May 7, 2024 - Food and Drink

Taco Talk: Reggie James and Anthony Ball of Music Moves

photos of co-founders of Music Moves

Music Moves co-founders Anthony Ball (left) and Reggie James. Photos: Alex Golden/Axios

I had lunch outside Rogers food truck El Viejón with Reggie James and Anthony Ball, co-founders of Music Moves, a nonprofit focusing on education and performance of Black music.

Why it matters: "Every genre … that has been created on this soil comes out of the Black diaspora — whether it's pop, whether it's rhythm and blues, whether it's country, whether it's bluegrass," James told me.

"If I appreciate you, then I understand your contribution. Then I don't treat you like you're just here. I treat you like you're a very integral part of what has gone on in our country."

The intrigue: Music Moves opened a venue, The Music Depot, in downtown Rogers last year. It hosts concerts, visual-arts showcases, film screenings and dance performances.

  • The Music Depot is dedicated to Black art and culture, filling a void in NWA, Ball said. It hosts local and nonlocal musicians performing a range of genres like hip-hop, reggae, gospel or blues.

Background: James and Ball are longtime musicians. Ball owns Smoothman Music Production and plays drums. James is music pastor at Christian Life Cathedral in Fayetteville and a pianist.

The big picture: Music Moves has a busy and growing agenda. Launched in 2020, the organization has its own music education curriculum that it brings to K-12 music classes, the University of Arkansas and Boys & Girls Clubs. It reaches all of NWA, stretching down to Fort Smith and west across state lines to eastern Oklahoma.

  • The curriculum is for all students, not necessarily just aspiring musicians.
  • It also recently started a gospel community choir with people ranging from ages 8 to 70 and is responsible for the annual Arkansas Black Music & Film Expo.

What's next: Music Moves plans to start hosting summer camps for kids this year. Ball pointed out that students involved in music programs like choir and band often don't have many options to stick with it over summer break.

  • "Imagine if we can get 10% of those kids how we can impact the music community in Northwest Arkansas just by keeping kids engaged," he said.
photo of fries
Spring for the appetizer at El Viejón. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios
photo of tacos
Two chicken tacos and a birria taco made for a great combo. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

Dig in: There was a consensus at our picnic table that the food was the right choice — and we would know because we had quite the spread with chicken, birria, al pastor (pork) and lengua (beef tongue) street tacos, a steak fajita quesadilla and "nachos" that were actually fries but not to anyone's disappointment.

  • My birria and chicken tacos were extremely well marinated, and Ball and James gave similar reviews.

Stop by: 11am-9pm Monday-Friday, 11am-10pm Saturday and 11am-5pm Sunday at 115 N. Dixieland Road in Rogers.

Note: Taco Talk is a regular feature. We'll sample a taqueria with the movers, shakers, artists and bakers of NWA, and rap about news in their world.

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