"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
"Halfway to Heaven," Brantley Gilbert's second and most recent album, sees the Jefferson, Ala., singer/songwriter trade in his melancholic, finger-plucked songs about lost love and small-town nostalgia for chunking, alternative rock tension and fireside tales about moonshine and fighting. It's a role he takes on with apparent ease, landing his new album on the top spot in Billboard's Heat Seekers chart. The album's big single, "Kick it in the Sticks," shows the Harley-Davidson-loving 24-year-old and his band thrashing through their party anthem in the middle of the sticks as four-wheelers ramp and wheelie through bonfire smoke. For his style of river rock, it's a perfect scene for the rising star and ex-high school quarterback. The all-ages show kicks off at 9 p.m.
After winning "Best Male Vocalist" on a handful of early-'90s episodes of Star Search, recording more than 5,000 demos in Nashville and a couple of independent releases in the early 2000s, Osceola native Buddy Jewell finally hit his stride in a big way when he won the first season of "Nashville Star" in 2003. Soon, the Nashville star became a bona fide country superstar with a proper, Clint Black-produced debut that stayed in rotation on the airwaves for months. Seven years later, the roadhouse workhog is still at it, gigging around the country and winning over audiences with his signature good-ol'-boy charm and leather baritone. Doors open at 7 p.m.; the hometown boy-done-good hits the stage at 8 p.m.
Even in a town that's notorious for unceasingly praising its own bands, it seems no one's been able to say anything negative about Velvet Kente. It's a consensus that the group's just that good. Its brand of hyper-literate, genre-stirring soulindiefunkrockfolk is just about everything that good music needs to be: passionate, thoughtful, melodic and funky as hell. It seems everyone but the band themselves knows that; last week, they Tweeted "we're the 20th best band in town. maybe." Whether that's a big up to Little Rock musicians or a piece of self-deprecation from singer/songwriter and front man Joshua (last name unknown by anyone not in his family) is lost in his public crypticism. Surely they all know that their jarring potpourri of goosebumpers and ass-shakers puts them 18 or 19 positions higher in those hypothetical rankings. Until those results are released, the standing 20th best band in Little Rock cranks up White Water at 10 p.m.
After years fronting the enormously popular Christian hard rock act GS Megaphone, Benjamin Del Shreve left the outfit to hone his own catchy brand of melodic rock. Since, he's become a regular, welcome fixture in the Arkansas circuits with a moody, swaggering brand of ramble-rock that keeps one foot in Led Zeppelin's earthy smugness and the other firmly planted in Ryan Adams' groovier, more butt-shaking moments. It's a sound that was met with praise after the release of his 2007 full-length debut, "Brilliant and Charming." Three years later, he's back to release his long-awaited follow-up in "Sleeping Sweetly." If the sample tracks are any indication, he hasn't lost so much of a drop of his dynamic, anthemic power-pop inclinations; if anything, he and his new gray-specked beard have taken a big step forward. Heartfelt local sunshine rockers Free Micah open alongside Del Shreve's brother, Randall Shreve. Doors open at 9 p.m. for the 21 plus show.
Congratulations Tara, beautifully written!