"AETN Presents," the Arkansas Educational Television Network's (AETN) arts and culture series, returns for its 10th anniversary season featuring jazz luminaries, singer-song writers, dance party favorites and talented newcomers. "AETN Presents: On the Front Row" debuts Friday, Nov. 1, at 6:30 p.m. and continues as part of AETN Arts Fridays through Nov. 29. The episodes repeat Sundays at 1 a.m. following Austin City Limits.
"We have amazing musicians in Arkansas, and as a public television network, we feel we should provide a platform to showcase and share their music with all Arkansans," Casey Sanders, "AETN Presents" producer for the past decade, said. "We have been scratching the surface for 10 years, kicking off with an acoustic festival that brought in singers and songwriters and evolving into a music showcase that embraces many genres including jazz, rock 'n' roll, hip hop, classical and more."
The Kat Hood Trio was the first solo act to perform on the program, with Rodney Block and the True Music Lovers as the headliner this season. Block first appeared on the series in 2006, and the show was nominated for a regional Emmy Award. "AETN Presents" welcomes up and coming bands, as well as established acts.
"AETN Presents: On the Front Row" highlights Arkansas talent from an eclectic mix of genres and backgrounds. Artists featured in the 2013 season include:
Rodney Block and The Real Music Lovers, Nov. 1; repeats Sunday, Nov. 3, at 1 a.m. Block, a native of Dumas, is an up and coming trumpet player who describes his style as groovy, upbeat, hip-hop jazz. Block has shared the stage with such artists as Earth, Wind, & Fire, Joe, Whodini, Johnny Gill, Johnathon Butler, Dave Hollister and Wynton Marsalis. Playing with him are The Real Music Lovers, featuring Sam Carroll on keyboards, Jonathon Burks on drums and Oliver "OT" Thomas on bass. This core ensemble has been together for five years, performing throughout the state, the South and abroad. The performance includes a mix of high energy jazz and ballads, including many songs from his new album, "Steel."
Isaac Alexander, Nov. 8; repeats Sunday, Nov. 10, at 1 a.m. Alexander, a multi-talented musician from Little Rock, recently released his latest album, "Antivenin Suite" (Max Recordings), which has been described as laidback rock. His last solo record, "See Thru Me," ranked No. 6 on the Arkansas Times Music Poll's best Arkansas albums list. Joining him for this performance are: Jason Weinheimer, guitar; Chris Michaels, bass; Will Boyd, drums; and Rob Bell, keys. Members of Alexander's longtime band Big Silver are also featured. They include: Brad Williams, guitar; Mike Nelson, bass; and Bart Angel, drums.
National Park Radio, Nov. 15; repeats Sunday, Nov. 17, at 1 a.m. National Park Radio is a new modern folk band born and based in the Ozark Mountains. An all-acoustic band featuring original songs, the group includes: Stefan Szabo, vocals, guitar, banjo; Kip Kibling, bass, vocals; Isaac Szabo, banjo, guitar; Jamie Stevens, guitar, vocals; and Micah Szabo, percussion, vocals. Their music is inspired by the beauty of their native landscape, as well as the joys and trials of life and love. Lead singer and songwriter Stefan Szabo composes lyrical poetry, and the melodies and vocal harmonies complete the package.
Booyah! Dad, Nov. 22; repeats Sunday, Nov. 24, at 1 a.m. following "Austin City Limits." Booyah! Dad was born in the back of a duplex in Little Rock and features J.R. Top on guitar, synthesizer and vocals, Andy Warr on bass and vocals, and Chad Condor on drums. The band calls itself a crossbreed of ZZ Top and the Talking Heads with influences like Blue Cheer and Buck Owens.
John Willis, Nov. 29; repeats Sunday, Dec. 1, at 1 a.m. Willis is a singer songwriter who grew up listening to equal parts Motown, '60s-'70s singer/songwriters and gospel. He took piano lessons and learned to love classical music, listened to late night jazz on public radio in high school, and added world music in college. Given this background, his music is a lush pop mix with piano and vocal harmonies. His new release, the "King of the Cocktail Party EP," is a blend of piano-based pop, jazz and parlor music that has drawn comparisons to Harry Nilsson, Leon Russell and more recent acts Rufus Wainwright and Feist. This performance features Willis on lead vocals, piano and guitar; Chris Atwood on bass; Evan Barr on drums; Sarah Stricklin on backup vocals and additional keyboards; and Sydney Hunsicker on backup vocals, accordion, harmonica and additional percussion.
"AETN Presents" features a variety of arts and cultural subjects. Previously included in the series have been the Arkansas Acoustic Festival; performances by Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer (Nickel Creek), Pam Tillis, Cate Brothers, Bob Wills' Texas Playboys, Wayland Holyfield and friends, Trout Fishing in America, Dale Hawkins, Shannon Boshears Band, The Salty Dogs and Epiphany; and "On the Same Page" with authors Buzz Bissinger, Billy Collins, John T. Edge and Kenneth L. Smith.
AETN Arts Fridays provides Arkansans with world-class arts and culture programming, including the locally produced series "AETN Presents" at 6:30 p.m. and the PBS Arts Fall Festival at 9 p.m. More information about "AETN Presents" and episode clips are available at aetn.org/aetnpresents.
The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas's statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit aetn.org, or follow the AETN blog at aetn.org/engage. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).