Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
The music season in Little Rock unofficially kicks off in one of the most sacred music venues in the Holy Land of rock that is Little Rock when Vino's celebrates its 25th anniversary with two nights of raucous shows. Locals Underclaire and Andy Warr & His Big Damn Mouth (Sept., 17, Vino's) start off the weekend with a Friday night gig. Saturday, the veterans band together to celebrate when pop-punkers Ashtray Babyhead, Christian death-metal forebears Living Sacrifice, local legends Ho-Hum and many more return to the venue where they got their start (Sept. 18, Vino's).
The long-buzzed Matador Records trio Harlem (Sept. 16, Sticky Fingerz) has long been on the brink of indie-rock success, thanks to its accessible twist on mod-influenced garage rock. The Hold Steady (Sept. 23, Revolution), masters of literate guitar rock, have earned an enormous, dedicated following thanks to their wildly successful, wittily anthemic albums about bar-hopping, John Berryman and redemption. The sound lies somewhere between genre-defining '80s college staples The Replacements and the cryptic yelp of The Fall. The next night brings B.R.M.C., or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (Sept. 24, Revolution), to the same space. Part of the swaggering "garage rock revival" of the early-aughts, the trio combines a sinister brand of pedal-heavy psychedelia with a rough-edged rock sound that's appreciated stateside, but feverishly adored across the pond. The same night, The Village, a hardcore-emo/metal venue on University, takes a turn for the rural with Robert Earl Keen (Sept. 24, The Village), the duke of Texas country who's influenced virtually every twangy, acoustic singer/songwriter to follow in his wake. Another country music icon, the child-star done good LeeAnn Rimes (Sept. 26, UCA, Conway), is set to perform an afternoon acoustic set as part of the University of Central Arkansas's Public Appearances series. He's still rockin'. The most recognizable man in blues, B.B. King (Sept. 23, Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville) brings his famous tenor, not to mention the Lucille, an icon unto herself, to the hills of Northwest Arkansas. Red Dirt country specialist Stoney LaRue (Sept. 24, George's Majestic Lounge, Fayetteville) rolls in the next day and long-tenured roots-rock act The Black Crowes (Arkansas Music Pavilion, Oct. 2) ends the AMP 2010 Summer concert series soon after. Since releasing a self-titled debut in 2007, The Moving Front (Sept. 25, White Water Tavern) has maintained an enviable status around town thanks to its quick, politically-charged blasts of Brit-tinged post-punk. This show marks the release of the outfit's long-awaited sophomore album, "Everyday Dissonance." Long in the making, loud in the buzzing, Brasher & Co. are joined by a lineup of guest locals including Velvet Kente mastermind joshua. Critically adored lo-fi trio Times New Viking (Sept. 28, White Water Tavern) make the jump from house parties to proper venue with this, its first show in Little Rock. Michael Franti and Spearhead (Oct. 1, The Village) is the festival-hopping unconventional jam band that infuses its jazzy noodling with hip-hop, funk and folk and is always a sure bet to bring out the hazy-headed masses. A real-life son of music royalty, Hank Williams Jr. (Oct. 2, Verizon Arena), brings his country-rockin' outlaw ramble to town. The "Rowdy Friends Tour" is his annual tribute to the armed services. The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (and its new head conductor, Philip Mann) kicks off its new "Masterworks" season with "New World" (Oct. 2-3, Robinson Center Music Hall), which features three pieces from Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin and Czech Romantic Dvorak. "Masterworks" continues with Mozart, Strauss and Mahler in "Titan" (Oct. 30-31, Robinson Center Music Hall) and Beethoven, Ponce and Stravinsky in "Beethoven in Blue Jeans" (Nov. 20-21, Robinson Center Music Hall). The Orchestra also offers the "River Rhapsodies" (Oct. 16-17, Nov. 30, Dec. 7, Clinton Presidential Center) series throughout the fall and will debut the 2010 "Pops Live!" run with "Halloween Spookfest" (Oct. 16-17, Robinson Center Music Hall), a night of costumes, trick-or-treating and tunes from "E.T.," "Frankenstein," the "Harry Potter" movies and more. "Pops!" continues the holiday theme in the yule with "Home For the Holidays" (Dec. 17-19, Robinson Center Music Hall). Jesse Malin (Oct. 5, Vino's) offers up his reformed-punk style of acoustic folk rock that's sent him on continent-hopping tours. A cousin in spirit, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (Oct. 7, Vino's), returns to town, as well. As beloved an indie act as you'll find, their sound is a fresh mish-mash of clean power-punk and driving folk. Love 'em or hate 'em, Nickelback (Oct. 10, Verizon Arena) have been an inescapable force on the radio for years due to their gruff, posturing modern-rock. They're followed by bright-eyed, American Idol country-pop megastar Carrie Underwood (Oct. 12, Verizon Arena). In Helena, the King Biscuit Blues Fe ... ahem, the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival (Downtown Helena, Oct. 7-9) celebrates its 25th year with a muscled lineup highlighted by B.B. King, Dr. John, Taj Mahal, Bobby Rush and many, many more. Creators of one of the biggest rock hits of the '90s in "The Freshmen," The Verve Pipe (Oct. 12, Juanita's) throw it back for the nostalgists in town, while mainstay of the decade — albeit one whose career spans much further on both sides of the naughties — Chris Isaak (Oct. 12, Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville) plays his sultry style of traditional rock and roll right up the interstate.
If you're having trouble getting into the Halloween mindframe, perhaps two generations of shock-rockers could lend a hand when Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper (Oct. 21, Verizon Arena) get gory with their notoriously theatrical stage show.
Portland, Ore., experimental folk rockers Blitzen Trapper (Oct. 15, Revolution) have enjoyed a near-decade of success with a string of diverse, rolling compositions. Another indie-folk outfit, Dawes (Oct. 24, Sticky Fingerz), has also earned its fair share of accolades for sun-kissed California country; it returns to Little Rock again with another band on the brink of big-time success, The Romany Rye, a rambling, harmonic act backed by a cast of longtime Little Rock musicians. Cello and violin-laced, high energy Ra Ra Riot (Oct. 29, Revolution) keeps it sugary with sincere naïf-rock. Fresh off of winning Best Song at the Oscars, new golden boy Ryan Bingham (Oct. 27, George's Majestic Lounge, Fayetteville) returns to bring Arkansas another dose of his twangy don't-call-it-country folk stylings. November ushers in the 63rd Annual Ozark Folk Festival (Nov. 4-6, Eureka Springs) in the autumnal mountains of Carroll County; the town welcomes a gang of singer-songwriters including Lyal Strickland, Kim Richardson, Rebecca Loebe, Raina Rose and more. Since stepping into the national spotlight as the 13-year-old frontman for Radish, a mid-'90s indie rock act, Ben Kweller (Nov. 9, Juanita's) has stayed strapped to a guitar, steadily churning out music and making at least one slack-rock classic in 2002's "Sha Sha." For those looking to kick-start their folk music with a bit of party-ready singalong, The Felice Brothers (Nov. 14, Sticky Fingerz) may be just the trick with their stomping harmonies and liberal dose of accordion.
Even more twang goes upstate when the Mountain View Bluegrass Festival (Nov. 11-13, Ozark Folk Center Auditorium) returns with Paul Williams, Louisiana Grass, Blue Highway and more in Mountain View.