- Dusti Cunningham
- COMING TO THE LOONY BIN: Susanna Lee, a Kansas City comedian who's been blending stand-up and sex-positivity for over a decade, shares a bill with Gabe Kea and Dusty Slay.Loony Bin this week.
THURSDAY 8/31-SATURDAY 9/2
SUSANNA LEE, GABE KEA, DUSTY SLAY
7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 10 p.m. Fri.-Sat. The Loony Bin. $8-$12.
If comedy is about pushing boundaries, Susanna Lee is a consummate comedian. Over a decade ago, the Kansas City native pushed her act right out of the boundaries of the genre itself, into something more like red neon cabaret. Lee, who'd helped shape the burlesque revival in Kansas City circa 2006, began blending her burlesque act (under her stage name, "Lucky Deluxe") with her comedy act, playing R-rated guessing games with the audience about fictional sexual encounters, Mad Lib-style — and, when the occasion called for it, shedding her garb altogether. Though Lee's set at The Loony Bin this weekend won't necessarily involve the striptease bits, she believes that comedy is best when it pokes at vulnerabilities and taboos, and not, as she told Kansas City's The Pitch in 2012, when it plays safe. "We can make this world less lonely by being honest and giving people truth with which to relate," she said. Lee's joined by Gabe Kea, a U.S. transplant whose bio notes his interests as "hockey, beer and reinforcing Canadian stereotypes," and Dusty Slay, a Nashville-based road dog whose latest album, "Son of a Ditch," details the glories and pitfalls of growing up in an Alabama trailer park, like tornado warnings and transferring gasoline from a lawnmower to a four-wheeler by way of a drinking straw.
HOT SPRINGS JAZZFEST
Various times. Downtown Hot Springs, various venues. Free-$50.
The Labor Day holiday is one of those times of the year when Hot Springs shows its rowdy tourist-town roots. If the weather's nice, out-of-state visitors line the seats on the "duck tours" of the National Park. Beer foam nearly oozes from inside the doors of Rocky's Corner, somehow still ice cold. A new herd of pedestrians wanders by the National Park Aquarium and wonders silently whether it's a drug front. Boat cops make a cursory patrol of the waterways, reminding the selectively forgetful that Lake Hamilton is not a sovereign state. Toddlers on Bathhouse Row spot the figures in the storefront of the Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum and collapse into tears. And, for the natives of the blues- and jazz-loving variety, the city becomes home to two concurrent offbeat festivals: Hot Springs Jazz Society's annual festival, detailed here, and a blues festival (see below). Saxophonist/flautist Allen Won — probably one of the few people on the planet who's played at Carnegie Hall, CBGB and The Blue Note — makes a visit to Spa City to sit in with various ensembles. First, Won sits in at the infamous Ohio Club with the local Clyde Pound Trio for an evening of jazz, 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Thursday evening, no cover. Won pops up the next night at the Five Star Theatre (701 Central Ave.) in "Classical & Jazz Blow Out," a concert of works that straddle the line between ... you guessed it, classical and jazz. He's joined by emcee Shirley Chauvin and mezzo-soprano Diane Kesling, the Arkansas Brass Quintet and a jazz combo called Anything That Moves. Tickets range $35-$50, depending on whether you eat dinner there before. On Saturday, a free concert the Society calls "Jazz in the Streets" gets going at 11 a.m. under the Broadway Sky Bridge (100 Broadway St.) with the 106th Army National Guard Band; the Southern Arkansas University Jazz Ensemble at noon; Won and trumpetist Mike Vax with the jazz ensemble from University of Arkansas at Monticello (Go, Boll Weevils!) at 1 p.m.; the Anything That Moves combo with Won, Vax and trombonist Bob Dowell, 2 p.m.; Calle Soul with a Latin jazz set, 3 p.m.; and the New Breed Jazz Band of New Orleans at 4 p.m. (For Little Rockers averse to Hot Springs on the holiday, catch New Breed Friday night at Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack). For Jazz in the Streets, organizers suggest bringing a lawn chair along and patronizing a local vendor or business rather than toting a cooler in. On Sunday, there's a Jazz Mass at St. Luke's Episcopal Church (228 Spring St.), 10:45 a.m., featuring the legendary (no, really, look him up) Bill Huntington on bass; Chris Parker on piano (he's the guy that wrote the "No Tears Suite" based on Little Rock Nine member Melba Patillo Beals' memoir, to be premiered at Central High School's 60th anniversary commemoration in September); Jay Payette on drums; Matt Dickson on saxophone; and Shelley Martin on flute, alto and soprano saxophone. On Sunday afternoon, the Stardust Big Band Tea Dance goes down at the Arlington (239 Central Ave.), 3 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door and free for anybody under 18. Finally, Legoria's Rhythm & Rocks Jazz Bistro, a new venue at 723 Central Ave., celebrates its grand opening on Labor Day with two concerts from Jonathan Butler, the South African guitarist whose debut single is cited as the first by a black artist to be played on the radio in apartheid-era South Africa. Butler plays at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. and tickets range $45-$65. For tickets to see Butler, call 701-4799. For tickets to other festival events, visit hsjazzsociety.org.
- Kacie Skelton
- 'FOCUS': North Carolina rapper and producer Tsukiyomi performs at The Parlor Tattoo's music venue, The Sonic Temple, Friday night with Stalker, Voodoo Child, El Pharaoh and KobraRoxx.
8 p.m. The Parlor Tattoo, 4603 E. Broadway St., North Little Rock. $5.
By the end of a half-hour set in the backroom at Vino's Brewpub in July, Tsukiyomi had trampled all over the once crisp burnt-orange jacket he'd rode in on, still sporting a totemic paper mache animal mask over the side of his head as if it were an alter ego, one only fully visible in profile. His performance in the back of the time-honored pizza-rock temple was free from any earnest attempts to involve the crowd or to spark enthusiasm; less like a performance at all and more like we were witnessing some sort of hazy breakdown in Japanese-spattered English. Tsukiyomi, a Little Rock transplant from Havelock, N.C., mixes fluid, hypnotic stage moves with trance beats and straight-up boudoir crooning (listen to "Focus" or "NYWSM"), and manages to color the whole thing in mystery despite the fact that he's almost always spinning red-light-special rhymes about arched backs, wine and foreplay. Also, he does his own album art and photography, he taught himself Japanese and can definitely repeat the word "Kyoto" more times in quick succession than you can. I'm still not entirely sure what I witnessed at Vino's, but I suspect I wasn't the only one mesmerized enough then to decide to show up to this Rose City venue Friday to see what he'll trample next. Stalker, Voodoo Child and El Pharaoh share the bill, with DJ mixes by Kobraroxx.
7 p.m. Ozark Folk Center State Park, Mountain View. $25-$35.
Marty Stuart — pioneer of the coiffed-to-high-heaven rockabilly mullet (it's like the rockabilly bouffant, but less kempt) and prodigy sideman for the likes of Johnny Cash and Lester Flatt — is coming to Mountain View. In a way, the Ozark Folk Center is the perfect venue for such a thing; Stuart is a verified bluegrass badass with some serious six-stringed bravado, the sort of artist that looks right at home on a patch of land where Jimmy Driftwood's legacy reigns supreme and classes in soap making and blacksmithing are for the taking. In another way, I wonder how much of the Stone County audience will know what they're getting into if Stuart leans heavily toward his latest, "Way Out West," a trippy, Ennio Morricone-ish homage to the mysticism of the California desert, explored through a sort of album-length vision quest.
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
Were there not songs like "What Will You Make of It?" and "Like A Sinking Stone" on Isaac Alexander's new album, I'd have trouble imagining this concert could outdo the social media spots Alexander's posted to give notice of the CD release show, one of which features a computer with a floppy disc drive on which I'm pretty sure I played "Zork." Like its predecessors, the Searcy native's third solo release was recorded, mixed and produced by Joe McMahan, an ace guitarist and songwriter (Luella and the Sun) who tours with Kevin Gordon and turns Alexander's songs into little diamonds time after time. Bonnie Montgomery, a fellow White County native, returns from a long run of shows in classic West Texas honky-tonks to open the show.
- Dusti Cunningham
- SPA CITY BLUES: North Carolina belter Nikki Hill and The Akeem Kemp Band perform for the Spa City Blues Society's Hot Springs Blues Festival this weekend.
- Aubrey Edwards
HOT SPRINGS BLUES FESTIVAL
3:15 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 1:45 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Hill Wheatley Plaza. $20.
The annual Spa City Blues Society's blues festival, a collection of concerts at Hill Wheatley Plaza (629 Central Ave.) that got its start in 1997, kicks off its 21st event Saturday afternoon with performances from the winner of a blues competition (8 p.m. Friday, The Big Chill, 910 Higden Ferry Road). The solo/duo champion of that showdown performs Saturday at 3:15 p.m., followed by a set from the winning blues band, 4 p.m. At 5 p.m., the winner of last year's International Blues Challenge, Al Hill, takes the stage. Hill's followed by sets from the Louisville, Ky., electric blues ensemble The Stella Vees, 6:15 p.m.; and the Bay Area-cultivated, now Memphis-based John Nemeth & the Blue Dreamers, 8:45 p.m., whose bio notes that Nemeth's music tackles gun violence, class values and "the pure hedonistic joy of dancing, sexuality and marijuana." For this listener, though, the don't-miss act on Saturday comes from within the state lines: The Akeem Kemp Band. Fronted by a Morrilton native who's been playing with some of the same musicians since they were kids (Juwaan Trezvant on drums and Kentrell Clemons on bass), it's a powerhouse of an electric blues outfit for people who thought they hated the electric blues, and the band is slated to make some new fans at this year's King Biscuit Blues Festival in October. On Sunday, there's Jelly Brown and Kathy Kidd, 1:45 p.m.; a set from the Society's youth band, the Spa City Youngbloods, 2:30 p.m.; the Hoodoo Blues Review, 3:30 p.m.; the John Calvin Brewer Band, 4:45 p.m.; Nandha Blues, 6 p.m.; the venerable North Carolina belter Nikki Hill, 7:15 p.m.; and finally, a set from the Toronto-born blues history scholar and guitarist Anthony Gomes, 8:45 p.m. For those looking to be more than spectators, the Society's also holding workshops in rhythm therapy, blues piano and the history of the diddly bow. Get your tickets or further details on those workshops at spacityblues.org.
- Chuck Haralson/Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
SATURDAY 9/2-MONDAY 9/4
ARKANSAS TRAVELERS VS. NORTHWEST ARKANSAS NATURALS
6:10 p.m. Sat., 2:10 p.m. Sun.-Mon. Dickey-Stephens Park. $7-$13.
You've almost blown your chance to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" non-ironically in the year 2017. Almost. Lucky for you, there's still one weekend left for minor league baseball in Little Rock, and it's a three-game series against That Other Arkansas Team, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. For Fayetteville natives or UA graduates in Little Rock who have steered clear of declaring loyalties in these sorts of matters, there's no straddling the fence this weekend. Take a stand, man. Take a selfie, too; the players will be on the field with fans at noon before Sunday's game for "Photo with a Travs" Day.
- T. Dion Burns
- Jasmine Janae
SESSIONS: CRISSY P AND JASMINE JANAE
8 p.m. South on Main. $10.
It's vocalist Genine LaTrice Perez's turn to curate a month of "Sessions" at South on Main, and from the looks of the lineup, it's all about the voice. Later in the month, the "Sessions" lineup includes Dazz & Brie, a solo set from the group's formidable co-vocalist Hope Dixon, Crystal C. Mercer, CandySoul, Faron Rashelle and Samarra Samone. First up, though, are two singer/actors on a shared bill. You might have heard Crissy P (Crisshaundra Olyssa Pullom) as Dorothy if you caught any excerpts from the Rev Room's performance in "The Wiz: Revised" concert earlier this year. Jasmine Janae, a former church chorister and Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School graduate who's been collaborating with saxophonist Marquis Hunt and Mood, has a lovely lilt and easy improvisation that make any comparisons to Erykah Badu or Cecille McLorin Salvant well-earned ones. If you missed Crissy P in "The Wiz," don't miss the Birmingham, Ala., native this weeknight. The woman is completely at home on stage and her voice is not only gloriously deep, but exceptionally well-supported. South on Main co-owners Matt and Amy Kelley Bell can count themselves lucky if all the wine glasses and those delicate chandelier fixtures over by the front window make it through the night.
- INDIVISIBLE: Billy Fleming speaks at the Clinton School Wednesday.
'INDIVISIBLE ARKANSAS: RED STATES AND THE RESISTANCE'
6 p.m. Sturgis Hall, Clinton School of Public Service. Free.
As it turns out, a guy from Arkansas — the former student government president at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, in fact — worked on the White House Domestic Policy Council during Barack Obama's first term. Remember that Google doc that came out after Donald Trump was elected president? The one called "Indivisible: A Practical Guide to Resisting the Trump Agenda?" The one that crashed almost as soon as it went live last winter, thanks to retweets from vocal progressives like George Takei and Robert Reich? This guy, Billy Fleming, was one of the doc's engineers, and he's returning to talk about that so-called "resistance," the demographic of which Fleming thinks might look a little different than it did when that Google Doc went live on Dec. 14, 2016. "I would push back on the idea that [the resistance] is all liberal or left-wing activists," Fleming told The Politic in March. "I think especially in places like Arkansas, a lot of these people voted for Tom Cotton, and they're extraordinarily disappointed in the way they've chosen to govern, they're extraordinarily disappointed in how closely they've tied themselves to a megalomaniac president, and they're coming out of the woodwork because members of Congress are doing a terrible job standing up to a terrible president." Fleming speaks on the form of that resistance in red states like our own, and about the project he co-founded, Data Refuge, a public collaborative initiative that creates "safe and trustworthy copies," as its website states, of federal climate and environmental data, ensuring that data remains accessible to researchers — regardless of potentially dramatic changes to the governmental programs (like the Environmental Protection Agency) in charge of its preservation.