Favorite

Mulehead rides again 

click to enlarge TWO NIGHTS OF MULEHEAD: At White Water.
  • TWO NIGHTS OF MULEHEAD: At White Water.

The plan was in place. Mulehead, arguably Little Rock's most popular band in the late '90s and early '00s, was set to reunite earlier this year at Riverfest. And it would get plum billing: playing just before Lucero and The Black Crowes. The guys in the group got excited, started telling friends and began to practice. Three weeks later, Riverfest called back and told front man Kevin Kerby that Mulehead had been bumped — for Uncle Kracker.

Still, the Riverfest debacle planted a seed. With urging from Last Chance Records' Travis Hill, the band booked White Water for this weekend's two-night stand. It'll be the first time Kerby, guitarist Dave Raymond, drummer Geoff Curran and bassist Brent LaBeau have played together since a thrown-together gig during Towncraft week in 2007 and, before that, since 2004.

The alt-country boom was on during Mulehead's heyday, and, for fans of wry, boozy lyrics and spiked country rock, it didn't get much better. The group regularly sold out local venues, with, as front man Kevin Kerby remembers it, three distinct crowds cycling through during the band's lifespan.

"There'd be a bunch of people coming to see us, and they'd get older and quit going to the clubs so much, and then the next group of kids would come along," he said last week.

That steady brand of loyalty might have something to do with how the band came about. In 1992, just as he was beginning to form an early version of Mulehead, Kerby joined Ho-Hum and stuck around for six years playing guitar. Ho-Hum, as those familiar with the band know, came within steps of pop success, only to be kicked down, unceremoniously, by the vagaries of the music business. When he quit Ho-Hum in 1998, Kerby was determined to do things differently.

The night after he quit, Kerby went into the studio to record Mulehead's debut album, "Never Again." Local vets Greg Spradlin, Chris Michaels, Dave Hoffpauir and Jeff Matika backed him up. The permanent line-up of Curran, LaBeau and Raymond came aboard for album number two, "The Gospel Accordion 2" (no one is pun-ier than Kerby in local music).

From the outset, Kerby said Mulehead was a local project. The album cover of Mulehead's third record, "Rocket Surgery," shows an actual highway sign in Northeast Arkansas with one arrow pointing to (the town of) Success and another towards Little Rock. Mulehead always chooses Little Rock. Out of loyalty. Out of a desire to stick close to family. And because Kerby and LaBeau — who went through similar label frustrations as a member of The Gunbunnies — had played the big music business game and weren't interested in another turn.

Kerby remembered a conversation with someone who wanted to manage Mulehead.

"He told me 'If you guys would tour, I'd make you famous.' And my response was, 'If you'd make me famous, I'd tour.' "

"We only wanted to be so successful," Kerby said. "We didn't want it to go huge. Which really works to your advantage when you're in a band. Because you're not going to be."

Kerby conceded that Riverfest probably made the right decision bumping Mulehead for Uncle Kracker. Beyond Little Rock, and maybe even beyond the local club crowd, Uncle Kracker's radio ready pop reigns over Mulehead's country-rock bar stomp. But it's hard to imagine that a fourth wave of fans, joining survivors from the first three, won't fill White Water to the brim on Friday and Saturday.

Particularly with two fine openers. On Friday, Kerby's childhood friend Brent Best, the lead singer of Slobberbone, opens the show. Saturday is a double reunion as rockers Il Libertina (Joshua Bentley, Paul Bowling, Graham Cobb and Marcus Lowe) play again in the opening slot.

Advanced tickets are available via lastchancerecords.com for $10. Otherwise, tickets are $12 at the door the day of show. Both shows begin at 10 p.m.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Tags:

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

  • The Cotton, Boozman Nowhere to Be Found Edition

    Arkansas politicians and the health care overhaul and Russia investigation, the ascension of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the firing of Pulaski County Superintendent Jerry Guess, the end of Riverfest, UA-LR and football and maybe more — all covered on the podcast.
    • Jul 21, 2017
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
    • Jul 18, 2017
  • The Power Ultra Fallout Edition

    The Power Ultra Lounge shooting and related political fallout, Secretary of State Mark Martin and Trump’s election integrity commission and former circuit judge Mike Maggio — all covered on this week's podcast.
    • Jul 7, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in A&E Feature

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: On "Beyond Scared Straight"

    • I need to find a scared straight program for my 14 yr old daughter here…

    • on July 20, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation