The Oxford American kicks of 2019-2020 Concert Series with Amy Helm tonight at South on Main

Amy Helm [AMERICANA SERIES]The Oxford American magazine is excited to welcome Amy Helm to the South on Main stage!

This event kicks off their 2019-2020 Concert Series and is the first show of their Americana 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 sponsor Stella Boyle Smith Trust, as well as their season sponsor University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Additional season partners include Chris & Jo Harkins, J. Mark & Christy Davis, 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.

There are no tickets available at this time. Please visit the venue on the night of the show when doors open to inquire about any potential ticket releases.


Amy Helm sought what she calls a “circular sound” for her new album. It’s a well-rounded one, marked by streaks of Americana, country, blues, and gospel, and the kinds of four-part harmonies that can burst open a melody and close the loop of an octave. It’s a sound that represents the feeling of community.

This Too Shall Light, released September 2018 on Yep Roc Records, comprises ten songs produced by GRAMMY-winning producer and songwriter Joe Henry. During the four-day session in Los Angeles, the musicians were directed not to overthink the songs, and Helm herself barely performed any of the selections while preparing to record. As a result, the sessions forced fast musical trust among the collaborators and yielded the vibrant instrumental improvisations heard throughout This Too Shall Light.

Although a profound songwriter herself, Helm and Henry jointly arranged a diverse collection of songs for the record, which range from Rod Stewart’s “Mandolin Wind” to Allen Toussaint’s “Freedom for the Stallion” and even the Milk Carton Kids’ “Michigan.” The title track in particular, written by Hiss Golden Messenger’s MC Taylor and Josh Kaufman, is a brilliant summation of the record’s sound and spirit.

Helm’s voice veers from commanding to supplicating within a single soulful verse, as she manipulates that message so that light leads throughout even the darkest of times.

Helm’s parents—The Band’s legendary drummer and singer Levon Helm and singer/songwriter Libby Titus—guided her training and influences. A lifelong musician and music-lover, she later became a founding member of the alt-country collective Ollabelle and served as a backing musician in her father’s Midnight Ramble Band. On This Too Shall Light, Helm says that two songs in particular pay homage to Levon—“The Stones I Throw,” a song he released in 1965 with Levon and the Hawks, and the closing traditional number, an a cappella version of the hymn “Gloryland,” which was passed from father to daughter.

While This Too Shall Light is only Helm’s second album under her own name, it serves as a comprehensive portrait covering her life’s journeys and recoveries; these songs are stories that, no matter where they take her, seem to end and begin in the same place like a circle.

2019-2020 OXFORD AMERICAN music series at South on Main

One of the best music series in the South takes place in Little Rock as the Oxford American brings musicians to South on Main. It is actually three different music series: Americana, Jazz, and Archetypes & Troubadours. Tickets are already on sale, and many of the concerts will sell out. So do not delay!

Up first is Amy Helm in the Americana Series. She will perform on Thursday, August 22 at 8:00pm. “One of Americana’s most impassioned, soul-stirring singers.” —Rolling Stone Country

First in the Jazz Series is Peter Martin & Romero Lubambo featuring Erin Bode. They’ll be in Little Rock on Thursday, September 5 at 8:00pm. “One of the most underrated pianists in jazz today … Martin plays with the kind of daring and excitement that marks a distinctive personality on the keyboard.” — Washington Post

The first in the Archetypes & Troubadours Series is Rev. Sekou on Thursday, September 26 at 8:00pm. “Rev. Sekou delivers the spiritual performance we need now.”—Paste

Next in Americana is Chatham County Line on Thursday, October 17 at 8:00pm. “What initially drew me to this Raleigh, North Carolina-based quartet is that in addition to the unique mix of bluegrass, folk and Americana tunes they harmonize so beautifully on is the fact that they typically crowd around a single, large, silver radio microphone. And that’s not the band’s only nod to the past.” — Huffington Post

Marsalis is a name synonymous with jazz. The Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet is next in the Jazz Series on Thursday, November 14. “[Marsalis’s] playing is eccentric within graceful boundaries, concerned with polyrhythm as science, history and gamesmanship, full of technique used to non-slick ends … Discipline and strategy are written deeply into the band.” — New York Times

Next in the Archetypes & Troubadours Series is Catherine Russell on Thursday, December 5, at 8:00pm. “A wonderfully charismatic performer with a show­stopping voice and an unabashedly old-fashioned repertoire.” — The Washington Post

The Fred Hersch Trio takes the Oxford American stage for the Jazz Series on Thursday, January 30 at 8:00pm. “An elegant force of musical invention, Fred Hersch cannot be discounted in any discussion of the top contemporary jazz pianists.” —LA Times

Jon Cleary is next in the Americana Series.  He’ll be on stage on Thursday, February 20 at 8:00pm. “Cleary embodies the heart and soul of the Crescent City, keeping the sound and the fury of its legendary piano pounders alive and kicking.”— No Depression

John Fullbright will be next in the Archetypes & Troubadours Series on Thursday, March 12 at 8:00pm. “In a short-­attention-­span world overloaded with sensory stimulation, there aren’t many artists who can stop you in your tracks with a single song.” —American Songwriter

The final 2019-2020 Americana Series entry is Mary Gauthier on Thursday, March 26 at 8:00pm.  “…[Mary Gauthier’s] Rifles and Rosary Beads, is not only one of the most arresting American singer-songwriter records in recent years, but one of the most vital pieces of art to come out of those two wars.” — Rolling Stone Country

Ranky Tanky closes out the 2019-2020 Archetypes & Troubadours Series on Thursday, April 16 at 8:00pm. “Ranky Tanky proved that exotic music can be both unfamiliar enough to be surprising, and yet familiar enough to provoke swinging hips and nodding heads. When it works, it’s the best of both worlds.” —Paste

The final Jazz Series concert is on Thursday, April 23 at 8:00pm. It features the Miguel Zenón Quartet. “This young musician and composer is at once reestablishing the artistic, cultural, and social tradition of jazz while creating an entirely new jazz language for the 21st century.” —MacArthur Foundation

Little Rock Film Festival Celebrates Opening of Ron Robinson Theater

lrff_mp_hdr_logoLast week the new Ron Robinson Theater opened in the Arcade Building at the corner of President Clinton and River Market.  One of the anchors of this facility is the Little Rock Film Festival.
To celebrate the grand opening, the Little Rock Film Festival has scheduled a series of events.
Things kick off tonight with the documentary Ain’t In It for My Health.  This honest look at the life and career of Arkansas native and music legend Levon Helm was one of the highlights of the 2013 Little Rock Film Festival.  The film starts at 7pm.  It will be followed by a Q&A with Amy Helm.  Then at 9pm, Amy Helm and Handsome Strangers will take the stage for a concert.

On Saturday, January 18, at 3pm, the Ron Robinson Theater will be screen the “Best of the LRFF’s 48 Hour Film Project.”  the titles shown will be La Grande Fete, Surprise Party, Abbatoir, Vacation, The Door, The Plumber, Last Chance Romance, Drain, The Third Save, and Deuces.  

At 7pm on the 18th, the documentary Sleepy LaBeef Rides Again will be shown.  This documentary/concert film about Arkansas native Sleepy LaBeef will be followed by a Q&A with Sleepy LaBeef and Dave Pomeroy.  At 8:30pm, LaBeef and Pomeroy will be in concert.

On Monday, January 20 at 7pm, the HBO Documentary Film Moms Mabley will be screened.  A special Martin Luther King Day presentation about the iconic African American standup comedienne Jackie “Moms” Mabley, who broke racial and sexual boundaries and continues to inspire comedians to this day. In her directorial debut, Whoopi Goldberg pays homage to this pioneering legend.

Tuesday, January 21 will feature a program entitled “Locals Rule” at 7:30 pm.  These standout  Arkansas short films from the first seven years of Little Rock Film Festival represent some of the most creative work on the national festival circuit. From offbeat comedies to Gothic tales, these films show the vibrancy of the Arkansas Film Community.  The titles to be showns are Ballerina, Cain and Able, Mary, The Orderly, Pillow, Spanola Pepper Sauce, and The Van.

Wednesday, January 22 at 7:00pm may seem more like Halloween as The Little Rock Horror Picture Show presents One Please and Contracted.

  • One Please– Summers in suburbia get weird when Michael Berryman comes to town. The short film is an Arkansas premiere from the award winning team behind ‘Pillow’.
  • Contracted – Russellville native Eric England returns to Arkansas with his latest project, Contracted, a feature length thriller about what can go wrong when the party goes out of hand. England’s previous films, Madison County and Roadside, both screened at the Little Rock Horror Picture Show. Director Eric England and actress Najarra Townsend will be in attendance.

On Thursday, January 23 at 7:30pm, an episode of the Sundance series “Rectify” will be shown.  The Sundance series, “Rectify,” created by former Little Rock resident Ray McKinnon, has deservedly landed on many critics’ best of the year list. The series follows Daniel Holden as he struggles to deal with life on the outside when DNA evidence releases him from prison  after he served 19 years  for a rape conviction. Following a screening of Episode 4 from the first season, writer Graham Gordy will discuss the project.

The week-plus long series will culminate on Saturday, January 25, with a screening of Ladder 49 at 7pm.  North Little Rock native film director Jay Russell will be in town to present his film, Ladder 49, starring Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta. Ladder 49 is a 2004 film centered around the heroics of fictional Baltimore firefighter Jack Morrison, who is trapped inside a warehouse fire, and his recollection of the events  that got him to that point.  Following the screening of Ladder 49 the Little Rock Film Festival will host a grand opening party in the lobby of the Ron Robinson Theater. Music, Food and Drink provided.