'MASSACRE AND MEMORY: ELAINE 1919 IN HISTORY AND FILM'
Noon. Ron Robinson Theater. Free.
An infographic called "Map of 73 Years of Lynching" created in 2015 by The New York Times shows the geographic distribution of lynchings that took place in the U.S. between 1877 and 1950, marking areas of concentration with orange circles. One big orange circle, and only one, indicates that 200 lynchings took place at that point on the map. The circle is atop Phillips County in East Arkansas. On Sept. 30, 1919, around 100 black men gathered at a church in Hoop Spur, three miles outside of the town Elaine. They were sharecroppers, mostly, looking to meet and discuss ways in which they could get fair pay for the cotton crops they sold to white plantation owners. Someone fired a shot, and when headlines like "Vicious Blacks Were Planning Great Uprising" reached the neighboring towns, white mobs mobilized and rioted. Fueled by postwar paranoia about black communities being tied to "Bolshevism" during what is now called the "Red Summer," white mobs "stalked blacks like a hunting expedition, chasing them into fields where they were slaughtered," wrote LeReeca Rucker in the Huffington Post in 2015. "Many were able to escape by taking their families to the swamps where they hid several days before the Arkansas governor ordered the National Guard to come and restore order in Elaine." Reports of how many black people were killed vary widely — anywhere between 100 and 800, as well as five white men. In a film called "Elaine," Natalie Zimmerman and Michael Wilson portray the events surrounding the massacre, with comments from Arkansas historians Guy Lancaster, Brian Mitchell and Grif Stockley. Thursday's event is a screening of clips from the upcoming film, accompanied by a panel discussion with Stockley, Mitchell, Wilson and Arkansas Historical Association Vice President Story Matkin-Rawn. Admission is free; organizers suggest attendees register at firstname.lastname@example.org. SS
- RUSTED ROOF: Liza Burns stars as Charlie Clark in Juli Jackson's 2013 film, "45 RPM," to be screened at Ron Robinson Theater Friday night as part of the Arkansas Sounds series.
6 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. Free.
Paragould native Juli Jackson returned to Arkansas in 2008 with her attitudes about filmmaking heavily revised, as she recalled in an interview for a blog called "Fast, Cheap Movie Thoughts." "I'm convinced that filmmaking has become decentralized," she said. "Why go to L.A. and struggle to work your way up when you can network anywhere, find a group of people you trust, and make the projects you really believe in?" she asked. Jackson did just that, and "45RPM" is her proof that it worked. With assists from a handful of Arkansas-based actors, crewmembers and musicians, a grant from the Arkansas Arts Council and the Ozark Foothills Film Fest, Jackson's film was released in 2013 and swept film festivals across the South the following season. It's a catalogue of Arkansas music history, and a testament to the unlikely cinematic potential of towns like Lonoke and Portia. "45RPM" doesn't demand that you walk through the theater doors with a noggin full of Arkan-centric music knowledge, but if you're deep enough into Natural State garage rock to know about the "Lost Souls" compilations and you haven't watched this one, CALS' screening this Friday is a good time to remedy that. Adam Faucett, Whale Fire and Justin Vinson — all contributors to the film's soundtrack — perform before the show, and afterward there's a panel discussion featuring Jackson, lead actor Jason Thompson, co-producer/music supervisor Mike Poe and Arkansas garage rock consultant Harold Ott. SS
- Darren Carroll
- Robert Earl Keen
ROBERT EARL KEEN
8:30 p.m. Revolution. $26-$30.
"The Road Goes On Forever" is Robert Earl Keen's anthem, no doubt — the paean to a Bonnie and Clyde lifestyle has been covered by the likes of The Highwaymen and Joe Ely, and Keen's fans don't typically let him get back on the tour bus without having played it. If that doesn't ring a bell, recall "Merry Christmas from the Family," which begins auspiciously with the line, "Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk at our Christmas party," and ends with everybody within stumbling distance of you slurring, "Send somebody to the Stop 'N Go/We need some celery and a can of fake snow." Keen's catalogue reaches far beyond those two hits, but like fellow storytellers David Allan Coe or Todd Snider, he's never precious about it, never afraid to give his lyrics a punchline or a bit that begs for a sloppy singalong. After a recent return to his bluegrass roots for an album of covers called "Happy Prisoner," Keen recounted to Rolling Stone magazine that an Austin-based reporter had asked him if a cover album meant he'd run out of songs. "I was worried people would immediately [ask that]," Keen said. "But I've also gotten to this age and place in my career where I really don't give a shit." That about sums up Keen's storytelling swagger. That, and the photo on the cover of his album "Picnic," a single scene from a true story about how, in 1974, after a great period of imbibing, Keen's car went up in flames at Willie Nelson's 4th of July picnic. SS
- COUSIN MIYAH: Nina Robinson's photography exhibit "Not Forgotten: An Arkansas Family Album" is on display for a Juneteenth celebration at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, where it will stay through September 2.
Noon-6 p.m. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Free.
Though it was a huge symbolic move in terms of aligning the goals of the Union with the eradication of slavery, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 didn't do a whole lot of emancipating, unfortunately — at least not immediately. It was two and a half years later, on what we now call "Juneteenth," when Major Gen. Gordon Granger announced that "all slaves are free" in Texas, and that "this involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor." (Even then, news traveled too slowly in those days to reach communities of enslaved people in any sort of cohesive way, and it was common for plantation owners and masters to withhold the information until after harvest, or until a government representative showed up to spread the word.) As Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. notes in an essay for The Root, Juneteenth is a day to commemorate "a past that was 'usable' as an occasion for gathering lost family members, measuring progress against freedom and inculcating rising generations with the values of self-improvement and racial uplift." To celebrate, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center has a day of family-friendly activities scheduled: music from gospel singers Anthony Evans and Latice Crawford; sets from V.I.C. ("Wobble") and iLoveMemphis ("Hit the Quan"); and more from Papa Leo, Artists United Theatrical Troupe, the Big John Miller Band, Big Piph & Tomorrow Maybe, Genine LaTrice Perez, the Mabelvale Middle School Drumline and the Gloryland Pastor's Choir. At 2 p.m., there's a screening of AETN's "Dream Land" documentary and at 4 p.m., a screening of "Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise." A "Kids Zone" will have laser tag, a rock climbing wall and a video game trailer, and there will be food trucks on site. National Geographic photographer Nina Robinson's "Not Forgotten: An Arkansas Family Album," will be on display. SS
- Brian Chilson
- JAM HOUSE: Lo-fi duo Spirit Cuntz shares a bill with Tulsa's Unsung Alibi and Columbus, Ohio's Farseek Saturday night at Vino's.
SPIRIT CUNTZ, FARSEEK, UNSUNG ALIBI
8:30 p.m. Vino's. $6.
Saturday night at Vino's is brought to you by the DIY aesthetic of Jam House Collective, a group of promoters who excel at taking local, mostly lo-fi bands you've never heard of and giving them a proper forum in which to be appreciated. (Check out the staff picks on their Wordpress blog to breathe some life into that Spotify playlist you abandoned in February.) The evening will, in all likelihood, involve more confessional punk songs than you can handle and a ditty called "Stranger Anal," the lyrics of which are taken nearly verbatim from the "Is this your homework, Larry?" scene in the film "The Big Lebowski." Spirit Cuntz, a Russellville duo who won the hearts of the audience at the first round of this year's Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase with lo-fi Riot Grrrl-style heartbreakers like "Two Cents," shares a bill with Tulsa trio Unsung Alibi and Ohio's Farseek, a trio fronted by a former fine art student at Florida's Flagler University who brings life to lyrics like "You're a misogynistic nerd/... I don't want to listen to your stupid fucking song that normalizes hating women." SS
10 a.m. Bernice Garden. Free.
Vorlons! Cherokee Blacks! Brandywines! Sungolds! Tomato time is now, and if you're not lucky enough to have a friend or neighbor coddling some lycopene-laden beauties in the backyard, come try a few at this tomato tasting. Southern Table is creating samples of a caprese with locally made mozzarella and basil from Dunbar Garden, and local farmers will be out in full force to send you home with a few summer tomatoes. If you're someone who benefits from the SNAP program, your food stamp dollars are doubled for this festival the way they are at many farmers markets. There's a tomato recipe share, too, so if you've got your formula for gazpacho or scalloped tomatoes down pat, bring around 10 small servings and some copies of the recipe to share. SS
- Starline Photographic
- Barry McVinney
2017 JAZZ CELEBRATION
8 p.m. The Lobby Bar. $20.
Somewhere in the depths of the orchestra pit at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre around 2012, Banda Cabrito was born. It means "The Goat Band," and the jazz combo is comprised of instrumentalists Barry McVinney (flute/bass clarinet/tenor sax), Steve Hudelson (guitar), Brian Wolverton (upright bass) and Pat Lindsey (drums), who ventured from the theater's pit to perform around town, most regularly at The Lobby Bar's Third Monday Jazz nights. They've taken on tunes like Roland Kirk's "Serenade to a Cuckoo" and Frank Loesser's "If I Were a Bell," and for this event, they'll join other jazz-minded locals to raise money for the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation's education program and biennial Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame inductions. Bring cash or check for admission, as AJHF won't be taking credit card payments. SS
- Samira Bouaou
- 'CAMERAPERSON': Kirsten Johnson's documentary memoir is the next film in the Arkansas Times Film Series, curated by Film Quotes Film.
7 p.m. Riverdale 10 Cinema. $8.50.
"What's so fascinating is that I'm not in the film, yet I'm everywhere in the film." That's cinematographer Kirsten Johnson talking about her documentary memoir "Cameraperson," to be screened as part of the Arkansas Times Film Series. "Cameraperson" is a collection of footage from Johnson's journeys over her 25-year career and will be presented without narration. The footage ranges from scenes of Johnson speaking with the subjects of films she shot in Iraq to documenting her mother's mental decline, a film that displeased some members of Johnson's family. There are always ethical questions when it comes to the subject of documentary filmmaking and the way in which editing helps shape and craft a narrative; in "Cameraperson," those questions are laid bare. The work of a filmmaker whose primary experience is behind the camera working with directors like Laura Poitras ("Citizenfour") and Michael Moore ("Fahrenheit 9/11"), "Cameraperson" will be the first documentary in the film series. OJ
- Joan Marcus
- Krisha Marcano, Allison Semmes and Trisha Jeffrey as The Supremes
WEDNESDAY 6/21-SATURDAY 6/24
'MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL'
7:30 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sat., Robinson Center, $25-$55.
Berry Gordy helped build the careers of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson with Motown Records. A featherweight boxer who'd given up on a fighting career, Gordy founded his future empire with a seed loan of $800 from his family in 1959 and, as Robinson said, "the balls to go after what he wanted. ... Berry Gordy was street." That's a fascinating story — filled with vignettes of intrigue, kickbacks and sex — and if you're looking for the full history lesson, skip this musical and pick up Gerald Posner's "Motown: Music, Money, Sex and Power" or Gordy's 1994 autobiography, "To Be Loved." If, however, you are in need of a straight, sweet shot of "Please Mr. Postman" chased with "The Tears of a Clown" and 60 or so other Motown gems, this is where you need to be. Chester Gregory plays Gordy and Allison Semmes takes on the role of Diana Ross. SS