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Richard Leo Johnson comes to The Joint

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UNCLASSIFIABLE: Richard Leo Johnson plays The Joint.
  • UNCLASSIFIABLE: Richard Leo Johnson plays The Joint.

Thursday 8/17

RICHARD LEO JOHNSON
7:30 p.m. The Joint. $25.

The El Dorado native, self-taught guitarist and Blue Note alumnus was once called "the most innovative guitarist since Jimi Hendrix" by Playboy magazine. His music defies genre (especially, to his ear, the New Age label that he's been tagged with), but his albums confidently tromp a deeper path set by other unclassifiable heavies like John Fahey and Arkansas's own Moondog. It's a music of found tunings and bizarre chord progressions that can draw out new hues of heebie-jeebies while evoking a weird Old South, untethered from history, where primitive, muddy religion shares an uneasy supper with the fantastical and science fictional. In Johnson's case, it helps to have a few curious instruments to make such curious music. Recently, he has summoned up rich bells, haunting overtones and crystalline resonances out of instruments found, homemade and bizarre — listen to the 1930s National Duolian steel-body guitar of "The Legend of Vernon McAllister" (2006) or the inside-out Martin "Martian" guitar with a theremin in its guts that he used in 2014 for "Celeste." This, the Nashville-based Johnson's latest return to his home state, is brought to us by the Argenta Arts Acoustic Music Series. Find tickets at centralarkansastickets.com. JT

'UNTITLED': The Dina Santos photo is part of the 'Nasty Woman' exhibit at UALR.
  • 'UNTITLED': The Dina Santos photo is part of the 'Nasty Woman' exhibit at UALR.

THURSDAY 8/17-SATURDAY 8/19

KALEIDOSCOPE FILM FESTIVAL
Various times. Argenta Community Theater. South on Main. Crush Wine Bar. Free-$350.


If you missed out on the first week and a half of the Kaleidoscope LGBT Film Festival, the tail end of the festival is offering a bevy of opportunities to make up for it. The remaining highlight is on Thursday night, at Argenta Community Theater, a double feature of sorts: “Islands” by Yann Gonzalez and “The Untamed” by Amat Escalante. First up is “Islands,” a French short running at around 23 minutes that won the Cannes Queer Palm Best Short Film Award and is making its North American premiere. Director Gonzalez is probably most famous for his film “You and the Night,” from 2013, which revolved around an orgy but mainly showed off an auteur’s (and, let’s be honest, a French) sensibility for poetic cinema. “The Untamed,” a 100-minute feature-length film, screens next. After Escalante won the best director award at Cannes in 2013 for “Heli” — a gruesome and horrifying dive into drug violence in Mexico — people were a bit unsure what to think of him. “Heli” was called “nihilistic,” and, though moving and technically masterful, it felt hopeless in its conclusions. I would not expect the newest work to have anything particularly uplifting to say either, but it may be more strange than brutal. “The Untamed” is working with a larger budget than “Heli” and pulls from horror motifs in an attempt to tackle the filmmaker’s “outrage about institutionalized homophobia and misogyny in Mexico,” and does this with a sci-fi bend. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say if you watch, expect to see some intergalactic sex stuff (Indiewire review’s headline is: “This Surreal Thriller Is the Second-Best Movie Ever Made About Tentacle Sex.”) That should be enough to get you to the theater. But you should also know that the movie is stunningly beautiful, and worth watching on the big screen. Manuel Alberto Claro — who shot Lars Von Trier’s haunting “Nymphomaniac” — worked on the film. In our surreal times, creative nihilism seems apt. There’s tons more to check out. Visit kaleidoscopefilmfestival.com for the full schedule. JR

'THE UNTAMED': Amat Escalante's new feature film screens at Kaleidoscope.
  • 'THE UNTAMED': Amat Escalante's new feature film screens at Kaleidoscope.
FRIDAY 8/18

'NASTY WOMAN' CLOSING RECEPTION
6 p.m. UALR Fine Arts Building. Free.

Listen, I'm no economist, but it looks like the closest thing millennials and those of us in the writers and artists caste will get to a WPA-style economic stimulus already happened that one fateful night in October when the words "nasty woman" plopped out of our future nutcase-in-chief. That was an instantly iconic and absurdist call-to-tools for craftswomen, artisans and subversives of all types to rally around the tag and get to work, turning the pathetic insult into all sorts of empowering wares to be crafted, sold and worn with pride. Ten months later, it's still a clarion call. The "Nasty Woman" exhibition expands on an original "Nasty Woman" show curated at Henderson State University by that school's photography professor, Margo Duvall, whose wonderful diptych of a woman considering a taro leaf that has been ripped, pierced and suffused with subtext greets visitors to this year's Delta Exhibition. The pieces in "Nasty Woman" traverse time and mood, from the heavy (Joli Lavaudais' body cast in a honeycomb shroud, "The Mother Exhumed") to the hilarious (Dina Santos' bright "Untitled" photo in which pink and teal color fields frame a tutu-wearing nasty woman in a defiant handstand against a storefront security shutter). This Friday's closing reception kicks off at 5 p.m., with a curator's talk at 6 p.m., and participating artists on hand throughout. JT

FRIDAY 8/18

THIRD FRIDAY ARGENTA ARTWALK
5-8 p.m. Downtown North Little Rock.

Works by some of Arkansas's most distinguished artists, including the late Al Allen and Carroll Cloar, along with famed regionalist Thomas Hart Benton make up part of the offerings in "Southern Landscapes," a new exhibition at Greg Thompson Fine Art (429 Main St.) opening with the monthly Third Friday Argenta ArtWalk. Also in the show: contemporary Arkansas artists Mark Blaney, Dolores Justus, Darrell Berry, Stephen Schneider and Charles Harrington; Arkansas native Kendall Stallings; watercolorist Stephen Scott Young; and South Carolina painter Edward Rice. Other venues open Friday night: Mugs Cafe (515 Main St.), which continues "Three Dollar Icon," paintings by Melissa Wilkinson; the Laman Library Argenta Branch (420 Main St.), which is showing "Paints, Pastels, Pencils and Pixels," work by Miller B. "Eddie" Smith and Ed Rhodes; Core Brewery, which is showing "Dance Your HeART Out," art inspired by dance; and the House of Art (108 E. Fourth), where Sulac, Everett Gee, Woozel, Loogie, x3mex and Derek Simon are showing. Claytime Pottery will have a 50 percent off sale; Argenta Gallery continues its "Film, Flash, Focus, Record" show of work by Michael Shaeffer; and StudioMain will host POP-UP Argenta. LNP

FRIDAY 8/18

DAZZ & BRIE AND THE EMOTIONALZ
7 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $10.

If you haven't heard yet, Dazz & Brie are dominating Little Rock's musical landscape and setting the latest standards for the forward-thinking musicians among us. The winners of the 2017 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase traffic in pop and R&B sure, but have you heard "Indigo"? One of their newest tracks opens up with a vaguely sludgy, Pallbearer-style guitar sliding over a spoken lover's appeal before a cymbal announces a high, lonesome holler that would land perfectly on any CMT fan's ears. Then, suddenly, we're taken to a gooey psychedelic plane that binds it all together. They say the test of a great song is that it can be performed in all genres, but what about a songwriting force that can unify a mosaic of styles like this in a single unit, and with natural ease? Where can you even go from there? We're stumped, but looking forward to finding out where Dazz & Brie take us next. JT

FRIDAY 8/18

SUMMER SOULSTICE 6/VELVET KENTE AFROBEAT CONCERT
10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.

Now six years running, the annual Summer Soulstice dance party has been one of the most reliably good-vibed parties in Little Rock, one that leaves you looking forward to the next year's installment once the night has ended. As always, Seth Baldy, a.k.a. DJ Baldego, will be spinning a set of sticky, Memphis-heavy Southern soul. The Velvet Kente Arkestra is lined up to blast out a set of Afrobeat covers and originals, all aided by a roster of featured vocalists including Dazz & Brie fresh off of the aforementioned concert at Ron Robinson, poet and performer C.C. Mercer, post-punk mainstay Jeremy Brasher, emcee Osyrus Bolly and local shouting bear-man Adam Faucett. JT

'MAGNOLIA': New Orleans' Kristin Diable lands at Kings Live Music in Conway Saturday night.
  • 'MAGNOLIA': New Orleans' Kristin Diable lands at Kings Live Music in Conway Saturday night.

SATURDAY 8/19

KRISTIN DIABLE
8:30 p.m. Kings Live Music, Conway. $5.

In the video for "I'll Make Time For You," the opener to Kristin Diable's 2015 release, "Create Your Own Mythology," a young boy discovers an electronic gadget delivered to his backyard by a comet. The gadget shoots a rainbow laser beam into his eyes and transports him to an alternate universe, where he is of drinking age and situated in a glittery bacchanale that looks like what might happen if the members of Polyphonic Spree supervised a revived "Soul Train" in the year 2099. It's a perfectly apt introduction to Diable's style, which probably points to the blend of the bizarre and the utterly familiar in her music. "Create Your Own Mythology" polished that sound to a shine courtesy of Dave Cobb, the guy who produced Jason Isbell's "Southeastern" and Sturgill Simpson's "Metamodern Sounds in Country Music." Diable wears her roots on her sleeve (check out her latest single, "Magnolia," a love letter to her native Louisiana) and borrows freely from the smoke and raucousness of a bygone soul era, but her delivery is more Ma Rainey than Leon Bridges — she's able to do so without veering into parody territory. For fans of Amy Winehouse or Erin McKeown, I suspect this one will be well worth the trip to Conway. Preston Palmer opens the show. SS

'THE UNTAMED': Amat Escalante's new feature film screens at Kaleidoscope.
  • 'THE UNTAMED': Amat Escalante's new feature film screens at Kaleidoscope.

THURSDAY 8/17 - SATURDAY 8/19

KALEIDOSCOPE FILM FESTIVAL
Various times. Argenta Community Theater. South on Main. Crush Wine Bar. Free-$350.

If you missed out on the first week and a half of the Kaleidoscope LGBT Film Festival, the tail end of the film festival is offering a bevy of opportunities to make up for it. The remaining highlight is on Thursday night, at Argenta Community Theater, a double feature of sorts: "Islands" by Yann Gonzalez and "The Untamed" by Amat Escalante. First up is "Islands," a French short running at around 23 minutes that won the Cannes Queer Palm Best Short Film Award and is making its North American premiere. Director Gonzalez is probably most famous for his film "You and the Night," from 2013, which revolved around an orgy but mainly showed off an auteur's (and, let's be honest, a French) sensibility for poetic cinema. "The Untamed," a 100-minute feature-length film, screens next. After Escalante won the best director award at Cannes in 2013 for "Heli" — a gruesome and horrifying dive into drug violence in Mexico — people were a bit unsure what to think of him. "Heli" was called "nihilistic," and, though moving and technically masterful, it felt hopeless in its conclusions. I would not expect the newest work to have anything particularly uplifting to say either, but it may be more strange than brutal. "The Untamed" is working with a larger budget than "Heli" and pulls from horror motifs in an attempt to tackle the filmmaker's "outrage about institutionalized homophobia and misogyny in Mexico," and does this with a sci-fi bend. To avoid spoilers, I'll just say if you watch, expect to see some intergalactic sex stuff (Indiewire review's headline is: "This Surreal Thriller Is the Second-Best Movie Ever Made About Tentacle Sex.") That should be enough to get you to the theater. But you should also know that the movie is stunningly beautiful, and worth watching on the big screen. Manuel Alberto Claro — who shot Lars Von Trier's haunting "Nymphomaniac" — worked on the film. In our surreal times, creative nihilism seems apt. There's tons more to check out. Visit kaleidoscopefilmfestival.com for the full schedule. JR

SATURDAY 8/19

HAPPY TOGETHER TOUR
7 p.m. Oaklawn Finish Line Theater, Hot Springs. $45-$55.

The best video I found of The Turtles singing "Happy Together" is from 1967. A mutton-chopped man, wearing a vertical-striped purple blazer (of various shades) with white pants and a bowtie, stands atop a platform checkered in black and white. He holds a slight silver microphone with one hand, singing, and with the other hand leans on a wooden cane. The Turtles are in a studio. They are probably lip syncing. In my estimation, the Willy Wonka-like singer is exceedingly normal in the greater context. Because The Turtle's horn player, clad in a shiny orange shirt that glimmers as he gyrates, is taking the weirdo cake. Not playing his horn at all, but instead swinging it like a tambourine, "that Jonah Hill-looking horn player," as one YouTube commenter describes him, is looking "high as all hell." He prances. He bothers the lead singer who gives him a shove. He continues to not play his horn. He is free. I was not alive during this time, but, even for just a moment, I enjoyed dipping back into the ridiculousness of the 1960s and '70s watching the video. It's a fantasy that we've replayed over and over as Americans, and yet it's still intoxicating. It makes you want to say words like "delightful." I cannot promise you the same flashback joy will occur during the "Happy Together Tour" at Oaklawn. But, maybe you can catch some of that memorable strangeness and beauty for yourself. You can see The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, The Association, Chuck Negron (of Three Dog Night), The Box Tops, The Cowsills and The Archies (starring Ron Dante). They are among the bands that you might not remember by name, but they've got a staggering 50-plus Billboard hits under their collective belt, so at least one of the songs will stand out. Personally, I think watching The Box Tops without their famous lead singer, Alex Chilton — who went on to change pop music with Big Star and died in 2010 — could be a high point. Supposedly, when recording The Box Tops hit "The Letter," Chilton smoked a bunch of cigarettes to make his teenage voice sound like gravel. Could be a bit of the reverse now for the band, trying to stay young despite all the wear and tear. JR

WEDNESDAY 8/23

'FUN HOME' at THEATERSQUARED
7:30 p.m. Studio Theater at Walton Arts Center. $17-$48.

Graphic novelist Alison Bechdel's famous Bechdel Test grew out of six frames in her "Dykes to Watch Out For" comic strip in which one character says, "Well, I dunno. I have this rule, see. I only go to a movie if it satisfies three requirements. One, it has to have at least two women in it who, two, talk to each other about, three, something besides a man." Since that strip in 1985, Bechdel has made a MacArthur Genius Award-receiving career out of doling out similarly perfect bits of simple brilliance. "Fun Home," her 2006 graphic memoir, was a monumental release about her coming-of-age as a closeted 10-year-old in a dysfunctional family running a rural Pennsylvania funeral home. The book raised the bar for graphic memoir and racked up a National Book Critics Circle Award and an Eisner Award in the process. The book's trajectory sent it to Broadway, where the musical adaptation opened in 2015 and was subsequently nominated for 12 Tony Awards, taking home five, including Best Musical. This month, the musical opens the promising 2017-18 Season at TheaterSquared, which will also include the world premiere of "The Champion," a play developed at the New Play Festival in Bentonville and Fayetteville about Nina Simone and her band stranded in a diner during a snowstorm. We've heard great things. "Fun Home" runs through Sept. 17. JT


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