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Travs return

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'SOUL SERENADE': Culture critic, author and Arkansas native Rashod Ollison reads from his work Thursday evening at UCA's College of Business. - HYUNSOO LEO KIM
  • Hyunsoo Leo Kim
  • 'SOUL SERENADE': Culture critic, author and Arkansas native Rashod Ollison reads from his work Thursday evening at UCA's College of Business.



7:30 p.m. College of Business Auditorium 107, University of Central Arkansas, Conway. Free.

Rashod Ollison, writer and culture critic for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., grew up in Little Rock and Hot Springs, navigating his way through childhood and adolescence teased, as he says in an essay called "Gay Man in the Air: My Journey to Embracing a Special Part of Me," for being "so insular, artsy, for having 'too much sugar in [his] tank.' " Not only did he live to tell that tale long after he had applied a "laser-like focus on a path out of Arkansas," he told it through music in his 2016 memoir "Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age Through Vinyl." He recalls his parents' breakup, their subsequent move to Hot Springs and how he could identify his neighbors "by the music they played." He recalls disappearing into his father's old 45s and hearing Chaka Khan, thinking she sounded like "a woman who tamed lions in her backyard and kept a full moon somewhere in her purse." Ollison reads from his work as part of the UCA's Artists in Residence program, and a Q&A session and book-signing follows. SS




7:10 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 6:10 p.m. Sat. Dickey-Stephens Ballpark. $7-$13.

Two weeks ago, legendary Arkansas catcher and manager Bill Dickey, the man to whom Yogi Berra said he owed "everything [he] did in baseball," was honored with a plaque bearing his name on the Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail. This week, the ballpark named for Dickey opens for the first Arkansas Travelers game of the season, one of three against the San Antonio Missions. Keep an eye out for outfielder Braden Bishop and relief pitcher Art Warren, two Travs who ended up among the top 10 picks on the Seattle Mariners' Top 30 Prospects List; the Travs are in their second year as the Mariners' Double-A affiliate. Come Friday night for a fireworks show after the game and to meet members of the Arkansas Razorbacks football team hanging out at the ballpark from 6:10 p.m. until the third inning. SS




7:30 p.m. Robinson Center. $48-$172.

David Feherty was a pretty good professional golfer from Northern Ireland blessed with a championship-level sense of humor. His dry wit and friendly way with his fellow pros on the European and PGA tours made it easy for him to transition from wielding a golf club to holding a microphone in the fairway and commenting for CBS' golf coverage starting in 1997. It's that job of offering perfectly timed wisecracks and other thoughtfully humorous observations that made Feherty a cult figure among golf aficionados and the casual fans, and it led to the creation of the Golf Channel prime-time show "Feherty" — a weekly hour-long, laid-back, one-on-one interview typically with big-name golfers, rich golf course owners (Donald Trump, before he became president) and retired politicians (Bill Clinton, Barack Obama). The Feherty style would include, for instance, serving as foil for Arkansas's own John Daly, lying on the ground and holding a tee between his teeth while trusting Daly to successful wallop a drive, and not Feherty's head, deep into the Yell County woods. Crazy? Maybe. Feherty, who along with doing his weekly show is an on-course analyst with the Golf Channel's owner, NBC, has taken his comedic (and not just golf) observations and stories on the road. Little Rock is one of his stops, as he'll appear Thursday night at the Robinson Performance Hall. Tickets start at $48 (some good orchestra-section seats remain at $57) and are available through Ticketmaster. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called the show "two hours of zaniness and madcap storytelling. People were coming out of their seats with laughter." JH

THE CHORDLESS TRIO: Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana takes the stage with her trio at South on Main Thursday night.
  • THE CHORDLESS TRIO: Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana takes the stage with her trio at South on Main Thursday night.



8 p.m. South on Main. $30-$42.

When New York-based saxophonist Melissa Aldana titled her fourth album "Back Home," it was easy for listeners to imagine she meant "back home" as in her native Santiago, Chile. There's little doubt Aldana keeps those roots close; she still plays her grandfather Enrique Aldana's Selmer Mark VI tenor, and her bass player, Pablo Menares, is a fellow Santiago native. But the title actually refers to a sonic sense of "home," not a geographical one. It was a recording from Sonny Rollins that first inspired Aldana to move from the alto saxophone to the tenor sax, and it's Rollins Aldana wants to evoke on the newest record. "He was one of the first reasons I started playing trio," Aldana's website bio reads, "because the freedom that you have within the music, the interaction, the opportunity you have to express yourself and communicate with the other musicians." She should know: She shifted to a trio formation after recording two records with a quartet, and recorded it with all the instruments in the same room, rather than partitioning out each part on a separate track. The trio — Aldana's saxophone, Menares' bass and Jochen Rueckert on drums — boasts a richness that usually only happens when there's a chordal instrument involved to lend harmony, like a piano or a guitar. There's a wealth of great music to choose from this Thursday night, but do consider this concert from Aldana, the first woman and the first South American musician to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. SS

Nathan Williams - JOE DEL TUFO
  • Joe Del Tufo
  • Nathan Williams



8 p.m. White Water Tavern. $20. $10. 

"If I can't make you shake a leg, call the undertaker 'cause you must be dead." That's how accordionist Nathan Williams pitched his zydeco set to Louisiana winemaker Jeff Landry, who books live music for a vineyard concert series every year. Five years later, it appears Landry's hesitation was quelled; Nathan Williams Zydeco Wine, described as a Blanc du Bois semi-sweet, sells for $13 per bottle on the digital shelves at the Landry Vineyards website. Williams' pitch goes over, too, with anyone who's ever heard "Taunt Rosa," "Everybody Calls Me Crazy (But My Name Is Nathan Williams)" or, germane to his grape adventures, "Too Much Wine." He and his band — his older brother Dennis Paul Williams, his nephew Djuan Francis, his brother-in-law Clarence Calais and bassist Junius Antoine — land in Little Rock for what's likely to be the closest many of us will get to St. Martin Parish, La., this spring. Also, this is zydeco; wear flats. SS




10 a.m.-6 p.m. First Security Amphitheater and River Market pavilions. Free.

Riverfest started as a small, family-friendly music festival, grew into a massive music festival, increasingly added all sorts of family attractions and then, in 2015, spun off the family activities into a new event, Springfest. Then Riverfest shut down, only to be revived by a Memphis event promoter that plans to revive the music festival May 25-27. Meanwhile, the Museum of Discovery, the River Market district's prime destination for keeping children occupied for an hour or two, took on the planning and responsibility of Springfest, which drew as many as 20,000 people when Riverfest operated it. This year's attractions include the Super Retriever Series, with dog handlers putting pooches through all sorts of tricks; bouncy obstacle courses and slides; a construction zone, where kids can sit on construction equipment; a hero zone, where members of the Little Rock Police and Fire departments, MEMS, Arkansas State Police and the Pulaski County Sheriff's office will be on hand to talk to kids; Museum of Discovery "Awesome Science" shows; local dance and cheer teams; and local food and arts-and-crafts vendors. LM




8 p.m. Rev Room. $15-$50.

Tyler Stephen Cassidy, aka Froggy Fresh, aka Jelly Bean Jack, aka Krispy Kreme-but-not-in-a-copyright-infringing-sorta-way, is returning to Central Arkansas. This means that for a few uncomfortable moments — or however long his set lasts — parody will bump and grind awkwardly against sincerity, and a bunch of people will finally find out what it feels like to be in the room with other people who know why James is cryin.' (FYI: It's 'cause he just got dunked on.) Back in 2012, before the Corporate Donut Overlords put the kibosh on his moniker, Daniel Tosh asked Krispy Kreme in an interview who he'd have open for him, and his answer was "probably Jay-Z, and probably Eminem, and then probably Denzel Washington," but I assume that's only because he hadn't heard Booyah! Dad's "All My Bros Work at Lowe's" and "Poppin' and Lockin' (At the Country Show)" yet. SS

SUPERGROUP: Bermuda Triangle lands at Hendrix College for a show sponsored by the campus radio station, KHDX-FM 93.1.
  • SUPERGROUP: Bermuda Triangle lands at Hendrix College for a show sponsored by the campus radio station, KHDX-FM 93.1.



8 p.m. Hendrix College, Worsham Performance Hall. $15.

And just like that, one of our generation's great soul vocalists is landing unceremoniously at a liberal arts college in Conway, courtesy of the Class D, student-operated campus radio station, whose tagline is "Thanks for listening, Mom." Brittany Howard, whose voice lends Alabama Shakes its grit and gravitas, is probably the best known of Bermuda Triangle's members, but anyone who's heard the work of her bandmates Jesse Lafser and Becca Mancari wouldn't have difficulty imagining how, after a few backyard sessions trading off songs, the three friends decided to make it official and play a couple of shows together. Check out the sweet three-part harmonies on "Rosey" for a primer, or the chill bossa nova beat on "Suzanne," both of which definitely call into question the necessity of having a drummer who is a real live human. SS

Dazz & Brie
  • Dazz & Brie



6 p.m. White Water Tavern. $7-$10.

"Rock 'n' Soul" girl gang Dazz & Brie's first album was called "Can't Afford California," so consider this "mini-fest" in honor of Brie Boyce's birthday the "can't afford Coachella" live event. (Unless, of course, your pockets are deep enough to afford airfare to LAX, $504 passes for each weekend, plus $113 for a camping spot. Or $8,500 for a glamping yurt. In that case, say hi to SZA for us.) Kachella pretty much has everything you need, anyway, and you won't even need new sandals or a second mortgage to enjoy them: wine bottle painting; tarot readings; hair braiding; goodies from Crying Weasel Vintage, Candy Butta, Brizo de Agua, Southern Salt Food Co. and Kona D's catering; and performances from Joshua Asante, Brian Nahlen, Sean Fresh, Kami Shaw, Clew, DJ Ike and, of course, Dazz & Brie. Tickets are $10 at the door or $7 if you send your first and last name with a payment to one of the following: @Dazzandbrie on Venmo, $Dazzandbrie on Cash App or to girlgangent@gmail.com via Paypal. SS

IN CONVERSATION WITH KUSHNER: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner pays a visit to Hendrix College Tuesday evening as a guest of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language. - JOAN MARCUS
  • Joan Marcus
  • IN CONVERSATION WITH KUSHNER: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner pays a visit to Hendrix College Tuesday evening as a guest of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language.



7:30 p.m. Staples Auditorium, Hendrix College. Free.

Tony Kushner's "Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes" came on commission from San Francisco's Eureka Theatre in the early 1990s, and by the time it hit Broadway, the AIDS epidemic at the center of its plot was already turning. Research was being codified. Federal funds were allocated for HIV prevention and treatment. "Philadelphia" opened in theaters. On a political scale, Bill Clinton had been elected president a few months earlier, in a move that unseated George H.W. Bush and gave opponents of Reaganomics cause for hope. "Angels" was fiercely relevant then, and like most great works of theater, it remains vital 25 years later, arguably even more so. In an interview for The New York Times last month, Kushner said that a National Theater revival last year had reminded him, for example, that "the epistle the Angel delivers is the Anti-Migratory Epistle." Kushner noted, too, that the late Trump mentor Roy Cohn was impossible to hear as a character in "Angels" without thinking "about the Babylonian mud devil in the White House, who has no loyalty to anyone, not even to Roy." Kushner, who won a Pulitzer Prize for "Angels" and went on to write screenplays for Spielberg's "Munich" and "Lincoln," as well as "Homebody/Kabul" and "The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures," speaks at Hendrix College as a guest of the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language, and will be interviewed on stage by Hendrix College Politics Professor Jay Barth. A reception and book signing follows the talk. SS




8 p.m. South on Main. $10.

There's no more substantial grounds for an evening of Tom Petty covers from The Wildflower Revue — Amy Garland Angel, Mandy McBryde and Cindy Woolf — than their interpretations of Johnny Cash's "Bad News," Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" and Blondie's "Heart of Glass," from the trio's self-titled 2017 debut. This show is part of South on Main's "Sessions" series, in which a single person curates a month of musical Wednesdays at the restaurant — in this month's case, owner Amy Bell in celebration of her April birthday. SS


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