Like the girl in his ode to a short-lived summer love, country music’s reigning Entertainer of the Year had a crowd of 13,312 Friday evening at Verizon Arena twisting all night long like that old beach “Roller Coaster": Twisting and swaying and dancing and singing along.
An email from the folks at Wakarusa, the annual music festival at Mulberry Mountain, claims they'll be taking 2016 off due to financial problems. The letter makes reference to pending legal actions against "partners" who "lied" to festival management. So far, they're calling it a "hiatus" rather than a complete shut-down, so there's some good news.
Searcy native Bonnie Montgomery has been nominated for Outlaw Female in the 2016 Ameripolitan Awards, an Austin, Texas-based award show that honors musicians whose work doesn’t match with today’s notions of country music. The awards ceremony will be held in Austin on Feb. 16, 2016.
North Little Rock native and free jazz legend Pharoah Sanders has been named as one of the recipients of a 2016 Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, along with vibraphonist Gary Burton, saxophonist Archie Shepp and Wendy Oxenhorn, director of the Jazz Foundation of America. Sanders, who turned 75 last week, will receive "a $25,000 cash award and perform a free concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on April 4 that will be streamed live on arts.gov."
This fall The Polyphonic Spree is celebrating the 15th anniversary of their debut, "The Beginning Stages of ...", with a tour of Europe and North America. The Dallas, Texas band formed in July 2000, born from the sparkling mind of lead vocalist Tim DeLaughter. Tim and his band — a group of about 20 musicians — are currently on tour and performing their entire debut along with other originals and a few surprises. Returning from their stint in Europe, they came through Little Rock with a blazing performance at Stickyz Tuesday night.,
Here's Little Rock's Amasa Hines playing at the Chicago-based concert series Audiotree Live, one of the best recordings yet of the band's always-gripping live show. You can also purchase a four-song EP of the session. Watch it for the new songs, and for the shout outs to locals Big Piph, Osyrus Bolly and Bonnie Montgomery.
Darnelle Barnes, a Little Rock native well known as a member of the local rap group DMP, died earlier this morning in a car accident near his home, friends say. DMP's Khaliq Slater said that Barnes lived in the Emerald Mountain neighborhood with his mother, and was driving up a hill around the corner from his house when the accident occurred. He was 18 years old.
The new episode of Gerard Matthews' local web series "My Favorite Guitar" features Little Rock singer-songwriter Amy Garland Angel. Previous clips have featured John Willis and American Aquarium's BJ Barham.
There has been an overwhelming response to the loss of Heartbeat 106.7 FM since the station changed formats last week, renaming itself 106.7 The Ride and shifting to a New Country format. As we noted Friday, a Facebook group had been started in protest, "Bring Back Heartbeat 106.7." When I spoke to program director Mike Kennedy, he seemed unconcerned about this perspective — noting that the group had only "58 likes."
Mark your calendars: THV reports that Stevie Wonder will be stopping in North Little Rock on his fall tour, on November 6. No word yet from Verizon Arena, but the date has been announced online. Until then, here's a haunting video of Wonder on the talkbox:
The Arkansas State Fair, which will be held October 9-18, has announced its musical headliners for this year's event: Montgomery Gentry, Eddie Money, Silk, Styx, Toni! Tony! Tone'!, Pop Evil, Grand Funk Raildroad, Joe Diffie and Naughty By Nature.
My favorite radio station died this week, and I didn't even notice. At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Heartbeat 106.7 FM, "The Beat of the City," switched over to a New Country format, and was re-branded as 106.7 The Ride. Anyone expecting The Isley Brothers or Bill Withers or Michael Jackson or The SOS Band will have to settle for Luke Bryan. And the format shift occurred so suddenly — with only the above message, perverse-seeming in its simplicity ("WE HAVE DECIDED TO SWITCH OUR FORMAT TO NEW COUNTRY. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING."), as explanation. A Facebook group has already been created so that old fans can vent their outrage. To find out what happened, I called 106.7's owners, Signal Media, and spoke to Mike Kennedy, program director for the new station (and for The Point 94.1).
Ashley Music Store, a longtime institution in Harrison, announced on Facebook yesterday that they'll be closing their doors in September after 70 years in business. Founder Hugh Ashley, a former state representative and mayor of Harrison — as well as a successful songwriter who penned records for Bill Monroe, Porter Wagoner, Brenda Lee, Jim Reeves and Dinah Shore — passed away in 2008. (For more on Ashley, read our feature obit.) Ashley's daughter Robin explained the store's closing in a Facebook note passed on by a reader:
L.A. (via Little Rock) rapper Kari Faux returns with a new video, "Supplier," a single from her forthcoming EP "Lost En Los Angeles." Aside from being far and away one of the best Arkansas-related songs of the summer, "Supplier" comes with a sultry, atmospheric video that evokes late '70s boogie, complex facial hair and warm VHS nostalgia. "You know I got that futuristic fire," as she puts it.
Here's something new from Little Rock's Pepperboy featuring Main Attrakionz, his colleagues in the Bay Area rap collective Green Ova. If you didn't spend 2011 listening to "808s & Dark Grapes II," it's never too late. As Pepperboy puts it, "History Has Been Made."
Here's the new episode of Gerard Matthews' web series "My Favorite Guitar," starring BJ Barham of American Aquarium and filmed at White Water. Also check out the previous clip, which starred John Willis.
Shuggie Otis and his three-piece band drew a near-full house at Stickyz Wednesday night — a mixed crowd of those who could recall when Otis was being heralded as America’s next top guitarist and those who likely heard him first through his being sampled by the likes of Beyonce and J Dilla.
Attorneys for the businessman argue that his cash payments to a former deputy director of DHS, Steven Jones, did not constitute corruption. They say prosecutors cannot prove the money was given in exchange for any particular "official act" from Jones.
Plaintiffs' lawyers made their case today to continue to trial with the civil suit over then-Judge Mike Maggio's reduction of a $5.2 million jury verdict in a nursing home negligence case to $1 million, a reduction he said he made in return for campaign contributions from the nursing home's owner.
We are receiving 200-pounds of large heirloom tomatoes Friday morning from Times publisher and farmer Alan Leveritt. We have dark, brick red Carbons, Goldies (large, high acid golden tomatoes) and Annis Noire, a delicious French heirloom that is green with red marbling when ripe.
Donald Trump is right. There was a time when America was great and it didn't pussyfoot around to avoid offending people who thought they were victimized by discrimination. It was, let's see, the period after World War II, when everyone prospered and America was kicking butts, at home and abroad, and Arkansas's leaders were at the center of it.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has issued a news release about freeway expansion with relevance in Little Rock. It's about wasting money to widen freeways that only create more congestion. Sound familiar?