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NAMA XIII
When you see the limos on Dickson Street next Thursday night, you’ll know that it’s NAMA time.
The Northwest Arkansas Music Awards or NAMA XIII is set to roll on April 24 at the Dickson Theater. The big event that honors local musicians in a Grammy style ceremony is celebrating its 13th year.

Musicians will begin arriving at 6:30, pausing for interviews outside the theater on the red carpet, before heading inside for the awards ceremony, which begins at 8 p.m.

This year six local musical acts will perform during the event. In addition to headliner Benjamin Del Shreve, NAMA is introducing the smooth sounds of torch singer, Luda and her band; local mixmaster Luminfire, country swing trio Pope County Bootleggers, melodic pop group Memphis Pencils and the funky hill band One Oz Jig.

Returning as Master of Ceremonies will be Robert Cochran, Arkansas music historian and director of the Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies and KUAF news director Kyle Kellams. To help put the “roll” into the “rock” will be the Northwest Arkansas Rollergirls, who will be assisting on the red carpet and handing out awards.

Awards will be presented in 18 categories in addition to Hall of Fame awards, which are presented to performers who have won three NAMA awards. All nominations are made by committee and are selected by the public in online voting.
This year’s Hall of Fame winners are: Singer-songwriter Effron White, blues band Ocie Fisher and the Hipp Dogs and jam band Flipoff Pirates.

The event is a benefit for the Fayetteville based Northwest Arkansas Free Health and Dental Clinic, which provides health services for the underserved.

It is made possible by the Fayetteville Free Weekly, 92.1 the KEG, Y94.9, Power 105.7, US94, H Bros Entertainment, New Belgium Brewing Co., Key Architecture Inc., Bank of Fayetteville, Debbie Gage Hurd, William Symes psychotherapist, Dave’s Pizza, Greenhouse Grille, Joe’s Bistro, Jose’s, Ozark Natural Food, Panera Bread, Petra Café, 4 Star Limousine, Eventures, Mr. Tux, Dickson Theater and the legions of live music fans in Northwest Arkansas.

Doors open to the public for the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door. For information call 479-601-4549.

Darren Ray

NAMA Hall of Fame winner Darren Ray will be a busy man this week. On Friday night, he will host a CD release party and George’s and on Wednesday night he will play a benefit show at the Fayetteville Senior Center for Fayetteville’s Meals on Wheels program.

The NWA based singer songwriter performs about 300 shows a year and has performed with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker, Little River Band and many others. In the ‘80s, Ray was signed to a publishing deal with Almo Irving Publishing and a development deal with Geffen Records.

His new album, Darren Ray 3, is his third solo album and is available at Sound Warehouse and Hastings and on cdbaby.com.

For the show at George’s Ray will be playing with the Darren Ray Band: Isayah Warford on guitar, Brian Watt on bass and vocals, Bryan Burkhart on drums and percussion and Jacob Johnson on guitar, sax, mandolin, percussion harmonica and vocals. It will be an all-orginals show, with the band performing cuts from all three of Rays’s albums.

The Meals on Wheels benefit opens at 5:30 with a silent auction, followed by Ray’s performance at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance by calling 571-2920 or $12 at the door. The George’s show on Friday starts at 9 p.m.

Gilchrist to read at Nightbird Books
By Amylou Wilson

After more than a decade of waiting, fans of award-winning author Ellen Gilchrist of Fayetteville can breathe a sigh of relief. Gilchrist’s new novel, “A Dangerous Age,” hits bookshelves in Fayetteville on Saturday and Nightbird Books is hosting a reading and book signing at 4 p.m. on Saturday followed by a reception at 4:45 p.m.

Due to limited seating, the reading is for those who have pre-purchased a copy of the book. It’s easy to do this. Call Nightbird Books at 443-2080 or drop by the store at 557 S. School Ave. The reception will be open to everyone. Visit www.nightbirdbooks.com for information.

“A Dangerous Age” picks up where other novels left off. We return again to the women of the Hand family. Olivia, Winifred and Louise are all grown up and are dealing with a variety of issues, from marriage to pregnancy to the war in Iraq, and the bombing of the World Trade Center. They face controversy, sadness, loneliness and happiness with humor and heartbreak.

The table of contents sets the tone for the novel, with titles such as “Neurotically Exercising Pays off in Spring While I Remember Chaucer as I Always Do in This Season” or simply “Data, April 2005.”

Olivia is now editor of the Tulsa World and we see snippets of her editorials about the war. We become privy to her private struggles as she juggles the responsibilities of her work with the dictates of her heart. She speaks frankly and often uses the “f-word.” She’s not prim and proper. She’s a real woman!

Gilchrist does not skirt the tough topics. She deals head-on with sex and death, religion and mystery. Much of the novel is set in Oklahoma. Gilchrist gives us a background in the ways of the Cherokee while juxtaposing this faction of the Hand family with the other Hands in North Carolina. She creates a world and characters that expose the paradoxes we all live with, but often ignore. Gilchrist hits us with her easy style and direct prose. She isn’t fancy; she just gets to the point and doesn’t linger. I like that.

In the eyes of the literary world, Gilchrist is a respected author. She fits within the classic tradition of Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor and Elizabeth Spencer. Although Gilchrist has been quiet for a while, she’s back and she’s still got it! If you are unable to attend the reading, call Nightbird Books about getting a signed copy.

Venture out
Take a road trip to the wilds of Newton Couny in the Buffalo River valley this weekend for the Newton County Spring Festival and Plant Sale that takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Newton County Library in Jasper.

Boasting that some of the best gardeners in the state will be selling plant starts and mushroom logs, the event is celebrating its second year and is a benefit for the library.

Visitors can have a homemade brunch, win prizes, listen to live music and browse through gardens decorated with yard art. The featured artist is Newton County metal sculptor Jason Cook.

The library is one of the smaller libraries in the state and the building, furnishings and landscaping testify to the talents of the local craftsmen. Jasper is one of those quaint Arkansas towns (population around 500) that you won’t find anywhere else. There’s a old time diner and a cool junk store right in downtown. For information call 870-428-5873.


Hot picks

This Saturday night, the Ray Brown Tribute Band comes to the Walton Art Center’s smaller theater for shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Led by Christian McBride, co-director of the Jazz Museum in Harlem and the creative chair for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the trio is is completed by jazz greats Benny Green and Gregory Hutchinson. Tickets are $12-$28—a real bargain for a show of this caliber.

Also on tap for this weekend, is the University Theatre’s production of “Floyd Collins, The Musical.” In 1925, Floyd Collins dreamed of turning a Kentucky cave into a major tourist attraction. His plans were thwarted after he was trapped 200 feet underground, where he fought for his sanity, while above ground the rescue effort turned into a media circus. Show dates are: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Apr. 23-26 and 2 p.m. Sunday and April 27. Tickets are $14 by calling 575-4752.

New green show on Jones TV
Jones Television-Cox Cable Channel 22 has added a new half-hour program to its lineup, “A Natural State of Living Green.”

“A Natural State of Living Green,” which airs at 8 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, features people in Northwest Arkansas who are actively involved in creating green solutions. The program tackles all things ecological and environmental, boiling down global issues on climate change to a local level and looking at the subject through optimistic eyes.

Producer and director, Jerry Oliver (Creator of “Front Row,” and writer and director of “Maybe He’ll Catch Fire’) has teamed with David Lewis (CEO of GuardIN Fresh) to produce the show.

Mixing humor and information, in a fast-paced format makes the show accessible to Generation ‘Y’ and intriguing enough for Baby Boomers.

“There’s something for everybody,” Oliver said. “Educational TV doesn’t have to be boring and the issue of climate change doesn’t have to be presented with scare tactics. I think we’re a great example of that.”

Jones TV is a 24-hour, non-profit, commercial-free station cablecast in Northwest Arkansas. It was established by the Harvey and Bernice Jones Trust in 1996. The station broadcasts community and educational information about people, places and events in Northwest Arkansas to households in Benton and Washington counties. For more information, go to jonestv.org.

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