Arkansas Chamber Singers highlight Old State House Museum’s December 2nd Friday Art Night

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The Old State House Museum has something festive lined up for December’s #2ndFridayLR – the Arkansas Chamber Singers will be here to share holiday joy!

The group will perform at 7 p.m. during Second Friday Art Night and then have additional concerts at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15.

This season brings a heightened sense of Revelry, Reflection, and Revelation, and the singers will bring music celebrating this ‘most wonderful time of year!

All three performances are free, but reservations are required for the Saturday and Sunday concerts. Get your tickets today before they sell out!

Free Admission! Snacks and alcoholic beverages are also free.

6 years since LR voters approved Restore Robinson project

On Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, voters of Little Rock overwhelmingly chose to renovate the historic Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium.

By a vote of 5,183 For and 1,800 Against, Little Rock citizens approved a plan to use a portion of the city’s existing 2 percent restaurant and hotel tax to repay bonds for a renovation of Robinson Center.  The campaign was chaired by businessman Charles Stewart, restaurateur Capi Peck and former LR Mayor Jim Dailey.

Robinson has long been a landmark in central Arkansas. Construction of the Joseph T. Robinson Memorial Auditorium began in 1938 (after a December 1937 groundbreaking under a deadline) and officially opened February 1940. The structure was a PWA (Public Works Administration) project, and is an excellent example of the Art Deco style architecture of the time. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

The facility is owned by the City of Little Rock and managed by the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The 1940 structure suffered from a wide array of deficiencies, including stage loading and unloading, stage size, acoustical insufficiency, dressing room access and inadequate wing space within the performance hall. Also, structural, mechanical and electrical issues, public circulation and outdated conference center spaces existed within the facility.

Knowing the center is in need of major upgrades if the facility is to continue to serve central Arkansas into the future, the Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission (LRA&P) created a Robinson Center Concept Team in October 2011. The group was tasked with evaluating all aspects of the existing facility, researching user needs, proposing conceptual solutions and estimating the cost and construction schedule of the proposed additions and renovations. The concept team was led by Mike Steelman of SCM Architects, PLLC, and included representatives from WD&D Architects, Shuler Shook Theatre Planners, Jaffe-Holden Acoustical Consultants, TME Inc. Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, ECI Inc. Structural Engineers, McClelland Consulting Engineers Inc. Civil Engineers, East Harding Construction, HVS Consulting and Hunt Construction Group.

Additionally, stakeholder and tenant organizations representing the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Celebrity Attractions of Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Double Tree Hotel participated in the planning. The concept team findings were presented publicly on June 5, 2012.

On January 17, 2013 the LRA&P announced the selection of Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, partnered with Ennead Architects, as the architectural and design team for the future renovations. On March 28, 2013 CDI Contractors LLC, partnered with Hunt Construction Group, were selected by LRA&P as the general contractors and construction managers.

On September 23, 2013 the final schematic renderings and cost estimates were presented publicly. The schematic plans depict major interior upgrades within the performance hall including additional volume to create a two-balcony setup, increased lobby space, acoustical improvements, theatrical upgrades, loading dock expansion, a larger stage area, and new dressing room facilities. Additionally, an enhanced modern ballroom and small conference center was unveiled. New technology, mechanical systems, and outdoor plaza spaces were included in the presentation.

Construction would begin on July 1, 2014.  It reopened on schedule and on budget on November 10, 2016.

Festival of the Senses presents Music for the Holidays on December 10 at St. Luke’s

sheet music with holiday ornaments, ribbons and evergreen branchesOn Tuesday, December 10, at 7:00 p.m., Festival of the Senses will present a holiday concert of music by Sant-Saens, Brahms, Yon, and traditional carols played by May Tsao-Lim at the piano, Andrew Irvin on violin, and David Renfro on French horn.

The concert, which is free and open to the public, is the third in the 2019-20 season of the performing arts series sponsored by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4106 JFK Boulevard. A reception with holiday treats will be held in the church’s parish hall following the performance.

The program will be as follows:

  • Caprice in the Form of a Waltz, Opus 52, No. 6, for Violin & Piano by Camille Sant-Saens;
  • Trio for Horn, Violin & Piano, Opus 40, by Johannes Brahms;
  • Gesu Bambino, by Pietro Yon;
  • A selection of traditional carols to be sung by the audience.

Festival of the Senses is a performing arts series created in 2011 by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church as a gift of the arts to the community to entertain, enlighten, and inspire.

May Tsao-Lim, who played in the Eric Hayward memorial concert for Festival of the Senses in September, teaches applied piano and piano pedagogy at Henderson State University, where she is Assistant Chair of the music department and Director of International Music Festivals. She has also taught at Iowa State University and Malaysia’s University College Sedaya International

ASO concertmaster Andrew Irvin is well known to Festival audiences as a member of the duo ARmusica. He also plays in the Camino Trio and recently was heard as substitute concertmaster with the Omaha Symphony. He has concertized across America and throughout Europe on his 1765 Gagliano violin, and his recordings are available on the Potenza and Naxos labels.

Since 2005, David Renfro has been the ASO’s principal horn player and also serves as the orchestra’s chief development officer. He is a member of Etesian Winds, a woodwind quintet, and the ASO Brass Quintet, and has taught at Ouachita Baptist University and Henderson State University. He was previously the principal horn in the Texarkana and Missouri Symphony Orchestras.

Hear the Rodney Block Collective at South on Main tonight!

Kick off the December with some music as sure to keep you warm regardless of the outdoor temperatures!

South on Main is turning up the heat with the Rodney Block Collective.

Led by musical favorite Rodney Block, this musical group alternates between various forms of jazz mixed in with gospel, Be-Bop, hip-hop, funk, and soul.

Show begins tonight (December) at 10 pm with a $15 cover. Purchasing a ticket does not guarantee you a seat.

Call (501) 244-9660 to reserve a table.

Blues legend Bobby Rush in concert at the Ron Robinson Theater tonight, presented by CALS Arkansas Sounds

CALS Arkansas Sounds presents an intimate solo show with blues legend BOBBY RUSH!

Bobby Rush is a Grammy Award winner, a Blues Hall of Fame member, a 12-time Blues Music Award winner and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year.

Bobby Rush was actually born as Emmett Ellis, Jr. outside Homer, La. His daddy was a preacher and knew enough about a harmonica to pass along a few riffs to his progeny, who twanged a diddley bow before picking up a guitar around age 11. The senior Ellis relocated his family to Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 1948. When young Bobby went professional as a blues musician, he changed his moniker to not disrespect his devout dad. And Bobby Rush was born.

Bobby started playing with Delta blues guitarists Boyd Gilmore and Elmore James in Arkansas during the early ’50s before migrating to Chicago. There he assembled a band with an equally young Freddie King on guitar and Arkansan Luther Allison came into the combo later. Rush gigged around the West Side and in the southern suburbs of the Windy City, but it took until 1964 for him to debut on record with the tough downbeat blues “Someday” for the Jerry-O label.

And now, jumping forward to 2019, after decades of tearing up the chitlin’ circuit on a nightly basis with his sweaty, no-holds-barred funk-fests, Bobby has thoroughly broken through to the mainstream. He won a long-overdue 2017 Grammy for his spectacular album Porcupine Meat and consistently tours the globe as a headliner. What’s more, Bobby’s brand-new album Sitting on Top of the Blues on his own Deep Rush imprint promises to further spread the news that this revered legend, well past his 85+ years of age even if his stratospheric energy level belies the calendar, is bigger, badder and bolder than ever.

Don’t miss this chance to see BOBBY RUSH perform a special SOLO SHOW on Friday, December 6 at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater in downtown Little Rock! That’s right, you’ll see and hear Bobby Rush singing, playing guitar and harmonica, and telling stories-all by himself!

Tickets are $30 for general admission seating. The doors open at 7:00 pm and the concert starts at 8:00 pm.

Welcome to the Fourth Floor with John Willis tonight at South on Main

John Willis presents Welcome to the 4th Floor: 40th Birthday Show!Welcome to the 4th Floor: 40th Birthday Show!

December 7 is the birthday of singer-songwriter-troubadour-raconteur John Willis. In celebration of another trip around the sun, he is giving the gift of music to audiences on Friday, December 6.

The concert will be at South on Main.

As a performer and as a songwriter, John Willis is known for an eclectic sense of style, drawing elements of classical, jazz, r&b and soul into the sphere of his piano-pop oriented sets.

Expect an exemplary set of music at this show, on the evening before his 40th birthday, in which he will attempt to incorporate all of the elements that have inspired and influenced him as a musician in these first 40 years.

Help him make it to the “4th Floor” of the forties with a night of oldies, 90s, indie, folk, soul, Broadway, standards, and more.

Show kicks off at 8pm. $15. Call (501) 244-9660 for reservations.

Catherine Russell is next in OXFORD AMERICAN’s Archetypes & Troubadours series on South on Main stage

Catherine Russell [ARCHETYPES & TROUBADOURS SERIES]

The Oxford American magazine is excited to welcome Catherine Russell to the South on Main stage, tonight (December 5).

This is the second show of their Archetypes & Troubadours Sub-Series. Doors open at 6:00 PM, with dinner and drinks available for purchase at that time. The series is made possible in part by presenting sponsors Chris & Jo Harkins and J. Mark & Christy Davis, as well as their season sponsor University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Alone Together, vocalist Catherine Russell’s seventh studio album as a leader, is a search for truth. Drawing on composers and lyricists of The Great American Songbook—Irving Berlin, Eddie de Lange, and Jimmy Van Heusen—along with songwriters from the Swing and Rhythm & Blues eras—Nat Cole, Louis Jordan, and Al Dubin, and Harry Warren—Russell invigorates their creations. At the center is Russell’s voice, and while comparisons to Ella, Billie, Sarah, and Dinah abound—while flattering—she has a sound all her own. “Blues infused jazz tunes are the ones I gravitate towards, because they enable me to freely express myself in the moment,” says Russell.

Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker, born into musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was a legendary pianist/composer/bandleader and Louis Armstrong’s long-time musical director. Her mother, Carline Ray, was a pioneering vocalist/guitarist/bassist who performed with International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, Sy Oliver, and countless others.

Catherine Russell combines a pedigree, where classic jazz & rhythm and blues run through her veins, with the sensibility of a lifetime in popular music. On Alone Together, an intoxicating brew emerges. The connections are real and natural, never forced, and always true.

Additional season partners include Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Cypress Properties, Inc., UCA College of Fine Arts & Communication, Margaret Ferguson Pope—Thank You Aunt Margaret!, EVO Business Environments, Jay Barth & Chuck Cliett, Stacy Hamilton of Desselle Real Estate, Downtown Little Rock Partnership, Arkansas Arts Council, Department of Arkansas Heritage, Rosen Music Company, and Steinway Piano Gallery Little Rock.