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The Dirty South Weekend: Opening Performance with Danny Simmons, Vernon Reid, and Dwayne Dolphin

Great Hall
$45 ($36 for members)
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AMALGAM: Memories of Slugs and a Tribute to Greg Tate

The stream will begin 15-20 minutes before the scheduled start of the event. Please allow for small delays as we work to provide the best virtual experience possible.


Portrait of man in front of pattern on denim
Bisa Butler, Basin Street Blues, 2014, cotton denim, 43 1/8 x 41 5/8 x 4 3/4 in. Courtesy Claire Oliver and Ian Rubinstein

Kick off The Dirty South Weekend with a concert uniting three legendary performers: artist, author, and poet Danny Simmons (Def Poetry Jam); acclaimed guitarist and songwriter Vernon Reid (Living Colour); and jazz and funk bassist Dwayne Dolphin.

Featuring both new works inspired by Slugs Saloon, tribute to the prolific writer Greg Tate, and The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, this night of spoken word performance, jazz, funk, and unforgettable grooves is not one to miss.

Tickets are $45 ($36 for members), reserve your spot online or with Guest Services at (479) 657-2335 today.


About the Artists

Danny Simmons

Danny Simmons is a contemporary abstract-expressionist artist, poet, and author from Queens, New York. His artwork can be seen all over the world in such prominent establishments as Chase Manhattan Bank, The Smithsonian, the United Nations, Deutsche Bank collection, and more.

Among the most impressive artists of his day, The New York Times says that he “injects freshness” into his abstracts, and that they are “meticulously rendered and decoratively impressive.”

Simmons is also an author of six books of art, poetry, and fiction. He conceived of and co-produced the hit HBO series Def Poetry Jam, which made such an impact that Def Poetry is now offered as an elective at the University of Wisconsin, and won Simmons a Tony Award for the Broadway version of the show.

Co-founder—along with his siblings, music mogul Russell, and hip hop legend Joseph Simmons aka “Rev Run”—and president of the Rush Arts Gallery, Simmons is also founder and VP of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization “dedicated to providing disadvantaged urban youth with significant arts exposure and access to the arts,” as well as a former board member of the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Conference of Artists.


Artist Danny Simmons seated and speaking on stage

Vernon Reid

As the lead guitarist of Living Colour and a co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition, Vernon Reid has done a great deal to undermine stereotypical expectations of what music black artists ought to play; his rampant eclecticism encompasses everything from hard rock and punk to funk, R & B, and avant-garde jazz, and his anarchic, lightning-fast solos have become something of a hallmark as well. Born in London, Reid and his family emigrated to Brooklyn while he was a child; he began playing guitar at age 15, initially studying jazz and progressing quickly. in 1980, he joined drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson’s Decoding Society, a cutting-edge jazz group with whom he appeared on six albums; over the course of the decade, Reid went on to work with a wide variety of experimental musicians—Defunkt, Bill Frisell, John Zorn, Arto Lindsay, and Public Enemy, among others.

Artist Vernon Reid performing

Around 1983, Reid formed the first version of what was to become Living Colour; in 1985, with journalist Greg state, he formed the Black Rock Coalition, an organization devoted to opening doors in the music business for black musicians who were not content being confined to the roles of soul crooner or rapper. Living Colour did not really begin to jell until their lineup stabilized in 1986, and when Mick Jagger saw the group perform at CBGB’s and invited them to appear on his Primitive Cool album. Jagger went even further, producing two demo tracks and helping to convince Epic to sign the group. Living Colour debuted to massic critical acclaim in 1988 with Vivid; the group lasted through Time’s Up (1990) and Stain (1993) before disbanding in 1995.

He has played or recorded with Jack Bruce, Geri Allen, Yohimbe Brothers, Masque, David Torn, and Elliott Sharp, just to name a few. With a series of solo albums and a reformed Living Colour, he is busier than ever.


Dwayne Dolphin

Living in Pittsburgh hasn’t hurt Dwayne very much in terms of getting gigs. By the time he was fifteen he was already on the local Pittsburgh jazz scene working with the legendary drummer Rodger Humphries (on “Song for my Father” and other Horace Silver classics) and many of the local heroes. Dwayne got his first big break right out of high school when he was recruited by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis to join his band, which also included his brother Branford. He toured all over the US with Wynton’s quintet and even played with them on the Tonight Show (long before Branford became musical director). After his work with Marsalis, Dwayne joined the band of funky blues master Hank Crawford and, as his name spread around, he went on to work with some of the greatest names in jazz, including Hank Jones, Abbey Lincoln, Kenny Burrell, Clark Terry, Pharoh Sander and too many more to mention.

One of Dwayne’s great attributes is his ability to play fantastic in any style. He worked for a long time with modern pianist Geri Allen, as well as other contemporary improvisers like Grahm Haynes, Don Byron, Oliver Lake, and Arthur Blythe. If that isn’t enough, he’s also toured with the funky bands of Maceo Parker, Pee Wee Ellis, and of course Fred Wesley. Recently Dwayne can be found playing piccolo bass in his own band called Dwayne Dolphin and Under Cover Project, as well as playing and recording quite often with pianist John Hicks.


Artist Dwayne Dolphin

About The Dirty South Weekend

For one weekend only, July 15 – 17, we’re bringing together hip-hop artists, poets, scholars, and more for a multi-day event designed to explore the themes of The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse like never before. Come immerse yourself in the sounds and stories of The Dirty South as we celebrate a century of southern Black culture.

Sponsored by: Harrison and Rhonda French Family | Ramsay, Jaquita and Sarah Ball | Catherine and Stephan Roche | Esther Silver-Parker | Deborah Wright. This project is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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