Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.
The hip-hop quintet entered the spotlight in 2002 when it traded in the Dirty South for the Greasy South with country soul-infused love songs to rural Kentucky in "Po Folks" and "Awnaw," both off the group's debut album, "Watermelon, Chicken and Grits." But, as these things go, Nappy Roots seemed to vanish as soon as it appeared. Now eight years, one added member and a squad of mix tapes later, the South's answer to The Roots is back with a new album, "The Pursuit of ..." (wait for it) "... Nappyness," which, in spite of the rancid title, is loading up some decent reviews, thanks in no small part to some studio sorcery by Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio) and Jay Electronica (the next Dr. Dre). Local rap/emo-poppers EKG open the night while g-force works the graphics with a special VJ (video jockey) set.
Does it buzz any harder than this? The Romany Rye is poised for national success and has shuffled together a consistent fan base in Arkansas. Fronted by Los Angeles' Luke MacMaster and backed by Little Rock rockers Whitman Bransford, Jesse Bates, Ryan Hitt, Judson Spillyards and Joshua Spillyards, the folk-rock outfit has toured with Dawes and Delta Spirit, both brothers in genre, and have scored an approving thumbs-up from mega-stars Kings of Leon. Romany Rye co-headlines the night with Velvet Kente, fresh off of opening for award-winning British songstress Corrine Bailey Rae and getting knighted as the sixth greatest local act ever in last week's Arkansas Music Poll. If your local music checklist is looking under-inked, take this chance to check out two must-sees under the same roof.
For years, Michael Franti has been a supreme figure in the world of jam-fusion. He spent the early-'90s providing a fiery, political mouthpiece for electronic jazz outfit The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy before forming Spearhead in 1994. Since, Franti has melded reggae optimism to the same politically alarmed manifesto-songs in an attempt to find anything resembling a ray of hope in an otherwise miserably bleak political climate. It's not always a formula for mainstream success, but the road-worn Franti finally scored a big chunk of mainstream admiration last year with "Say Hey (I Love You)," a choogling, super-sugared piece of happy, shiny pop, written in Woody Harrelson's bathroom. Just last week, he released his seventh album with Spearhead, "The Sound of Sunshine." Don't expect anyone to cry "false advertising" over the title.
This Crescent City swamp-funk band is no stranger to Central Arkansas, blazing up the interstate since 1977. You can count on the brass septet to buck jump through town every couple years or so, most recently playing Sticky Fingerz back in June. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band has gone from a second-line Crescent City outfit to a house band, named after their Dirty Dozen Social and Pleasure Club, to one of the most influential troupes to ever spread the good news of NOLA. And spread it they do. This week sees the band take up a brief artists-in-residency position at UCA on Thursday before playing a free show in Simon Park alongside the school's marching band as part of Conway's annual ArtsFest.
Bocephus is back around, bringing his "Rowdy Friends Tour" to town as part of the first annual American Freedom Festival-Arkansas, a tribute to members of the armed forces and fund-raiser to benefit Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. and the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. The man with the royal blood (and, now, a Pioneer Award from the Academy of Country Music to complement his "Monday Night Football" Emmy) is bringing a gang of modern country-rockers along for the ride, too. Jamey Johnson, the songwriter-turned-performer, hits the stage after winning both the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Awards' "Song of the Year" award last year for his bittersweet single "In Color." Colt Ford parlayed his success at writing rodeo and hunting songs for the Professional Bull Riders Association and the Outdoor Channel into mainstream success with hip-hop infused country-rock. Wisconsin-based upstart Josh Thompson and modern bluegrass act The Grascals also support.
The annual Harvestfest is back in Hillcrest for its 16th year and we're going to go ahead and predict the low-key, family-friendly festival is going to be as great as they come, if only by coincidence. It's a bye week for the Razorbacks. The weather will be perfect with a low of 51 and a high of 72 and no chance of rain. And my God, the leaves are turning to their autumnal splendor, to boot. As with every year, music — lined up by Burt Taggart, the head of Hillcrest-based Max Recordings — is a highlight. This year features The Moving Front, the post-punk crew fresh off of releasing a new album, "Everyday Dissonance"; Velvet Kente, the brilliant fusion act that's fated for — and flat out deserves — enormous successes; The Reds, maybe playing one of its final shows after releasing its last album, "Welcome to Stifft Station", and Isaac Alexander, the multi-talented musician whose solo album, "See Thru Me," underdogged its way onto last week's "Greatest Arkansas Albums."
Again, food is a huge part, with restaurants galore setting up kiosks and offering samples. The crown jewel of this year's culinary offerings is the first annual Harvestfest Burger Cookoff, which offers $300, $200 and $100 awards for best overall burger, best grill station decoration and best burger presentation, respectfully.
While you're burying your sunburnt face in burgers and beers, kids — when not flexing their "Yo Gabba Gabba" moves in front of the music stage — have plenty of opportunities for distraction with face painting, bean bag tossing, sidewalk art, ring tosses and a bounce house.
In the evening, the yearly, ever-popular Box Turtle Fashion Show returns, showcasing Little Rock's young designers. This year, locals Missy Lipps, Summer Daniel, Linda Thomas, Trisha Timmerman, Ashley Murphy and Lauren Roark unveil their new designs with dozens upon dozens of models working the catwalk.
And if all of this isn't reason enough to get excited, Harvestfest organizers just announced that they've tracked down the elusive-to-the-point-of-mythical (and Times celebrated) Mexicana Alicia taco truck. Ole!
After spending years in the '80s and '90s sporting a greasy mop of biker hair and reappropriating duck-lipped NYC leather punk, Jesse Malin soon found himself, like so many do, dusting off the old acoustic and rubbing a bit of Neil Young into his sonic palette. Soon, Ryan Adams — a friend and fan from his strut 'n' spit days — shoved Malin into a studio and produced his first album, "The Fine Art of Self Destruction," which then caught the ear of Bruce Springsteen and, well, a lot of others who are great and recognizable but not as impressive as The Boss. The rest of the decade has brought a string of prolific output from the Queens native. He's now on his seventh release, "Love It to Life." Expect him to hit the megaplex soon, making his acting debut as mid-'40s ex-punk Richard Katz in the big screen adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's new book, "Freedom." Not really, but damn if he isn't a doppelganger, huh?