ACANSA Arts Festival of the South 2021 lineup

Following a year of virtual programming, ACANSA Arts Festival of the South, the annual visual and performing arts festival based in North Little Rock, is bringing you two weeks of live entertainment and arts in September 2021.

“We’ve been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to present this eclectic roster for more than a year,” said Executive Director Dillon Hupp, “and we really look forward to gathering with audiences again.”

More than a dozen performing arts groups or solo artists will perform in multiple venues, including the spacious and airy Argenta Plaza, UA-Pulaski Tech CHARTS, Argenta Community Theater, Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub and The Joint Theater in North Little Rock. Performances include world-class music, dance and theatre. ACANSA’s Fourth Annual Ten-Minute Play Showcase – delayed from its usual spring slot – has been rolled into the Festival, and ACANSA is partnering with Argenta Community Theater to produce Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias.

Tickets are now on sale. Single ticket prices for paid events begin at $30, and Festival Gold Passes at $250 each include all ticketed events. Flex Passes are also available, and as always, some featured events are free to the public. For tickets and the complete schedule of more than a dozen events, visit www.ACANSA.org or call ACANSA’s office in Argenta at (501) 663-2287.

Please note that ACANSA will follow up-to-date COVID-19 protocols, including those issued by the
CDC and Festival venues, so seating may be limited even in the larger venues
.

Schedule & Programming

ACANSA 2021 Opening Reception

Thursday, September 9, 5:30 pm
Tickets: Free
Location: Cranford Company Studio, 512 Main St, Little Rock, AR 72201


FANCIFOOL!

Thursday, September 9 & Friday, September 10, 7:00 pm
Tickets: $30
Location: Cranford Company Studio, 512 Main St, Little Rock, AR 72201

With nimble writing ranging from the hilarious to the poignant, FANCIFOOL! stars actor-dancer-comedienne Ananda Bena-Weber, who embodies a diverse assortment of comic and sympathetic characters to reveal the humorous side of life in New York City. This show is a brilliantly constructed and entertaining piece of 21st-century theater, complete with dramatic and comic dialogue, singing, dancing, mime, vocal impressions and film.


Las Cafeteras

Friday, September 10, 8:00 pm
Tickets: $30
Location: The Rail Yard, 1212 East 6th Street, Little Rock, AR 72202

The Las Cafeteras musicians have taken the music scene by storm with their infectious live performances and have crossed genre and musical borders to perform around the world, from the Bonnaroo and t he Hollywood Bowl, to WOMAD New Zealand and Montreal Jazz, and beyond. Using traditional Son Jarocho instruments like the jarana, requinto, quijada (donkey jawbone) and tarima (a wooden platform), Las Cafeteras sing in English, Spanish, and Spanglish and add a remix of sounds, from rock to hip-hop to rancheras. Their Afro-Mexican beats, rhythms, and rhymes deliver inspiring lyrics that document stories of a community seeking love and justice in the concrete jungle of Los Angeles. They’ve performed in the good company of Mexican icons Caifanes, Lila Downs, Colombian superstar Juanes, Los Angeles legends Ozomatli, folk/indie favorites Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and Talib Kweli.


Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band

Saturday, September 11, 7:30 pm
Tickets: $35
Location: CALS’ Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave, Little Rock, AR 72201

What if The Beatles were actually from somewhere in the Black Mountain Hills of Dakota? Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band is a collection of four very different musicians creating a new sound from the greatest music ever written by the greatest band ever: The Beatles. Imagine the music of the Fab Four shaken up with infusions of bluegrass and j azz and topped off with a classical twist. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band’s repertoire features new and innovative takes on songs like “Eleanor Rigby”, “Back in the U.S.S.R”, “Come Together”, “Blackbird” and many more. The quartet, based in Texas, is Dave Walser (guitar/lead vocals), Bach Norwood (double bass/vocals), Reginald Rueffer (fiddle/violin/vocals) and Gerald Jones (banjo/mandolin).


Steel Magnolias

Wednesday, September 15 – Sunday, September 26
Various dates/showtimes, including matinee
Tickets: $35
Location: Argenta Community Theater, 405 Main Street, North Little Rock 72114

In partnership with ACANSA, Argenta Community Theater presents Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias. This comedy-drama is set in a small Louisiana town during the mid-1980s (and the era of really big hair). Every week, six women gather together in Truvy’s Beauty Shop for fellowship, gossip, and unconditional love and support. These women truly are steel magnolias: southern belles who may appear flowery and delicate on the outside, but are tough as steel inside. The play is directed by Heather Norris.


Pearl Django

Thursday, September 16, 7:00 pm
Tickets: $30
Location: The Joint Theater and Coffeehouse, 301 Main St, North Little Rock, AR 72114

With a performance history spanning more than two decades, Pearl Django endures as one of the most highly regarded Hot Club style groups working today. Although the band’s roots are firmly in the music made famous by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, Pearl Django’s extensive repertoire includes traditional jazz classics and original compositions. Pearl Django has performed at festivals, dances and night spots throughout the U.S. and abroad. They have played at the prestigious Festival Django Reinhardt in Samois sur Seine and have been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. The band’s signature style is marked by pristine and dexterous string work, colors of Bal Musette, the steady pulse of rhythm guitar, and an unmistakable swing that delights audiences of all musical sensibilities. Throughout the years, Pearl Django has cultivated a devoted and enthusiastic following, and they continue to play to packed houses wherever they perform.


Nick Shoulders

Thursday, September 16, 7:30 pm
Tickets: $30
Location: The Rail Yard, 1212 East 6th Street, Little Rock, AR 72202

Wielding an ethereal croon and masterful whistle crafted from a lifetime of chasing lizards through the Ozark hills, Nick Shoulders is a living link to the roots of country music with a penchant for the absurd. Combining his family’s deep ties to regional traditional singing with his years of playing to crowded street corners, Nick has sought to forge a hybridized form of raucously clever country music, born of forgotten rocky hollers and bred to confront the tensions of the 21st century South. As evidenced by his surreal album art and anachronistic songwriting, Nick’s creative output is steeped in the complicated history of his beloved home of rural Arkansas, but crafted as a conscious rebuke of country music’s blind allegiance to historical seats of power and repression. With a kind word and a mean yodel, Nick hopes to put the ‘ Try’ in Country.


Bonnie Montgomery

Friday, September 17, 8:00 pm
Tickets: Free
Location: Argenta Plaza, 510 N Main St, North Little Rock, AR 72114

Arkansas’ own Bonnie Montgomery will perform her unique blend of folk, country and bluegrass in her award-winning style under the stars at Argenta Plaza. With roots in White County, Arkansas, and a firm foothold on forward-thinking audiences in Texas, Montgomery is armed with a poet’s phrasing, a soprano’s crystalline timbre and a revolutionary’s spirit, and her repertoire ranges wherever it damn well pleases — from high romantic ballads swaddled in violins to fiery anthems of dissent t o spaghetti western-inspired vignettes. Bonnie Montgomery is presented as a free concert to the public thanks to generous support from Alessi Keyes Construction.


Louis Fouché

Friday, September 17, 7:30 pm
Tickets: $30
Location: Wildwood Park for the Arts, 20919 Denny Road, Little Rock, AR 72223

Saxophonist Louis Fouché has performed in 20+ countries on six continents with artists in various genres, including the legendary Latin pianist and 10-time Grammy winner, Eddie Palmieri; piano virtuoso Jon Batiste & Stay Human on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert; trumpet luminaries Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Brian Lynch; innovative funk bassist George Porter, Jr. of The Meters; Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Gordon Chambers; and many others. At age 12, Fouché first heard the soulful sound of tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine on Jimmy Smith’s classic album Back at the Chicken Shack. He was immediately inspired and began to tinker with an old saxophone his father had stored in the basement.


David Starr

Saturday, September 18, 7:00 pm
Tickets: $30
Location: The Joint Theater and Coffeehouse, 301 Main St, North Little Rock, AR 72114

David Starr has honed “a compelling voice, something truly special, both accessible and passionate” (Elmore). Starr has released nine albums, toured internationally, and opened shows for esteemed artists such as John Oates (Hall & Oates), Karla Bonoff, The Steel Wheels, Survivor, and more. Starr’s prestige extends beyond the stage as well, having launched Starr’s Guitars in Little Rock in 1998, before relocating to Cedaredge, CO, in 2001. Today, the store is such an institution that Cedaredge proclaimed t he musician’s birthday as David Starr Day in 2016. Starr was also instrumental in the 2018 opening of the Grand Mesa Arts Center, an intimate event space brought to fruition through strong community support in Cedaredge. He helped design the space in order to attract musicians and visual artists to Southwestern Colorado.


Ranky Tanky

Saturday, September 18, 7:30 pm
Tickets: $35
Location: CALS’ Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave, Little Rock, AR 72201

This Grammy Award-winning quintet based in Charleston, SC, performs timeless music born from the Gullah culture of the southeastern Sea Islands. “Gullah” comes from West African language and means “a people blessed by God.” “Ranky Tanky” translates loosely as “Work It,” or “Get Funky!” Their debut album was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and The Today Show. It also soared to the #1 position on the Billboard, Amazon, and iTunes Jazz Charts. In 2020, Ranky Tanky received a Grammy for Best Regional Roots Album featuring the lead vocals of Quiana Parler as well as the music of Quentin Baxter (drums and percussion), Kevin Hamilton (bass), Clay Ross (guitar and vocals), and Charlton Singleton (trumpet and vocals), all of whom previously played together in the Charleston jazz quartet, The Gradual Lean, in the late 1990s.


The 10-Minute Play Showcase

Wednesday, September 22, 7:00 pm
Tickets: Free
Location: Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, 204 East 4th Street, North Little Rock, AR 72114

The Fourth Annual Ten-Minute Play Showcase featuring new plays written, directed and performed by local artists, will be a one-night-only event during the ACANSA Arts Festival of the South. Each play begins and ends in the time that it takes to flip through the magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store, except a good ten-minute play can be much more memorable, and oftentimes more true to life. The Showcase is produced by Hilary Trudell, Founder and Executive Director of The Yarn, a company of storytellers. Trudell is also Director of Local Programming and Regional Outreach for the Clinton School of Public Service.


The Reminders

Thursday, September 23, 7:00 pm
Tickets: $30
Location: The Rail Yard, 1212 East 6th Street, Little Rock, AR 72202

The Reminders are a rare and remarkable musical duo seamlessly blending soulful sounds and roots music with insightful messages and thoughtful lyrics. The group consists of Brussels-born emcee Big Samir and Queens-born emcee/vocalist Aja Black. The Reminders have been recognized and applauded for their work internationally through concerts, tours, music awards, TV and radio appearances. Having shared the stage with artists such as Les Nubians, Snoop Dogg, Fishbone, Barrington Levy, Nas, Mos Def, Big Boi, KRS-One, Rakim, K’Naan, and others. The Reminders take their hip hop foundation and move it beyond genre, time, and space to create a global musical experience.


Jazz at The Joint

Thursday, September 23, 7:00 pm
Tickets: $30
Location: The Joint Theater and Coffeehouse, 301 Main St, North Little Rock, AR 72114

In collaboration with Jazz at The Joint, ACANSA presents an evening of jazz with four renowned artists.

Khari Allen Lee (Saxophone) has performed with dozens of luminaries, including Alvin Batiste, Ellis Marsalis, Edward ‘ Kidd’ Jordan, Aaron Neville, Aretha Franklin, Dr. John, Branford Marsalis, Allen Toussaint, DeeDee Bridgewater, and Stevie Wonder.

Acclaimed seven-string jazz guitarist Ted Ludwig has been a part of the jazz scene in New Orleans since 1997. In 2016, Ludwig performed an original Jazz Guitar Concerto entitled “Katrina,” composed by D.J. Sparr and commissioned by The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. That same year, he became the youngest inductee into The Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame.

Peter Slavov (Bass) is a New York-based Grammy-nominated bassist and has performed at some of the world’s most prestigious festivals and venues in more than 40 countries on five continents. Slavov is a member of Grammy award-winning saxophonist Joe Lovano’s Classic Quartet and Us Five band. His debut album, Little Stories, was released in 2019.

Geoff Clapp (Drums) has toured the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada and performed as a United States Artistic Diplomat in North Africa and Eastern Europe. He currently performs with Khari Allen Lee & the New Creative Collective.


Rodney Marsalis and the Philadelphia Brass Band

Friday, September 24, 7:30 pm
Tickets: $35
Location: CALS’ Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave, Little Rock, AR 72201

The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Brass Band is America’s premier large brass ensemble. A group that always reflects the diverse makeup of men and women in the American culture, RMPBB is dedicated to the notion that music is a gift to be enjoyed by everyone. On the advice of family patriarch Ellis Marsalis, the group created a concert format that breaks the usual barriers between genres and strives to create a connection between the audience and performers. The band is led by Rodney Marsalis, a “trumpet prodigy” who made his solo debut at the age of fifteen with the New Orleans Symphony. After having won various solo competitions, he received national attention at the age of nineteen performing as soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra. In recent years the group has been invited to perform in performing arts centers around the world including China’s National Center for the Performing Arts, Guangzhou Opera House, Tangelwood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall, and prominent performing arts centers throughout the United States, South America, Asia, and Europe.


Cocktail Hour: The Show by Ballets with a Twist

Saturday, September 25, 8:00 pm
Tickets: $40
Location: Pulaski Technical College CHARTS, 3300 West Scenic Drive, North Little Rock, 72118

Created by artistic director and choreographer Marilyn Klaus, Cocktail Hour: The Show reinvents the glamour and excitement of classic entertainment with an original mix of charismatic choreography, intoxicating music and exquisite costume design. This pop-infused performing arts experience combines the magnetism of Hollywood’s Golden Age with a sleek twenty-first-century sensibility, capturing the timeless American spirit in a series of witty, sparkling vignettes. It’s high-style fun for all ages to enjoy.