Jan 12
Calling Uganda …
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It’s not every day I get to call Uganda for a story. I daresay the Gazette may have never dialed that Uganda country code until last week to reach a source for a story (though of course I can’t quite be sure of this). However, through a pretty nice arrangement, we were able to do just that (relatively cheaply, I might add) to reach the amazing musician Samite Mulondo, who is a Uganda native whose mesmerizing work with voice, kalimba, flute and other instruments recalls the heart of his home country.

Samite makes music that evokes the forests, animals and spirit of the African continent and Uganda, a nation that’s seen more than its fair share of political turmoil (this is where Ida Amin’s reign of terror arose in the 1970s). Samite was a political refugee who fled his native country to Kenya, later arriving here in the United States during the 1980s. Since then he’s made a name for himself for both his humanitarian work through Musicians for World Harmony and his beautiful music. Samite’s compositions compel listeners to get up and dance, moving to the power of their rhythms.

Samite comes to Texarkana to perform at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 29 at the historic Perot Theatre. His performance is part of the Perot Theatre series from the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council. Check Friday’s Gazette for our interview with Samite, who had some powerful things to say about sharing music.

- Aaron Brand

The musician Samite sings and plays the kalimba in this promo photo by Sheryl Sinkow.

Popularity: 1% [?]

Dec 29
Coming up: Go Celtic
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Shortly before Christmas, I spoke with Celtic Crossroads producer Kevin Crosby in Ireland about the young group’s approach to traditional Irish music. They’ll head to Texarkana to perform on Jan. 13 at the Perot Theatre as part of the 2010-2011 Perot series from TRAHC. (Side note: Listening to their music definitely put me in a warm wintertime holiday mood.)

Though young in years (they average about 23 or 24 years of age, Crosby says), these vivacious and multi-talented men and women have a sense of the rich traditions Irish musicians established over the centuries. The “crossroads,” said Crosby, refers to the place between towns where the Irish heritage was celebrated and shared in the past. Listening to their music, it’s apparent elements of other musical traditions (bluegrass, for example) seep into that rich Irish musical history that informs their performances. They promise to bring us a lively show. Their Texarkana performance actually kicks off the Celtic Crossroads World Fusion Tour, which sees them traveling North America for four months. See them below in a promo photo and then in person live on the Perot stage. They’ll also be conducting an educational performance for local students the same day, discussing the more than 30 instruments with which they work their musicians’ magic. More info and tickets: TRAHC.org.

- Aaron Brand

Popularity: 3% [?]

Dec 3

It feels right to honor writers for their hard work, artful words, and honest thoughts. Surely they are qualities to be commended. TRAHC did just that Thursday night at the Regional Arts Center at The Seventh Annual WRITE! on Art Competition. Writers in recent months penned poetry and prose inspired by the recent “CHAIRS” exhibit at the RAC, and scribes from the 7th and 8th grade, high school, and university/adult divisions were all honored (first place winners received a $100 savings account with Red River Federal Credit Union). Most of them read from their work (kudos to those who had the guts to do so) during the awards ceremony. Here are the winners:

7th/8th Grade Poetry:

First Place: Garrett Mitchell, Pleasant Grove Middle School – Second Place: Kaniyah Breakfield, North Heights Junior High School – Third Place: Chase Denson, Pleasant Grove Middle School

7th/8th Grade Prose:

First Place: Alyssa Daniel, Pleasant Grove Middle School – Second Place: Holly Stouffer, Pleasant Grove Middle School – Third Place: Josh Altenbaumer, Pleasant Grove Middle School

High School Poetry:

First Place: Haley Rushing, Texas High School – Second Place: Catherine Stephenson, Texas High School – Third Place: Robert Stoeckl, Texas High School

High School Prose:

First Place: Lindsey Gore, Texas High School – Second Place: Madeleine Rostollan, Arkansas High School – Third Place: Dana Hosey, Texas High School

University/Adult Poetry:

First Place and Second Place: Shaundala Summers – Third Place: Hillary Atwood, Texas A&M University—Texarkana

University/Adult Prose:

First Place: Rhonda Wortham, Texas A&M University—Texarkana – Second Place: Relinda Ruth, Texas A&M University—Texarkana – Third Place: Lauren Caraway, Texas A&M University–Texarkana

- Aaron Brand

Popularity: 1% [?]

Nov 30

It’s not every day I make a world-famous musician laugh. A little more than a week ago I interviewed Michael Martin Murphey about his upcoming “Cowboy Christmas” show (see this Friday’s Accent page in the Gazette for the advance story). Mr. Murphey was waxing poetic about the cowboy traditions established in Texas and, in particular, the Christmas celebrations associated with cowboy music and culture. It’s what inspired Murphey to take this Christmas show on the road, he explained. Well, he mentioned that this show gives him a chance to celebrate the greatest day in history. Taking a cue on what I, as a non-Texas native, have seen of Texas pride in my eight years down here, I ventured a guess: the creation of Texas? No, Murphey said, it’s the birth of Jesus, Christmas day itself. Then he proceeded to have a great big booming laugh about my guess, which I suppose was worth it to me as it helped break the ice in an interview (not that it really needed any breaking as he’s a pretty good interview). Murphey comes to Texarkana to celebrate Christmas for a 7:30 p.m. show on Sunday, Dec. 12, at the Perot Theatre. He sounds ready to share the friendly Christmas spirit.

- Aaron Brand

Popularity: 1% [?]

Nov 5

Thursday evening’s auction of 23 artistic “chairs” earned more than $2,500 for the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council’s Arts on Main community art class program for both kids and adults. That’s an average of more than $100 per chair and a nice overall haul for scholarships and supplies the program needs.

Artists reworked a bunch of plain, brown club chairs into things altogether different—beautiful works where people may sit and others completely unique and fantastic simply to see and admire. Sitting in the Regional Arts Center’s Cabe Hall, they made for a colorful crew. Jeff Sandford, chamber of commerce president, served as the quick-witted auctioneer for the night, and for about half the auction the room was absolutely packed. The top money earner was Jerome LeGrand’s “Flowing Steel” (it fetched $400), while People’s Choice awards went to “Enchairted Garden” by Rachel Freeman and Lisa Sloan in 1st place and “Chair-O-Kee” by Cari and Vince Brown and Doris Vaughn in 2nd place. I caught a few pics you can see below.

- Aaron Brand

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Oct 29

Next Thursday’s “CHAIR-ity Bizarre” auctions the artsy chairs the Regional Arts Center has exhibited since early September. About two dozen artistically re-imagined chairs will be auctioned to benefit Arts on Main, where TRAHC conducts art classes for kids and adults. The auction festivities start at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the RAC. It’s free and the public can come on by to watch, bid, and enjoy margaritas and munchies.

The next few days until the auction are also the final ones to check out the exhibit and even take your photo sitting in a chair. Evan Lewis’ project for “The CHAIRS” asks people to take a portrait and send it to trahcchairs@hotmail.com. His chair portraits (and others who’ve taken their photo in a chair) can bee seen at TRAHCChairs.com.

More info on the “CHAIR-ity Bizarre”: call 903-792-8681.

- Aaron Brand

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Oct 28

Too many things this month have kept me from logging on here to nail down my thoughts, though I’ve clicked on the page to make sure it’s still here. It is and so I am. So, I’m going to be catching up in the next couple days. Here’s a start.

A couple items:

1) Tonight and tomorrow, Friday night, at 7 p.m. at Eagle Hall in TAMU-T’s new University Center at the Bringle Lake campus, the university drama program and English club present a radio play, something a little different for Texarkana. It’s billed as a Halloween radio play and titled “Three Skeleton Key.” The public is invited to come listen. Admission: $5 for regular admission, $3 for students, faculty and staff. The plot, as described in the flyer: “Three lighthouse keepers battle for their lives against an army of rampaging, revolting, and ravenous rats!”

2) TRAHC’s next Perot Theatre series show is “Drumline Live,” a high-energy marching band extravaganza. Soul, Motown, hip-hop, jazz, swing, R&B—this show is a dynamic musical menagerie of bigtime marching band beats. The show (from the creators of the movie “Drumline”) is rooted in marching band traditions established at historically black colleges and universities. Looks like an exciting show to experience this upcoming Monday, 7:30 p.m., at the Perot Theatre. A drum-off competition starts around 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. before the show. Tickets: call the Perot Theatre Box Office at 903-792-4992. (See below for a submitted photo of the show, courtesy of Columbia Artists Management Inc.)

3) Did you know Texarkana has an upstart roller derby team? They’re the Vicious Vixens and just formed. It’s true. Looking into it.

- Aaron Brand

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Oct 8
Some jazzy Jimi Hendrix
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Last night it was some jazzy Jimi Hendrix putting listeners in the good groove. The 4th Annual Meet and Greet Hour at the Regional Arts Center put the spotlight on jazz, including a jazzy spin with Hendrix music and selections from classic jazz artists like Charlie Parker. Under the direction of Don Colquitt, the TISD Jazz Band’s young musicians got up to do solos intermittently through the set—quite a treat and the crowd was enthused. So were the teens showing off their skills. If you ever get a chance to see them play, they’re worth a look; it’s refreshing to see younger players appreciate a uniquely American art form. TAAC plans to have all the local school district jazz bands perform at this annual Meet and Greet.

TAAC sponsors a number of programs and projects throughout this upcoming year for TRAHC, including: African-American Voice, Regional Celebration of African-American Artists Exhibit, Children’s Reading and Arts Program, and the Reader’s Theater (“Voices of Freedom: Ovecoming Barriers”).

- Aaron Brand

Popularity: 1% [?]

Oct 8

I had the good fortune to interview the musician and entertainer Benise recently about his upcoming show, “The Spanish Guitar,” at the Perot Theatre. He comes to town Saturday, Oct. 23, to start this year’s TRAHC Perot Theatre series. For someone who’s traveled all over the world to exotic destinations like Venice, Paris, Dubai, and Spain, he was a pretty down-to-earth guy. He started out his career as a street musician in Los Angeles, after all. He says fans of the Gipsy Kings and other types of Latin music will enjoy his show. In the submitted photo below, he’s seen with his dancers, the Gitanas. We preview his upcoming Perot song and dance extravaganza in today’s Accent section: Multimedia musical journey.

- Aaron Brand

Popularity: 3% [?]

Oct 7
TRAHC Meet feedback
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Last week’s TRAHC Meet up at the Regional Arts Center kicked off the year’s Occasional Thursday events. They are free and open to the public. The kick-off party featured smooth piano jazz, chitchat, and discussion of what’s happening with TRAHC this year. Traditionally, TRAHC uses this event to solicit feedback from patrons about what’s going on, essentially asking if there are things the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council should do differently.

TRAHC folks got a few suggestions. Someone recommended bringing The 5 Browns, a classical piano group, to the Perot Theatre. Also recommended was the show “Bowfire.” A couple suggestions came in about the experience at Perot shows: valet parking and even a park and ride? Also recommended: classes for artists who have disabilities and maybe an exhibit to show their work. Another hopeful suggestion: restore and reinstall the organ that was once at the Perot.

- Aaron Brand

Popularity: 2% [?]

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