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Ruby Bridges comes to Searcy 

Also, Damin Spritzer, Handmade Moments, Black History Commission Symposium, House of Avalon's Last Dance, The Shook Twins, Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase Round 2, Capital Hotel Informance, The Salty Dogs, The Toos

click to enlarge THROUGH MY EYES: Civil rights activist Ruby Bridges speaks at Harding University Thursday evening as part of a lecture series from the school's American Studies Institute, 7:30 p.m., Benson Auditorium.
  • THROUGH MY EYES: Civil rights activist Ruby Bridges speaks at Harding University Thursday evening as part of a lecture series from the school's American Studies Institute, 7:30 p.m., Benson Auditorium.

THURSDAY 2/2

RUBY BRIDGES
7:30 p.m. Benson Auditorium, Harding University. Free.

Norman Rockwell's "The Problem We All Live With" was painted in 1964, but its subject matter is arguably still the problem we all live with. The oil painting came as a shock to conservative fans of Rockwell's after his departure from the Saturday Evening Post, and it hung in a hallway outside the Oval Office for a time at then-President Barack Obama's request. The work depicts a 6-year-old black girl in profile against a wall splattered with a racial slur and the remains of a tomato that someone hurled. She's being escorted into an all-white elementary school by four U.S. marshals whose heads tower above, out of the frame. The girl in the painting is Ruby Bridges, and despite some hesitation on the part of her father, her parents answered a request from the NAACP to participate in the desegregation of the New Orleans public school system in 1960. Tensions were high: Parents pulled their white children out of school. Ruby's family became the target of threats from members of the community. Teachers refused to teach, and Ruby was taught as a classroom of one for over a year by a teacher from Boston, Barbara Henry. Bridges — now Ruby Bridges Hall — has been telling her story ever since, and her life became the subject of a children's book, a Disney TV movie and eventually, Bridges Hall's own autobiography, "Through My Eyes." She gives the year's final talk in Harding University's American Studies Institute Distinguished Lecture Series, which has included lectures from President George H.W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Karl Rove and Condoleezza Rice. SS

THURSDAY 2/2

ARKANSAS TIMES MUSICIANS SHOWCASE ROUND 2
8 p.m. Stickyz. $5.

Thursdays are for expanding your musical horizons, because you know you're gonna run straight back to your comfort zone come the weekend. The Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase kicked off last week; DeFrance took the win with a performance the band has polished after the course of about 200 live shows last year. This week's Round 2 is going to be tough to beat: Audiences will have the rare pleasure of hearing some heavy metal before 9 p.m. (in metal time, that's, like, noon) with Mortalus — the only straight-up metal band in this year's showcase — a solid thrash quartet that cites one of the most sinister half-hours of music ever recorded among its influences, Slayer's "Reign in Blood." Following that is Fayetteville's Youth Pastor — formed from the ranks of Comfortable Brother, which was formed from the ranks of Don't Stop Please — who caught our attention with some trippy double keyboard effects and dreamy vocals on a video for a song called "Sweet Summer Livin'." Then, it's Solo Jaxon, whose work with producer Idle Kid (see: "Keep Up") as part of the Young Gods of America collective has been a staple of the ever-lit Fireroom shows. Finally, there's "girl gang" Dazz & Brie, a duo whose super-synched harmonies and laments on the cost of a college degree have earned them a small legion of fans in Little Rock in mere months. (And that's to say nothing of the glitter-clad blazers and the flute solos.) Next week: John McAteer and the Gentlemen Firesnakes, The Inner Party, Age of Man and Rah Howard. SS

click to enlarge The Shook Twins - KIRSTEN COHEN
  • Kirsten Cohen
  • The Shook Twins

THURSDAY 2/2

THE SHOOK TWINS
8 p.m. South on Main. $24-$34.

The third of four shows in the 2016-17 South on Main Americana Concert Series looks to be an interesting one. The Shook Twins (identical twins Laurie and Katelyn Shook) are stopping by South on Main as part of their latest tour, and they are bringing their bandies Kyle Volkman and Niko Daoussis with them to play the band's eclectic brand of folk-pop. Based in Portland, Ore., The Shook Twins write and perform songs that are from the storytelling camp of songwriting, each telling a tale that draws heavily from personal life experience. These songs include stories about being potters' daughters and that time they befriended a chicken that they named Rose (earning the twins their first ever Rootsy™ award nomination.) The Shook Twins' live set features a plethora of instruments, including guitar, upright bass, mandolin, glockenspiel and banjo. If banjos and mandolins aren't your flavor, these guys also have an experimental side to their live show, incorporating "face drum (beatbox)," ambient vocal loops and "their signature golden EGG," which, if I understand it correctly, will grant you one wish if you rub it correctly. All kidding aside, songwriters Laurie and Katelyn write lovely songs that stick with you long after you've put away your phone. Interesting tidbit: The twins were born and raised in tiny Sandpoint, Idaho — a damn-near Canadian border town with a population of 7,000 and an unemployment rate that hovers around 20 percent. This sort of environment for a childhood would be a near-perfect mulch for any aspiring songwriter of the Americana genre, and it served the twins well. From their beauteous vocal harmonies, to their down-to-Earth songs, to their expansive instrumentation, The Shook Twins show looks like it will be well worth the ticket price. AS

click to enlarge Handmade Moments
  • Handmade Moments

FRIDAY 2/3

HANDMADE MOMENTS
9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $8.

Longtime listeners of Little Rock's excellent Shoog Radio will have heard Handmade Moments before, as their fantastic song "All I Wanted" is a staple on the show. That would be Central Arkansas fans' primary source for hearing the band, as Handmade Moments hasn't played 'round these parts in almost a year. Well, primary may be a stretch. Handmade Moments (a sort of saxophone-infused Americana jazz fusion, like Shaky Graves minus the country-fried millennial angst) is kinda literally everywhere these days. The duo formed in the wake of the excellent Conway band, Don't Stop Please, and wasted almost zero time writing and performing new material. Handmade Moments, essentially, lives on the road, has toured all the way down to South America and back, plays venues across the U.S., and is a frequent guest on radio shows across the land. Handmade Moments is legitimately great. I suppose there is a story behind the band's lackluster name, but whatever it might be, the name woefully belies the talent and love that shines out of every Handmade Moments song. The group's at the White Water Tavern this Friday night (with touring buddies, Rainbow Girls — gah! Can't anybody name a band anymore?) and at King's in Conway on Saturday. I wouldn't miss either show because it might be another year before you have the chance to see them again. AS

click to enlarge PIPE DREAMS: Renowned pipe organist Damin Spritzer lends her lyrical toccata to a program featuring works from 20th century composers Ernest MacMillan, Rene Louis Becker, Larry King and Henri Dallier, 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church, free. - MIKE ITASHIKI
  • Mike Itashiki
  • PIPE DREAMS: Renowned pipe organist Damin Spritzer lends her lyrical toccata to a program featuring works from 20th century composers Ernest MacMillan, Rene Louis Becker, Larry King and Henri Dallier, 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church, free.

FRIDAY 2/3

DAMIN SPRITZER
8 p.m. Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church. Free.

According to an interview with Huffington Post contributor J.R. Rosenberg, Damin Spritzer asked for one thing for her 16th birthday: "to be taken to the beach to walk in the November storms." By that time, the organist was already well-acquainted with the feeling of being at the epicenter of a surround-sound tempest, but it was typically one of her own making. She was featured on Pipedreams, a nationally syndicated radio show that's been championing organ music for almost as long as Spritzer's been alive, and won her first scholarship from the American Guild of Organists when she was in high school. What's more, she seems hellbent against allowing us to neatly cordon off the genre as stodgy church music — Spritzer collaborates with the harp and the trombone, she makes a point of performing music by living composers, and she designed (and performs) a kid-friendly organ recital to show off the instrument's range to the under-10 crowd. Plus: She does it all in heels. For this concert, Spritzer performs works from a composer she's studied and lectured on for years, Rene Louis Becker, as well as Arthur Wills, Larry King (no, not that one — the longtime music director at lower Manhattan's Trinity Church), Henri Dallier and Leonce de Saint-Martin. SS

click to enlarge TOO OLD TO FIGHT: The Salty Dogs turn Four Quarter Bar into a honky-tonk Saturday night, 10 p.m., $7. - JASON BURT
  • Jason Burt
  • TOO OLD TO FIGHT: The Salty Dogs turn Four Quarter Bar into a honky-tonk Saturday night, 10 p.m., $7.

SATURDAY 2/4

THE SALTY DOGS
10 p.m. Four Quarter Bar.

Depending on where you're coming from, a salty dog is either the narrator in a Flatt & Scruggs song, a gin cocktail with grapefruit juice or a honky-tonk quartet from Little Rock. Brent LaBeau, Nick Devlin, Brad Williams and Bart Angel have been making music together since 2003, and their effortless swing shows it. LaBeau and Angel are squarely in the pocket, Devlin's guitar riffs manage to rock out without ever straying from a straight two-step feel, and Williams' twang is Dwight Yoakam-level lonesome. (And, like his stage demeanor, unpretentious. I guess when you've been making barroom country with the same gentlemen for nearly 15 years, you don't need to put on any airs.) SS

click to enlarge The House of Avalon. - STEPHANIE PARSLEY
  • Stephanie Parsley
  • The House of Avalon.

SATURDAY 2/4

LAST DANCE: THE HOUSE OF AVALON
9 p.m. Club Sway.

Here's the bad news: The members of House of Avalon — devisers of some of the weirdest, loveliest, grittiest parties to go down in #glitterrock — are moving. They're taking their giant hair, D.I.Y. costume aesthetic and fantastically sculpted eyebrows to rarer air; namely, to go spread the House of Avalon gospel in L.A. The HOA crew constituted four of "100 Intriguing LGBTs to Look Out for in 2017" on a list from gay culture website Unicorn Booty, and they're headed westward to make good on that sense of promise. "We have accomplished so much in these last four years and the community is built and stable," HOA's Hunter Crenshaw told me. "It's time for us to watch it flourish and focus on our personal goals! I'm excited to see what our family does with Glitterrock." The good news? They're gonna throw one hell of a going-away party this Saturday night. SS

click to enlarge Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch
  • Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch

SATURDAY 2/4

BLACK HISTORY COMMISSION SYMPOSIUM
9 a.m. check-in, symposium 10 a.m., Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

A panel that includes historians, teachers and former Philander Smith president and one-time candidate for governor Dr. R.J. Hampton will discuss African Americans in politics at this free symposium, "Black Political Engagement in Arkansas," sponsored by the Black History Commission and the Arkansas State Archives. Professors Dr. John Graves of Henderson State University and Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch of Arkansas State University and Hot Springs writer and teacher Elmer Beard will join Hampton in talking about African-American women and the Republican Party in the 1960s; 19th century legislator John Gray Lucas; African-American activists; and Hampton's political career. Register by going to events.archives@arkansas.gov or call 682-6900. Lunch will be provided. Teachers can earn up to four professional development hours. LNP

click to enlarge The Quapaw Quartet
  • The Quapaw Quartet

TUESDAY 2/7

CAPITAL HOTEL INFORMANCE
5:15 p.m. The Capital Hotel. Free.

Here's to the art of the informance, reinforcing for us the idea that classical music wasn't meant to live in the vacuum of a concert hall or an amphitheater for well-heeled patrons. Typically characterized by shorter pieces peppered with a little context from the musicians, the informance is a little less formal and a little less expensive than attending a symphony concert proper and, in this case, it's during happy hour. Shortly after Tuesday's quitting-time whistle blows, the members of the Quapaw Quartet — Charlotte Crosmer and Eric Hayward on violin, David Gerstein on cello and Ryan Mooney on viola — present works from Novacek, Webern, Shostakovich, Debussy, Dvorak, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn at the Capital Hotel for this free concert. SS

click to enlarge "Blood Brother"
  • "Blood Brother"

TUESDAY 2/7

'BLOOD BROTHER'
6 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $5.

With little advance hype, "Blood Brother" — Steve Hoover's film about a young American man's move to India and subsequent work with children infected with HIV — won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and earned a standing ovation so insistent that the filmmakers had to ask the audience to sit so that things could move along. It's been lauded for its unflinching scenes of dramatic depiction of Rocky Braat's altruism and simultaneously criticized for its subtext of a "white savior" brand of evangelical Christianity, which makes the prospect of spending this Tuesday night at Ron Robinson Theater all the more tempting; when viewers label a protagonist a "narcissist" and "an angel" by turns, that story begs to be watched. SS

click to enlarge OUTER SOUNDS: The Toos kick off some time in Arkansas with locals Rath and Daughters of Triton for a Wednesday show at the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m.
  • OUTER SOUNDS: The Toos kick off some time in Arkansas with locals Rath and Daughters of Triton for a Wednesday show at the White Water Tavern, 9 p.m.

WEDNESDAY 2/8

THE TOOS, DAUGHTERS OF TRITON, RATH
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.

The word "gaslight" has been on the tongues of pundits and protestors alike the last week or so, since someone bought the URL alternativefacts.com and redirected it to a Psychology Today article defining the term. It's been on the tongues of The Toos, too, by way of "Gaslight," the opening track to the Missouri band's laidback Jan. 13 release, "Outer Sounds:" "But we've lived in the gaslight so long that our minds have almost gone/We keep ourselves up on a fence, wrap ourselves in common sense/But only time will tell." I could tell you how "Stay With Me" channels Tom Petty B-sides in the best way, or how engineer Lennon Bone managed to shine up the band's sound without detracting from the lower-fi charm they sported on their 2013 debut — but just go hear them for yourself. They're joined by the triumvirate of badass women who make up Daughters of Triton and by Rath, a one-man project from Jeremy Brasher that makes me want to dig out my long-lost leather spike bracelets, and which was most accurately described by drummer Bryan Baker of Underclaire: "It sounds like if Trent Reznor did the soundtrack to 'Labyrinth.' " SS

click to enlarge Daughters of Triton
  • Daughters of Triton

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