Matt White might be the most widely beloved figure in the Central Arkansas music scene. The co-owner of White Water Tavern is only 31, but he’s been booking and promoting concerts for almost half his life. Where most promoters book shows with an eye toward the bottom line, White has always sought out bands and performers that, first and foremost, he admires — often willing them into popularity through repeat bookings and promotion. That — along with his gentle demeanor and willingness to stand in front of the stage while everyone else lurks in the back — has made him a friend, and White Water a home, to musicians across the country.
Last year, he took a picture of someone in the bar’s entryway and liked the way it looked. It dawned on him that it would make a good spot to stage a series of portraits of those who perform and hang out in the bar, “a kind of running document of a particular era in the bar’s history.” The candid shots, which number more than 100, are wonderfully expressive. White captures flirty eyes, sly grins and stoned impassivity. A couple furtively making out. You can almost hear the shit-talking and yelps of laughter in a few of them. They make you want to head to the bar.
Someday, White hopes to put them together in a book. Until then, find them on Facebook and Instagram.