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2018 spring music preview 

Steve Earle, Wanda Jackson, Dave Matthews Band and more.

click to enlarge DESCENDANTS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE: Rebecca and Megan Lovell are Larkin Poe, on the lineup at Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival in Hot Springs.
  • DESCENDANTS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE: Rebecca and Megan Lovell are Larkin Poe, on the lineup at Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival in Hot Springs.

How to fill your ears with music (and cover your refrigerator in ticket stubs) this spring.

Handbells will ring under a 57-foot-high vaulted ceiling in Anthony Chapel. Grand Funk Railroad will wedge a set between Adam Faucett and Morris Day & The Time. Two sisters from Georgia will channel Son House with devilish lapsteel guitar — and that's Hot Springs alone.

This season, Central Arkansas is breaking out the good china when it comes to music, and here's a sampling of those sounds to help you size up your options (and your pocketbook).

Catch the final round of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, where The Rios, Recognizer, Sabine Valley and Couch Jackets face off against each other — and their closest competitor, the semifinalist with the next-highest score — at the Rev Room March 9. On March 10, catch Low at Low Key Arts in Hot Springs, go hear Little Bandit with Elise Davis at South in Main or head to the dance floor at Cajun's Wharf for a blues-rock show from the Shannon Boshears Band. Avguste Antonov, a fierce piano recitalist and champion of new music, gives a free concert at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in North Little Rock on March 13, after which you should veer left — hard — and check out Mlny Parsonz and her cohorts in heavy rock outfit Royal Thunder at the White Water Tavern.

This one's important: Forget everything you've learned to fear about the Ides of March and go write "Bhi Bhiman at South on Main" on your calendar for March 15 in black Sharpie; then go check out his video for "Moving to Brussels" with Keegan-Michael Key to congratulate yourself on that decision.

Down South, in El Dorado, Steve Earle & The Dukes perform the album "Copperhead Road" in its entirety March 16 at Griffin Music Hall in El Dorado's Murphy Arts District to celebrate a whopping 30 years since the record's release. But if you find yourself in the Central Arkansas area on that day, you'd be well-advised to venue-hop the offerings slated for Low Key Arts' Valley of the Vapors lineup: Juiceboxx, Fenster, Moaning and the aforementioned Larkin Poe, the sisters from Georgia. Also aforementioned: the free show from Grand Funk Railroad, Morris Day & The Time, Adam Faucett and Akeem Kemp are all part of the festivities surrounding the World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade elsewhere in the Spa City that weekend, March 17. The festival runs through March 20. Back in Little Rock that day, Bon Jovi melts hearts at Verizon Arena and on March 21, blues guitar hero Samantha Fish melts faces at the Rev Room. March 23 brings concerts from the Lyon College Pipe Band to CALS' Ron Robinson Theater and Howard & Skye to Markham Street Grill and Pub. Mark your calendars for Four Quarter Bar's All-Star Benefit for Puerto Rico on March 25, with sets from Dazz & Brie, The Salty Dogs and the Brian Nahlen Band. Then, round the month out at the Clear Channel Metroplex, where Young Dolph and Key Glock team up for a show March 30.

Don your "Good Guy Shoes" and absorb the wisdom on Froggy Fresh at the Rev Room on April 7. Then, exercise that wisdom by getting to Stickyz on April 12 for Thelma & The Sleaze. Follow that up with some Jamie Lou and The Hullabaloo at the Blue Canoe Brewing Warehouse, 1637 E. 15th St., April 20; or catch Jamie Lou Connolly earlier that month at Kings Live Music in Conway for a fundraiser for Lucie's Place, April 6. Hear another Arkansas daughter, Iris Dement, at South on Main on April 22, and don't miss the rest of the musical programming surrounding the Oxford American's celebration of the 50th anniversary of Arkansas writer Charles Portis' "True Grit."

Wanda Jackson proves her regal rockabilly mettle with a show at the Ron Robinson Theater April 26, and don't miss a divine April 27 in the River Market district, with Hooray for the Riff Raff and Waxahatchee at the Rev Room and Japanese Breakfast just down the street at Stickyz.

Northwest Arkansas denizens, prepare for a full-fledged piano assault at George's Majestic Lounge for the J. Roddy Walston & The Business show on April 23. Your ears should stop ringing with the refrain to "Nineteen Ought Four" by around May 5, allowing you to take in the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas's "Masterworks III: La Boheme" at the Walton Arts Center without any distraction. With that aural cleanse in full effect, observe how sweetly the goblin rock of Les Claypool and Primus blend with the brutal guitars on Mastodon's "Steambreather" at the Walmart AMP in Rogers on May 12.

Thanks to a production of "Troubled Island" from Opera in the Rock, Central Arkansans have a chance to hear the work of Little Rock native William Grant Still on May 4 and 6 at UA Pulaski Technical College's Center for the Humanities and Arts (CHARTS). The following week, May 12-13, catch the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's take on some lighter fare as it plays John Williams' lively score for "Raiders of the Lost Ark" at Robinson Center Performance Hall, with the movie screened alongside. And, keep eyes peeled May 25-27, when a resurrected Riverfest is to pull a major Lazarus in Riverfront Park. Nineties favorite the Dave Matthews Band comes to the Walmart AMP in Rogers on May 30.

The White Water Tavern gets heavy for a full weekend for Mutants of the Monster on June 15-17, with sets from Pallbearer, Full of Hell, Gatecreeper and more. For something that doesn't require industrial-grade earplugs, head up to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge June 14-17 for Eureka Springs Blues Weekend. Martina McBride takes the stage at Timberwood Theater on the grounds of Magic Springs Theme and Water Park in Hot Springs on June 23 (or, if "Slow Ride" is more your jam than "Independence Day," come on July 14 for Foghat and Blue Oyster Cult.)

Chris Stapleton performs tunes from his acclaimed "From A Room, Volume 2" June 22 at the Walmart AMP on his All-American Road Show tour with Brent Cobb and bluegrass showman Marty Stuart. Catch Kesha and Macklemore at the AMP June 25, or pack up the sunscreen and hear Kenny Chesney there July 12 as part of his "Trip Around the Sun" tour.

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