Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Big Cats "Ancient Art of Leaving" part 2 out in August

Image used courtesy of The Big Cats.
The second half of The Big Cats' song cycle The Ancient Art of Leaving: Two Parts, will see the light of day on August 21, according to a new post on the band's website. The first half, High and Low, was released at the band's annual holiday show back in December. Rumor has it, both halves be combined for a 3-LP vinyl release as well. I'll post further details, song streams, release party, pre-order info, etc., as I get them.

Once it's out, I'll also post a review of both parts. Reviews are also forthcoming for Kevin Kerby's Apostle's Tongues, Holy Shakes' Feast or Famine, as well as recent releases by The SEE, Year of the Tiger, and other Little Rock bands (old and new) I want to talk about.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The last Beatles' song I "discovered"

Am I the last person in the world to realize what a great frakking song The Beatles' "It's All Too Much" is?

Does it get the shaft because it's over six minutes long (making it hard to play on the radio or put on a hits collections) and buried on Yellow Submarine, one of The Beatles' least considered albums? Did everyone in my generation just assume they were listening to The Stone Roses or Oasis?

For pride's sake, I should point out I came to this realization about three years ago. And, in a way, it's comforting to think you can love a band's music for decades and still have the capacity to be surprised by it.

Soon we will all live forever

Two articles cross my RSS feed today that herald fortuitous new medical discoveries that will soon usher in our immortal future.

The first, "You cannot poison an opossum", by Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boing Boing references Jason Bittel's article on the unique protein produced by opossums, the Lethal Toxin Neutralizing Factor (LTNF), that makes the marsupials nigh invulnerable to all environmental and even man-made poisons. More astoundingly, by injecting the protein into other mammals, rats in the case cited by Bittel, they also exhibited an immunity to everything from the venom from Thailand cobras, Australian taipans, Brazilian rattlesnakes, scorpions and honeybees, even always deadly man-made poisons like ricin.

Of course human trials of this protein would, I think, be quite unethical, as it would require poisoning your experimental group with all manner of known toxins to see if they are, indeed, immune. Mistakes would be lethal. But there is a lot of medical potential here if the ethical issues can be worked out. Just think of the huge boon/setback this will provide to the espionage/assassination industry.

The second article, "Scientists Find Molecule That Will Make Your Teeth Cavityproof," by Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo references research by Yale and Universidad de Santiago scientists who have discovered a compound that effectively kills the bacteria that cause tooth decay and, used regularly, would put an end to dental cavities. Which is good, because if we are no longer able to poison ourselves before we reach old age, we're going to need good, strong teeth to feed our immortal bodies.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

"Augustus and Juniper" by Joshua of Velvet Kente

A terrific surprise appeared on my Facebook news feed this afternoon in the form of a video of a new song by Velvet Kente and Amasa Hines frontman Joshua. The video also teases its audience with the first public hints about Good News for Sinners, the long-awaited debut album by Velvet Kente.

The song, "Augustus and Juniper" tells the tale of "lovers. husband and wife. dreamers. parents. slaves. and of their escape from a South Carolina plantation with their twin daughters." It's also a fantastic showcase for Joshua's soulful singing.


Joshua's Tumblr blog,, is a masterclass in jazz and pop music history. He posts pictures and links to recordings by his musical forbears on almost a daily basis, demonstrating the sense of history, and respect for his elders, that flavors the stew of influences that makes Velvet Kente and Amasa Hines so timely and timeless at the same time.

More details to come as I receive them.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Coming July 17: Kevin Kerby's "Apostle's Tongues"

You can't tell the history of Little Rock's prolific music scene or list the city's greatest songwriters without making a lot of space in those documents for Kevin Kerby. He played guitar in Ho Hum back when the group was signed to Universal, then struck out on his own and made four amazing albums leading the alternative country band par excellence Mulehead. The homespun recording The Secret Lives of All-Night Radios was Kerby's first solo release in 2005. He followed it up in 2009 with the more raucous Beautiful and Bright, recorded with his band Battery. Like a character in a Faulkner novel, Kerby writes country songs about rock 'n' roll hedonism, sings gospel songs in a bar at 2 a.m., and praises the bonds that tie him to a place he longs to escape but that also defines who he is.

It was the best news I got all week, then, when Max Recordings put out the news that Kerby's new album Apostle's Tongues is set to release on  July 17, and posted a nostalgia tinged video for the album's first single "It's Not Needing What You Want, It's Wanting What You Need," which is embedded at the top of this post. Apostle's Tongues is available as a limited edition (100 copies) CD and booklet, a regular edition CD, and on iTunes.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Friday Night Out: Iron Tongue 7" release show with The Holy Shakes, and Nigh Ends aboard the Arkansas Queen

Photo courtesy of Iron Tongue's Facebook page.
It's a busy week, not only bands for playing shows, but for bands releasing new music at said shows. Purveyors of fuzz and doom, Iron Tongue, featuring members of such stalwart Arkansas bands as Rwake and Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth, among others, are releasing a split 7" with Memphis' The Dirty Streets at a gig Friday night on The Arkansas Queen riverboat. The bill is rounded out by The Holy Shakes (more on them soon) and Nigh End. The boat casts off at 10 p.m. and the cover is $15.

Here's a video of "Shoot the Moon" from Iron Tongue's performance at this year's Riverfest Festival.

The Tricks' self-titled CD-release show at WWT tonight

Image courtesy of The Tricks' Facebook page.
Little Rock indie-rock band The Tricks are releasing its self-titled debut CD with a celebratory show at White Water Tavern (2500 West 7th Street). You can download a pair of singles from the album (streaming below) for $1 each at the band's Bandcamp site or stream the whole thing for free at its Soundcloud page. The CD will set you back $10 at the show. The band is also offering a CD+T-shirt deal for $15. The cover charge is $5. Conway's Don't Stop Please opens the show.

New Charles Portis 'miscellany' to be released this Fall.

Illustration by Mike Reddy. Used courtesy of University of Arkansas Press.

If any of you, my occasional readers, love me at all, a copy of this better be under the tree for me at Christmas. Multiple copies will not be looked upon with disappointment.

Twenty years after the publication of Portis’ last novel, Butler Center Books, an imprint of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, is publishing Escape Velocity: A CharlesPortis Miscellany, edited humorist and journalist Jay Jennings, that collects Portis’ short fiction, travel and journalism (including his coverage of the Medgar Evers assassination and Elvis Presley’s funeral), a memoir, and previously unpublished comic three-act play, Delray’s New Moon.

Portis published five novels between 1966 and 1991. He won over fans and critics with his deadpan humor, attention to detail, and masterful dialogue. Two of his books, Norwood and True Grit, were adapted as films. True Grit was adapted twice, first in 1966 starring John Wayne, and again in 2010 starring Jeff Bridges. Wayne won his only Academy Award® for his portrayal of Portis’ iconic character Rooster Cogburn, and Bridges was nominated for his portrayal of the same character.

Portis’ third novel, Dog of the South, is reportedly being made into a feature film by director Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland, Paul) and starring Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live, Men In Black 3, Paul). No production information or release date was available on IMDB.

Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany goes on sale October 1 at fine booksellers everywhere.

Hitting the reset button

After three years of shamefully not updating my blog, I am preparing to resume posting content on a  somewhat regular basis. I've changed the name (I might yet change it again, if I can come up with something better that is available), updated the template, and decided to focus on Little Rock's cultures, popular and otherwise, as well as music, books, movies, politics, religion, or any other topics that I'm interested in that would not be properly served by simply sharing a link on Facebook.

I've got a number of posts already planned to post in the near future. Once they're used up, I'll probably lapse into another three years of inactivity. Or I'll get in the habit of planning and posting content regularly. If anyone besides me reads this thing, I might slather the site in advertising, too. We'll.

If you are amused even in the slightest by what you read here, feel free to add this blog to your RSS feed, leave a comment, and share a post on one the myriad social networks you belong to.