- Matt Catingub
THURSDAY 8/30-SUNDAY 9/3
HOT SPRINGS JAZZ FESTIVAL
7 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 11 a.m. Sat., 10:45 a.m. Sun. Various venues. Free-$55.
The year-round jazz offerings in Hot Springs are nothing to scoff at. There's a weekly session at the storied Ohio Club with The Clyde Pound Trio, monthly dances in the Arlington Hotel's Crystal Ballroom with the Stardust Big Band, and a Saturday morning radio program on KUHS-FM, 102.5, from trombonist/University of Missouri-Kansas City Professor Emeritus Dr. John Leisenring titled, forthrightly, "Jazz on a Saturday Morning." This time of year, though, the Spa City's jazz community congregates for a weekend in the name of the distinctly American art form, holding concerts, most of which are free, across the span of historic Bathhouse Row and environs. The Thursday night Ohio Club set kicks off the festival with the Spa City Stompers: George "Doc" Ryan on cornet, Paul Stivitts on drums, David Higginbotham on bass, Clyde Pound on keyboard, Earl Hesse on clarinet and Leisenring on trombone, 7 p.m., free. The lone ticketed festival event kicks off Friday night at the Hot Springs Bathhouse Dinner Theatre, with the Arkansas Brass Quintet and the Anything That Moves (ATM) quartet with guest vocalist Diane Kesling and saxophonist/keyboardist Matt Catingub. Admission is $40 for the show, 7 p.m., and $55 for the show and preshow dinner, 6 p.m. On Saturday, "Jazz in the Streets" begins at 11 a.m. under the "Sky Bridge" at 200 Broadway St., with concerts from the Ted Ludwig Trio, jazz bands from Henderson State University and the University of Arkansas at Monticello and a jazz jam featuring some of the festival's headliners. On Sunday morning, St. Luke's Episcopal Church (228 Spring St.) hosts a Jazz Mass with Jeff Long on piano, Matt Dickson on tenor saxophone, Brad Birge on bass, Shelley Martin on flute/soprano saxophone and Jay Payette on drums, followed by a "Jazz After Church" jam at Grand Avenue United Methodist Church (841 Quapaw Ave.) with vocalists Ruby Hill and Jennifer Evans, as well as Dr. Ron Hall on keyboards, Byron Yancey on bass and Paul Stivitts on percussion. See hsjazzsociety.org for more.
- Matt White
- Danny Grace/"Frontier Dan"
JOHN MCATEER AND THE BASTARDS OF JUNG, FRONTIER CIRCUS
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
Longtime singer for The Reds and The Baileys John McAteer — whose band The Gentlemen Firesnakes was described at the 2017 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase as having "shades of Westerberg without the snarl" — has put together a promising outfit called The Bastards of Jung, with a reliably stellar group of Little Rock scene cornerstones: Dave Hoffpauir, Andy Warr and Chris Michaels. According to McAteer, it's "for fans of Television (the band), The Rolling Stones, Built to Spill, or really double guitar bands in general." The Bastards of Jung will release a new record, "Killjoy Was Here," with support from Danny Grace's "psycho-western" provocateurs Frontier Circus.
- BIG SHIP: Reggae icon and ambassador Freddie McGregor takes the stage at Rev Room Thursday night.
9 p.m. Rev Room. $20-$25.
The Rastafari movement's soundtrack goes far beyond Bob Marley, and one of Jamaica's most enduring (and versatile) contributions to the reggae/rocksteady playlist is landing in Little Rock this week. "Little Freddie" McGregor, so named because he began singing backup for The Clarendonians when he was 7 years old, lent his warm baritone to Generation Gap and Soul Syndicate before converting to Rastafari in 1975, penning breezy metaphors like "Big Ship" and politically pointed anthems like "Bobby Bobylon": "You took away our fathers' gold/Robbed them of their sevenfold/Now you're locked behind the door/Not knowing one day we would know the score, man." Now, half a century into a music career, McGregor's become a de facto preservationist of reggae culture: He's chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Board, recipient of the Institute of Caribbean Studies' Marcus Garvey Lifetime Achievement Award and father to two sons working as musicians in the Jamaican dancehall tradition. McGregor's joined by his son Chino McGregor and by Katrice "Butterfly" Newbill.
- BORN TO FLY: Country star Sara Evans shares a bill with Jerrod Niemann and Thompson Square at Oaklawn Friday night.
7 p.m. Oaklawn Racing & Gaming, Finish Line Theatre. $55-$70.
If Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn have taught us anything about country music, it's that rhinestones shine brighter when preceded by rags, and twangy heartbreakers pack more of a wollop when they're buttressed by a history of actual heartache. Count Sara Evans as supremely qualified. Songs like "Suds in the Bucket" and "Born to Fly" came from a singer/songwriter who broke both her legs at age 8 when she was hit by a car, cut her teeth singing in a nightclub when she was 16 and, later, endured a much-publicized divorce with the father of her three children that involved some messy slander and a six-figure settlement. With all that in the rearview mirror, Evans visits Hot Springs as the founder of her own record label, "Born to Fly Records," est. 2017. She's also a newly "empty-nested" parent; the transition inspired her 2017 "Letting You Go" with Victoria Banks and Emily Shackelton. The lyrics recall Evans' 2000 hit "Born to Fly" with a retrospective reference to her own flight from the nest: " 'Cause part of loving you is letting you go/No matter how I wanna make you stay/You were also born to fly away." She's joined at Oaklawn by longtime Nashville songwriter Jerrod Niemann and spousal duo Thompson Square.
FRIDAY 8/31-SATURDAY 9/15
'THE HOUSE THAT WILL NOT STAND'
7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sun., through Sept. 15. The Weekend Theater. $12-$16.
As the histories and archives of enslaved people will reveal to their observer, the story of American slavery is not as plain as school textbooks have tended to make it. One particularly complex chapter of that story is the placage system, by which white men and free women of color in French colonial Louisiana were bound by contractual (but nevertheless legally murky) marriage-ish agreements, sometimes called "left-handed marriages." It is in that corner of history that Marcus Gardley's "The House That Will Not Stand," The Weekend Theater's weighty but fiery follow-up to "Bare: A Pop Opera," takes place. At the center: a wealthy widow, Beatrice Albans (played by Andrea Robinson), her sister Marie-Josephine (Phyllis Madison) and Beatrice's daughters Agnes (Shadayja Bush), Maude Lynn (Alexandra Echeverria) and Odette (London Jones), whose fate, financial and otherwise, teeters on a precipice as the United States acquires French colonial New Orleans. Felicia Richardson directs the drama, which she described in a televised interview on KLRT-TV, Ch. 16 (Fox 16) as a tale of sisterhood and motherhood told through parallel stories, saying, "It's a case of 'if you don't learn your history, you're doomed to repeat it.' " In addition to the weekend shows, there's a Thursday performance, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13. See centralarkansastickets.com for tickets.
GOON DES GARCONS
8 p.m. Vino's. $10.
The tagline on Goon des Garcon's Instagram page is — or was when we last checked in — "What would happen if I set this on fire?" That, coupled with a quick read through an astrological rundown of classic Gemini traits — "expressive, quick-witted ... with a tendency to suddenly get serious, thoughtful and restless," one site says — gives you a pretty good read on what the Arkansas expat hip-hop artist's music feels like in a live setting. Exhibits A and B: Head to goondesgarcons.co and cue up the gelatinous, wobbly backdrop from Idle Kid on GDG's "Parade," or the bamboo-flute underpinning of a serpentine verse from cohort Tan the Terrible on "Revenge in L.A." GDG, now based in Los Angeles, followed up the syrupy incantations on last year's "Sore Loser" with a stint in New Zealand and a single called "Pop Art," with markedly bright, buoyant production from Mike Hector. GDG is joined for this hometown show by Hector Slash, Tan the Terrible and more.
- Frederick Baltimore
- Rodney Block
RODNEY BLOCK COLLECTIVE, BIJOUX
9 p.m. Cajun’s Wharf. $15.
Rodney Block spends enough time at posh soirees to know the sartorial dilemma: You have acquired an especially choice T-shirt — say, a vintage Whitney Houston or a lone gray wolf howling at a (bedazzled) starlit sky. You are having difficulty convincing yourself that it is the right choice for a Friday night out on the town. Add to that fact that the trumpeter you’re going to hear is perpetually debonair — a year-round wearer of glossy three-piece suits. You can quiet that internal tete-a-tete — for the weekend, anyway: Block is calling an amnesty. The Rodney Block Collective, vocalist Bijoux and DJ G-Force are calling this concert/social/T-shirt-centric night “Express Yourself,” with an in-house photographer to document the tee brigade and an after-concert “Soul Cypher” session and cigar party on the patio. If you’ve decided to make an evening of it, catch Alex Summerlin’s happy hour set, 5:30 p.m., before dinner and the show.
- Matthew Bates
- Lady J & The Trebled Souls
Noon. The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse. Donations.
Gas prices are up over last year, and your weekend river float plans are precariously hanging on to a sunny forecast bookended by storm clouds on either side. So, here's a case for sticking close to Little Rock this Labor Day weekend. The Joint's fifth-ever Jointstock is pay-what-you-can this year, with the what-you-can-pay benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The all-day music and comedy festival is slated for sets from This Morning, noon; Won Run, 1 p.m.; Jason Lee Hale and The Personal Space Invaders, 2:30 p.m.; WIC, 4 p.m.; Lady J & The Trebled Souls, 6 p.m.; Manatee Matinee, 7 p.m.; Punch Line Stand Up Comedy features from David Kleitch, Wesley Kleitch, David Bair and Devincey Chopz Moore; improvisation from The Joint Venture, 8 p.m.; Cosmocean, 9 p.m.; and The Big Dam Horns, 10 p.m. The cozy Argenta theater is gorgeous, the craft beer is on special for Jointstock and, lest you delay a visit to one of the neighboring pubs for sustenance, the Hot Rod Wieners food truck will show up at some point to temper your day drinking.
- Marilyn Stringer
- BLUES IN SPA CITY: Guitarist Jarekus Singleton headlines an otherwise all-Arkansan lineup at the Hot Springs Blues Festival.
HOT SPRINGS BLUES FESTIVAL
Noon. Hill Wheatley Plaza, Hot Springs. Free.
As if to prove that blues music is not the realm of old folks, a group called the Spa City Blues Society has doggedly focused its efforts on bringing up-and-comers into the fold, pairing the aspiring Spa City Youngbloods on bills with the likes of mean Mississippi guitarist Jarekus Singleton, this year's Hot Springs Blues Fest headliner. Singleton aside, the entire day's lineup is devoted to putting Arkansas's own on stage: the Spa City Youngbloods, 1 p.m.; Heavy Suga' & The SweeTones featuring bassist/singer Heather Crosse, 2 p.m.; lo-fi blues rockers Soaker, 3:45 p.m.; the Akeem Kemp Band, 5:30 p.m.; Charlotte Taylor and Gypsy Rain, 7:15 p.m.; and Singleton, 8:30 p.m. The Arkansas Brewers Guild will be on site with a beer garden, and the Blues Society is giving away prizes between sets: a Clevenger guitar, a Tomcat Cigar box guitar, a stay at Mountain Harbor Resort & Spa in nearby, picturesque Mount Ida, and more. For the too-devoted-to-wait, The Big Chill hosts a kickoff party Friday night with music from Lil' Ed and The Blues Imperials. Online sales for Saturday's festival have ended, but you can still grab your tickets at the gate on the day of show.
- Rob Shanahan
- ALL-STARR: Ringo Starr lands at the Walmart AMP Sunday evening.
RINGO STARR & HIS ALL-STARR BAND
7:30 p.m. Walmart AMP. $56-$95.
Ringo Starr — Beatles timekeeper, character actor, hard partier-turned-health nut, constant source of comic relief and a perpetually sunny forgetter of an unsunny Liverpudlian upbringing — is bringing his Starr status to Northwest Arkansas. The Fab Four-fatigued (a category which could arguably include Starr himself) may find solace in the set list from Starr's July date in Rome, when tunes like "With A Little Help From My Friends" and "Yellow Submarine" were folded in with the likes of "Rosanna" and "Down Under," hits from the respective outfits of the members of his All-Starr Band: Men at Work's Colin Hay, Toto's Steve Lukather, Santana and Journey's Gregg Rolie and 10cc's Graham Gouldman. Starr described this era of touring as a "peace and love fest"; expect all the levity that crowd singalongs afford.