate heads who run Magic 105 over a difference in policy (read: no more Howard Stern-like talk), was a breath of fresh airwaves last week, when we heard him on The Buzz. It was obvious that Smith is not all about lewd references and innuendo. It’s more about charisma, something Smith has in spades. He really can get you feeling good in the morning, as much as he might cynically try to do otherwise. Yeah, as Smith points out, the Hogs football team stunk, the government’s a mess and today’s music is in the dumpster, and he’s got us laughing about it all. He had his new sidekick, David Bazzel, giggling like a schoolgirl the entire week, though that’s also easy to understand — we made an appearance every once in a while on Magic 105 with Smith, and he had us cracking up every time, too. Bazzel, in his second time around as a Buzz morning guy, seems more in awe of this host. The reason is, Smith is the best in the business in these parts. We didn’t need the past three months to finally realize that, only to reemphasize it. We admit to having spent more time than usual listening to the radio in the office the past several days. We’ve been tuned to KMSX-FM, 94.9, for its nonstop Christmas music, which will continue 24/7 through the holiday on that Clear Channel station. After a while, though, it gets mind-numbing with every bad rendition of “Little Drummer Boy.” We call now for KMSX “The Mix” program director Sonny Victory to put a moratorium on Paul McCartney’s crappy “Wonderful Christmas Time” and anything seasonal by the Beach Boys. As the holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier each year, nearly every local vocal or music group in Little Rock got its seasonal program out of the way before mid-December. Some scheduled shows the same nights early in the month, rather than putting them a little closer to the holiday. Early December was top-heavy with events; the nine or so days left leave us with time to shop, we suppose. We did catch the River City Men’s Chorus’ second night of its “Holiday” program. David Glaze, who conducts the RCMC, in the past put on a Michael Feinstein-like Christmas cabaret show with such talented local performers as Sharon Douglas and Mary Ann Lahodny, but the past two years his attention has been on the fledging chorus. It’s been a worthy endeavor, something Little Rock has long needed. The RCMC’s free shows Dec. 5-6 at Trinity United Methodist Church covered the seasonal gamut from classical (if you closed your eyes, you could imagine this portion being like hearing the Naval Academy choir singing) to jazzed-up spirituals to secular favorites, ours being the renditions of “Merry Christmas Darling” and “O Holy Night.” Glaze’s adept piano work really shone on all the spirituals, and Sam Urton and Huey Antley were terrific vocalists on “And in That Moment.” If you missed seeing the shows in person, both last year’s program and this year’s have been recorded. CDs are already produced from the 2003 show, and this year’s will be pressed and available soon for $18. Write the River City Men’s Chorus at 6824 Cantrell Road, No. 180, Little Rock, 72207. The growing Hooten’s Football organization, which includes an annual summer magazine, weekly newspaper and radio reports and a TV show on KARK, as well as a Pulaski County awards banquet, came up with the best awards program the state’s seen on Monday, Dec. 13, with its State Farm Insurance-sponsored state high school awards for players and coaches in the four classifications. Little Rock Central’s Mickey Dean (offensive player) and Kevin Thornton (defense) picked up individual awards in Class AAAAA, and 36 players and coaches were honored as finalists at the Aerospace Education Center and IMAX Theater. The players and coaches’ families were feted with a banquet as well as an impressive highlight film on the IMAX screen. We’d love to see this event grow in size and stature to fill a convention center banquet hall. Monday’s program was taped and will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, and again on Christmas Day on KARK-TV, Channel 4. The Little Rock Touchdown Club will hold its first awards banquet for its top high school and college players on Thursday, Dec. 16, at the Little Rock Hilton on University Avenue beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call or e-mail Clint Albright at 227-4332 or Clint@Albrightideas.net. The LRTC banquet will mark the first time all the in-state colleges have been honored at one time with an awards presentation.


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