Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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Tonight at South on Main – Bonnie Montgomery headlines Friendsgiving

som bonnieTonight at 10:00 PM, South on Main has special music for its third-annual Friendsgiving celebration featuring Bonnie Montgomery and Friends!

Come on down for some late night boot-scootin’ with Arkansas’ beloved honky-tonk howler Bonnie Montgomery! There is a $10 cover charge payable in cash only at the door on the night of the show. Music will start at 10:00 PM.


Following the release of EPs Cruel (2012) and Joy (2013), Arkansas born and bred Bonnie Montgomery released her self-titled LP in July 2014 on Nathan Howdeshell’s (of Gossip) Portland/Arkansas label Fast Weapons. A classically trained singer whose southern roots run deep, Montgomery has taken her authentic spin on golden-era country/western music through the U.S. and Europe, sharing the stage with Gossip, Shovels and Rope, Robert Ellis, Hayes Carll, Billy Joe Shaver, Turnpike Troubadours, Pokey LaFarge, and Wayne “the Train” Hancock.

Bonnie’s composition of the modern folk opera Billy Blythe, about the childhood of Bill Clinton, previewed in New York, and has earned her the attention of The New YorkerThe Huffington Post, and the London Daily Telegraph. Recent West Coast and upcoming Northeast tour dates will feature her supercharged Little Rock/Austin-based band.

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Little Rock Look Back – Mayor Horace Knowlton

IMG_3227On November 25, 1872, future Little Rock Mayor Horace A. Knowlton Jr. was born.

In April 1920, he was elected City Clerk of Little Rock.  He served in that position until April 1931.  That year, he was chosen as the Democratic nominee for Mayor, denying incumbent Mayor Pat L. Robinson a second term.  The primary race against Mayor Robinson was close.  When the results were first announced, it looked as if Mayor Robinson had prevailed.  But after challenging ballots, Mr. Knowlton was declared the winner.  Since Little Rock was primarily a Democratic Party city, unsurprisingly Mr. Knowlton was elected Mayor in April 1931 and served two terms as Mayor.

He oversaw the start of some of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs in Arkansas during his tenure.  In 1934, he negotiated the purchase of Gillam Park for the City which established the first public park in Little Rock for African Americans.  While a segregated park would one day be viewed as wrong, he was viewed as very progressive at the time for providing a public park for African Americans.  One of his final acts as Mayor was to participate in the groundbreaking for the Museum of Fine Arts building in City Park (now a portion of the Arkansas Arts Center building in MacArthur Park).

Following his departure from public office, Mayor Knowlton and his wife (who had been an elementary school teacher) eventually moved to Florida and resided in the Tampa Bay area.  His son and grandson (Horace III and Horace IV) have both been lawyers in the Tampa Bay area.  Mayor Knowlton died on February 14, 1965.  He is buried in the Oak Grove cemetery in Conway.

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Tonight at South on Main – UCA Jazz II Ensemble

ucajazzTonight at Join the Oxford American magazine for a special concert at South on Main, featuring the UCA Jazz II Ensemble! This event is free and open to the public. To guarantee a table/seat, call ahead at (501) 244-9660.

Led by Dr. Gail Robertson, the UCA Jazz Ensemble II consists of students with a variety of jazz backgrounds. Some members are experienced while others may have never been in a jazz band before. This ensemble often provides valuable opportunities for our students to play on secondary instruments. There is a strong focus on learning improvisation that has become known as the weekly “Blues Around the House.” Jazz II performs standards such as works by Duke Ellington, Thad Jones, Neal Hefti, Billy Strayhorn, Herbie Hancock, Sammy Nestico, Les Hooper, Mark Taylor, Josef Zawinul, Woody Herman, as well as over 50 charts from our Dance Band Book!

The University of Central Arkansas is a vibrant and exciting place to study jazz. With generous funding from the College of Fine Arts and Communication, UCA Student Government Association, and a partnership with the Oxford American, UCA is able to host several guest artists and clinicians each semester.

Past featured artists are: Delfayo Marsalis, Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band, Maynard Ferguson, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis, Poncho Sanchez, Chris Vadala, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Jim Cullum Jazz Band, The Bad Plus, Warren Wolf and Wolfpack, Peter Martin and Romero Lubambo, Bennie Wallace Quartet, Anat Cohen, Rhythm and Brass, and many more to come!

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FREE ASO Concert at UAMS this afternoon at 4:30

ASO NewToday (November 24) at 4:30pm, musicians from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will present a concert at UAMS as part of the Ruth Marie Allen Concert Series.

This FREE concert will take place in the lobby of the UAMS Hospital.

Featuring the Rockefeller String Quartet, the program includes:

  • BEETHOVEN – Selected movements from String Quartet No. 4
  • BORODIN – String Quartet No. 2



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Learn more about Native American Heritage at Historic Arkansas Museum

HAMCollectionHeadPotNovember is Native American Heritage Month.  It’s a great time of year to visit Historic Arkansas Museum and explore their permanent exhibit “We Walk In Two Worlds: The Caddo, Osage and Quapaw in Arkansas.”

And remember – Admission to the galleries at Historic Arkansas Museum is FREE!

This exhibit tells the story of Arkansas’s first people–the Caddo, Osage and Quapaw Indian tribes–from early times to today. More than 150 objects, such as pottery, clothing and weapons, are on display.

The exhibit has six thematic areas that are arranged chronologically.  Along with objects and a historical timeline are passages of relevant research from archeologists, historians and ethnographers.

Throughout the exhibit, is the dominant presence of the Native American voice, from each of Arkansas’s three prominent tribes. During the two years of exhibit development, many tribal members were interviewed and it is this voice that informs, educates and guides visitors through the exhibit. Historic Arkansas Museum chief curator and deputy director Swannee Bennett said, “What makes this exhibit unique is that it is a story of the Arkansas Native American told in large part with an Indian voice.”

This permanent exhibit enables the museum to tell the bigger story of Arkansas’s frontier history. “We Walk in Two Worlds is a milestone as the State of Arkansas officially partners with the Caddo, Osage and Quapaw Nations and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian to tell this story of struggle and endurance.” said museum director Bill Worthen.

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Dr. Dean Kumpuris to be honored by Arkansas Arts Council

Dean Kumpuris 2014Dean Kumpuris will receive the Governor’s Arts Award for Arts Community Development in early 2016.  The Arkansas Arts Council announced today the recipients for next year’s awards.

Kumpuris is being honored for his three decades of work to improve the cultural and civic life of Little Rock. In particular, he has focused much of his work on the revitalization of downtown, the development of the River Market, and expansion of Riverfront Park.

Through his vision and efforts to place public art downtown, in less than 10 years, nearly 100 sculptures have been installed in the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, as well as in parks along the Arkansas River and throughout Little Rock. He created the annual fundraiser, Sculpture at the River Market Show and Sale, which attracts thousands of visitors to Little Rock each year and features hundreds of sculptures from internationally recognized artists.

He is a gastroenterologist and has served on the Little Rock City Board of Directors since 1995.  He is also the Chairman of the UALR Board of Visitors and a past member of the Advertising and Promotion Commission.

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Experience Building Buddies Exhibit at Museum of Discovery

arkmodbuddiesYoung visitors to the Museum of Discovery have the chance to build their creativity as they experience  Building Buddies, a new exhibit.  And since schools are closed this week, the Museum is open today in addition to its regular hours. (It will be closed on Thanksgiving.)

The exhibit is designed to be a creative construction site that features hands-on stations that encourage children to construct, build, decorate, paint and tile.

According to Museum of Discovery CEO Kelley Bass, Building Buddies is the first exhibit at the museum aimed specifically for kids age 6 and younger since the museum’s reopening following a $9.2 million renovation in January 2012.

“We know that almost 60 percent of children who come to the museum – excluding students on school field trips – are age 1-6, so we wanted to provide an exhibit specifically tailored for that age group, although older kids and adults also will certainly enjoy Building Buddies,” Bass says.

Building Buddies is on display at Museum of Discovery until May 15, 2016. Admission to the exhibit is included in the museum’s regular daily admission: $10 for adults, $8 for children 1-12 and free for infants younger than 1. Seniors, teachers, Little Rock city employees and active and retired military are admitted for $8.

Museum of Discovery’s mission is to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.

 Museum Information

 Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm; Sunday: 1-5 pm; Closed Monday (open Mondays in the summer and on school holidays)

Admission: $10 adults; $8 ages 1-12; free under 1; members free


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