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The Musicians Showcase begins! 

THE RUNNING BACK: Goes forward Thursday.
  • THE RUNNING BACK: Goes forward Thursday.

So it begins. After months of hype (ahem), we finally enter into the first round of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase. Surely, you know the gist. Over four Thursdays, at Sticky Fingerz, 16 semi-finalists, selected from scores of entrants from across the state, compete to advance to the final round, to be held on Friday, March 7, at Revolution. But while the sense of battle propels the event, we call it a showcase pointedly. The next month is our opportunity to present 16 of the finest musical acts from across the state. I'm sure you'll be keen to see who prevails each night, but I'm just as sure you'll enjoy seeing the diverse and talented line-ups we've got in store.

To wit, performing at 9 p.m. tonight at Sticky Fingerz:

The Running Back. A young, dreamy, indie-pop band based in Arkadelphia and made up of students at Ouachita Baptist University. At least at its core, the band has been together since lead singer/guitarist Alan Thomas and multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey Humble were in high school. You might've caught them at shows at Juanita's or Vino's or at a Rock 'n' Roar performance at the zoo.

Riverboat Crime. One of the newest bands in the showcase, Riverboat Crime formed only five months ago. Led by Josh Stoffer on vocals and guitar and piano, the band plays bright pop-rock that often invokes blues slide riffs. The North Little Rock-based group has stayed mostly north of the river so far, playing gigs at Cornerstone and Reno's. You can cop their debut, “Walking Shoes” (recorded at Blue Chair Studios), on Thursday.

Justin Bank. Though he may be known around town more for his volunteer work and financial advising, Bank is a longtime veteran of the stage and an accomplished guitar player and pianist whose material tilts toward the alt-country side of things.

607. To most fans of local music, he needs little introduction. 607 is easily Arkansas's most prolific rapper — at last count he'd released 29 albums. He performs hundreds of shows a year, and last year traveled to Russia twice to try to penetrate the “hip-hop-starved” nation's scene. His latest mixtape is “G for Go Getta.”

The first 50 through the door get a free compilation CD featuring all 16 semi-finalists. Jeff Allen of “The Point” 94.1 hosts and there will be plenty of giveaways and prizes.

Each week judges will grade the semi-finalists on song quality, originality, musicianship, showmanship and crowd response, with a higher percentage of the score focused on song quality and originality. Check out their bios below.

Indy Grotto

Who? Singer/songwriter

Claim to fame. With the Boondogs, she

won the inaugural garageband.com battle of

the bands and recorded with Jerry Harrison.

Next up. A new, more upbeat Boondogs album for the summer.

Razormack.com

Who? Local hip-hop impresario

Claim to fame. Managing his eponymous website, rapping, acting and multi-tasking.

Next up. An album/multimedia tentatively called “Google Me.”

Ben Jones

Who? Booking agent for Porter-Jones Entertainment

Claim to fame. Your cousin's wedding.

Next up. Helping book Riverfest.

Davis Clement

Who? Editor of localistmagazine.com

Claim to fame. Tastemaking.

Next up. A newly revamped Localist website.

Zach Holland guest judge

Who? Singer/guitarist

Claim to fame. Lead man in the Good Fear and guitarist for Merge Records' White Whale.

Next up. The Good Fear's “Chinese

Democracy.” Soon?

UPCOMING SHOWCASE SCHEDULE

Feb. 7: The Reds, Bryan Frazier with Action Figures, Notion, and Epiphany and One Night Stand.

Feb. 14: Ace Spade and the Whores of Babylon, Rockst*r, Brian Martin and Benjamin Del Shreve.

Feb. 21: Natural State, Kyoto Boom, 4X4 Crew and the Damn Bullets.

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