Entertainment » To-Do List

Alice Cooper at Robinson Center

Also, Poetry on Pinnacle, SeanFresh, Fantastic Cinema & Craft Beer Festival, Sinkane, Etsyfest, Alexi Kenney, Monster Truck Jam and more

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FRESH FROM THE GARDEN: Set up a blanket or lawnchair on the grounds of the Dunbar Garden, 1801 S. Chester St., for a performance from Sean Fresh and the Nasty Fresh Crew as part of the "Music in the Garden" series. - DACORI JONES
  • DaCori Jones
  • FRESH FROM THE GARDEN: Set up a blanket or lawnchair on the grounds of the Dunbar Garden, 1801 S. Chester St., for a performance from Sean Fresh and the Nasty Fresh Crew as part of the "Music in the Garden" series.

THURSDAY 4/27

MUSIC IN THE GARDEN: SEAN FRESH

6 p.m. Dunbar Garden, 1801 S. Chester St. $5.

Dunbar Garden has been serving the community since its foundation in 1992, long before the term "urban farming" became hipster vogue. The two-acre teaching garden hosts nearly 700 students a month from nearby Gibbs Elementary and Dunbar Middle schools, partners with area schools to offer internship programs, hosts community workshops, participates in farmers markets and provides fresh organic produce (and hops!) to dozens of local restaurants and breweries. As though that weren't enough, they also host a spring series of outdoor musical performances. Beloved local R&B crooner Sean Fresh (and his Nasty Fresh Crew) will be stopping here in the midst of his six-state "Fresh Forever Tour." A finalist in the 2016 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, Sean Fresh and his band borrow elements of modern good vibe hip-hop a la OutKast and Black Star to provide a backdrop to Fresh's vintage R&B trill. Also on hand will be the WunderBus food truck, serving traditional Eastern European dishes made of locally sourced meats and produce. Organizers advise bringing blankets or lawn chairs for this family-friendly event. TN

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THURSDAY 4/27

'DOWN DEEP: OPPRESSION, RECONCILIATION AND JUSTICE'

7:30 p.m. Staples Auditorium, Hendrix College. Free.

In a program note for "Down Deep," an a cappella work for choir commissioned by Hendrix College Choral Director Dr. Andrew Morgan, composer Dominick DiOrio states the following: "I have no business setting the words of African-American women rooted in the struggle for civil rights. I am not black, and I have known substantial privilege as a white male. But I have also seen the struggle for marriage equality as a gay man, and I know that it is important for people in a place of privilege to speak up for people who are disenfranchised and who lack power, influence, and the ability to change the system. This work is my attempt to do so." "Down Deep," set to the words of a few of the Little Rock Nine — Minnijean Brown-Trickey, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Elizabeth Eckford and Thelma Mothershed-Wair — takes its title from a quote by U.S. District Court Judge Henry Woods, talking with The New York Times in 1985: "Down deep, many whites don't want their kids sitting next to blacks. That's what it comes to." DiOrio, a 32-year-old tenured professor at Indiana University, visited Little Rock to work on the piece with the Hendrix choir in advance of its premiere this Thursday night. The remainder of the concert — conducted by Morgan and guest conductor Dr. J.D. Burnett (University of Georgia) — features Gwyneth Walker's "Let Music Fill the Air," Frank Ticheli's "Earth Song," "Steal Away" from Michael Tippett's "A Child of Our Time," Bob Chilcott's arrangement of U2's "MLK" and Craig Hella Johnson's arrangement of Dolly Parton's "Light of a Clear Blue Morning," to be followed by a discussion with Hendrix faculty members Jay Barth, Dionne Jackson and Liz Lundeen. SS

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FRIDAY 4/28

ALEXI KENNEY

7:30 p.m. Woolly Auditorium, Arkansas School for the Blind. $10-$13.

The age minimum for a spot at Music@Menlo, an especially competitive summer program for young artists in the Bay Area, was 12 — that is, until Alexi Kenney auditioned. After reluctantly agreeing to hear a 9-year-old Kenney play, founders David Finckel and Wu Han not only accepted him, they created a new age category altogether. The violinist, an artist diploma candidate at the revered New England Conservatory in Boston, took top honors at the 2012 Yehudi Menuhin International Competition, the 2010 Mondavi Center Competition and the 2013 Kronberg Academy master classes, and was the recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant of $25,000 last year. Kenney coaxes fluidity and warmth out of an instrument known for being unforgiving, and often does so unaccompanied (see Kenney's masterful tightrope walk through Astor Piazzolla's "Tango Etude No. 3," which he recorded in 2015 for NPR's "Performance Today"). For this concert, Kenney, 23, will join the members of the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra, under the baton of ASO Associate Conductor Geoffrey Robson, for Sibelius' "Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47" and Tchaikovsky's "Capriccio Italien, Op. 45." The ASYO opens with the overture from Mozart's opera "The Abduction from the Seraglio." And, if you don't make this concert, catch Kenney the evening before, when he performs Bach, Respighi and Schubert at St. Mark's Episcopal Church as a guest of the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock, 1000 Mississippi Ave., 7:30 p.m. April 27, free-$25. SS

1500 HORSEPOWER: Ami Houde, motocross stuntwoman and monster truck driver, gets behind the wheel of "Zombie" as part of Monster Jam 2017, which rolls into Verizon Arena Friday and Saturday night.
  • 1500 HORSEPOWER: Ami Houde, motocross stuntwoman and monster truck driver, gets behind the wheel of "Zombie" as part of Monster Jam 2017, which rolls into Verizon Arena Friday and Saturday night.

FRIDAY 4/28-SATURDAY 4/29

MONSTER JAM

7:30 p.m. Verizon Arena. $17-$37.

If it weren't for an episode of ABC's "Wide World of Sports," and a clip showing a Toyota driving its front tires up onto a row of half-buried cars, Navy vet Bob Chandler might have been content to keep his truck-tinkering habit within the confines of his circle of gearhead friends, for whom and with whom he'd fashion custom bumpers and modify 4X4s. Evidently, though, he turned to his wife and remarked that the truck he'd been customizing, "Bigfoot," could run right over the tops of those cars on the TV set. With that, the monster truck phenomenon was born, in 1981. "The first time we ever did it in public was in Jefferson City," Chandler told the Missourian last fall. "Once we saw the way the crowd reacted, we all knew we had something there." Initially a sideshow to mainstage motocross and mud-bogging events, monster truck racing is now a full-fledged industry, elevating its drivers to celebrity status and inspiring an Abrahamic family tree of Bigfoot ancestors: "Earth Shaker," "Blue Thunder," "Carolina Crusher," "Ice Cream Man" and, inexplicably, "Fluffy." For this faceoff, drivers Krysten Anderson, Armando Castro, Camden Murphy, Justin Sipes, Bernard Lyte, Ami Houde, J.R. Seasock and Matt Cody catapult the mutant machines around on 66-inch off-road tires in the middle of Verizon Arena. Ten bucks will get you into something called a "pit party" before the show, 4:30 p.m., which is basically your chance to cozy up to "Pirate's Curse" and "Monster Mutt Rottweiler" before they go leaping around the place. Pro tip: Monster trucks are loud; bring earplugs. SS

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SATURDAY 4/29

ETSYFEST

11 a.m. Hillcrest Historic District. Free.

Little Rock's EtsyFest went on hiatus last year, so the return of the Kavanaugh craft throwdown was so highly anticipated that the organizers had to cut off their vendor applications sometime in February. A few of the 75 or so artisans who made the cut: Raiz Apparel, Blackbird Soap Co., Crying Weasel Vintage, Pure Soy Arkansas, Amelie's Anomalies, Rad Reclaimed, Sally Nixon, Tiny Little Specks, The Flannel Fox, Upster, AR-T's. Food vendors like Kona Ice, Flyway Brewing and Loblolly Creamery will be around for sustenance, and the event page reports that streets will be blocked off between Spruce and Walnut to allow for safe foot traffic. Festivities wrap up at 6 p.m. SS

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SUNDAY 4/30

POETRY ON PINNACLE

2 p.m. Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Free.

If you're into poetry but haven't made any of the indoor events associated with The House of Art's April Poetry Festival because the weather's been so choice, the buck stops here. On Sunday afternoon, Chris James and his colleagues celebrate National Poetry Month with a mountaintop poetry reading, followed by a descent to the bottom for some kickball and BBQ. If you can't make it out Sunday for Poetry on Pinnacle, check out The House of Art's keynote poet — four-time Individual World Poetry Slam Competition winner (2007, 2012, 2013, 2016) Ed Mabrey — the day before, at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center Saturday, at 6 p.m. April 29. SS

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TUESDAY 5/2

SINKANE

8:30 p.m. Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack. $10 (advance) $12 (door).

Sinkane was born Ahmed Gallab in London and spent his childhood in the Sudan before his family took political refuge in Provo, Utah. Before the release of his first solo record in 2009, Gallab spent time touring and doing session work with Caribou, of Montreal and Yeasayer. Gallab is also the band leader for Atomic Bomb! Band, a touring supergroup that highlights the repertoire of legendary Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor, and whose roster has at times included David Byrne (of Talking Heads) and Damon Albarn (of Blur and Gorillaz), as well as members of Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, Bloc Party, The Rapture, Young Fathers and more. Gallab adopted the moniker Sinkane for his solo project after mishearing a line referencing Amistad slave ship revolt leader Joseph Cinquè on a J. Ivey verse on Kanye West's "Never Let Me Down." He tells the story to Under the Radar magazine: "At the time I heard it as 'Sinkane.' The word sounded so African, so influential, so familiar to me. I would ask myself, 'Who is Sinkane?' Finally, I looked up the word 'Sinkane' on Google and, to my surprise, didn't find a single thing about him. Matter of fact, the word 'Sinkane' didn't even exist." Gallab has released six records since taking the name as his own and boasts a catalog influenced by everything from krautrock to dub to jazz to disco, all flavored with Sudanese pop. He'll bring his band through Stickyz on Tuesday night hot on the heels of the February release of "Life and Livin' It" on City Slang Records. Eric Slick of Dr. Dog opens. The show is for 18 and up. TN

IS IT MY BODY?: Vincent Furnier, better known as Alice Cooper, brings his macabre cabaret to Robinson Center Performance Hall Wednesday night.
  • IS IT MY BODY?: Vincent Furnier, better known as Alice Cooper, brings his macabre cabaret to Robinson Center Performance Hall Wednesday night.

WEDNESDAY 5/3

ALICE COOPER

8 p.m. Robinson Center Performance Hall. $46-$77.

Alice Cooper — classic rock radio host, avid golfer and the epicenter of the so-called 1969 "chicken incident" — performs at Robinson Center Wednesday night. Were it not for the staying power of fist-in-the-air anthems like "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "School's Out" and "Billion Dollar Babies" and ballads like "Only Women Bleed," Cooper's penchant for shock and gore might have been a passing novelty. Instead, Cooper (known only as Vincent Furnier until his band, Alice Cooper, split up and left him to appropriate the name for his stage persona) left an indelible mark on the aesthetic of heavy music, musically and cosmetically. There's, of course, the obvious Alice imprint all over Marilyn Manson's work, but Cooper's influence reaches more broadly than just "Antichrist Superstar," and a couple decades farther back in rock history. His style — a macabre mixture of cabaret, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Pink Floyd and Harry Houdini — cemented what would become a permanent bond between rock music and horror films, and he's inspired public adoration from the likes of Salvador Dali, Dee Snider, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Groucho Marx, Mae West and Rob Zombie. (And, of course, Wayne and Garth.) Don't worry — Cooper's all too aware that bloody boa constrictors and black eyeliner don't exactly hold the same shock value they did when he was terrorizing the Bible Belt in the 1970s. "That was in the '70s when [David] Bowie and I did it," Cooper told Mississippi's The Clarion-Ledger last week. "If I cut my head off onstage in the early '70s, that was shocking. But then all of a sudden you can turn on CNN and there's a guy really getting his head cut off. Reality on television got more shocking than rock bands." That said, Cooper's still getting some mileage out of the theatrics: His tour these days is the sort of Busby Berkeley affair we long to see in the renovated Robinson Center Performance Hall, complete with a 50-foot Frankenstein monster, snakes, straightjacket escapes and an electric chair. And the 69-year-old's makeup is still on point. Also, if the set list from last Friday's show in Biloxi, Miss., is any indication, we won't get to hear "I'm Eighteen" and the dismally prophetic "Elected" until he's called back for an encore, so come ready to shout, and bring that friend of yours that always claps louder than everyone else. SS

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WEDNESDAY 5/3-SUNDAY 5/7

FANTASTIC CINEMA & CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL

Various times. Ron Robinson Theater. $10-$82.

There's no question that the film world in Arkansas has been in flux over the last few years. There was the inauguration of the Bentonville Film Festival in May of 2015, the dissolution of the Little Rock Film Festival later that year and, more recently, the creation of Mortuus Pater Pictures and the Arkansas Cinema Society, using the talents of producer Kathryn Tucker and acclaimed Arkansan filmmakers Graham Gordy and Jeff Nichols. Here in Central Arkansas, you can count the Film Society of Little Rock, the nonprofit that brought an array of LGBT-focused and LGBT-created film to Little Rock last fall for the Kaleidoscope Film Festival and the group behind the Monday Night Shorts series at The Joint, as a factor in that shift, too. The FSLR launches its Fantastic Cinema & Craft Beer Festival with a viewing of "All the Birds Have Flown South," a psychological thriller directed by Little Rock natives Miles and Joshua Miller, produced by ACS' Kathryn Tucker and starring North Little Rock native Joey Lauren Adams ("Dazed and Confused," "Chasing Amy," "Come Early Morning," "Valley Inn"). That event kicks off five days of screenings, including a special one-night performance from film composer Alan Howarth ("Big Trouble in Little China," "Christine"), 7 p.m. Saturday, May 6, followed by a screening of the 1920 silent movie "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," which Roger Ebert called "the first true horror film" and which will be accompanied with a live score from the band Mainland Divide, 9:40 p.m. Check out fantasticcinema.com for passes and a full schedule. SS


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