The Culturalist

A month of bluegrass, bald eagles and Broadway


Ozark Mountain Music Festival | Jan. 19-22

EUREKA SPRINGS | This month, folk and bluegrass fans from far and wide will descend on the historic 1905 Basin Park Hotel for four days of roots music at the Ozark Mountain Music Festival, now in its fourth year. The festival’s lineup boasts 11 stellar acts from around the country, including several of Arkansas’ own such as Eureka Springs’ Sad Daddy and Fayetteville’s The Squarshers. The weekend kicks off with a Thursday “Locals Night” performance from acclaimed Grateful Dead tribute act The Schwag, while Wisconsin five-piece Horseshoes & Hand Grenades will be a-pickin’ and a-grinnin’ on Saturday night as the festival’s headliners. (


An Evening with Dawes | Jan. 31

LITTLE ROCK | When Dawes released their debut record North Hills back in 2009, they were lauded by critics for embodying the warm roots-rock sound of other Laurel Canyon luminaries like Jackson Browne and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Despite the praise, the band has been slowly, consciously trying to buck the folk label ever since in an effort to further distinguish their sound from the fray. With Dawes’ newest album We’re All Gonna Die, their fifth, the musicians traded the vintage production and nostalgia for more modern, textural flair: fuzzed-out bass, keyboard synth, drum machines. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the band’s talent for writing introspective, heartfelt tunes that draw deeply from the human experience, songs that meditate on life’s great truths and revel in its mysteries. It doesn’t hurt that Dawes, known from the onset as an incredibly tight performance band, has somehow only gotten better at playing live. The band stops by The Rev Room this month for An Evening with Dawes, showcasing both their new sound and fan favorites. (

Eagle Awareness Month | Throughout January

STATEWIDE | If you’ve ever wondered why Washington et al. chose the bald eagle as our national symbol, you’ve likely never seen one IRL. It’s also likely you never knew that an eagle can see something the size of a rabbit from 3 miles off, or that it can dive at a speed of up to 100 mph, or that, in the water, it can use its 8-foot wingspan as oars. Considering all this—and the fact that Arkansas is a “top 10” wintering spot, known to draw upwards of 1,700 eagles in a good (read: cold) year—it’s no wonder January is Eagle Awareness Month here in the Natural State. Your best bet for catching a peek? Near a waterway in the Ozarks or the Ouachitas in mid- to late-morning. Our preferred mode of transport is one of the state park-sponsored cruises that depart from Rocky Branch Marina in Rogers and from the Lake Ouachita State Park Marina in Mountain Pine throughout the month. Check their websites for dates and times, be sure to dress warm—and,   most imporant, don’t forget to bring your eagle eyes (or, y’know, binoculars). (


A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder | Jan. 10-15

FAYETTEVILLE | What happens when a poor, kind-hearted Briton named Monty Navarro finds out he’s ninth in line to inherit the fortune of the aristocratic D’Ysquith clan? In a word: Um, murder. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder follows Navarro as he sets out to murder all eight of his relatives (played by a single actor)—relatives he didn’t even know he had until the death of his mother, who, as it turns out, was disowned by her family. Despite its murderous plot, or maybe because of it, this Tony award-winning musical comedy is nothing short of funny and wacky, filled with witty satire and dizzying, lightening-speed Victorian-era costume changes. Did we mention the music? There’s much to love about A Gentleman’s Guide, which comes to life this month at the Walton Arts Center. (

Ansel Adams: Early Works | Jan. 27 – April 16

Pine Forest in Snow, 1933. Photograph by Ansel Adams, reproduced by permission of the Trustees of The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. All rights reserved.

LITTLE ROCK | If you go looking for quotes from photographer Ansel Adams, soundbites capable of summing up his philosophy with respect to his art, there’s a curious trap. Because you realize Adams, one of the foremost photographers of the 20th century, had a genius not only for capturing the image, but for verbalizing what he saw and the reason it resonated with him so deeply. To wit: “Photography is an investigation of both the outer and the inner worlds,” he said. “The first experiences with the camera involve looking at the world beyond the lens, trusting the instrument will ‘capture’ something ‘seen.’ The terms ‘shoot’ and ‘take’ are not accidental; they represent an attitude of conquest and appropriation. Only when the photographer grows into perception and creative impulse does the term make define a condition of empathy between the external and the internal events. [Alfred] Stieglitz told me: ‘When I make a photograph, I make love.’” But even then, for as well-spoken as the century-defining photographer might have been, when it comes to his work—represented by 41 prints on display this month at the Arkansas Arts Center, a visual compendium that shows his printing style mature from a soft-focused pictorial to one characterized by higher contrast over the course of several decades—one thing is clear: The work speaks for itself. (