Big John Miller unveils new CD 

FIVE FOR THE FOURTH: Runaway Planet.
  • FIVE FOR THE FOURTH: Runaway Planet.
Big John Miller, the large-and-in-charge funk and R&B soul man, and his three-piece backup group have been playing clubs, barbecues, weddings, festivals, pool parties — you name it — for more than seven years. Now they’ve permanently made their musical mark with their first ever debut CD, self-titled. A kick-off party is set for Friday, July 1, at the Underground Pub. The album, produced by local recording guru Barry Poynter, has eight originals (some we liked are “Blacklight” and “Ax Yo Mambo”) written by all members (guitarist Jason Hale, bassist Larry Mann, drummer Lance Womack), and two covers: “Let’s Stay Together” and “Show and Tell.” They’ll start around 9 p.m., and cover is $5. This would be a good weekend to head to Hot Springs, as Maxine’s Puzzle Bar will be holding the second installment of the “Valley of the Vapors” Independent Music Festival. A trio of bands will perform each night through Sunday, July 3, beginning at 9 p.m. Cover is $5 for ages 18 and up. Thursday’s headliner is Middlefinger, a ska/hardcore act, with American Princes and Richmond Bread Riot completing the lineup; Friday’s schedule features political indie-pop band Resident Genius with Bagheera and Tel Aviv; Saturday’s bands include songstress Opal Fly, who reminds audiences of Billie Holiday, and rockabilly artist Gino Del Ray and “The Muppets”-inspired art-punk 11 piece band Soophie Nun Squad. For complete band information and links check www.valleyofthevapors.com. Maxine’s is at 700 Central Ave. For fans of the Peace Acoustic Cafe in Conway, we have some sad news. The venue, according to organizer Dan Clanton, will be discontinued. He and his son Jeff are both in bands that have been becoming more in demand of late. In an e-mail, Dan Clanton says, “We all were faced with a choice — do we play shows, or do we produce shows for other people to play in? For us, and for most musicians, that’s a no-brainer. We play shows.” Happenstance, Dan’s band, will next appear at the Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, Okla., at the end of July. Lookback Marys, Jeff Clanton’s band, is scheduled at the Underground Pub on Saturday, July 2. One acoustic cafe that’s still going strong, Second Place Cafe at the Second Baptist Church in Little Rock, will have a special holiday show Monday, July 4, with local bluegrass quartet Runaway Planet performing from 7-8:45 p.m. Admission is $6 per person with a $24 maximum per family. That price includes a hot dog, popcorn and a drink, as well as a shuttle service for folks who wish to see the 4th of July fireworks from the River Market area in downtown Little Rock (scheduled to start around 9:15 p.m.). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The show is non-smoking and alcohol-free. Second Place is at Eighth and Cumberland streets. Downtown Music has found strong support from folks who can stomach heavy metal and hardcore music, and now the club will offer victuals. Pit barbecue will be featured, according to their website, and a full bar is in the works for the near future. On the music menu this week: Red Letter Union, PM Today and School Boy Humor on Thursday, June 30; The Silent Game and About Last Night on Friday, July 1; and Massacre Machine and Non-Grata on Saturday, July 2. Downtown Music will also be open Monday, July 4, with Barroness, Dove and DeadBird scheduled. The shows start around 9:30 p.m., and cover is $5. The public is invited for a taping of “AETN Presents: Front Row with Hannah Blaylock and Lost & Found,” 7 p.m. Friday, July 1, at the network’s studios in Conway at the corner of Donaghey Avenue and Powell Streets. Blaylock fronts the Russellville-based family-friendly bluegrass and folk band, which was a finalist in last year’s Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase and the winner of the second Arkansas Acoustic Festival Showdown at UCA. For more information or to reserve seating to the concert, call 800-662-2386. Rhythm and lead guitars backed by a thumping hip-hop mix make up “rock-hop,” and Juanita’s Cantina Ballroom will have it on Thursday, June 30, with Rafael Colmore. The group consists of hip-hop artist Rafael and Arkansas rocker Colmore. The band is the latest winner of Juanita’s Summer Showcase, sponsored by the Edge 100.3. Juanita’s holds the event every Tuesday at 8 p.m. Substance will open the Thursday show at 9 p.m. Admission for ages 18 and up is $6.

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