A&E News, June 16 

New on Rock Candy
*Samantha Allen, 28, long a presence in local music promotion, has purchased Downtown Music, 211 W. Capitol, from founding owner Alan Wells, who'll continue booking shows in the venue through June. On July 2, Allen celebrates the changeover with music from Fallen Empire, Iron Tongue, A Darkened Era and Microcosm.

Allen brings a wealth of experience in booking. She started at Vino's as a teen, working for the street team before graduating to become the venue's chief booking agent, which she kept up for four years. For the last year, she's helped manage The Village.

Allen says that she plans on keeping Downtown a "heavy" venue, but will also appeal to a broader audience by booking everything from "country to death metal." Her main adjustment, she says, will be to expand the club's hours. Initially, she plans to open 5 p.m. until close Wednesday through Saturday, with occasional Sunday, Monday or Tuesday shows. By opening earlier in the evening, she says she hopes to cultivate a bar crowd. And by mid-July or August, she plans to operate as restaurant, serving soups, gumbos, sandwiches and salads from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday,

Wells was not available for comment, but Allen said that she and he had been friends for years and that he approached her about purchasing the club and thought she had a vision consonant with his original idea for Downtown.

*Doron Ofir Casting, the reality show agency who wrangled up characters for "Survivor," "Wife Swap," "Tool Academy" and the single most important cultural landmark of this century, "Jersey Shore," is out to find a few good Southern Snookies and redneck Ronnies for a hillbilly twist on the MTV sensation.

Tentatively titled "Party Down South," the show, according to a press release from Doron Ofir, is looking for "the hottest and proudest Southerners ... who can prove that the party down South will rise again!"

The casting company plans to take a casting RV through eight states — including Arkansas — to find a whole mess of yokels attractive enough to gawk at and just dumb enough not to realize that they'll be mocked for an entire summer. If you're one of those yokels, apply via partydownsouth.com. And check Rock Candy to read John Tarpley's preview of season one.

* Gold Robot Records, an Oakland-based limited edition vinyl label run by Rogers native Hunter Mack, announced last week the forthcoming release of a split 7" featuring Fayetteville/Little Rock favorite The Good Fear and Oakland act Colossal Yes. If you pre-order the split, due July 13, you immediately get a link to download mp3s. And you can stream both tracks now.

*Matt Besser, Hogs fanatic and Little Rock's ambassador to the shadowy, global organization known as the Upright Citizens Brigade, has done a hilarious, sports-centric, four-part interview with Razorback website, Arkansas Expats. Find it at http://www.arkansasexpats.com.

*Ear Fear, the power duo featuring Tillman brothers 607 and Bobby, is back with not one, but two new albums: "Altar Call," which 607 describes as "calm," and "The Ignit Truth," which he calls more "aggressive." You can stream both via earfear.bandcamp.com.



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