A is for "Antivenin Suite," Isaac Alexander's latest solo album. Alexander's last solo record, "See Thru Me," was an Arkansas favorite, landing at No. 6 on the Arkansas Times Music Poll's best Arkansas albums list. In every way, "Antivenin Suite" lived up to the promise of its predecessor, with some of the most rewarding listening of the year. The album is streaming on Alexander's bandcamp page right now.
B is for The Big Cats. The long-running Little Rock band unleashed the second part of a two-album set in December. "The Ancient Art of Leaving" also came out as a 180-gram triple LP on singer/guitarist Burt Taggart's Max Recordings. Despite its length, the album never weighs down. It's the best example yet of the band's effortless command of driving, melodic power pop.
C is for Cody Belew, the singer who hails from Beebe and made it all the way from the 45,000 who auditioned into the top eight on NBC's "The Voice." Belew was the final contestant selected in the blind auditions. CeeLo Green chose Belew, and together they created some memorable performances that allowed Belew to show off his amazing vocal acrobatics. His version of Queen's "Somebody to Love" was fantastic.
D is for "Devil's Knot," the book about the West Memphis Three case by Times contributor and journalist Mara Leveritt. In February, it was announced that director Atom Egoyan would helm a film adaptation of the book, starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth.
E is for Epiphany, the longtime Little Rock MC who released his long-awaited full-length album "Such is Life." Times editor Lindsey Millar wrote that if the album "doesn't push him into the national conversation, there'll be one explanation: Only the lucky succeed. That's because for more than a decade the Pine Bluff-raised rapper has made all the right moves." In addition to the record, Piph and producer Ferocious acted as musical ambassadors, traveling at the behest of the U.S. Embassy to Gambia to teach kids about hip-hop. They later traveled to Mauritius to bring the music to that tiny island nation. Next stop?
F is for festivals. This year saw quality acts at the established festivals, such as King Biscuit Blues Festival, Wakarusa and Yonder Mountain Harvest Festival on Mulberry Mountain, Valley of the Vapors and Hot Water Hills in Hot Springs, The Johnny Cash Music Festival in Jonesboro, the growing-by-leaps-and-bounds Fayetteville Roots Festival and of course good ol' Riverfest right here in Capital City. There were also new ones like the Butler Center's inaugural Arkansas Sounds Music Festival, and a new one to look forward to with the recently announced Thunder on the Mountain country music festival, which will be at Mulberry Mountain June 6-8, 2013, the weekend after Wakarusa.
G is for Glen Campbell. The Delight native and musical legend played in his home state several times in 2012, including shows at Robinson Center Music Hall and the Walton Arts Center. It's the final tour for Campbell, who last year revealed his Alzheimer's diagnosis. The Robinson show was, by all accounts, fantastic. Times contributor Bill Paddack wrote that it was an emotional concert and that Campbell "looked good, sounded terrific and proved he's still one heckuva performer by belting out his best-known hits in an 18-song set that lasted almost 70 minutes."
H is for home, which the Little Rock Film Festival will have next year after the completion of The Arcade, the three-story, 51,000-square-foot building under construction at the corner of President Clinton and River Market avenues. The building — a joint project between real estate developers Jimmy Moses and Rett Tucker and the Central Arkansas Library System — will house a restaurant, space for the Clinton School of Public Service and the Arkansas Studies Institute and a 310-seat theater that will offer LRFF programming as well as other events.