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The Jacksonville, Fla., 12-piece outfit delivered a two-hour set of all-the-music Nov. 16, from the take-you-to-church, gospel-inflected “Joyful Noise” to the closer, a Motown-flavored “I Want More” that morphed into the Santana instrumental classic, “Soul Sacrifice.”
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Maybe it was Jett’s long-sharpened road-dog skills or her devoted vegetarian diet, or whatever soothing tonic was in Ann Wilson’s ceramic coffee cup, but neither showed a shred of evidence of vocal atrophy, and both were surrounded by the kind of musicians and engineers who can make their music work in a stadium setting.
Breaking fourth walls as often as its foley artist Erick Saoud broke glass, a compact cast of singers and pianist/songwriter John Willis put up Menotti's 1939 radio opera "The Old Maid & The Thief" at The Studio Theatre this weekend.
As the river encroached the park, lapping against the bricks of the back of the amphitheater, its brisk current often matched the blistering tempos. Geese wandered about near the backstage equipment like hopeful groupies.
Mondanaro brought the libretto to absolute life. Her lines were smooth and spinning and radiant, and so nimble that she was able to lend that lovely element of surprise Puccini’s phrases can have, in the right hands — the kind where you’re not sure if a line of dialogue is going to blossom suddenly and swell upward, or demure modestly in a downward flutter and disappear.
The band’s recorded songs routinely run longer than five minutes, and are given even more room to breathe in the live setting, during which the band skillfully vamped and locked into dynamic grooves, effortlessly waxing and waning to create an overpowering frenzy or to showcase an individual musician, depending on what the song or situation called for in the moment.
Tucked in between “Shoot Me Straight” and “Weed, Whiskey and Willie” near the beginning of the duo’s show Friday night at Robinson Performance Hall in Little Rock, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)” was not only an early highlight of the concert, but also a fine showcase of TJ Osborne’s great voice as he sang about “the boy I used to be.”
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra opened its season Saturday night with a return visit by the 28-year-old violin virtuoso Augustin Hadelich, who had appeared with the orchestra in the Beethoven concerto two years ago.
Arkansas was well represented in New York last week as Bonnie Montgomery opened for Gossip at Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Both Montgomery and Gossip's Beth Ditto and Nathan Howdeshell hail from White County originally, and Bonnie still calls Little Rock home.