Here’s a selective look at some of the best events on the schedule in coming months, from concerts to football games.
n Kenny Chesney could move a trailer onto the Alltel Arena lot, as often as he seems to play here. The country crooner will appear at Alltel for the fourth time, on May 12, along with country up-and-comer Gretchen Wilson and rap-rocker Uncle Kracker. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $51.25 and $61.25 through Ticketmaster.
If Chesney isn’t Alltel’s most regular visitor, then Bill Gaither is. Gaither and his family will return to Alltel for the Gaither Homecoming on May 13, with tickets priced at $34.75 and $19.75 plus service charges, available through Ticketmaster or the arena box office (975-9000).
So far, that’s been it for any official summertime concert announcements from Alltel Arena until Motley Crue comes Sept. 23. However, we’ve learned through the arena’s “Save Your Seat” mailings to customers that tentatively the Wiggles, Australia’s superstars who gear their songs to the pre-K crowd (and their parents), will be back with two shows on Aug. 9, and tickets are priced at $38 through Ticketmaster. Showtimes are 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
n Ray Winder Field’s status as one of the revered minor league baseball parks has helped it land a concert featuring Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson on July 2. The duo is traveling a circuit of minor league parks through the summer. Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. show are $49.50 on sale May 14 at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster. 975-7575.
n The concert lineup at Magic Springs and Crystal Falls Theme Park in Hot Springs gets better with every year, in our opinion. This season’s schedule kicks off with a Gospel Festival on May 28 followed by the harmonizing soul group Boyz 2 Men on June 4 and concludes with Texas country superstar Pat Green on Sept. 3. Here’s the rest of the schedule (shows usually start at 8 p.m., concert admission is free with a park admission; otherwise it’s $20 per concert; and $5 to upgrade seating to reserved):
June 11: Trick Pony, country
June 18: 4 Him and Anointed, contemporary Christian (7 p.m.)
June 25: Four Tops, classic R&B
July 2: Phil Vassar, contemporary Christian
July 9: Ryan Cabrera, pop rock
July 16: Air Supply, classic rock
July 23: Three Dog Night, classic rock
July 30: 38 Special, classic rock
Aug. 6: Jars of Clay and Taylor Sorenson, contemporary Christian (7 p.m.)
Aug. 13: Diamond Rio, country
Aug. 20: Charlie Daniels Band, country
Aug. 27: Joe Nichols, country
n Eureka Springs’ annual Blues Festival will feature two huge names in concert June 3-4 at the City Auditorium. Shemekia Copeland and Mavis Staples will be playing at 8 p.m. June 3, followed by the Blind Boys of Alabama at 8 p.m. June 4. (Both shows $55; call 888-855-7823).
n The Ozark Folk Center’s schedule of celebrity concerts at Mountain View has grown extensively in recent years. Among the acts appearing this season, be sure to check out progressive bluegrass group Blue Highway ($15) on May 28, emerging bluegrass stars Kenny and Amanda Smith on June 18, and a Tribute to Jimmy Driftwood with various performers on July 2. Kentucky bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley will visit Aug. 13, and the acclaimed string band Old Crow Medicine Show will perform at the center on Aug. 20. Ricky Skaggs makes an appearance on Sept. 2 and the Del McCoury Band performs on Sept. 3, both part of the Tribute to Grandpa Jones weekend. Arkansas-born Iris Dement, a favorite of the country folk crowd, plays Sept. 17. Call 870-269-3851 for tickets or more information.
n Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts will celebrate Italy at its 15th annual festival of music and arts, “Festa della Primavera,” from June 2-July 16. Puccini’s “Tosca” (June 17, 19) will be the featured Italian opera at the Cabe Festival Theater. The Cabaret Series focuses on Italian art, piano music, madrigals and Italian icons of American popular music (“From Frank Sinatra to Frank Zappa,” June 8-9). The Garden Series spotlights the Italian art of winemaking as well as fountains and gardens of Rome. The Arkansas Arts Center will exhibit “Piranesi: Master Etcher of Rome,” and the Arkansas Repertory Theatre will produce “Much Ado About Nothing,” which will be performed at the amphitheater beside Swan Lake July 1-16. For pop music fans, classic rock act Hot Tuna will perform at the Cabe Theater June 25.
n Thought about spending a summer day in Paris? We’re talking Paris, Ark., here, and with good reason: The Cottontown Blues Society will be bringing together such notable blues names as the Cate Brothers, Patrick Sweany, Anthony Gomes and Tab Benoit on June 25. The festival runs from 2 p.m. to midnight and tickets are $35. Visit www.chefeddy.com for more information.
n Not only does Riverfest mean three days of music, but it’s also a family frolic with food, drink, kids activities and more taking up the riverfront parks on both sides of the Arkansas River in Little Rock-North Little Rock. Three stages May 27-29 will feature big-name music from such headliners as B.B. King, R.E.O. Speedwagon, Joe Nichols, Robert Randolph, the Black Crowes, the Wallflowers, Richard Johnston, and a kid’s stage will have popular high school bands and the always fun Trout Fishing in America. Dancing, exotic music, jazz, arts and crafts and more should keep everyone occupied. Advance 3-day tickets are $7.50 through Harvest Foods stores. It will cost $15 at the gate for the 3-day pass.
n Fayetteville will celebrate the “art of wine” with three days of wine tasting and gourmet dining at the Walton Arts Center June 9-11. Prices range from $150 for an exclusive dinner on June 9 to $65 for tasting events on June 10-11 to $35 for a brunch on June 11. Call 479-443-5600.
n You’ll see some of the coolest cars around any weekend at Petit Jean Mountain, but the big weekend for car gazing and more is June 14-17 with the annual Car Show and Swap Meet. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, and the event is free. Call 501-727-5427.
n The Arkansas Repertory Theater returns to Wildwood this summer to perform William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” July 1-16 with shows at 8 p.m. at the theater at Swan Lake. Call 378-0405 or 821-7275 for ticket information.
Before that, however, the Rep will be performing the beloved musical “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” on its main stage through June 5. Tickets are $35 in the orchestra section and $28 in the mezzanines. Call 378-0405.
n Murry’s Dinner Playhouse at Asher and University avenues will be a nice place to keep cool while enjoying musical theater. “The Lucky O’Learys” is scheduled for May 31-June 26, and the ever-popular “Nunsense” is on Murry’s stage June 28-July 31. Then, it’s back to the ’50s with Sandy and Danny and the crew from “Grease” Aug. 2-Sept. 11. Call 562-3131 for reservations. Murry’s is open every day but Monday, and has matinees on Sundays and the first two Wednesdays of each show.
n Local amateur theater is worth keeping an eye on this summer with popular shows at the Weekend Theater and the Community Theatre of Little Rock. The Weekend will feature “Ragtime” June 17-19, 24-26 and July 1-3 at its venue on Seventh Street across from Vino’s Brewpub. That same group will have some fun with “Little Shop of Horrors” July 22-24, 29-31 and Aug. 5-7. Call 374-3761.
CTLR has adults playing kids in the funny “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” July 15-17 and 22-24. The theater uses Woolly Auditorium at the Arkansas School for the Blind for its shows. Call 663-9494.
Along with the area’s two usual summer professional sports teams — the baseball Arkansas Travelers and the indoor football Arkansas Twisters — a third has been added with the new minor league basketball team Arkansas ArchAngels, who play their home games at Philander Smith College.
TEXAS LEAGUE BASEBALL
n Home stands for the Travelers: vs. Tulsa Drillers, May 13-17; vs. Frisco Roughriders, May 23-25; vs. Midland Rockhounds, June 3-5; vs. Tulsa Drillers, June 7-10; vs. Springfield Cardinals, June 11-15; vs. Corpus Christi Hooks, June 23-26; vs. San Antonio Missions, June 27-29; vs. Wichita Wranglers, July 6-9; vs. Tulsa Drillers, July 19-23; vs. Springfield Cardinals, Aug. 2-6; vs. Midland Rockhounds, Aug. 15-17; vs. Frisco Roughriders, Aug. 18-21; vs. Wichita Wranglers, Aug. 23-26.
Game times are 7:10 p.m. except for occasional 6:30 p.m. Saturday doubleheaders and 2 p.m. Sunday games at Ray Winder Field, off I-630 and Fair Park. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students and children; discounts are available to certain games through various local merchants. Call 664-1555.
ARENA FOOTBALL 2
n Home games for the Twisters: vs. Green Bay Blizzard, May 7; vs. Birmingham Steeldogs, May 21; vs. Memphis June 4; vs. South Georgia Wildcats, June 18, and vs. Amarillo Dusters, July 30.
Game times are usually 7 p.m. at Alltel Arena; tickets start at $10 in the upper deck and $21 in the lower bowl. Call 975-5425 (975-KICK) or Ticketmaster at 975-7575.
WORLD BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
n Home games for the ArchAngels: vs. Gulf Coast Bandits, May 5; vs. Mississippi HardHats, May 14; vs. Cleveland Majic, May 19; vs. Mississippi Hardhats, May 20; vs. South Carolina Heat, May 26; vs. Tunica Gamblers, June 2; vs. Gulf Coast Bandits, June 10; vs. Tunica Gamblers, June 18; vs. Tunica Gamblers, June 23; vs. Mississippi HardHats, June 25.
Game times are 7 p.m. on all days except Sunday, which are 2 p.m. starts, at the Philander Smith College gymnasium. Tickets are $6.