Music legend Todd Rundgren released his 25th solo studio album "Global" earlier this month, and spent a few days in Little Rock in support of its release. On Saturday, April 18, I headed out to Arkansas Record and CD Exchange in North Little Rock for Record Store Day. They had food trucks, free merch and a special guest appearance by Rundgren himself. A steady line of Rundgren fans shuffled in line for over 3 hours getting an autograph and photo op. He even stayed an extra hour — missing lunch, apparently — to continue to signing autographs as his wife, Michele, offered to take pics with people's cameras.
I'm been out of town for a week and have a lot to catch up on, but here's a quick endorsement for Little Rock rapper Goon des Garcons' new video, for "SHIT ON YOU," the opening track from his latest mixtape, "YOUNG DIRTY BASTARD."
Over the weekend, Little Rock indie pop band Knox Hamilton played a show in Portland, and on their way out town, while they'd stopped to "take in the sights" at Multinomah Falls, the band's van was robbed. They lost four guitars, a bass, and various other equipment and valuables (including cash, phone chargers, passports and a guitar strap hand-made by one of the band member's mothers!) that they'll undoubtedly need to continue their tour — their next show is scheduled for April 25. The band has a GoFundMe campaign set up for fans to help out.
Jason Aldean brought his brand of hard-driving, modern country music to Verizon Arena Saturday night on his aptly named Burn It Down Tour, firing up his army of fans with his sturdy rock-tinged voice, energetic stage presence and an outright blaze of pyrotechnics.
Here's the great new video from Little Rock doom metal troupe Pallbearer, a 10 minute long plot-less short film backed by their epic "Watcher in the Dark" directed by Little Rock native Adam Heathcott (now based in Portland). It's a kind of solemn, desert-oracle kaleidoscope, with shades of Jodorowsky and "Zabriskie Point" that finally descend into pure foggy visual abstraction
Unkempt visionary, Squirrel Nut Zippers founder, former sideman for Jim Dickinson and Buddy Guy, self-proclaimed "Arkansas Son-in-Law"— Jimbo Mathus has lived many lifetimes, more than most of us could stomach. This month, by means of a work ethic that can only be described as a punishing, Mathus is back with a new album, "Blue Healer," recorded in Water Valley, Mississippi with Fat Possum & Big Legal Mess producer Bruce Watson.
Little Rock native and living legend Pepperboy is back with a new mixtape this month, "Pottersfield," which is probably the year's most existentially fraught and death-obsessed local record to date. Pepperboy has always walked a lonely road (marched to the beat of his own 808?), with conceptual LPs focusing on the horrors of war, etc., but "Pottersfield" finds him in the new and harrowing position of contemplating his own impending mortality, even somewhat enthusiastically on tracks like "Gold Casket" and "Dead Heaven."
For the first time ever the Times is taking two buses to this year's Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Miss., which calls itself "half blues festival, half small-town fair and all about the Delta." Over 100 blues musicians will perform over the weekend at classic juke joints, blues clubs and small stages — last year's event brought attendees from 46 states and 28 countries. We'll be heading down on April 11 at 9 a.m., and the trip will come complete with live music en route: Blues Boy Jag will play on one bus and Jason Hale on the other. We'll also stop for lunch at the legendary Hollywood Cafe in Tunica.
Mulehead, the beloved Little Rock alt-country band who called it a day a decade ago but now very much rides again, have finished a new album, "Forever Out Of Tune," which will be out via Max Recordings on April 28. But! For those of you who can't wait that long or who feel inclined to support an important and deserving local cultural institution, you can pre-order the record today at Pledge Music and get immediate access to a free download.
Let's Talk Figures, the prolific, slightly scary, wildly uneven and utterly inspired Fayetteville art-rock label we profiled in December, is back with a new compilation, "Spring Mix 2015." The mix features the best and worst of their roster, many of whom we've posted about here in the past, including Comfortable Brother, High Lonesome, Dividend, Devin Nu Phlo, Bob For Apples and many more. It sounds like an Miami-related acid flashback, or like diving headfirst into the molten core of the Internet.
The Rock Candy mix of the week is a partial list of songs that mention the 1994 HBO documentary "Gang Wars: Bangin' In Little Rock." I've omitted local songs, because I'm more interested in the way the movie defined the city for outsiders in a strange, metonymic way. I'm sure I'm still leaving out plenty, feel free to suggest more in the comments.
Little Rock's John Willis specializes in literate, personal and wryly funny piano-rock fleshed out with vocal harmonies and melancholic emotional insights. He was a finalist in last year's Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase and is back this year with a new band, Late Romantics, and a new EP, "Bad Boyfriend," to be released on March 21. Check next week's issue of the Times for our feature on Willis and see them at White Water on Saturday.
"Sharkansas," the new mixtape from Little Rock rapper Lo Thraxx has been one of our most anticipated local releases of the year, and it's out as of this afternoon. It features Two 9's Curtis Williams, Raz Fresco, Houston rappers Doeman and Roosh Williams, plus production by Fresco Grey, Trakksounds and others.
`70s rock legend Todd Rundgren, who as we mentioned last month will be playing in Little Rock at the Rev Room on April 19, announced this morning that he'll be making an in-store appearance at North Little Rock institution Arkansas CD-Record Exchange to celebrate Record Store Day, which falls on the 18th. He'll be there signing copies of his records that Saturday between approximately 12:30 and 2 p.m., according to the store.
Here's a new single from Little Rock band The Coasts, whose debut LP "Racilia" made our top 10 albums of the year list last year. "On Your Own" was released as part of a split single with New Yorkers Battle Ave.
Was Little Rock at the turn of the century a stranger, headier, more ambitious place? Was it more fun? I'm perennially haunted by these questions, and if art-rock duo Chinese Girls is any indication, the answers are clearly yes. We're in luck, though: the band's recordings are set to be reissued this spring by Drawing Room Records (also the home for Girls band member Andrew Morgan's new project Country Florist). Started at a Halloween party in 1999 by Morgan and Sam Murphy, the band made delay-heavy, energetic post-punk (some of which you can find here).
BLACK PARTY, the rapper and beat-maker who fled Little Rock last November for L.A. with friend and collaborator Kari Faux, just released a new single, "Dancing," that sounds a little like Phil Collins and N.E.R.D. and, I don't know, DMX — pure robotic soul. It's a departure for the rapper-turned-singer, though he hinted at the direction on last year's mixtape, "Prototype," which seems to have disappeared from the internet.
Clark Terry, the jazz trumpeter who performed early in his career with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus, and who went on to mentor a generation of jazz musicians from Miles Davis to Dizzy Gillespie (who said that he considered Terry the greatest trumpeter in the world), died last night at his home in Pine Bluff, where he retired in 2006. He was 94.
ASHDOWN — Tim Howard’s trial in 1999 for the murders of his friends Brian and Shannon Day took three days, from opening statement to death sentence. Thursday was day-four of Howard’s retrial and, after introducing more than 200 items of evidence, prosecutors are still at least a day away from concluding their case.