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.
Here's the long-awaited sequel to Little Rock rapper Cool Chris' "Trap Conversation," just in time to salvage a mostly uneventful Little Rock summer. Chris last turned up on the Young Gods of America track "Leash," and many of his friends in the Arkansas rap collective turn up here as well, with production work by Mach Soul and Fresco Grey (who also contributes a verse on "Jame$ Bond").
Here is a new song by Kari Faux, produced by her frequent collaborator (and fellow Little Rock expat) Black Party. Faux is in L.A. these days, "getting checks just to live out my dreams," and it's obviously going well.
Here's the new single from Little Rock rap collective Young Gods of America, which you can (and should) also find on iTunes. It's their first official collaborative release under that name, as far as I can tell, and their first release since affiliating themselves with the independent label Foredise. Featuring Goon des Garcons, Fresco Grey, Reggie Gold, Cool Chris, plus references to both Mike Huckabee and Paul Wall and more:
Here's the video for Bonnie Montgomery's "Take Me Or Leave Me," from her self-titled debut, which made our Best Albums of 2014 list last year. She describes the song as “like a Spaghetti Western, with a classic country songwriting formula, and strings that hearken back to my classical background." The clip stars a 30-year-old horse named Keith Richards and was filmed in Joshua Tree National Park.
NPR has the new single from Memphis band (and local favorites) Lucero, the first single off their forthcoming LP "All A Man Should Do," due out September 18 via ATO Records. They call it a "a meditation on missed off-ramps," in which Little Rock native Ben Nichols "honors his spiritual mentor Warren Zevon — and another, Paul Westerberg, whose talk-ballad style clearly served as inspiration — with scenes from an urban pilgrimage gone poooft, set to a gentle driving beat." They also quote Nichols statement of purpose for the new record: "I was 15 years old in 1989," he says. "This record sounds like the record I wanted to make when I was 15. It just took 25 years of mistakes to get it done."
The Oxford American has an exclusive stream today of a new song from Paragould native Iris DeMent, whose new album, "The Trackless Woods," will be released August 7. To further commemorate the record, the magazine has republished Little Rock author Kevin Brockmeier's essay-appreciation of DeMent, which originally appeared in their 2007 music issue and which focuses particularly on her album "My Life," which Brockmeier calls "one of exactly two albums I own that I wouldn’t hesitate to call perfect."
The debut LP from Little Rock native J Fernandez is out today via Joyful Noise Recordings, "Many Levels of Laughter." The former frontman for beloved Fayetteville band Tel Aviv, Fernandez is now a map-maker based in Chicago and a solo artist who has been called "America's next great singer-songwriter" (by NME). Listen to the first single, "Read My Mind" below, which Fernandez described to The FADER as a "love song" about "an unhealthy obsessive-compulsive type of relationship"
Here's the latest from brothers BLACK PARTY and Rodney CoLe, who spend most of the video posted up in the Arkansas wilderness ("Because Arkansas' landscape is some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen," BLACK PARTY explains). CoLe has been showing up mostly on DMP songs lately, but here he raps like both Johnny Quest and "an African Queen from the West Nile," while his brother — now based in L.A. — reminds us he can sing.
Charlie Wilson, one of the greatest R&B artists of all time, came to Verizon Arena last Friday night and performed for a near-sold-out crowd as part of his Forever Charlie Tour with special guests Joe and Kem. Joe opened the show, Kem followed with a great set, and Charlie rocked the house. If you missed it, you missed out on something wonderful.
Kanis Bash is an annual fundraiser for Little Rock's Kanis Skate Park, featuring live music, art, merch, skateboarders and food. It started six years ago when finances became tight for a group of locals that had been volunteering their own money, time and services to maintain the free DIY community skate park. This year’s Bash attracted skaters, artists and fans from over a dozen states.
The latest from Little Rock alt-country band Swampbird is "Matter of Time," off their album "Something To See." The video was shot in Nashville and stars Aubrey Peeples, from the TV show "Nashville" (also: "Sharknado"), and is, according to the band, the second part of a trilogy of videos directed by Conway native Chris Jones, which will collectively form a short film to be released later this year.
Atlanta rapper Killer Mike appeared as a guest on CNN yesterday and held up North Little Rock police officer Tommy Norman (who he discovered on Instagram) as an ideal example of how officers can involve themselves positively in their respective communities. Norman appears in the segment as well to explain his approach and comment on recent events.
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."
Hog fans just can't quit blaming the refs for the NCAA men's basketball tournament loss to North Carolina. Now the Arkansas Senate has gotten in on the act, with this resolution introduced by Democratic Sen. Keith Ingram and getting bipartisan co-sponsorship from that brutish and short sandlot roundball player, Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson.
IndieWire breaks news long whispered downtown — a more ambitious successor to the Little Rock Film Festival is in the works, with backing from writer/director Jeff Nichols, a Little Rock native. His "Loving" has won wide acclaim recently.