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Feel the Vapors 

If George Wendt (a.k.a. Norm Peterson from “Cheers”), a pub crawl and green fireworks lighting the sky above downtown isn’t enough to get you to Hot Springs on Thursday, there’s music aplenty at Maxine’s Puzzle Bar, too, and it lasts through Saturday. It’s called the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival, and it’s a first-time try by Chicago transplants Shea Childs and Bill Solleder to bring bands through Hot Springs on their way to or from Austin’s South-by-Southwest showcase and music conference this week. Their festival, which started Tuesday, blends national acts with some local stars. Thursday’s lineup has Chicago-based the Last Vegas; the Nagasaki, Japan-based Fantasy’s Core; and Little Rock’s Chicklettes. On Friday, Little Rock’s American Tourist kicks off a show with Fourth Rotor from Chicago and Josh the Devil and the Sinners from North Little Rock. Unsigned Hot Springs band 13 Floors High; Viva Voce of Portland, Ore.; and the Kings of New England, from Fayetteville, make up Saturday’s lineup. Each show is open to ages 18 and up and starts at 9 p.m. Childs says the couple’s connection in the thriving underground music community of Chicago and both coasts gave them some inroads to some of the acts traveling to Austin. But starting the festival also gave them a chance to spotlight some local talent. Motorhead and Thin Lizzy fans will like the Last Vegas, Childs said. Fantasy’s Core has a Sex Pistols or Guitar Wolf punk style. Viva Voce is following in the footsteps of the White Stripes, with the husband-and-wife team of Kevin and Anita Robinson playing indie rock with fuzzy distortion emanating from the amp. Chicago’s Fourth Rotor has a punk sound, Josh the Devil is pushing “punkabilly,” and the Chicklettes have built a local following with their Joan Jett-meets-Iggy Pop glam garage-rock approach. American Tourist is an indie rocker. The Kings of New England fall into the “emo” brand of alternative. “The opportunity to see these shows doesn’t come along in Arkansas very often,” Childs said. Nightly cover is $5. Some musings after last week’s of a Razorback basketball implosion: Stan Heath is the best thing to happen to Houston Nutt since Danny Ford. Nutt couldn’t have picked a better time to address the Little Rock Touchdown Club than Monday, and he brought new, enthusiastic defensive coordinator Reggie Herring with him to P.A.R.K. to speak to almost 300 members of the club, all ready to hear some football talk. A horrible finish to the basketball season will cause that with Arkansas fans. Meanwhile, my spies at the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament in Atlanta, who sat near UA chancellor John White and members of the UA Board of Trustees, noticed a lot of scowls last week as Arkansas failed to show for its game with equally bad Tennessee, losing by 19 points. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution referred to the Hogs as “the team formerly known as Arkansas.” There’s scuttlebutt that the board scuttled UA athletic director Frank Broyles’ attempt to send Heath packing over the weekend because of lingering legal problems with the previous coach, Nolan Richardson. So, we’re told, he simply made life a whole lot harder and the seat a whole lot hotter than it already was.
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