A simple “thank you” is in order for the many people who turned out at Little Rock’s White Water Tavern on Tuesday afternoon for the launch party of this blog. If you didn’t know about it, that’s my fault.
If you didn’t know how to find the location, that’s your fault. You could have asked any of the folks standing under the railroad overpass on Seventh Street.
I am grateful to the good folks at The Communications Group for throwing a party (and giving me a job). At first, they were thinking the Little Rock Club. For this blog, it was just not the right fit. Don’t get me wrong. I love putting on one of my Arkansas Derby ties and having lunch at the Little Rock Club while trying not to get salad dressing on a white shirt. Gene Baxter always makes you feel welcome.
For this event, though, I did not want people to say: “Well, I guess I ought to drop by there for 10 minutes on the way home. I should be seen. It will be a networking opportunity.”
To heck with that.
I wanted people to say: “This sounds fun.”
And White Water was perfect for that. To the White Water regulars, I am sorry for the handwritten sign that read: “Last call at 3:30 p.m. due to a private party.”
White Water was featured in Esquire a few years ago, Paul Reyes described by saying that “stuffed mounts — a gopher, a red fox, a weasel and a boar, of course — welcome you to this cabin clubhouse.”
And he gave Sweet Connie a mention.
Paul went on to write: “The local bands that perform here have given up on the delusion of stardom and the hassles of touring, are wont to experimentation and untethered jamming on the makeshift catty-corner of a stage. White Water generates some noise and some riffraff in the neighborhood, but it’s a small price for what it’s done to nurture Little Rock’s grossly underrecognized music scene.”
I’ll admit there are days when I want to visit a chain. I’m ready for the salad at Olive Garden. More often than not, though, I try to spend my money (and the company’s money in the case of yesterday’s event) at independent, unique establishments — the kind of places that give Arkansas its sense of place.
Whether it’s White Water on a Friday night or Ashley’s at the Capital Hotel for Sunday brunch, the independents should come first. White Water is one of those places that does much to nurture not only our local music scene but the whole idea of Little Rock being a pretty neat Southern city.
After having had an office in the Mississippi Delta the past four years, I also want to offer this bit of sacrilege: The music heritage of the Arkansas Delta is greater than that of the Mississippi Delta because it is more diverse. Mississippi has done a better job of capitalizing on its heritage with blues tourism, but Arkansas also has great blues musicians. And we have more — a Johnny Cash from Dyess, a Charlie Rich from Colt, a Louis Jordan from Brinkley, an Al Green from Forrest City and on and on. They cover many genres outside the blues.
Thanks for your comment on the first post, Stephen Koch. And thanks for all you do to advance Arkansas’ music heritage. I want to explore this more with you.
To the boss, I am sorry I didn’t make more of a sales pitch in my speech last night. But there was barbecue to be eaten and old friends to visit. In other words, a perfect way to spend a hot Tuesday afternoon in July in a state I love.