Central Arkansans looking for an outdoor music fix this summer will find it at Timberwood Amphitheater at Magic Springs and Crystal Falls theme park just east of downtown Hot Springs.
Little Rock's outdoor music scene will be slow starting this summer - major acts won't start playing Riverfest Amphitheatre with regularity until late July. But the lineup Magic Springs' owners have corralled for 11 consecutive Saturday nights starting June 5, plus a Labor Day weekend show, will provide plenty of open air opportunities.
Beginning with Nashville star LeAnn Rimes' appearance on June 5, Timberwooid has scheduled an array of artists - some of them among the top new hot pop, country and contemporary Christian stars, some classic rock acts - to make everyone happy.
Young pop rocker Michelle Branch plays Saturday, June 12, bringing along Memphis-based young rockers Ingram Hill. Branch, whose songs and guitar style have been compared to Sheryl Crow's, drew critical acclaim her 2001 debut, "The Spirit Room."
Magic Springs, operated by Louisville-based Theme Parks LLC, unveiled the amphitheater last year, featuring 1,156 reserve seats and enough lawn space for crowds of 7,000 to 10,000 fans, general manager Vicki Berni says. The stage is larger than the one at Little Rock's amphitheater.
"We had just under 10,000 last year for one of our Christian concerts, at least inside the park grounds," Berni said, "and for Diamond Rio we had right around 9,000, plus it rained all day."
During the off-season, after some controversy, the park obtained a beer license for the amphitheater shows, but Berni said beer will only be available on certain nights, mostly likely the classic rock events. Beer won't be sold for concerts geared to teens (such as Branch's show) or the contemporary Christian shows.
For classic rock fans, venerable Styx with Tommy Shaw and James Young will appear July 10. Grand Funk Railroad, with original members Don Brewer and Mel Schacher and with veteran rocker Max Carl taking over Mark Farner's vocal chores, appears July 24. The Marshall Tucker Band, still mostly intact from its '70s heyday, is set for Aug. 7.
The $39.95 music park season pass gets concert-goers in free to every show all summer. Reserve seats are available for an extra $5 and may be obtained in advance by calling the park ticket office. For those wanting only to attend a concert and skip the rides or water park, admission is $19.95 after 5 p.m. Lawn chairs and blankets are OK to bring.
The only announced summer concert for Little Rock's Riverfest Amphitheater is the July 24 show with Nickelback, 3 Doors Down and Puddle of Mudd. Butch Stone, whose Stone Concerts Co. is contracted to provide services and security for Dallas-based promoter AEG Concerts, says the park likely will have seven more shows leading up to fall. Many top acts are not routed through this region until later in the year, he added.
Timberwood Amphitheater Schedule
June 5 - LeAnn Rimes (country/pop)
June 12 - Michelle Branch with Ingram Hill (pop/rock)
June 19 - Rebecca St. James with Casting Crowns (contemporary Christian)
June 26 - Nikki Cleary and Charity Vance (Radio Disney event)
July 3 - Tracy Byrd with Kellie Coffey (country)
July 10 - Styx (classic rock)
July 17 - David Lee Murphy, Lee Roy Parnell (country)
July 24 - Grand Funk Railroad (classic rock)
July 31 - Southern Rock Allstars with Big Brother and the Holding Co. (Southern/classic rock)
Aug. 7 - Marshall Tucker Band (classic rock)
Aug. 14 - Audio Adrenaline with Subseven (Christian rock)
Sept. 4 - Magic Springs Bluegrass Music Fest
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