Kick off the month of the John Willis curated Sessions at South on Main with a Repeal Day Bash with Dizzy 7 tonight

Join the folks at South on Main in celebrating the most joyous of holidays – REPEAL DAY – the end of Prohibition!

This is the perfect event to kick off their December Sessions at South on Main, curated by John Willis.

Celebrate the  right to imbibe by sipping on a classic cocktail and jitterbugging to music from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s from Dizzy 7! Come dressed in 20’s/30’s/40’s garb and they will grant you a “Happy Hour Hall Pass” which gets you happy hour prices any time of the day or night for the entire month of December.

The concert starts at 8 pm. Purchase advance tickets for $8 or pay $10 at the door. Tickets do not guarantee you a seat. Please call (501) 244-9660 to reserve a table.

The Dizzy 7, founded in 2008, plays music that ranges from Motown to Big Band, Latin to Dixie. It features a full rhythm section, a three-man horn section, and Craig Wilson on lead vocals. Dizzy 7 is composed of accomplished musicians who love what they do.

John Willis is a singer, songwriter, pianist, composer, arranger, and musical director based in Little Rock. He currently performs on his own and as one-sixth of the multi-vocalist synth-pop group Silver Anchors. His most recent original release, “Try Again,” can be found on all online music outlets. In addition to performing, writing, and arranging, Willis spends a lot of time in the theatre, both playing and directing for musical theatre. Recent credits include Hedwig and the Angry Inch and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, both at The Studio Theatre in Little Rock.

Willis is thrilled to celebrate his birthday month as well as the holiday season with great shows each Wednesday in December at South on Main. Catch Willis himself fronting a veritable Little Rock all-star tribute to the music of Radiohead to close out this month’s Sessions on Wednesday, December 26.


John Plays Joni tonight at South on Main featuring John Willis and friends

johnplaysjoniToday is John Willis’ birthday – and we get the present!
“John Plays Joni” is his birthday gift to Little Rock.
Little Rock-based singer/songwriter and founder of Late Romantics band John Willis performs a tribute concert to the music of singer/songwriter legend Joni Mitchell. The program will feature selections from the iconic songwriter’s over 5-decade career in music and give tribute to Mitchell’s genius as a poet and word-painter, a lover, an activist, and as a modern day mystic. Willis will be at the piano and the mic as usual with help from some of Little Rock’s finest musical talents.

Show begins at 8:30 PM with a $10 cover. Call (501) 244-9660 to reserve a table for the show.

John Willis is a singer/songwriter based in his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. He writes and performs on piano with insightful lyrics, sensitive arrangements, and lush harmonies that derive from in part from the gospel music of his minister father, Motown groups that were his mother’s favorites, and his classical training at the piano.

Willis has been a featured songwriter in the UALR Songwriter’s Showcase (2011) and on local PBS affiliate AETN’s “On the Front Row” television series (2013). He was a finalist in the 2014 Arkansas Times Musician’s Showcase and has released two EPs, “King of the Cocktail Party” in 2013 and “Bad Boyfriend” with his band Late Romantics in 2015. Willis is an Artist, Inc. Fellow with the Mid-America Arts Alliance and has taught on faculty at the Wildwood Academy of Music and the Arts teaching yoga for young musicians.

Sessions at South on Main is a series of concerts featuring Arkansas artists, curated by one of their own. He is curating the December Sessions. His birthday show will kick off the month; watch the South on Main website and social media for updates on the rest of December.

Creative Class 2016: Phillip Rex Huddleston

cc16-huddlestonRenaissance Man is probably the best way to describe Phillip Rex Huddleston.  He is a writer, a musician, a composer, an artist, a teacher, an arts promoter, and so many other things.

By day, he is the Visual Art Specialist for eStem Middle School.  There, he teaches his students a variety of styles of art.  His own visual art style varies from realistic sketches, to caricatures, to comic strips and witty distillations of epic literature into a few frames.

As a guitarist and pianist he can often be found performing with his many talented friends throughout Little Rock’s live music scene in formal settings and on front porches.  As a composer, he has contributed compositions and performances to a variety of films made in Arkansas. His most recent effort was in Mark Thiedeman’s White Nights, which premiered in August.

A graduate of the University of Central Arkansas with a BA in Philosophy and an MA in English Literature, he was an Adjunct Instructor at UCA in the English Department before beginning his stint at eStem.  While at UCA, he also worked with the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.

For several years, he and friends and roommates would host regular Garland House Shows, named for the street on which their house was located. These combined visual art exhibits with live music in celebrations of the art they created and the friends who created and appreciated it.

21 Songs with Cody Belew & John Willis tonight at South on Main

codyandjohn.png.190x140_q60_cropA perfect way to spend Thanksgiving weekend Saturday: South on Main proudly presents 21 Songs with Cody Belew & John Willis, presented by Barbara/Jean and ESGI. Doors open at 4:00 PM, show begins at 9:00 PM. Wristbands can be purchased for $10 after doors open. Call (501) 244-9660 to reserve your table for this show in advance.

Cody grew up singing at rodeos and in black gospel church houses. He was a scrawny little white kid with a stutter and big voice. He could not carry on in normal conversation, so he sang- all the time. Life happened to him, and he grew up; finding his feet somewhere between college and 22 years of age. He moved to Arkansas’ capital city, Little Rock, and booked his first show in the fall of 2008 at a little club called The Afterthought. He has been tearing his way through sold out show after sold out show ever since. Shortly after moving to Nashville, Tennessee, Cody received the call that would change his life. After making it to the top 8 on season 3 of NBC’s number one show, “The Voice,” Cody has earned his spot in the world of music. He is currently working on his debut album that will introduce the world to his heart and soul. Good things to come.

How do you get to be @likejohnwillis? Grow up listening to equal parts MoTown, 60’s-70’s singer/songwriters, and Gospel. Take piano lessons long enough to learn to love classical music. Start listening to late-night jazz on public radio in high school because you think it will make you cool. Start listening to world music in college because you think it will teach you something and because you think it will make you unique. Read some good books and some good poetry in hopes you’ll apprehend how to express adequately all your heartache and your hope. Keep practicing. Play some shows. Record your songs. Play some more shows. Keep it interesting. Have fun.

John Willis released the King of the Cocktail Party EP in 2013 and his latest single, “Enough,” in October of this year. He’s been featured on AETN’s “On the Front Row” and UALR’s Songwriter Showcase. He also sings and plays keys in Late Romantics, the 4-voiced soul-pop band he helped form in 2014. John Willis is thrilled to be back at the piano playing with Cody Belew for this special Thanksgiving Weekend show.

Creative Class of 2015: John Willis

JQW 2015John Willis is a throwback to the era of singer-songwriters who did not focus on genre, but instead letting the mood and theme of quality songs lead them to the appropriate style.

His new single “Enough” is available at

After the success of his solo EP “King of the Cocktail Party” he and Late Romantics, his relatively new band have a new EP, “Bad Boyfriend.”  Willis spent his early musical years as a classically trained pianist playing private parties and backing several successful performing artists around Little Rock, including Cody Belew and Bonnie Montgomery.

With his release, King of the Cocktail Party EP, Willis stepped into his own light as a front man with an intoxicating blend of piano-based pop, jazz, and parlor music that has elicited comparisons to Harry Nilsson, Leon Russell, Rufus Wainwright, and Feist.  As a composer and performer, he has been featured on AETN and the UALR Songwriter Showcase.

Raised on a steady diet of old-time gospel sung in his father’s church, Motown and early ’70s singer/songwriters beloved by his mother, and Chopin, Debussy, and Gershwin tapes given to him by an elderly mentor, Willis has grown up to create a sophisticated musical style that is both instantly familiar and at the same time fresh.

Willis is actively promoting his new release locally and planning a tour in the coming months with his band. Though he still delights cocktail party audiences as one of Little Rock’s favorite piano guys, he is enjoying the success and sharing his stylish mix of piano grooves and heartfelt ballads with lush, vocal harmonies liberally dosed throughout. These well-crafted songs are as much a nod to the past as they are a well-placed note hovering on the musical horizon.

Arts Abound Tonight at 2nd Friday Art Night

2FAN logo Font sm22nd Friday Art Night proves there is a cure for the Summertime Blues.  It offers visual art, music, food and drink!  You can eat, drink, learn, appreciate, and be merry!

At Historic Arkansas Museum from 5 to 8 pm there will be a free opening reception for two new exhibits: Katherine Rutter & Ginny Sims in the Trinity Gallery for Arkansas Artists and PopUp in the Rock: The Exhibit in the Second Floor Gallery. Enjoy live music by John Willis and the Late Romantics and #ArkansasMade brews from Moody Brews. Delicious appetizers provided by Boulevard Bread.

Down the street, the Old State House Museum will be offering musical performances by traditional folk artists Mockingbird from 5-8 p.m. The Old State House Museum will be open for self-guided tours and Mockingbird will play in the acoustically-rich 1836 Arkansas House of Representatives chamber. The room is one of the most historically significant rooms in the state, and this is a fun way for you and your family to see and experience it.

A few blocks south, Christ Church will be featuring the works of John and Judy Shantz Honey and their exhibit “Reflections on Abstraction.”

  • John Honey is a member of Mid-Southern Watercolorists and Arkansas League of Artists. He has studied the use of water-based mediums and collage under several nationally recognized artists. He is constantly challenged to find a different approach for including the elements of design in his paintings. He favors abstraction over realism as a means of expression. John’s work has been seen in juried exhibitions at the Arkansas Art Center.
  • Judy Shantz Honey enjoyed an interest in art as a child, and this interest continued through her studies at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and in the Museum School at the Arkansas Arts Center. She has also studied with nationally recognized art instructors in art workshops around the United States and in Mexico.  Watercolor, acrylic, and collage are her primary mediums, with work on paper and on canvas. She is a member of Mid-Southern Watercolorists, the Arkansas League of Artists and the Arkansas Arts Council.


Release Party for John Willis and the Late Romantics new EP “Bad Boyfriend”

John Willis is a throwback to the era of singer-songwriters who did not focus on genre, but instead letting the mood and theme of quality songs lead them to the appropriate style.

After the success of his solo EP “King of the Cocktail Party” he and Late Romantics, his relatively new band have a new EP, “Bad Boyfriend.”

It comes out on March 21.  To commemorate the occasion, he and the band are having a performance party at Whitewater Tavern tonight at 9:30 pm.  Also peforming that night are Listen, Sister and DJ Baldego.  All in attendance will get the EP for free.  After that, it will be available on iTunes.

Recorded at Jason Weinheimer’s studio, Fellowship Hall Sound, “Bad Boyfriend” features Willis with Late Romantics.  The band was formed last year for the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.  It includes Jack Lloyd (bass), Mike Motley (drums) with Sarah Stricklin and Sydney Hunsicker (backup vocals, additional percussion).  As Willis told Mitchell Crisp in a recent interview, “we’ve transitioned into a band where everyone is collaborative, rather than one where everyone just plays my songs. So all of the songs were written by me, but it’s the effort of everyone involved.”