It may not be the Alps, but there is a growing music scene in the quaint Ozark hamlet of Leslie. Located at the crossroads of U.S. 65 and Arkansas 66 in southern Searcy County, Leslie hosts two music venues. The Ozark Heritage Arts Center (OHAC) and The Drop Zone.
Both are located near major thoroughfares to Branson, Missouri and Mountain View, Arkansas. The OHAC is located in a building constructed as a community hall in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration, or WPA. It later became used as a gymnasium by the Leslie school system. Inside the arts center is the 350-seat Killebrew Theatre. It gets its’ name from Rex and Daphne Killebrew who remodeled the old Leslie school gym in 1992. They gave it the name of the Ozark Heritage Arts Center.
Clarence Treat, who was part of the popular 60’s folk group, The New Christy Minstrels, is on tap to play the OHAC with his son Dean on Saturday, March 3 at 7:30 PM. All profits from ticket sales will go to Spit for the Cure Breast Cancer Cohort to aid breast cancer research. If you do some searching at http://www.uams.edu/spitforthecure, you can find out that a Marshall High School graduate, Susan Treat Kadlubar, Ph.D., along with Suzanne Klimberg, M.D., both of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, initiated the idea for Spit for the Cure. Searcy County, where Clarence Treat’s benefit concert is being held, is also the home county of Dr. Kadlubar who grew up just a few short miles away from the Killebrew Theatre.
The OHAC’s house band, In Cahoots, or another band performs in the theatre every second or fifth Saturday. Among those playing in February are the John Taylor Band, Red Hat Diva’s and The Barren Hollow Boys. In addition to Clarence Treat’s performance in March, there will be performances by In Cahoots and a gospel group will perform on Mar. 31. Tickets can be purchased on site for $5 at 6:30 p.m. Performances begin at 7 p.m.
On Mar. 25 there will be a free concert in the afternoon by the U.S. Army band The Volunteers. The Volunteers, according to the www.armyfieldband.com web site, is the Army’s premier touring show band. The site states that they are a talented six-piece group performing a blend of popular American music, including rock ‘n’ roll, standards, country, jazz, and patriotic.
A new addition to the Leslie music scene is The Drop Zone which is located inside of Oak Street Station. The Drop Zone is a no-alcohol and no-smoking family place. It is also home to the Buffalo River Blues Society. They have karaoke most every Friday evening in addition to live music the first and third Saturday of every month from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. The Drop Zone is owned by Sandra Chidester and managed by Tom Anderson.
Anderson loves managing The Drop Zone and says it opened last September and can seat up to 80 people. He said there is a calling for the blues in this area. Among the four blues bands that have performed so far is CloverBlue.
Coming on Feb. 18 is Brethren, a blues band from Hot Springs. They’ve played their Mississippi Delta blues at music festivals and venues from Helena to Chicago. Mar. 17 is the date to hear Smooth Down Under, a rocking roadhouse blues band from Branson, Missouri. There’s going to be a youth concert on Mar. 24, with three local youth bands, Alive On Tuesday, WeBuiltThePyramids, and Arrows Point South. At their Oak Street location in Leslie, The Drop Zone also has had updated bluegrass, rock n roll, and even Bohemian folk music.
Admission ranges from $6 to $10. For more information, check out The Drop Zone on Facebook, or you can call 501-253-6373 or email email@example.com .
According to Jack Treat, a member of the OHAC board of directors, the arts center has come a long way since 2010 when the facility was in a state of disrepair. Several people have contributed time, effort and money to get the facility back on its feet. Treat says the OHAC gives local talent a better venue in which to perform.
In addition to music, plays are occasionally performed in the facility. The OHAC also hosts a small art gallery and a museum of interest to those who enjoy learning of Ozark culture and Leslie’s history. On Jun. 1 the annual Ancestor Fair will be held there.
The arts center and museum are typically only open when there is a performance being held in the Killebrew Theatre. For more information, please go to the Searcy County Chamber of Commerce web site. And yes, the hills are alive with the sound of music.
By Darryl G. Treat Leslie, Arkansas