- Brian Chilson
- Furonda Brasfield of Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
BENEFIT FOR ARKANSAS COALITION TO ABOLISH THE DEATH PENALTY
8:30 p.m. White Water Tavern. $6 suggested donation.
If you read the cover story of last week's Arkansas Times, you read about the Arkansas Department of Correction's plans to execute eight men in rapid succession — Bruce Ward, Kenneth Williams, Jack Harold Jones, Jason McGehee, Stacey Johnson, Don Williamson Davis, Marcel Williams and Ledell Lee (McGehee's execution was stayed by a federal judge after the state Parole Board recommended him for clemency). The executions are slated to be carried out starting at 7 p.m. April 17, 20, 24 and 27 — before the end of the month when Arkansas's supply of midazolam, the drug used to sedate condemned inmates before lethal injection, expires. Outcry over the frenzied pace and questionable legality of the execution spree (not to mention the risks involved with using midazolam, a sedative associated with botched executions in other states) has emerged from a number of sources: the Harvard Law School's Fair Punishment Project; Patrick Crain, a former Varner Unit death row guard; and members of the public, in a March 30 town hall meeting at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen Law School. One of the organizations working to "Halt the #8in10" is the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, a self-described "non-partisan, non-sectarian coalition of religious and civic organizations and concerned citizens." The benefit show, organized by musician Correne Spero (DOT, Lucky Bitch, Northern State) precedes the ACADP's Arkansas Rally Against Executions at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the state Capitol, which will be attended by former death row inmate Damien Echols. The keynote speech will come from ACADP Executive Director Furonda Brasfield, who spoke Saturday afternoon on KWCP-LPFM, 98.9, about how the Georgia execution of Troy Davis in 2011 first moved her to volunteer for the coalition she now spearheads. Spero was moved, she says, by a sense that it's hypocritical for government to cite the sanctity of life in anti-abortion legislation, but not "when it comes to the incarcerated population convicted by an imperfect and racially biased judicial system, and one in which poor people and the mentally ill often do not have equal access to legal resources." Amy Garland and Listen Sister, a quartet fronted by Sulac, the artist responsible for Hector Faceplant and The Winston Family Orchestra, will take the stage at some point, and there will be a postcard table for sending your thoughts on #8in10 (or anything else, presumably) to Governor Hutchinson. SS
- David McClister
- SOULSVILLE 'RUMBLE': Named after the road that runs through the middle of Memphis, the fiery Stax quintet Southern Avenue plays at Stickyz at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 13, $10.
8:30 p.m. Stickyz Rock 'n' Roll Chicken Shack. $10.
Who would have guessed, in Stax Records' heyday, that an up-and-coming Memphis soul band named after the famed road to Soulsville would have been catalyzed by a blues-obsessed guitarist from Israel, and that it would have Melissa Etheridge to thank for landing a Stax record deal? Evidently, that's the way it went down. Stax exec John Burk was in Memphis to work on Etheridge's Stax tribute when he heard Southern Avenue in Cooper-Young on St. Patrick's Day and signed them to make a record for the legendary label. Ori Naftaly moved to the United States from Israel to make music after competing in the International Blues Challenge in 2013 and, after meeting sisters Tikyra and Tierinii Jackson, decided to ditch the solo project he'd been building and co-founded Southern Avenue, whose eponymous debut was released earlier this year. "I feel like being on Stax is a responsibility," Tierinii stated on the group's website. "I grew up in Memphis, seeing the name Stax everywhere. It was a constant presence, and now it's up to us to live up to that." That's a lot of pressure for a band made up mostly of Memphis natives, no doubt, but something about Tierinii's Tina Turner shimmy and the democratic vibe of Southern Avenue's singalongs says they're probably good for it. SS
2ND FRIDAY ART NIGHT
5-8 p.m. Downtown Little Rock art galleries. Free.
The centennial of World War I provides a theme to exhibitions opening with 2nd Friday Night events. The Historic Arkansas Museum (200 E. Third St.) opens "The Great War: Arkansas in World War I," artifacts and images of original documents, photographs, posters and maps in its Study Gallery. It also hosts two book signings, by Michael Hibblen for his book "Rock Island Railroad in Arkansas" and by Elizabeth Griffin Hill for her book "Faithful to Our Tasks: Arkansas's Women and the Great War," 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Stone's Throw Brewing will provide the craft suds, Loblolly Creamery will have ice cream samples and Delta Brass Combo will play WWI-era tunes. The Butler Center Galleries (401 President Clinton Ave.) opens "The American Red Cross in Arkansas," posters, documents and photographs from the past 100 years; in the Underground Gallery is a new exhibition of work by Angela Davis Johnson, "Ritual II." The Accidentals will provide the music. The Old State House Museum will show "Sergeant York," the story of the WWI hero from Arkansas whose turkey call saved his soldiers. Also up: UA Little Rock art professors Mia Hall, Joli Livaudais and Carey Roberson will gather at 6:30 p.m. at Arkansas Capital Corp. (200 River Market Ave.) for a panel discussion; the Cox Creative Center down the block (120 River Market) has an exhibition of Little Golden Books, which featured some of the greatest mid-century illustrators; Matt McLeod Fine Art Gallery (108 W. Sixth Street) will be open; and Bella Vita Jewelry (523 S. Louisiana St.) will host an Earring Party ($15). There is trolley service to all the galleries. Not on the trolley route Friday night is Gallery 221, which is showing work by Kasten McClellan Searles. LNP
- 'YAKONA': Austin-based experimental classical ensemble Montopolis accompanies a screening of "Yakona" at the Ozark Foothills Film Fest, April 14-15 and April 21-22 at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville.
FRIDAY 4/14-SATURDAY 4/15, FRIDAY 4/21-SATURDAY 4/22
OZARK FOOTHILLS FILM FEST
Various times. University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville. $10-$30.
One of the longest-running film festivals in the state, this year's festival will no doubt benefit greatly from a $10,000 "Challenge America" grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. "Reel Rural: Rural America in Independent Film" is this year's theme. The festival will include a series of screenings and panel discussions about the way small towns and rural areas are portrayed in independent film, including Erica Fae's "To Keep the Light," Kieran Valla's "Delinquent" and Cameron Nelson's "Some Beasts." Also screened this year will be "Yakona," a nearly wordless documentary that showcases the beauty of the San Marcos River in central Texas. The so-called "hybrid documentary" will be screened with live musical accompaniment from the film score's composer, Justin Sherburn, and Montopolis, an experimental classical ensemble from Austin. Tickets for that event only are $10 ($8 for students); the full-access "Red Eye" passes range from $20-$30. A full festival lineup can be found at ozarkfoothillsfilmfest.org. DK
- Matt White
- 'HEADED SOUTH': Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster (Water Liars) performs on the Undertow Music Collective's Living Room Show series at a location disclosed to patrons upon ticket purchase, 8 p.m. Friday, April 14, $20.
JUSTIN PETER KINKEL-SCHUSTER
8 p.m. Location disclosed upon ticket purchase. $20.
In a review of "Constant Stranger," the solo debut effort from Water Liars singer and guitarist Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster, Paste magazine's Ben Rosner cites Kinkel-Schuster's vocals as a drag on the record, "leaning past dreary and into monotonous territory." Monotony might be in the eye of the beholder, but as someone who feels she's listened to enough bloodless, overaffected "Americana" voices to know, I completely disagree. The color of Kinkel-Schuster's tone on "Brake Dust" resembles an understated Roy Orbison or Chris Isaak, and the cited influence of The Everly Brothers' high lonesome harmonies on "Laid Low" is evident but not derivative. "Constant Stranger" is a quiet listen with smart, tender lyrics, and anything but Kinkel-Schuster's tiptoeing timbre would risk steamrolling over passages like this one, from "Whose Will Be Done:" "I used to walk my black dog late at night/Without a moon it felt just like being drawn by an unseen hand into a country ancient and unplanned ... I used to walk my brother down to school making like I wasn't nobody's fool/But fear and pride are nothing special, friend, and still we'd always end up holding hands.") For this show, Kinkel-Schuster performs totally acoustic (as in: no sound system), so you can decide about that "monotonous" thing for yourself. As part of Undertow Music Collective's Living Room Show series, the show's location remains undisclosed until you purchase a ticket, which can be done at undertowtickets.com. SS
MAINLAND DIVIDE, IRON TONGUE, SEAHAG
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
In late May, hundreds of Arkansas metal enthusiasts will descend on a Greenbrier campground to take part in the sixth iteration of Liverfest, a two-day smorgasbord of heavy riffs and drunken revelry. A sampling of what to expect from Liverfest VI will be on display at the White Water Tavern on Saturday night in the form of a festival fundraiser featuring three local heavyweights. Doom metal stalwarts Seahag, a consistent presence in Central Arkansas's metal scene since forming "in a barn in 2005," will kick things off with their "tuned low, played slow" take on the genre. Following them is Iron Tongue, which boasts a veritable "who's who" of Little Rock musicians, with current and former members of bands from RWAKE, Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth, Go Fast, Jeff Coleman & the Feeders and more (also, in full disclosure, Stephanie Smittle, Arkansas Times' arts and entertainment editor). The band crafts a dark and decidedly Southern style of heavy blues rock, taking cues from the likes of Blue Cheer and Deep Purple. The heavy (noticing a trend here?) rock of Mainland Divide closes out the evening. "Province of the Mind," its latest release, features dreamy ambient soundscapes that evoke comparisons to instrumental icons like Pelican, Red Sparrowes or a more stoned Explosions in the Sky. Between the swells and stops, the band's wall of sound is periodically pierced by the post-hardcore caterwauling of vocalist Rick Holthoff. Ear plugs come highly recommended, as this one promises to stay far, far above the recommended 85 decibels. TN
9 P.M. South on Main. $10.
As he states in his press kit, Memphis singer-songwriter Chris Milam had a very bad year leading up to the writing of his new album "Kids These Days." An engagement was called off, leaving him with only what he could fit in his car, which was then stolen while he was on tour. So, Milam spent a year adrift saving up to record an album, for which he collaborated with producer and keyboardist Toby Vest of High/Low Recording, as well as a team of crack Memphis session players, including cellist Jana Misener and violinist Krista Wroten, both of The Memphis Dawls. "We wanted the record to feel atmospheric, dynamic and unpredictable," Milam said. All those boxes are checked in the title track, ostensibly a breakup song. "Kids These Days" opens with a meandering guitar line, quickly joined by Milam's haunting vocal melodies. Misener's swelling cello teases at the edges, and slow building drums join the chorus before fading away to leave Milam just as they found him: alone again with his guitar. His earlier work led American Songwriter magazine to boldly declare that Milam "invites — and earns" comparisons to Paul Simon. Though the lyricism and vocal timbre that led to those comparisons is still present, the rich orchestration and careful arrangements more closely echo the jangly proto-alternative of "Automatic for the People"-era R.E.M. Milam will bring these songs of heartache and recovery to the South on Main stage Saturday night as he continues to search for the answer to the question he cites as the one that underlies all 12 songs on "Kids These Days": "What now?" Call 244-9660 to reserve a table for the show. TN
- 'IT'S THE PICTURES THAT GOT SMALL': Gloria Swanson stars in Billy Wilder's 1950 noir film "Sunset Boulevard," the next in the Arkansas Times Film Series, 7 p.m., Riverdale 10 Cinema, $8.50.
ARKANSAS TIMES FILM SERIES: 'SUNSET BOULEVARD'
7 p.m. Riverdale 10 Cinema. $8.50.
Bruce Springsteen pulled off quite a sleight-of-hand with "Glory Days," a tune that runs afoul of its completely danceable tone the more closely you listen to the lyrics. What Billy Wilder's "Sunset Boulevard" managed to do in 1950 wasn't dissimilar. The biting takedown of Hollywood's narcissism and decay was also — thanks to Franz Waxman's score, Wilder's heavy noir lighting and compelling performances from Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim — wildly entertaining. Filmed under the code name "Can of Beans" for fear it'd get the kibosh from Hollywood bigwigs with already-beleaguered reputations to protect, "Sunset Boulevard" simultaneously garnered vehement praise (Barbara Stanwyck reportedly knelt to kiss the hem of Swanson's skirt after a private screening) and outrage from industry moguls like Louis B. Mayer, who famously scorned Wilder for the film's message, saying, "You have disgraced the industry that made and fed you! You should be tarred and feathered and run out of Hollywood!" And there, in the middle of one of the darkest criticisms of Hollywood's silent film legacy, was one of the era's big-name directors: a complicit Cecil B. DeMille, playing himself. This screening of "Sunset Boulevard" is the next in the Arkansas Times Film Series, conducted in partnership with Riverdale 10 and with Film Quotes Film. SS
- 'FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES': New York Times op-ed columnist Charles Blow and jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard (above) collaborate for a discussion titled "Civil Rights and the Arts in 2017 America" at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, free admission.
CIVIL RIGHTS AND THE ARTS IN 2017 AMERICA
7-9 p.m. Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Free.
Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard and New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow will discuss the state of the arts, the Black Lives Matter movement and the arts as a means to bring people together in this event, sponsored by the Clinton School of Public Service, the Oxford American and the University of Central Arkansas. New Orleans native Blanchard has composed more than 50 soundtracks, including "Champion: An Opera in Jazz," one of five finalists for the International Opera Award in 2014; his latest album is "Breathless." Blanchard is now writing a jazz opera based on Blow's book "Fire Shut Up in My Bones," a memoir about the columnist and artist's life that a New York Times reviewer called "delicately wrought and arresting in its language." Blow will sign books after the event. LNP