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Highlights June 28 – July 5

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Brave Combo, Opera in the Ozarks, TheatreSquared’s The JungalBook


Holey Moley, it’s Brave Combo
A visit to NWA from the Kelzmer surf rock polka band Brave Combo, always makes for a yippee moment. The Grammy award-winning band that’s been around for 27 years is coming to town on July 5—that’s next Thursday night—and they’ve now got a girl. The five-piece group, for the first time for as long as we can remember, now includes a female member. Ann Marie Harrop aka Bayou Huntress, who handles bass and contributes vocals, was raised in the Louisiana swamps, but moved to Austin where she earned a number of awards for her bass skills. She’s played with the likes of the goth-industrial band Lucid Dementia, Ray Benson, Patrice Pike and Sis Deville. And, in Brave Combo she sometimes sings in Polish.

Bandleader and founder Carl Finch, the driving force behind Brave Combo, works between accordion, guitar and keyboards, with help from Jeffrey Barnes (a Brave Combo member since 1983) on woodwinds and saxophone, Danny O’Brien on trumpet and flugelhorn and Alan Emert on drums.

If you’ve missed Brave Combo’s earlier visits to The Natural State, then let us bring you up to speed. This is the band that played at David Byrne’s wedding reception—yes, the Talking Heads dude, the band that was animated for an episode of The Simpsons, because The Simpsons creator Matt Groening is such a big fan, the band that has traipsed throughout Europe and the U.S. delivering their unique brand of rock. The band also played at the Free Weekly’s 10-year anniversary party, which was pretty special for us!

But they’re not just about live performances. You may have heard a Brave Combo original on a Hollywood film and real fans will know that Finch has worked as a producer for Trout Fishing in America.

So what does Brave Combo music sound like? Well, that’s a hard one to pigeonhole, but one thing for certain, it will make you want to fly to the dance floor and even entice you make a fool of yourself when you do the chicken dance. It is rock ‘n roll, but it’s also been called new wave polka, world music, Tex-Mex conjunto, cha, cha and on and on. One thing for sure: It’s a party and like no other. Get out for a goodtime.

Opera in the Ozarks
Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony’s summer spectacular, Opera in the Ozarks, is in full swing with performances contining through July 20 at the art colony near Eureka Springs.

Inspiration Point started it’s summer music camps in the 1950’s and has continued to showcase the talent of opera students from junior high through college age each summer. Alumni have gone on to become members of the New York Metropolitan Opera and opera companies in San Francisco, Switzerland and Germany, just to mention a few.

This year’s three opera will be performed: Madame Butterfly, Le Nozze di Figaro and Susannah.

Madame Butterfly is Puccini’s tragic masterpiece about a young geisha and a naval officer’s doomed love affair and the clash between the cultures of the East and the West.

Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro or The Marriage of Figaro is one of opera’s most radical and hilarious stories of mistaken identities and sexual peccadilloes, which Napoleon credited with igniting the French Revolution. The plot revolves around the servant Figaro outwitting his noble master, who is trying to seduce Figaro’s fiancée.

Known as one of the most popular American Operas, Carlisle Floyd’s “Susannah” is the tale of a young mountain girl in Tennessee, who is caught in a communal web of intolerance, human frailty and passion. The young girl, Susannah, becomes the target of hate, cruelty and lust. The opera is filled with revival hymns and square-dance tunes.

The three operas rotate during the run, with performances at 8 p.m. For a complete schedule, go to www.opera.org. Tickets are $15-$20 by calling 253-8595.


On Stage Now

TheatreSquared, NWA’s newest theater company, is opening its second season with Edward Mast’s The JungalBook. The show opens on Saturday at the Walton Arts Center annex, the Nadine Baum Studios and runs through July 7. The suitable-for-all ages play is a thought-provoking journey that explores environmental issues as well as themes of tolerance and adversity. The play is directed by TheatreSquared co-founder David Pickens and stars Jacqueline Carey, Kat Endsley, Jason Engstrom, Jenny Guy, Abbey Molyneux, Will O’Bryan, Evan R. Press, Mick Simmons, Kris Stoker,

Tickets are $12 adults and $8 children and are available by calling 571-2728 or at www.theatrewquared.org.

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