Creative Class of 2015: Stephanie Smittle

resized_99263-smittle-v_47-16964_t300A few weeks ago, within the space of a few days, Stephanie Smittle went from originating two roles in an opera to singing with a Klezmer band.  This shows not only her versatility, but also the wide range of music offerings in Little Rock.

A lyric soprano, she is a native of Cave Springs and  holds a Bachelor’s of Philosophy degree from Hendrix College. Comfortable in a variety of genres, Smittle composes and performs her original work with the jazz-Americana group “The Smittle Band,” sings with acclaimed metal band Iron Tongue, leads an Arkansas-music-based duo called “Stephen y Stephanie,” and performs traditional Yiddish music with the Meshugga Klezmer Band.  From venues of a few seats to several hundred, there are few stages in Little Rock on which she has not performed.

Smittle’s operatic roles include: Fiordiligi in Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” with Opera in the Ozarks, Queen Anne and Queen Elizabeth Woodville in the premiere of Karen Griebling’s “Richard III: A Crown of Roses, A Crown of Thorns,” Second Lady in Mozart’s “Magic Flute” with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, performances with Opera in the Rock, as well as summer study in Italy as a scholar with the Oberlin Conservatory. Her oratorio performances include Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde,” Rutter’s “Requiem,” and Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem.”

Arkansas Sounds First Night Tonight – Smittles, Tav Falco and Dan Hicks

arkansas_sounds_2013The second annual Arkansas Sounds Music Festival kicks off tonight at the River Market Pavilions.  There have been several activities throughout the month, but they have all been leading up to this weekend.

Arkansas Sounds Music Festival is a FREE event open to the public. Donations can be made to help support the festival.  Though it is free, and no tickets are issued, there are space limitations, so attendance is on a first come, first serve basis.

Friday, September 27 at the River Market Pavilions

At 6pm, The Smittle Band will play its own brand of “jazzy Americana.”  The Arkansas Times has described them as: “Regulars in jazz bars around the state, The Smittle Band offers gorgeous, fluid lounge sounds with a trickling undercurrent of classy Americana. Fronted by Stephanie Smittle, the band balances her hushed, smoky vocals with sharp guitar work from co-writer Wythe Walker, tasteful, smart keys from Jim McGehee and brushing percussion courtesy of Ray Wittenberg.”

At 7:15, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns will take the stage.  They are best known for having been part of a set of bands emerging in the late 1970s and early 1980s who helped nationally popularize the blending of southern gothic with alternative and punk music.  From its beginnings in the Mississippi Delta, this band continues to play all around the world.  According to the band, the earliest description it gave itself on a concert poster read simply: “Rock’n’Roll”. Media confusion in categorizing led the band to eventually invent its own self-descriptive terms, such as “panther music” and “backwoods ballroom”, also at times calling its tumultuous performance style “art damage”.

The final act of the night is Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks at 8:30.  Beginning as a drummer in the seminal 60’s San Francisco rock band The Charlatans, and continuing with his unique and legendary Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Dan Hicks is widely acknowledged as one of the defining figures in American roots music. Having earned a reputation as a true original with his signature eclecticism and humor, Hicks continues to carve his way through a number of genres from proto-psychedelia to western swing and jazz, from tin pan alley to country blues — all the while cultivating his own unique sound.

Arkansas Sounds lineup announced

arkansas_sounds_2013There’s something about the Arkansas River that makes free live music sound even better. DeQueen native Collin Raye and a tribute to Delight native Glen Campbell will headline the Arkansas Sounds Music Festival, a free annual event hosted by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, a department of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS). On Friday and Saturday, September 27-28, the festival will feature Arkansas music and musicians both past and present at programs for all age groups at the River Market Pavilions, First Security Amphitheatre, and the Main Library.

Music in a large variety of genres and styles will showcase Arkansans’ love of music.

Friday, September 27 at the River Market Pavilions

Time Band Musical Genre
6 p.m. The Smittle Band jazzy Americana
7:15 p.m. Tav Falco & Panther Burns southern gothic roots/rockabilly
8:30 p.m. Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks gypsy jazz

Saturday – First Security Amphitheatre

Noon The Sound of the Mountain instrumental progressive rock
1 p.m. The 1 oz. Jig funk
2:15 p.m. Messy Sparkles electro-pop one man DJ
3:30 p.m. Big Piph (Epiphany) progressive hip-hop
4:45 p.m. War Chief Americana rock and roll
6 p.m. Mountain Sprout hillbilly bluegrass
7:15 p.m. Bonnie Montgomery country honky tonk
8:30 p.m. Glen Campbell Tribute
9:30 p.m. Collin Raye modern country

Three programs for children and teens are scheduled at the Main Library beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 28.

10:30 a.m. Ages Up to 6 years The Kinders Concert 3rd Floor Youth Services
1 p.m. Ages 7-12 Hip Hop Songwriting and Production workshop Level 4 Teen Center
2 p.m. Ages 13-19 Hip Hop Songwriting and Production workshop Level 4 Teen Center

Additional programs are scheduled during September at different venues in downtown Little Rock.

Friday, Sept. 13 – 5 p.m.
Second Friday Art Night performance by Michael Carenbauer
Butler Center Galleries, 401 President Clinton Avenue

Thursday Sept. 19 6 p.m.
Cocktail party to celebrate the release of Encyclopedia of Arkansas Music
Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street

Monday, Sept. 23  6 p.m.
Songwriters Showcase
Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street

Tuesday, Sept. 24  7 p.m.
Performance honoring Clark Terry
Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 501 W. 9th Street

Thursday, Sept. 26 6 p.m.
Tav Falco book signing, with the Arkansas Literary Festival
Main Library’s Darragh Center, 100 Rock Street

The Arkansas Sounds Music Festival and all related events are free and open to the public. For a complete schedule, see To volunteer for the Arkansas Sounds Music Festival, contact Angela Delaney at or 918-3095. For more information, visit