Remembering the life of Milton Crenchaw – Tuskegee Airman

Left to Right: Kerry McCoy, Milton Crenchaw and Grady McCoy at the Dreamland Ballroom Summer Drive-In Movie June 2010 airing of "Tuskegee Airmen."
Left to Right: Kerry McCoy, Milton Crenchaw and Grady McCoy at the Dreamland Ballroom Summer Drive-In Movie June 2010 airing of “Tuskegee Airmen.”

An unexpected result of creating Friends of Dreamland is all the wonderful people I have met and the friends I have made. Milton Crenchaw was one such person.

The Friends of Dreamland had a fund raiser called “The Dreamland Drive-In Movie Series.”  One summer we showed the Tuskegee Airmen movie. Milton graciously lent his fame to the fundraising event appearing to meet, sign autographs, and take pictures with everyone.  He drew a big crowd of admirers, including teachers who taught his historical significance in classrooms throughout Arkansas. At 90 years old, his charm and charisma was palatable and his humility was inspiring.

Milton touched countless people’s lives and was known for many valuable societal contributions. We are proud to be able to call him one of our Friends of Dreamland Ballroom, and hope to one day honor his support in our historical space in the Taborian Hall.

See photos from the 2010 summer airing of “Tuskegee Airmen”

The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture entry on Milton Pitts Crenchaw.

Wiki Entry on Milton Crenchaw

Internet Movie Database entry for “The Tuskegee Airmen.”

Juneteenth Celebration on 9th Street this Saturday, June 20

dreamlandballroom.jpgLittle Rock, Ark., – On Saturday, June 20, 2015 Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com will join forces with the Mosiac Templars Cultural Center for their celebration  of Juneteenth ,  a holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states.

Juneteenth is a time for reflection and forward thinking for people all across America. A variety of entertainment is planned for this block party style celebration that has something for everyone. Attendees will find live music, children’s activities, food trucks, non-profits, and vendor booths ranging from clothing to food. More than 1,200 people were in attendance last year with more than 50 participating vendors, performers and sponsors.

Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com will host two exhibits: The History of the Taborian Hall and the Dreamland Ballroom with the opportunity to enjoy tours of the ballroom. Construction began in 1916 and since then Taborian Hall has been an integral part of the Little Rock African American Culture ever since. The Dreamland Ballroom on the third floor became a popular stop on the famous Chitlin’ Circuit where musical greats such as Ray Charles, B.B. King, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington performed among others. It also has a strong military history as the building served as the USO for African American soldiers during World War II. Currently the Dreamland Ballroom is undergoing further restoration efforts. It is one of the last remaining original ballrooms in America.

The second exhibit is “Old School: Remembering the Brinkley Academy”  visitors will see how a school in rural eastern Arkansas served the needs of African American students who received direction and inspiration for nearly six decades through an exhibit of photographs.

Exhibits open at 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Dreamland Ballroom tours are at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and are free to the public. Please note that the ballroom is on the third floor.  Those wishing to tour it should be aware that there is no elevator. Currently the Friends of Dreamland Ballroom are raising funds to have an elevator installed for the disabled. If you would like to make a tax deductible contribution to the Friends of Dreamland Elevator Fund call 501.255.5700 or visit them online at www.dreamlandballroom.org. For more information on the Taborian Hall exhibits for the Juneteenth celebration contact Madison@flagandbanner.com .

Archive of Dreamland Ballroom Stories, Photos or Videos on the web

DreamlandSepia

Archives on the web of Dreamland Ballroom: 

Here you will find links to stories, editorials, photos, photographers who have worked in the ballroom, videos taken in Dreamland along with news footage and every link we can find that discusses Dreamland Ballroom. Every one, individual, group, school, organization, business, photographer, bride…whomever you have our deepest gratitude for posting such wonderful things on the internet to show the world about Taborian Hall and her Dreamland Ballroom.

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Mosaic Templars MLK Day Challenge at Dreamland Ballroom a Huge Success

Students impress with MLK Day Challenge at Dreamland Ballroom

1530365_10152614458398782_784575582_nLittle Rock, Ark., – Yesterday as part of Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service, the Mosaic Templars brought a group of student volunteers to the Dreamland Ballroom (MLK Day Challenge at Dreamland Ballroom), located at 800 West 9th Street on the third floor of the Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com building.

The group of students brought great attitudes and terrific work ethic along with them, they not only painted the ballroom floor they also cleaned inside and around the outdoor area of the 800 block of 9th Street. Everyone employed at Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com was greatly impressed by the young people who turned out. These students gave up a day out of school to be a part of the Mosaic Templars MLK Day Challenge at Dreamland Ballroom, though none of them seemed to feel that they were giving up anything. (more…)

Mosaic Templars Challenge Students on MLK Day: Volunteers to paint Dreamland Ballroom

Little Rock, Ark., – Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com and the Dreamland Ballroom will be hosting students on Martin Luther King Junior National Day of Service Monday, January 20, 2014 between the hours of 10 am – 12 pm. The group of students were organized by the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (just down the street from Taborian Hall). The students will be repainting the floor of the historic Taborian Hall’s Dreamland Ballroom as part of the MLK Challenge, a program designed by the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center to engage youth in the role of servant leadership with a full day of service projects that challenge them mentally and socially. Participants will work at sites across the city.

“We are very glad to be a part of this great youth educational and service opportunity,” said Kerry McCoy, owner of Taborian Hall and president of Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com. “We are very proud that our Taborian Hall is the “sister” building to the Mosaic Templars and thrilled to be a part of the MLK Challenge,” McCoy continued. Press and photographers are welcome to commemorate this community service event. (more…)

3rd annual “Dancing into Dreamland” will be held in the Dreamland Ballroom!

Guests at the 3rd Annual “Dancing Into Dreamland: Dance Contest and Benefit” on November 9, 2012 will experience a magical night on the third floor of the Taborian Hall building at 9th and State Street. The gala, held for the last two years at the Governor’s Mansion, is coming home to the Dreamland Ballroom this year. Recent floor, roof, and balcony renovations made the homecoming possible.

“Dancing into Dreamland” will feature nine dance teams from a variety of genres competing for a $250 cash prize, as well as exhibitions from previous years’ winners. Guests will participate through text voting for their favorite teams to decide the People’s Choice Award, while the 1st Place and cash prize winner will be chosen by a panel of judges.

Judging this year are;
• David Miller, host of the weekly big band radio program, “Swingin’ Down the Lane”,
• Christen Burke Pitts, dance instructor with over 25 years experience.
• Gary Weir, host of TV dance show, “The Good Ole Daze”,
• Rhythm McCarthy, faculty, UALR Theatre and Dance Department.

The event will also offer refreshments, a cash donation bar, live music, open dancing, and a silent auction.
Proceeds from the event will primarily support the education programs of Friends of the Dreamland Ballroom, a non-profit organization that was formed “to celebrate the legacy of the Dreamland Ballroom and the Taborian Hall and bring its history, culture, and community to the people of Arkansas through artistic performance, music education, cultural outreach, and preservation.” Funds will also support ongoing renovations of the Dreamland Ballroom.

The Taborian Hall, which houses the Dreamland Ballroom, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and is the last building remaining on 9th Street from Little Rock’s “Little Harlem,” the now-vanished center of the city’s black community. Over the decades, the Ballroom hosted performers such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, B. B. King, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Ray Charles.

General admission to Dancing into Dreamland costs $50. Tickets can be purchased online at www.dreamlandballroom.org or by calling 501-255-5700.

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See below for a full event schedule. For more information, please contact Kerry McCoy, at the information listed above.

Dancing Into Dreamland Dance Contest and Benefit
Sponsored by the Friends of the Dreamland Ballroom
Friday, November 9th, 2012
7:00-10:00 PM

Taborian Hall
800 W. Ninth St.
Little Rock, AR 72201

Schedule

7:00 – 8:00 Mixer, refreshments, and silent auction
8:00 – 9:00 Dance contest and exhibitions
9:00 – 9:45 Open dancing, judges deliberations and text voting
10:00 Awards ceremony

Sponsors

Stella Boyle Smith Trust
Mainstream Technologies

Robbi Davis Agency
Dance Dynamics
Ken Rash’s Casual Furniture
Dr Gary Harper
Daniel Utilities
Harbor Distributing
Dave’s Place

Night at the Speakeasy Will Help Stock the Bar at Dreamland Ballroom by Karen Martin, inArkansas.com

Night at the Speakeasy is an evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, music, dancing and more from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 12) at Dreamland Ballroom, 800 W. Ninth St., Little Rock.

To increase the clandestine feeling of an illegal drinking establishment during Prohibition, participants are encouraged to dress in 1920s-era attire (fedoras, flapper dresses), climb the stairs to the Dreamland Ballroom, and whisper the password to get in.

Cover charge is a bottle of wine valued at $25 or greater or a $25 eTicket (to purchase click here). Tax donation forms will be available.

RSVP to friends@dreamlandballroom.org or (501) 255-5700 to get the password.

Dreamland Ballroom is located in Taborian Hall, the only remaining historic building on West Ninth Street, which showcased legendary musicians of the 1930s. Proceeds from Night at the Speakeasy will benefit its restoration.

For more information visit www.DreamlandBallroom.org and click on Events.

Hillbilly band goes ‘retro’ – by Shea Stewart, Sync.ArkansasOnline.com

The last time Big Smith brought their rambunctious, Ozarks-inspired music to Little Rock there was a promise of a new album. The outfit — brothers Mark Bilyeu on guitar and Jody Bilyeu on mandolin; brothers Rik Thomas on ukulele, mandolin and banjo, and Bill Thomas on upright bass; cousin Jay Williamson on washboard and trap set; and friend (and only non-relative) Molly Healey on fiddle and cello — is no stranger to central Arkansas. The band plays here often.

A couple of turns of the seasons later, that album is here, and the Springfield, Mo., band is on the road promoting it. The 15-track recording is titled Kin, which is an apt name because of the relationships of the members of the band and that the album kicks off with “Uncle Bud.” The tune is a surging, bluegrass number that rides a rhythm created by Healey’s fiddle, with Big Smith singing about the man who “taught us how to pick and bow/He taught us what to sing/Come to think he taught us all a bit of everything.”

Kin is the follow-up to Roots, Shoots, and Wings, a February 2010 release, and the first studio album to feature Big Smith’s current lineup. (Bill Thomas joined in 2007 and Healey in 2008.) Kin is also a return to the band’s earlier sound after Mark Bilyeu formed the band in the fall of 1996 around his weekly gig as a solo performer. And the new album more closely resembles Big Smith’s 1998 self-titled debut and the 2000 release Big Rock. (Beyond two live albums and a children’s album, Kin is the band’s fourth, studio album. Ten years passed between the release of Big Rock and Roots, Shoots, and Wings.)

Often known as a “bluegrass” band with rock beats (let’s call it “hillbilly” roots rock), Kin finds Big Smith returning to its acoustic roots. The album was also recorded at The Studio, a downtown Springfield studio where Lou Whitney has worked with clients such as Wilco, The Bottle Rockets and Sweetwater Abilene. It’s also the place where Big Smith recorded its first two studio albums.

The album — 12 originals, two covers and one traditional — was mostly recorded live, with the band members recording each tune as the tapes rolled. There’s a slight amount of overdubbing, but what one hears from Big Smith on Kin is the sound of a veteran, self-assured band tearing through a collection of stripped-down, acoustic tunes that still stomp and holler.

As band member Jody Bilyeu promised earlier this year — “We’re ready to hit the ground running and keep the creative output up.” — Kin is a collection of intellectually stamped, neo-hillbilly music, tunes filled with the band’s high-spirited roots music that incorporates old-time mountain, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, country and blues. The music might be raucous at times, on tunes such as “Whippoorwill” and “Grandmother Mabel,” but Kin is also delicate, especially on the tracks “Like You Do,” “I Thought It Was Over” and “Ghost,” with special guest Honeybear on lead vocals. And one of the covers is Prince’s “Raspberry Beret,” which, in a testimony to the tune’s strong DNA, works as a recast hillbilly rocker.

So Kin is a bit of a nostalgic nod over the shoulder, but the album is also the sound of a band moving confidently into the future. And it’s a joyous future.

SEE THE MUSIC:

Big Smith returns to the Dreamland Ballroom for a Saturday show which will serve as the local CD release party for the new album Kin. The doors open at 7 p.m. with the music starting at 8 p.m. with Cindy Woolf, an Arkansas native known for her Ozarks-flavored folk rock who now lives in the southwest corner of Missouri. Big Smith will take the stage at 9 p.m., delivering stomping, good-timing, Ozarks-inspired roots music. Tickets are $10 in advance and $14 at the door. The Dreamland Ballroom is located at 800 W. Ninth St. in downtown Little Rock.

The Governor’s Mansion Host Dancing into Dreamland Gala this Thursday

Monday, November 15, 2010
The governor’s mansion will host Dancing into Dreamland, a Gala Event Dance Contest presented by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust, November 18, from 6-9pm, tickets $75, followed by the After Party at the Capital Hotel Ballroom, 9 pm – 12 am, and tickets are $40. Proceeds from this event will go to the music education and cultural outreach programs of the Dreamland Ballroom.

The event will be emceed by Lawrence Hamilton with special guest Mercedes Ellington. The event, Dancing into Dreamland, is a dance contest of 8 dance teams, listed below, performing all styles of dance.

Dance Dynamics Junior Duo – Ashton Jones and Marina Redlich
Ms. Karen’s Dance Studio – Sterling Warren, Kennedy Sample, Raygan Sylvester, Hannah Bakalekos
David Carter and Melissa Napier
Beyond Ballroom – Wesley Crocker and Lawrie Rash
Roger McCoy and Kay Ford
Sankofa Performing Arts Dance Theater – Angela Burt, Gena Harless, Clarice Kinchen, America Jones

Kerry McCoy, founder of Friends of Dreamland Ballroom said, “It is somewhat of a mix between ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘So you think you can dance?’” The Grand Prize is a trip for four to New Orleans.

There will be a silent auction, food, cocktails, text voting, open dancing, and a performance by Lawrence Hamilton and Mercedes Ellington. Dress is party attire’

The following companies are sponsors of this Event – Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Capital Hotel, Robbi Davis Agency, Oxford American Magazine, MainStream Technologies, and Ken Rash Casual Furniture.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the event visit www.dreamlandballroom.org and click on events.

Amber Jones
Executive Director
Friends of Dreamland
www.dreamlandballroom.org
amber@dreamlandballroom.org
501-607-0954 cell

The Friends of Dreamland Ballroom have hired Amber Jones as the organization’s Executive Director.

The Friends of Dreamland Ballroom (FOD), a group that focuses on sharing the musical, cultural and architectural history of the Taborian Hall on W. Ninth St, has hired a new Executive Director, Amber Jones.

Ms. Jones is an Arkansas native with several years of experience in nonprofit administration, historic preservation and music education. Ms. Jones holds a B.A. degree in Education with an emphasis in Music from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. Ms. Jones most recently assisted with operations and management of the Little Rock Visitors Center at Historic Curran Hall.

“Amber brings the ideal combination of nonprofit experience, education and preservation background that our organization needs to move forward,” says board chairman, Robyn Madden.

Ms. Jones aims to implement programming that capitalizes on the significant musical and cultural history that the Dreamland Ballroom embodies. FOD Programming will include a jazz music series, music education for K-12, historical and cultural lectures, and implementation of The Taborian Hall Museum.

“The Friends objective is to engage the community in the rich history that exists within the Dreamland Ballroom and Taborian Hall. By reusing the historic resource in much the same way it was used nearly a century ago, as a community event and social center, we are able to share the cultural and aesthetic value of the space and implement a new phase in its history. I am excited to help the Friends of Dreamland share this important Little Rock treasure,” says Ms. Jones.

More about the FOD: The Friends of Dreamland Ballroom focuses on supporting and sharing the musical, cultural and architectural resources of the Dreamland Ballroom, located on the top floor of the Taborian Hall, headquarters of Arkansas Flag and Banner. Taborian Hall is the last historic building on West Ninth Street. It remains as a testimony to the street’s former vibrancy and glory days as Little Rock’s “Little Harlem.” The building was constructed in 1918 by Black fraternal organization, The Knights and Daughters of Tabor, in what was, at that time, a thriving Black business district, made so by segregation. The structure was also the home of Gem Pharmacy, doctors’ offices, a USO club, Doc’s Pool Hall, and many other businesses and social organizations. The popular dance hall on the third floor was the venue for big bands, jazz, and blues, and the scene for dances, socials, and basketball games. Many of the era’s leading Black musical artists performed in the building including Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, and Ella Fitzgerald, Arkansans Louis Jordan and Al Hibbler, and comedians Redd Foxx and Sammie Davis.

The FOD are currently engaged in a donor drive, program development and community outreach.

For more information:
www.DreamlandBallroom.org
friends@dreamlandballroom.org