Ken Little has cited western swing king Bob Wills as a frequent inspiration for his visual art, and Little brought that influence closer to home when he took the stage at Gotham for Grackle Mundy on July 12. Decked out in black jeans and a red Piggly Wiggly muscle shirt, and brandishing a Guild hollow-body electric guitar, Little - admirably backed by Buttercup - tore through six of his own compositions in a rough but appealing nasal twang.
Most of Little's material could be classified as a kind of serio-comic, topical country, akin to a more politically pugnacious Guy Clark or Townes Van Zandt. His opener, "Simple America," set the tone, offering a walking tour of Bushland by referencing implants, donuts, buffalo wings, tanning salons, and Christian intolerance.
It only got more combative from there, as Little took direct aim at America's current foreign policy: "I'm gonna kill those Al-Qaidas with a neutron bomb/but we're gonna save their children and bring them on home." With the darkly humorous chorus of "When It's All Over," Little - over a driving, Bo Diddley beat - reminded us that even if you learn to Google and e-mail, "when it's over, you're gonna be dead."
After a Lone Star bullriding saga he introduced as the true story of his brother Joey, he debuted a quirky new song called "Robot Boys and Shiny Robot Girls" (best line: "They love to trade their fluids / in the best of both worlds"), before signing off with the galloping C&W raver "Baby Boom." By this point, he was so caught up in the performance, he couldn't resist ushering in each solo with a festive Wills falsetto.
A triple toast
Local artists Liz Ward and Lloyd Walsh will be included in the October/November Issue #54 of New American Paintings, a quarterly "juried exhibition in print." The catalog is published six times a year and includes 40 artists selected by region. Issue #54, curated by Lynn Herbert, Senior Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, will be available at Barnes & Noble and Borders. You can stop by the Beethover Maennerchor Halle und Garten on Tuesday evenings this summer and congratulate Walsh in person. Rumor has it he's fulfilling a youthful dream filling steins behind the counter.
A little grease for the wheels
The San Antonio Symphony this week announced a $250,000 challenge grant from the Kronkosky Foundation for the 2004-05 season. The grant, which is for operating expenses, requires the Symphony to meet monthly revenue goals - monies that can come from ticket sales, sponsorships, and other contributions. Last week, ArtPace shared similarly good news, with a $100,000 grant from the prestigious Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts for its Artist-in-Residence Program. •