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The Music Issue

The Music Issue

November 30, 2017

Vol 44 • No 13

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Golden voice

Nisheedah Golden is a mezzo soprano and a mentor.

Bringing Bach home

ASO's Katherine Williamson is spreading appreciation for classical music.

Honky-tonk hybrid

Bonnie Montgomery channels a legacy of formidable White County women.

There is a tavern

Powerhouse vocalist Charlotte Taylor channels the Memphis blues.

2017 Arkansas music issue

Hear from a few women reshaping the Little Rock sound.

Stay away, fools

Dazz & Brie dance on the grave of their past mistakes.

Boys club bust-up

Six musicians talk business, banjos, barriers.

Deadline for the state

Also, new LR fire chief and Springfest to continue.

The act of giving

The Rep stages a world premiere of 'The Gift of the Magi.'

Man's world

The news of high-profile men outed for sexual harassment and worse shows no sign of abating soon.

Lucky to be dumb

When The Observer and a few friends picked up the Ford Escape with a tent on top after landing in Iceland, the renter called our plan "bold."

Not net neutral

The Washington swamp that Donald Trump was going to drain gets deeper and wider every week.

Decision time ahead

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission will receive 95 applications from would be medical cannabis growers Dec. 15 so they may begin scoring them, Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Scott Hardin said Monday.

State's jailed youth population declines

But progress lags that of neighbors.

An open letter on taxes

Dear senators and congressmen: I am writing to say that this tax cut for the rich and screwing the middle class is immoral.

'Lady Bird' takes a frank look at money and freedom

Greta Gerwig directs.


The mercurial 2017 season and Bret Bielema's five-year run at the top of the Hill are now over. At the outset, let's declare Friday, Nov. 24, to be a day for Arkansas athletics as a whole to forget: The men's basketball team got plowed through by the North Carolina Tar Heels and their friendly officials in the PK80 extravaganza out in Portland, and the football team played for, oh, about 19 hours with another Missouri bunch that was largely inept, but had the benefit of a front-loaded schedule to make the Tigers' eventual six-game winning streak after a 1-5 start look downright magical.

GOP contempt

Sometimes it's hard to be cynical enough about the current course of American politics. Astonishing, yet not at all surprising. That was my immediate reaction to the news — largely ignored by national print and broadcast media — that the Trump administration refused to ask Congress for one thin dime of disaster funding in the wake of Northern California's devastating wildfires.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Kinda Funny, I Guess, Edition

Play at home, while not posting racist stuff to Facebook!

Loving lots at Leverett Lounge

Thanks to the brains at Maxine's Tap Room.

Ian Moore comes to Four Quarter

Also, Stephen Neeper plays Midtown.

Horseshoe Bend

On the Buffalo National River, from Brian Cormack of the Arkansas Times' Flickr group.

'Harvey' at Murry's

And much more.

Packed prisons

It seems like a recurring problem in Arkansas is that every time the state takes one step forward on something, we take two steps back.

Good anger

Recently, I attended a training session with the Little Rock Organizing Committee, an alliance of churches, schools, unions and other organizations concerned with social justice. The three-day workshop was essentially a crash course in community organizing. There were multiple lessons, but the biggest benefit to me was learning that anger is not always bad.

Matt Lauer issues statement

Is there any good way to respond to serial sexual assault allegations?Here's what Matt Lauer offered this morning

UAMS employees hear of need for more budget adjustments, sooner

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences had a staff meeting Tuesday to talk about the tight budget. Reporters weren't allowed to attend. But those who did are saying the message seemed to be that even more cuts were necessary than previously understood.

Tax legislation heightens inequality, limits state governments. No wonder Tom Cotton loves it.

The New York Times' analysis of pending tax legislation should make you gasp. It's a gift to the rich with damaging long-term consequences for state governments.

Report: Trump plan to oust Secretary of State Tillerson puts Tom Cotton at CIA

Donald Trump reporrtedly has a plan to replace Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and have Sen. Tom Cotton take over the CIA.

Little Rock Marriott offered for sale UPDATE

The Marriott Hotel in downtown Little Rock, purchased by a Memphis investment group in 2012, is up for sale.

Supreme Court approves award of costs in lawsuit over state surplus spending

The Arkansas Supreme Court today approved the request by lawyers for plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the unconstitutional distribution of General Improvement Fund money under control of legislators through regional planning districts.

North Little Rock teen dies from gun wound

North Little Rock police reported today the death of a 17-year-old while handling a gun.

Why a judge chose law schools over cancer research in benefits from cigarette lawsuit

Why did a judge send $2.2 million remaining in settlement of a cigarette lawsuit to the state's law school? A reader asks and we supply the background.

Real news: Tough coverage of the Forrest City School District

Times are hard in the newspaper business, you've no doubt heard, maybe even more in smaller communities. So today a tip of the hat to the Forrest City Times-Herald for close examination of the bedrock of most towns, the public school system. Focus: controversial superintendent Tiffany Hardrick

OBU professor says it's OK to vote for Roy Moore, even if he is molester UPDATE

Here from The Federalist is an article by Tully Borland, associate professor of philosophy at Ouachita Baptist University, who says Alabama should vote for Roy Moore  for U.S. Senate even if he did what he is accused of doing.

Thursday: Open line and the headlines

The open line and the daily news report.

Derrick Gragg of Tulsa reported to be next athletic director at University of Arkansas

KNWA is reporting that Derrick Gragg, currently athletic director at Tulsa, has been tapped to be the next athletic director at the University of Arkansas, succeeding the fired Jeff Long. Confirmation still not forthcoming.

Tom Cotton: 'Most likely to start World War III'

The reviews of a move of Sen. Tom Cotton to the CIA have been tough in many quarters.

Solar advocates get unlikely boost from GOP lawmaker at pivotal rule hearing

If the PSC elects to change net metering rules to be more favorable to utilities, Arkansas's fledgling solar industry will be 'decimated,' advocates say.

A Huckabee in the Senate? No, not him.

Let the floating begin! Some names mentioned yesterday for appointment to the U.S. Senate should Tom Cotton be appointed CIA director.

Payroll problems again at Arkansas Baptist College

KATV reports that Arkansas Baptist College is again having cash flow problems that have delayed paychecks.

Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI

Michael Flynn enters plea. Cooperating with Robert Mueller. ABC reports he'll say Donald Trump directed him during campaign to contact Russians.

Tonight: Meet Sonny Kay, the new director of Low Key Arts

Sonny Kay, visual artist and vocalist in some seminal experimental and punk rock outfits (Angel Hair, The VSS, Year Future) is the new director of Low Key Arts, and you can swing by Spencer's Corner on tonight's gallery walk in downtown Hot Springs to meet him and check out his work.

Jon Woods kickback trial delayed

Federal Judge Timothy Brooks today canceled the trial scheduled to begin Monday in the case alleging former Sen. Jon Woods took kickbacks from state money he guided to Ecclesia College and a mental health agency. It was delayed for a hearing on new evidence.

Lawyer threatens suit if LR police recruit fired over racial comment on Facebook

The Little Rock Police Department has not yet disclosed what actions it has or might take over a complaint about a Facebook post by police recruit Brandon Schiefelbein. But an indication surfaced today that the department was considering firing him and his attorney has threatened a lawsuit if it happens.

TGIF: Open line and news roundup

Open line and daily news roundup.

LR, NLR and PulCo say move forward with 30 Crossing amendment

The mayors of Little Rock and North Little Rock and the Pulaski County judge have told Metroplan they are in favor of amending the agency's Transportation Improvement Plan to satisfy the state Department of Transportation's demand on wording.

NRA cheers Leslie Rutledge on concealed carry expansion

The National Rifle Association has issued a news release cheering Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge for joining other Republican state lawyers in supporting federal legislation expanding concealed carry rights nationwide.

Just saying ... Tom Cotton and Mike Flynn have a history

Tom Cotton and Mike Flynn have a history. Given today's developments, it creates some questions for Arkansas's senator.

The Cotton Dominoes Edition

Tom Cotton headed to the CIA, Razorbackland in turmoil and more — covered on this week's podcast.

Arkansas still waiting on federal approval for Medicaid changes

Proposal to limit eligibility could face tough scrutiny from feds.

One faith-based group recruits almost half of foster homes in Arkansas

The CALL operates in 44 counties with plans for expansion.

Cultivation license award date set: Feb. 27

The Medical Marijuana Commission will get "depersonalized" applications for cultivator licenses on Dec. 15, Department of Finance and Authority lawyer Joel DiPippa told the commission this afternoon, and the commission settled on a deadline of Feb. 20 to score the applications. DiPippa said staff will collate scores and notify the commission on Feb. 27 the five applicants who scored the highest and will be eligible for licenses.

Class war over: Rich win. Senate passes a Christmas tree tax-cut bill

The U.S. Senate did a rush job approval early this morning of a Christmas tree full of presents for the rich that will reduce health care for Americans and increase the deficit. Call it political pussy grabbing.

Boozman quotes GOP spin machine; facts debunk him

Sen. John Boozman rushed to regurgitate Republican talking points about the massive tax cut for the rich passed by the Senate this morning. They just happen to be a dishonest depiction of what the bill does.

Bielema contract buyout put at $11.8 million; total Hog exposure more than $19 million

ESPN says Bret Bielema's severance for firing as Razorback football coach could approach $11.8 million, for a total of more than $19 million in potential guarantees to him, fired Athletic Director Jeff Long and Bielema's assistant coaches.

Saturday's open line: Plus, the Malzahn watch and embezzlement news of note

The open line includes a Razorback football watch, including the potential return of Gus and Kristi Malzahn, and the suicide of a Missouri embezzler who worked for a company in the news in Arkansas.

2nd Amendment defenders at work

So this New York Times report indicates the Kremlin worked to use NRA ties to seek to build a relationship with Donald Trump.

Feds wavering on Medicaid waivers for Arkansas? Asa remains confident.

David Ramsey reports for the Times on Gov. Asa Hutchinson's recent journey to Washington to see what's up with federal consideration of his ideas to impose additional restrictions on Medicaid eligibility as a way to save the state money.

How much is Gus Malzahn worth to Arkansas? Not enough. He uses Hogs for Auburn pay raise

How much is the University of Arkansas willing to pay Gus Malzahn? Not enough. He’s staying at Auburn.

Sunday open line: Plus, heartless Republicans

An open line for a balmy December Sunday. It includes the latest in heartless Republicanism.

Yes, Trump said it. Yes, Moore did it. So what?

When they say it's not about sex, maybe they're right. Maybe it's really about politics.

UA's Victoria Maloch wins Marshall Scholarship

Victoria Maloch of Magnolia, a student at the University of Arkansas, has been named one of this year's 43 Marshall scholars and will study at Oxford in the fall.

State tax haul increases in November

State revenue rebounded a bit in November after an adjustment in the yearly forecast last week by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Supreme Court takes up sports betting, with an end to national ban one possibility

The U.S. Supreme Court takes up a national ban on sports wagering today, a case that would affect Arkansas if the ban is struck down.

USS Little Rock arrives in Buffalo

The new USS Little Rock, blaring AC/DC's "Back in Black," cruised into Buffalo, N.Y., today. A commissioning ceremony is set in Buffalo Dec. 17. A "watch party" will be held in Little Rock.

Dixie Cafe going out of business Wednesday, closing all 17 locations

Dixie Cafe, the home-cooking restaurant chain based in Little Rock, is going out of business Wednesday. Declining sales forced the closure of all 17 locations.

University of Arkansas Board meets in private, no decisions announced

The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees has just announced an 11 a.m. meeting this morning by telephone at which it is expected to immediately go into executive session. Is the announcement of an athletic director in the offing.

The news roundup and today's open line

Here's today's news and comment, plus the open line.

Hutchinson names Barbara Webb to fill vacant judgeship in Saline County

Gov. Asa Hutchinson has named Barbara Webb, currently chief executive officer of the Workers Compensation Commission and wife of state Republican Party Chair Doyle Webb, to a circuit court vacancy in Saline County.

It's a great economy for Dollar General: More people too poor to shop at Walmart

Things are looking up for Dollar General because the number of its core customers, working poor, is increasing.

It's official: UA hiring Houston athletic director to replace Jeff Long

The Houston Chronicle says Hunter Yurachek, who's led University of Houston athletics for three years, will step down to become athletic director at the University of Arkansas. And UA confirmed that several hours later.

Yurachek gets $850K a year, $200K bonus, other perks for moving to Arkansas.

In response to my FOI request, the University of Arkansas has released the tentative contract deal with Hunter Yurachek, the man who'll succeed Jeff Long as athletic director for the Razorbacks.

The Walton money at work in school board races and in teacher training for Little Rock

The Walton money at work: In Oakland school board races; community organizing in San Francisco, and a new teacher training program that apparently targets Little Rock.

Local retailers and customers see the benefits of rewards programs

Colonial Wines & Spirits introduces Colonial Club.

Revealed: More 'rehabilitation' work camps

Reveal, from the Center for Investigative Reporting, continues to uncover shocking  abuses in the name of criminal justice reform.

Sierra Club rips overreliance on coal by some electric utilities

The Sierra Club issued a report today that says electric utilities in the Southwest Power Pool have been overusing coal-powered power plants instead of cheaper forms of supply, effectively subsidizing the coal industry.

Security plan approved for 10 Commandments

A subcommittee of the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission this morning approved plans for a different base for the 10 Commandments monument that was shattered the day it was originally installed by a man driving a Dodge Dart.

Checking in with Collin vs. Adam, Big Piph and Osyrus Bolly

Dig "Valet," "Chills" and "Supernova."

A bad day for equal rights at the U.S. Supreme Court

Think Progress, a progressive website, didn't like the way questioning went at the U.S. Supreme Court on the question of whether a cake baker can refuse to make a cake for the wedding of a same-sex couple.

Tuesday: Open line, news roundup

The open line and daily news video.

Grover Evans dies at 65

Grover Evans, the first black elected to the Jonesboro City Council, a former state official and a champiion swimmer who competed in the Paralympics, died Sunday at 65.

Three found dead in SWLR apartment

Mitch McCoy of KARK reports that three people have been found dead in apartment on Lancaster in Southwest Little Rock and homicide detectives are on the scene

Detroit sees a better way to move traffic

Detroit is the latest to decide to rip up a downtown freeway rather than making it wider.

University of Arkansas annnounces $10 million Walton grant for training teachers in high-poverty schools

The University of Arkansas issued a news release this morning confirming a project I mentioned yesterday morning — a Walton Family Foundation grant to work with teachers in high-poverty schools.

Reports say SMU coach Chad Morris is the pick to take over Razorback football

The on-line sports world has concluded that SMU football coach Chad Morris is going to be the next football coach at the University of Arkansas and that an announcement is expected today.

Triple homicides in Little Rock and Hot Springs; arrest in one

Triple homicides Tuesday in Hot Springs and Little Rock have led to at least one arrest.

Well, Trump did figure in Time's Person of the Year issue after all

The Me Too movement — women speaking up about sexual assault and harassment — is the cover subject of Time's Person of the Year issue. Donald Trump anyone?

Conflicts of interest in the legislatures

The Center for Public Integrity and the Associated Press collaborated for a project aimed at highlighting state legislators whose lawmaking might be affected by private business interests.

Hanaroo moving to old Three Fold spot

Hanaroo Sushi Bar, operated by restaurateur Chang Yu for many years at 205 W. Capitol Ave., closed at that location the day before Thanksgiving and plans to open Thursday or Friday this week in the former home of Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co. at 215 Center St.

UCA profs doubt the benefit of a key element of Arkansas corporate welfare

Word comes from George Mason University, the mothership of conservative economic influencers, that a pair of Arkansas researchers have cast doubt on a key part of Arkansas's corporate welfare handouts — the quick action closing fund.

"Perfectly Purple Pie" takes the prize at Mosaic Templars

Celebrity judges at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center’s sixth annual “Say It Ain’t Say’s” sweet potato pie contest on Sunday awarded first place to Kelli Marks of Cathead’s Diner for her “Perfectly Purple Pie,” and second place to Anne Woods of Honey Pies for her “Bubba’s Sweet Potato Meringue Pie.”

Oaklawn's Charles Cella dies at 81

Charles J. Cella, the St. Louis businessman who's been the longtime president of the Oaklawn Jockey Club in Hot Springs, has died at 81.

No vote by Little Rock Board on 30 Crossing resolution

The Little Rock City Board recessed a meeting last night before a vote could be taken on a resolution that urged state Highway Director Scott Bennett not to freeze federal spending on projects in Central Arkansas.

Farkleberries are back

Farkleberry bushes have been replanted on the grounds of the Clinton Library, a bit of vegetation that became associated with Gov. Orval Faubus thanks to cartoonist George Fisher.

It's official: Chad Morris to be paid $3.5 million a year to coach Razorbacks

The University of Arkansas has announced the hiring of SMU coach Chad Morris to coach the Razorback football team. He'll be paid $3.5 million a year (compared with the $4.2 million made by sixth-year coach Bret Bielema) and be eligible for other incentives in the six-year contract.

Wednesday's open line

The open line and daily news video.

Ethan Hawke's Blaze Foley biopic bound for Sundance

“Blaze,” the Ethan Hawke feature film about Malvern native Blaze Foley starring Little Rock native Ben Dickey, is bound for the Sundance Film Festival in 2018 in the American drama category.