Porter's Jazz Cafe on its way 

Porter's Jazz Cafe remains a work in progress. But co-owner Marcell Dean hopes to open the Main Street restaurant and jazz venue by May. Part of developer Scott Reed's renovation of the five-story Gus Blass building at 315 Main St., Porter's will occupy 8,200 square feet on the ground and basement levels. A mezzanine on the ground level, which will house the cafe, looks down onto the stage below.

Named for Art Porter Jr. and Sr., perhaps the most towering figures in Little Rock jazz history, the club will be open daily for lunch and dinner, with live music during both. The restaurant and venue will fill a void in Little Rock, Dean said.

A jazz pianist and former owner of a jazz club in Texarkana, Dean co-owns the club with Milton Shannon, an owner of Copeland's franchises in Little Rock and Texarkana, and Augusta Farver, interim vice president for instruction at Pulaski Tech.

Dean said that the club will host national and local acts. "Some of the artists we'll bring in, people may not know," Dean said. "But we're hoping the experience is such that it becomes something where people say, 'If Porter's has it, it's going to be good.' "

Official capacity won't be established until the fire marshal has his say, but Dean predicts it'll be in the neighborhood of 200 people. The menu is still in the development process, he said.

Stay tuned. We'll keep you posted with updates.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre has announced its 36th season, and it looks like a good one, with the Johnny Cash jukebox musical "Ring of Fire" opening the season on Sept. 16. The return of Second City, the latest from The Rep's young artist program, "A Christmas Carol: The Musical," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Wiz," "Next to Normal" and "A Loss of Roses" round out the season.

The Romany Rye, the Bakersfield, Calif., folk-rock quintet that includes four dudes from Arkansas, made it to the second round of the Rolling Stone "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star" contest. The winner gets to be on the cover of Rolling Stone and a recording contract from Atlantic.

The band can advance via public ratings, open on rollingstone.com from March 16 to April 11.


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