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Big Acts 

Al Green (Miller Lite Amphitheater Stage, 9:15 Friday) - Green, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, is best known for the soulful hits "Let's Stay Together," "Still in Love With You," "Tired of Being Alone," "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)" and "You Ought to Be With Me," but has recently returned to the R&B stage with a new recording. Since 1976, he's been pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis, and the Forrest City native's career began in gospel, touring with his father in a family group. Fourteen of his R&B albums charted on Billboard's lists, and five went gold. He also recorded nine gospel albums. He also appeared in the Broadway musical, "Your Arm's Too Short to Box With God," along with Patti LaBelle. His return to the pop charts came in 1988 when he sang "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" with Annie Lennox. Hootie & The Blowfish (9:30 p.m. Friday, Budweiser Stage, NLR) - Give Hootie credit for playing to the fans. Hootie fans who saw their 2000 concert here at the amphitheater in near-100-degree heat in July will recall an impressive, almost three-hour show. The band played all their own hits, a lot of top covers, and three encores in playing to exhaustion. Their single "Let Her Cry" won a Grammy in 1996, they also picked up a Best New Artist Grammy that year as well. They'd only been together for 10 years at that point, starting as a frat band at the University of South Carolina. But their debut album in 1994, "Cracked Rear View," became a smash over the next couple of years, selling 16 million, the best selling debut of all time. They've released four more records since, between golf outings (lead singer Darius Rucker and the rest of the quartet are known golf-aholics, and will come back to the area June 7-8 for John Daly's Make-A-Wish tournament and party). Rucker is joined by Dean Felber on bass and background vocals, Jim "Soni" Sonefeld on drums, percussion, piano & background vocals, and Mark Bryan on guitar, mandolin, piano and background vocals. Spin Doctors (7:30 p.m. Friday, Budweiser Stage (NLR) - This group has undergone a number of changes since it last rocked Little Rock at the amphitheater in 1993, joining Soul Asylum and Screaming Trees for one of the biggest outdoor shows here. The original band - Chris Barron on vocals, Eric Schenkman on guitar and vocals, Mark White on bass, and Aaron Comess on drums, are back together with their mix of rock and rock-jam. Their 1992 debut, "Pocketful of Kryptonite," was a mega-hit record, producing such hits as "Two Princes" and "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong." Brad Paisley (9:15 Saturday, Miller Lite Amphitheater Stage) - Paisley actually was set to perform at last year's Riverfest a few weeks before the event, until George Strait called and asked him to join his mega-tour. Paisley, a native of West Virginia, has become one of the biggest names in country music since debuting in 1999 with "He Didn't Have to Be" off the platinum-record "Who Needs Pictures." The Country Music Association gave him the Horizon Award as its top rising artist in 2002. He joined the Grand Ole Opry in 2001, and has two more albums out, including "Mud on the Tires," with the hit "Celebrity." If Riverfest fans are lucky, maybe Paisley's wife, actress Kimberly Williams Paisley ("According to Jim," the "Father of the Bride" series) will be on hand too. Uncle Kracker (6 p.m. Saturday, Budweiser Stage, NLR) - He got his start as the turntable player in Kid Rock's Twisted Brown Trucker band, and he co-wrote and performed on Kid's early records. His debut album, "Double Wide," was recorded in the back of Kid Rock's tour bus on a countrywide trek with heavy acts Limp Bizkit and Metallica. His "Follow Me" single was a big hit in 2000, and his remake of Dobie Gray's "Drift Away" (with Gray singing too) was a 2002 hit. Uncle Kracker, like his mentor Kid Rock, drifts from rock to rap to country to an R&B-laced sound. He's recorded with country star Kenny Chesney as well. Uncle Kracker's newest record, "72 and Sunny," is due out in late June. This first single is "Rescue." Collective Soul (9:30 p.m. Saturday, Budweiser Stage, NLR) - Certainly the Riverfest regulars of the past several years remember the incredible crowd that filled a Little Rock parking lot in 1999 for this modern rock act from Georgia. They're back with their eight No. 1 hits such as "Shine," "Where the River Flows," "Heavy," "No More No Less," "Perfect Day," "The World I Know," "December" and "Gel." Collective Soul will be preceded at 7 p.m. by Fayetteville-based Grandpa's Goodtime Fandango, which won this year's Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase. Check out their jazz, rock and reggae influenced modern jam style and energetic show. Eddie Money (6 p.m. Sunday, Amphitheater Stage) - Hearing "Two Tickets to Paradise" is probably a must for any aging rock fan, and Money will be the annual Sunday classic rock 'n' roll closer. No doubt he'll also sing "Baby Hold On," "Walk on Water," "Think I'm in Love," "Shakin' " and "Take Me Home Tonight" (we guess that will be the finale. Money, who plays the sax, harmonica and piano as well as sings, has many albums to choose his songs from since the former Long Island, N.Y., policeman first broke into rock's mainstream the mid-1970s. Gary Allan (6 p.m. Sunday, Budweiser Stage, NLR) - The Californian Allan brings a country honky-tonk style to Riverfest, mixing the classic Bakersfield sound (read: Buck Owens) with the Luchenbach way (read: Willie Nelson). His blend of tender ballads and rocking-country twang should be ideal for the down-the-middle country fan. His single, "Man to Man, Man of Me," went to No. 1 on the country charts. The title of his most recent album, "See If I Care," says it all about Allan. Trout Fishing in America (various times and stages, including 9 p.m. Friday, Triple-S Alarm Stage) - What would Riverfest be without this fun, annual-appearing acoustic duo, who play sets for the adults as well as the kiddies. Guitarist Ezra Idlet and bassist Keith Grimwood have been at the business for nearly three decades, and after starting out in Houston, they call Northwest Arkansas home. Their songs show influences of reggae, Latin, blues, jazz and classical styles, and they've earned tons of awards as well as being nominated for Grammys. The pair also devotes time to musical workshops around the country with their tours. You simply can't miss it when they sing "Pico de Gallo." Little Feat (8 p.m. Sunday, Budweiser Stage, NLR) - These classic bluesy rockers from the Bay Area, featuring Little Rock native Fred Tackett on guitar, are slowly becoming a regular fixture around here, having played a show last year at Wildwood sponsored by Cindy and Chip Murphy (who's brought them back again, this time for a bigger audience). 17th Floor (8:15 p.m. Sunday, Triple-S Alarm Stage) - This R&B/hip-hop style outfit from Chicago has already developed a strong following in Little Rock with regular shows a few years back at the old Smitty's hangout in West Little Rock, and they also rocked a Riverfest stage three years back with their covers and jamming. The large group of musicians will put on an impressive show.
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