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SEARK Concert to Host Valentine’s Dinner/Dance

Fast Facts

  • UAM Rodney Block Collective to Perform Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 7 pm at UAM Gibson Center
  • Professional Trumpet Player and Former UAM Drum Major Returns for Concert
  • Tyrone Block, Trombonist With Duke Ellington Orchestra Returns as  Special Guest Performer

Guess who’s coming home? Renowned Jazz Trumper Rodney Block, a proud alum of Dumas High School and the University of Arkansas at Monticello, is returning for a Valentine’s Day treat. On Feb. 13 at 7 pm, the UAM Gibson Center Green Room will be filled with Block’s smooth jazz vibes, setting the stage for a romantic dinner and dance. But this isn’t Block’s first homecoming. Previously, he’s been back to Southeast Arkansas, spreading musical joy! He has collaborated regularly with Seark Concert in the public schools since 2020. He performs live concerts for K-12th graders, introducing the kids to five types of jazz and sharing life skills for success. He has also performed in concert with the UAM Jazz Band 1 and at a UAM Homecoming Tailgate Party. Beyond the stage, Block’s heart beats for sharing the gift of music with the younger generation. Get ready for a homecoming filled with soulful melodies! 

Block, a former UAM drum major and trumpeter, pursued his passion for music at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, earning a music scholarship. Surprisingly, he did not graduate with a degree in music; instead, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Communications in 1994. Block has achieved acclaim as a professional trumpeter. As the founder of the Rodney Block Collective, he has graced prestigious venues and shared stages with jazz and blues luminaries. 

After graduation, Block went to Kansas and worked for the University of Kansas, recruiting for them in their admissions office. Block said, “At the same time, I was still playing music, connecting with musicians. I met my wife there when she was in her second year of law school at the University of Kansas, and from there, we went out West to Albuquerque.” 

“I had gone into pharmaceutical sales but was still playing music and connecting with musicians. So we were there for a couple of years,” said Block. “We returned to Arkansas and settled in Conway to be closer to the family. My family is still in South Arkansas, so the move was mainly to be closer since we’re, you know, we’re all getting older, and they’re getting older.” 

Block said his dad still works. He is a longtime brick mason in this area. Block said, “He did brickwork on several of the buildings here on the UAM campus. My dad worked their houses for some past staff members who used to live here in Monticello and work for the college. So, he has strong connections. And my dad is from Monticello.”

Susan Akin is President of the SEARK Concert Association.  She is inviting all the romantics to the Rodney Block Valentine’s Dinner dance at the Green Room at the Gibson Center February 13 at the Green Room. Tickets for the Dinner and Dance are $40.00 each.

Akin said, “Rodney is a treasure to us. He is a find! He is someone who graduated from Dumas  High School. He came to UAM; he was Gary Meggs’ first drum major and later became a jazz trumpeter and band leader. 

Block’s brother also appears at the concert.  Akin said, ” Dr. Tyrone Block is a jazz trombonist, a Navy Veteran, and a distinguished college professor.

These guys have both become professional jazz musicians. He has a fabulous resume and has recently played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. “We love to allow area artists to play their horns, sing their songs and amaze people. It’s going to be a fun Valentine’s event.” Akin said, “Rodney plays the trumpet and loves attending the schools. He brings his five-member combo with him. There’s also an outstanding vocalist, a bass player, a keyboard artist, and maybe the best drummer I’ve ever heard,” said Akin

The SEARK Concert Association is 47 years old. Akin said, ” It started with UAM getting a brand-new Fine Arts Center. They had a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility and no money to bring any shows. So Chancellor Claude Babin talked to a local lawyer and said, “We want to get people into this theater. Could you invite your friends and create an association that people could join? You could bring the events and use our theater for free.” So that has worked. Initially, they called it the Town and Gown concept, where the people from Monticello and surrounding towns would interact with University Professors and Staff at the Fine Arts Center,” said Akin.

Since then, SEARK Concert has served seven counties: Drew, Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Cleveland, Desha, and Lincoln in Southeast Arkansas. The mission of SEARK is to bring the performing arts, “Music, Dance, and Live Theater.” Akin said,’ We have two categories of audiences. We’ve got Membership Events, and at this point, there are usually six shows. In addition to the Valentine’s Dinner/Dance, the SEARK Concert is well-known for its annual Community Musical.  In recent years, Akin said that has included Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King.  This year’s show is Peter Pan withDirector Kathy Lyon and Choreographer Dalene Stephenson.  The cast was selected in early January and is now preparing for 12 performances from March 4-9. The cast includes nearly 100 performers of all ages.  Akin said, “We get involved with this because we have children and grandkids, and we just want to open their minds to the possibilities of being on the stage. Some children are very, very talented.” 

According to Akin, Lowell Lynde, one of the former professors at UAM, said, “I just feel better. I feel better when I go to these shows.” Adds Akin,” We want people to feel better! We also want them to have a chance to perform music, dance and theatre. There’s an impact.” 

Block also fits the SEARK Concert Association Mission.  He has his performance, but he also takes his band into area junior high, high school, and elementary schools. Block provides students with a history lesson but uses his instruments instead of a textbook. “We talk about jazz because jazz was the one true art form indigenous to America.  Here in America, everything else comes from somewhere else. When you think of art, when you think of food, when you think of sculpting and painting, originally those come from somewhere else,” said Block. “But jazz music was created here in North America. So children need to know about that history. Then, they need to know about the individuals at the forefront of creating this music; some are from Arkansas. So they’re in proximity to New Orleans from Monticello, considered the birthplace of jazz,”  said Block.  

“Children know the Beyonces, the Jay-Z, the Scissors, the music they hear on the radio.” Block said, “If you learn jazz music and fundamentals, all that other stuff is easy.” He adds,  “You wouldn’t have that music if it weren’t for jazz. So we’re giving them a little bit of everything. At the same time, we want them to have a good experience because not only do they listen, they sing and dance, they clap. So it’s a  musical experience.” adds Block. 

What does Block see ahead for his future? “Evolution, you know, because things change with the times! Collaboration,” said Block. “I love music, and I love different types of music. I want to work with more country artists, or I want to work more with maybe alternative rock kind of theme artists or more hip-hop artists. I think everybody has something to give.  I think that collaborative spirit helps me in the creative process as a musician and in growing and evolving.  Rodney Block Collective, with Special Guest Tyrone Block, will perform at the SEARK Concert Valentine’s Dinner/Dance at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 13, at the UAM Gibson Center Green Room. Tickets are $40.  For ticket information, call 870-460-1888 or go to

For more information:


Susan Akin- President SEARK Concert- 870-723-3712

Lon Tegels- Media Contact- 419-303-4223

UAM News is everything from the University of Arkansas At Monticello.

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