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Cashing in on Austin 

Big acts at the White Water, Cornerstone; Big Silver debuts new CD.

A FIR-JU WELL: At Whitewater.
  • A FIR-JU WELL: At Whitewater.

There’s a lot going on this week with regional and local music, so mark your calendars for these highlights:


The South by Southwest Music Conference next week in Austin, Texas, will be indirectly bringing in a crowd of out-of-town bands to Central Arkansas on their way to or from Austin for the next couple of weeks.

Some to see early next week at the White Water Tavern at 7th and Thayer streets are A Fir-Ju Well, Mad Happy, Incomunikato, Grammer Debate and Measles, Mumps Rubella on Tuesday, March 14, and the punk music lineup of No Things, Knife Skills, and Fits and Starts on Wednesday, March 15. Both shows are sponsored by The Localist online magazine (www.localistmagazine.com). Music starts nightly around 10 p.m.

Guitarist Hudson Bell, who is also en route to SXSW with Little Rock’s John Slater, will appear at North Little Rock’s Cornerstone Bar and Grill on Main Street Friday, March 10. Some may remember Bell as part of the band the Usurpers that played in Little Rock in the early ’90s while Bell was enrolled in Ole Miss. His new album, “When the Sun Is the Moon,” is on the Monitor label and has an indie-pop-rock, Dinosaur Jr.-meets-Neil Young groove. The rest of the band includes Brian Fraser on drums and Slater on bass. Admission is $5. 

The White Water Tavern plays host to local pop rock group Big Silver on Saturday, March 11, in celebration of the group’s new CD, “Afterlife.”

“Afterlife,” being released by the local Max Recordings label, has a street date of March 21. The single “Berryhill Park” is available for preview on www.maxrecordings.com.

Admission is $5 for the 10 p.m. show. Jetpack will open.

Big Silver was the 2000 winner of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase. The group has two previous releases, a self-titled CD and “Lovenote.” The lineup is Isaac Alexander on guitar and vocals, Brad Williams on lead guitar and vocals, Bart Angel in drums, Shelby Smith on keyboards and Mike Nelson on bass.



Pop, punk and political will be served up at Vino’s Brewpub by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, who appear Monday, March 13. Ted Leo was lead man of the politico-punk group Chisel but branched off to go solo. His album, “Shake the Sheets,” was released in 2004.

The Duke Spirit and Les Aus will open at 7 p.m.; admission is $10, or $10 in advance.



After a split of more than 30 years, soul and funk brothers the Checkmates from Oxford, Miss., reformed and added some new members. They are led by an original member and known as Wiley and the Checkmates and will appear at Sticky Fingerz on Saturday, March 11.

Herbert Wiley, who started the group, and the Checkmates perfectly capture the essence of platform-shoed jive, funk and classy soul covers, and also have some new originals from their 2004 album “Introducing Wiley and the Checkmates.” The show is open to ages 18 and up and has a 9:30 p.m. start time. Admission is $5. 

Not to be missed by modern bluegrass fans: Cadillac Sky, a progressive bluegrass foursome from the Dallas-Metro area, will be at Acoustic Sounds Cafe on Friday, March 10. Together since 2002, Cadillac Sky already has been on the Grand Ole Opry and Carnegie Hall stages, and has been a guest at prestigious three-letter award shows like CMT, ACM and GAC. Mandolinist/fiddler/vocalist Bryan Simpson called briefly and was excited to tell us that the group will be opening for David Grisman in Dallas on March 11, the day after the Little Rock gig, and the group is to be signed by the Skaggs Family Records label next week, “if all goes well,” Simpson said.

Cadillac Sky’s music is all original and traditionally grounded with modern themes that can be enjoyed at a nightclub as much as an acoustic cafe. Make sure to request “You Again,” an aggressively delivered ditty that perfectly summarizes the group’s intentions, says Simpson: “salvation, redemption, temptation, and salvation again.”

Posey Hill, a lovely, lilting quartet from Donaldson, Ark., will open at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.



In downtown Hot Springs, the annual Valley of the Vapors Festival will run Wednesday, March 15, through Sunday, March 19, at various venues. Among the prime acts are the Architects from Kansas City, who have been compared with the Who and the Black Crowes in a ’60s-style delivery of raw rock. The Architects were recently featured on spin.com as “band of the day.” The festival’s complete lineup can be found online at www.valleyofthevapors.com on the Internet. Venues include the Exchange (100 Exchange St.), Schapiro’s (510 Central) and Behind Skateland Skating Rink.



Chris Denny will be featuring songs off his new self-titled album at the White Water Tavern on Friday, March 10. The new record by the acoustic singer-songwriter contains throwback Depression-era blues and folk originals from the mind of a man in his early 20s.

Showtime is 10 p.m. and the cover is $5.

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