Round two, 9 p.m.
Feb. 4, Sticky Fingerz:
3 Penny Acre
The contest's lone representative from Northwest Arkansas, this
three-piece carves an egalitarian path. Everyone sings and everyone
writes songs. Bryan Hembree, who co-founded the popular Fayetteville
band Grandpa's Goodtime Fandango, put together 3 Penny Acre (named
after the cost, roughly, of land included in the Louisiana Purchase)
three years ago with his wife, Bernice Hembree, and Bayard Blain, a
professional luthier who supplies instruments to Ezra Idlet, of Trout
Fishing in America, and a number of other folk music standouts. Last
year, the group won “Best New Band” at the Northwest Arkansas Music
Awards and in two weeks it will head to the Folk Alliance in Memphis.
It'll be well equipped. Its acoustic arsenal includes guitar, mandolin,
upright bass, bouzouki (it's in the lute family) and brush bucket.
Few local acts come with better pop-rock pedigrees. Co-founders Mason
Maudlin (guitar, vocals) and Michael Motley (drums, vocals) also
co-founded Sugar in the Raw (later, after the threat of litigation,
Sugar and the Raw), the Little Rock party band that packed out local
rooms in the early part of the decade like no one in recent memory. And
current bassist Trevor Ware — who's the fourth man to hold the job in
two years, with Will Boyd, Jonathan Trotter and Luke Hunsicker as his
predecessors — spent years in local teen-dream indie-pop sensation
Grand Serenade. Together, they're drawing from Southern rock, Brit-rock
(and pop) and indie rock. Guess what there's bound to be a lot of?
I think I said last week that none of the Showcase contestants had ever
participated. I was wrong. Back when Elise Davis was 17, she made it to
the semifinals with a band called the Sandbox Lizards. With experience
that goes even beyond that — she started writing songs at 12 — Davis
returns to the Showcase a seasoned vet. A UA Fayetteville senior, she
has three albums under her belt and soon plans to record in Nashville
with a producer who's worked with Alison Krauss. On Thursday, she'll be
backed by Jordan Trotter (lead guitar), Trevor Ware (pulling
double-duty on bass) and Joshua Tate (drums).
Matt Stell and the Crashers
One of the few Showcase acts who play music fulltime, this four-piece
evolved out of a solo project by Center Ridge native Matt Stell, who
started performing live during his sophomore year at Drury University
in Springfield, Mo., which he attended on a basketball scholarship. In
2008, Stell released his debut album, “The Sound and the Story,” which
gradually, thanks to hard touring and strong songwriting, has picked up
a considerable amount of airplay in Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri.
Along the way, the band managed to pick up at least one high-profile
fan: At the end of the month, former Drive-By Trucker and current
alt-county star Jason Isbell will produce Stell and the Crashers' first
album as a full band at legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals.
— Lindsey Millar