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The Village aims high 

Pete Yorn is a terrific pop singer-songwriter from the Northeast United States with a great band of Brits backing him. I heard first heard him live, somewhat by accident, when he was playing the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis nearly three years ago. I first thought it was strange that a guy who sounded this good was forced onto a stage at noon on a Sunday — though, to be sure, there aren’t any bad acts at Memphis in May, and Yorn may not have been as widely known as some of the later acts. Our crew had a whole different lineup of acts to see from noon until late, leading up to one of the last shows ever by Stone Temple Pilots, but Yorn kept us transfixed at his stage.

We found out last week, during an interview with Yorn, that he actually played two shows that day: the one in Memphis, and later that night a show in Fargo, N.D. So he was fine with the early start time at the Beale Street festival.

Yorn will make his first Little Rock appearance Nov. 10, when he’ll headline at the new Village, the nightclub in the old Cinema 150 at Asher and University that will hold up to 1,000 folks.

Yorn is the type of act that Jon Love and Hitchhiker Entertainment are aiming for with this new venture. Previously, Love worked with Erin Hurley at Juanita’s and in the Hitchhiker promotion company, doing some large shows at the Clear Channel Metroplex. They eventually decided to split their company, with Hurley giving Love the Hitchhiker name while Hurley remained at Juanita’s booking the acts there.

Everyone deep in the music business here will tell you that the good regional touring rock acts have said Little Rock needed the mid-sized venue, one bigger than the 300-person occupancy of Juanita’s and Sticky Fingerz and less than the 2,500 seats at Robinson Center. Clubs such as Joe’s Big Bamboo have come and gone, and some of good size such as Electric Cowboy and the Metroplex are a ways out from Midtown, but none have the built-in, concert-style seating that the Village has.

So, with the Village and with the 600-capacity Revolution Room in the River Market, the opportunities for outstanding regional and national touring shows in Little Rock have improved significantly in the past five months. Love imagined his Village to be for Little Rock what the NorVa is in Norfolk, Va., a regular tour stop for such hot acts as Carbon Leaf, Crossbreed and the like, but also a spot where lesser-drawing acts will stop in, too.

Yorn’s appearance will be a show that any music fan will like. You can find him on myspace.com, and on any number of eclectic and modern rock streaming stations on the Internet.

The Revolution Room will be bringing back Whild Peach, the backup band for Outkast, and Skid Row in coming weeks.

The new and larger clubs don’t appear to be hurting the longtime favorites. Juanita’s has an incredible lineup of acts all month, and Sticky Fingerz continues to attract good, modern acts from rock to bluegrass/newgrass.

The exciting thing is, however, that acts such as Yorn are finally venturing this way thanks to local music promoters taking a risk on ventures such as the Village. We’re excited about the prospects there and in the rest of the club scene in the coming months.

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