The Showcase continues 

Round two, 9 p.m.
Feb. 4, Sticky Fingerz:

3 Penny Acre

The contest's lone representative from Northwest Arkansas, this three-piece carves an egalitarian path. Everyone sings and everyone writes songs. Bryan Hembree, who co-founded the popular Fayetteville band Grandpa's Goodtime Fandango, put together 3 Penny Acre (named after the cost, roughly, of land included in the Louisiana Purchase) three years ago with his wife, Bernice Hembree, and Bayard Blain, a professional luthier who supplies instruments to Ezra Idlet, of Trout Fishing in America, and a number of other folk music standouts. Last year, the group won “Best New Band” at the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards and in two weeks it will head to the Folk Alliance in Memphis. It'll be well equipped. Its acoustic arsenal includes guitar, mandolin, upright bass, bouzouki (it's in the lute family) and brush bucket.

Big Boots

Few local acts come with better pop-rock pedigrees. Co-founders Mason Maudlin (guitar, vocals) and Michael Motley (drums, vocals) also co-founded Sugar in the Raw (later, after the threat of litigation, Sugar and the Raw), the Little Rock party band that packed out local rooms in the early part of the decade like no one in recent memory. And current bassist Trevor Ware — who's the fourth man to hold the job in two years, with Will Boyd, Jonathan Trotter and Luke Hunsicker as his predecessors — spent years in local teen-dream indie-pop sensation Grand Serenade. Together, they're drawing from Southern rock, Brit-rock (and pop) and indie rock. Guess what there's bound to be a lot of?

Elise Davis

I think I said last week that none of the Showcase contestants had ever participated. I was wrong. Back when Elise Davis was 17, she made it to the semifinals with a band called the Sandbox Lizards. With experience that goes even beyond that — she started writing songs at 12 — Davis returns to the Showcase a seasoned vet. A UA Fayetteville senior, she has three albums under her belt and soon plans to record in Nashville with a producer who's worked with Alison Krauss. On Thursday, she'll be backed by Jordan Trotter (lead guitar), Trevor Ware (pulling double-duty on bass) and Joshua Tate (drums).

Matt Stell and the Crashers

One of the few Showcase acts who play music fulltime, this four-piece evolved out of a solo project by Center Ridge native Matt Stell, who started performing live during his sophomore year at Drury University in Springfield, Mo., which he attended on a basketball scholarship. In 2008, Stell released his debut album, “The Sound and the Story,” which gradually, thanks to hard touring and strong songwriting, has picked up a considerable amount of airplay in Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. Along the way, the band managed to pick up at least one high-profile fan: At the end of the month, former Drive-By Trucker and current alt-county star Jason Isbell will produce Stell and the Crashers' first album as a full band at legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals.
— Lindsey Millar


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