With Texarkana native Stephanie Rice, rockabilly and early rock-and-roll tunes, a Scott Joplin relative and more, the Regional Music Heritage Weekend on March 29 and 30 celebrates much of what makes Texarkana's music heritage great.
Presented by the Regional Music Heritage Center at Silvermoon on Broad on Friday, March 29, and the Arkansas Municipal Auditorium on Saturday, March 30, the Ragtime to Rockabilly events kick off at 7 p.m. each night.
The Gala Preview Friday night will showcase artists like former "The Voice" contestant Stephanie Rice playing a set and local jazz trio Three of a Kind backing Los Angeles-based Joyce Grant, the great-great-grand-niece of Scott Joplin, performing ragtime and jazz songs.
The Scott Joplin Ragtime Piano Competition winner will be honored and play for the crowd. Attendees can enjoy hors d'oeuvres, wine and beer. It's also a chance to meet musicians.
Then Saturday night at the AMA, it's Rock Comes Home with live music from Rafael Espinoza and Rockabilly Railroad, Joyce Grant singing, Pat Cupp ("Long Gone Daddy") and bass player Jimmie Allen performing together again at the AMA and receiving Lifetime Achievement Awards and Stephanie Rice singing Elvis's "That's Alright Mama" and receiving a Young Musician Award.
Prior to Saturday night's festivities, the AMA parking lot will host a vintage car show starting at 5 p.m., Fabienne Thrash deejaying, food trucks (burgers, hot dogs, cotton candy, root beer floats), a 1950s costume contest (wear those poodle skirts) and hula hoops. This event is free.
RMHC's founder David Mallette, now director of operations, said a banner hanging at the AMA is about branding Texarkana's music heritage. Here, he and others see a convergence of musical styles.
"All things considered, what's up on the main banner there is what we are going to brand Texarkana musically: the crossroads of boogie woogie and rock-and-roll," Mallette said.
He points out that what's called the Rock 'n' Roll Highway 67 starts or ends here, depending on your perspective. Also, U.S. Highway 59 in Texas is described as the Boogie Woogie Highway, he said.
That's just some of the rich musical heritage with regional roots. "We have barely tapped the surface," Mallette said. "We'd like to see this city famous again nationally as the crossroads of boogie woogie and rock-and-roll."
As such, the AMA is on that crossroads, both styles of music having been played there in the past, Mallette said. He sees the longtime venue as a rock-and-roll home with the types of performers who came through in 1954 and '55.
For fans of Rice, most of the performing she'll do will be Friday night with some of the new material she's written since her "The Voice" appearance two years ago.
About the Friday night gala, Mallette said, "It's a mix and match where people can meet the performers and eat and drink and be merry and get a bit of a show." They'll use the Silvermoon theater. If it's sold out, then they'll schedule a second show that night.
Espinoza and his band recorded their latest album, "At Sun Studio," at the famous studio of that name in Memphis, Tenn. Hailing from East Texas, he's both a Berklee College of Music graduate (like Texarkana's James Norton, the Young Musician Award winner last year) and a winner of The Heart of Texas Blues Challenge.
For his Ragtime to Rockabilly performance, Espinoza and crew will dig into early rock history, covering luminaries like Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly and others. For Saturday night, Grant will also revisit a bit of music history by playing "Maple Leaf Rag" and "Hound Dog."
Seating is limited for both nights: Roughly 120 seats Friday, 90 seats Saturday.
(Admission: $30 for Friday, $60 for Saturday, $80 for both nights. Tickets available at rmhc.Ticketleap.com. More info: Call Vicki Carr at 903-277-4124.)