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Johnny Cash Music Festival returns to ASU 

THURSDAY 8/15-SATURDAY 8/17

EUREKA SPRINGS BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL

Various times and venues.

The music festivals up in the Little Switzerland of the Ozarks continue with the annual Eureka Springs Bluegrass Festival, which kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday at Basin Spring Park with The Water Melon Social, which features free water and watermelon. There'll be an open jam as well, so bring your banjo or your fiddle or your dobro or your acoustic guitar or your mandolin or your harmonica or your standup bass and go ahead and join in. Starting at noon on Friday and Saturday, there will be free music at the park. Friday's lineup includes the Eureka Springs Bluegrass Band, Gary Allbritton & Friends, The Dragon Masters, Mountain View Friends and The Clark Family Trio with Bill Nesbitt. Saturday's free offerings include The Buffalo City Ramblers, The Dragon Masters, Buddy Griffin & Friends, The Clark Family, Pam Setser and Mountain View Friends, The Gravel Yard Bluegrass Band and Ozark Alliance. Saturday night at The Auditorium boasts a huge lineup of players, including Tim Crouch, Arkansas Red, Ron Landers, Donny Catron, Retro & Smiling, Spoon Man and headliners Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press (filling in for Jesse McReynolds, who is unable to perform because of health issues). That show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are $18-$28. Call 479-253-7333 for more information.

FRIDAY 8/16

FOUL PLAY CABARET, THE FRONTIER CIRCUS

9 p.m. Maxine's. $10 adv., $12 day of.

Could there be a more appealing combination of entertainers for the discerning gadabout than country musicians and burlesque performers? I think not. The burlesque troupe in this case would be the lovely, the beautiful and talented, the coolly unflappable ladies of the Foul Play Cabaret, est. 2011, Hot Springs, Ark. According to the group's online bio, Foul Play Cabaret "has been capturing the hearts of many with their diverse and sultry shows, proving that the only thing hotter than the water in Hot Springs, Arkansas is the women." Zing! If you require evidence of this claim, check 'em out on the ole YouTube, they've got some, uh, teasers posted on there. Yowza! As far as the music portion of the evening is concerned, that will be handled by The Frontier Circus, a rambunctious bunch of rabble-rousers who mangle your favorite country and garage-psych classics in a delightfully feedback-enveloped manner.

FRIDAY 8/16

JIMBO MATHUS AND THE TRI-STATE COALITION

10 p.m. White Water Tavern. $10.

We've written quite a bit about Mississippi's Jimbo Mathus here at the Times and that's because, well, No. 1 we're just big fans of his music. His great recent "White Buffalo" album is still getting spins around these parts (Man, that opener, "In the Garden," is a classic). But also, he comes up with nuggets like the following, which was his answer to a question in a recent interview with the Austin Chronicle's Derek Van Wagner. The fellow asked him: What makes good American music? Mathus said: "What a hard question that is. I'd say get some bark on you, do your homework and just love music and be passionate about the roots of your indigenous music and play and have fun with it. And that makes you a great American and a great patriot. I like music that creates a positive influence in the world. Positive change — that's what I'm trying to be." It was a hard question, but that sure sounds like the correct answer. Also on this bill: blues singer/songwriter Davis Coen, a South Carolina native based out of Memphis. He performed at our Heritage Hog Roast back in May. Check out his tune "Change in the Weather," it's a good'n.

SATURDAY 8/17

JOHNNY CASH MUSIC FESTIVAL

7 p.m. Arkansas State University. $38-$150.

The Johnny Cash Music Festival enters its third year this weekend, and according to a recent press release from Arkansas State University (which hosts the event), one part of the festival's mission is nearly in sight: The restoration of the Cash boyhood home in Dyess is scheduled to be complete and the museum open in the spring. The festival's proceeds also help fund a scholarship to ASU, which four students currently enrolled at the university have benefited from. The lineup this year skews a bit more toward the mainstream '80s-'90s side of the country spectrum, with hitmaker Vince Gill as headliner, joined by Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Jimmy Fortune (of The Statler Brothers), and hosts Tommy Cash and Joanne Cash.

SATURDAY 8/17

JOSEPH ISRAEL

9 p.m. Stickyz. $8 adv., $10 day of.

So a few years ago, I was living in Fayetteville and I walked into the natural foods store to buy some organic Cheetos or something, and I look up and there's standing Earl "Chinna" Smith. No exaggeration: The man played on like half the reggae albums I own. Probably more than half now that I think about it. I-Roy, Burning Spear, Toots & The Maytals, Big Youth, Dillinger, Max Romeo, The Upsetters, Scientist, The Mighty Diamonds, Augustus Pablo — the list goes on seemingly forever of albums to which Smith contributed his versatile, snaky guitar playing. I think it would be fair to say that he's the king of reggae session guitarists. So why was he was standing in a hippie "co-op" in Arkansas, looking around like, what is this place? He was in town because he'd hooked up with Joseph Fennell, a.k.a. Joseph Israel, a guy from Fayetteville whose dad owns some popular restaurants. Israel loved reggae so much he grew out dreads and started talking with a patois and converted to Rastafarianism (he also quotes the Bible a lot on his Facebook). Oh, and he went down to Kingston and recorded at Tuff Gong and actually did a duet with Luciano and Dean Fraser (which isn't too bad). He's got a new album out called "Kingdom Road" and ... I don't know, it's all just so weird. There was this bizarre Fayetteville thing going on for a while where these people from Arkansas were all "Jah" this and "Irie" that and "I and I gon' chant down Babylon" or whatever and lots of us were all like, "Ha-ha, whatever poseurs." But then one of them actually became a somewhat notable reggae artist. He put out an album on Universal a few years ago. He's on a compilation album for children called "Songs for the Car," alongside Billy Ray Cyrus and Smashmouth and Hanson and Patti LaBelle. Just, weird.

SATURDAY 8/17

YUNG JOC

9 p.m.-5 a.m. Discovery. $10-$15.

Atlanta's Yung Joc first blew up big back in 2006, with his debut for Diddy's Bad Boy South label, "New Joc City." You might remember that video for "I Know You See It." Most recently, Joc was featured alongside T-Pain on the track "Addicted to Sex." Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane seemingly dissed Joc on a track from last year's "Trap God": "I got all eyes on me like Pac did / But I ain't tryin' to go broke like Joc did." So did Joc respond by going all ballistic and beefin' with Gucci? Nah, he was totally cool about it while also being hilarious. He told V-103's The Loud Pack that he loves Gucci and that "at the end of the day, it's freedom of speech man. Because I could be like, 'Whatever, Gucci ugly as ever.' I could be like, 'He done burned half the strippers in Atlanta.' I could say whatever but that don't mean nothing, it's just freedom of speech, that's what music's about."

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