Arkansas angler and fishing expert Billy Murray shares his extensive knowledge of the Diamond Lakes of Arkansas
OMG. For weeks now, we've practically been able to hear the days get Sharpie'd off on wall calendars all over town. The tween-pop Elvis is coming to Verizon for what is guaranteed to be the most frenzied concert Little Rock sees all year. Now, the Biebs has gotten more than his fair share of criticism since his astronomical ascent from YouTube scrubbery to international megafame, but we're not interested in calling out the omnipresent young pup for his fortunes, deserved or otherwise. He's a kid making music for other kids; grown men aren't really in a place to dismiss him. That's like saying, "cat food tastes gross." However, we might say "cats go bonkers for this cat food," and it's in that spirit that I'll acknowledge that Bieber is nothing short of a pop music sensation. This month, he was the most Googled celebrity, his video for "Baby" became the most viewed YouTube video of all time and a gang of Internet pranksters almost succeeded in rigging a poll that would have sent the 16-year-old to tour North Korea. The sensation will be joined by fellow teen-pop star Sean Kingston, who's sure to provide the eeriest part of the night when the arena sings along to his Ben E. King-sampling, suicide-flauntin' hit track, "Beautiful Girls."
According to our estimates, Curren$y released upwards of a gajillion mixtapes before he dropped his first proper, studio album last month: "Pilot Talk," one of the best rap albums of the year. After spending his 20s jumping around his native New Orleans' biggest rap labels (No Limit and Young Money/Cash Money), landing on the cover of XXL Magazine solely on the strength of his mixtapes, and releasing two instant slack-rap classics in "Elevator Musik" and "Breakfast," the rapper's now putting his work out properly with the help of diamond-studded rap label, Roc-A-Fella. His is a relatively mellow sound, not made for bedrooms or dance floors, but for tracing plumes of weed smoke through everyday monotony and, in a way, showing the familiar in a new light. When he talks about his "inkpen sneezin' " or "downloading an updated NBA roster" over a bossa-nova sample, it's like an indie-rap "Curb Your Enthusiasm." While a lot of rappers seem to pop and then quickly fade from the spotlight, Curren$y has years and years of proved staying power behind him and enough chill "What? Me worry?" charisma to make us think he'll be around for a while. He's supported by a whole pack of emcees, including progressive rapper XV, the buzzy Kevin Jack and locals E-Dubb Joe Average, 4x4 Crew and Flame.
The weekend festivals in Northwest Arkansas show no sign of slowing down, do they? This weekend brings the second year of Pronoia, described by organizers as "litter-free, synergistic, synchronistic weekend of great music focused on community, sustainability, art, spirituality and education." With trails ready to be hiked and, water levels and weather pending, plenty of floating and kayaking available around Mulberry Mountain, it's a ready-made trip for the woodsy. Oh, and the festival is packed with tons of music, too. Gift of Gab, one half of hip-hop greats Blackalicious, headlines alongside jam outfit Spoonfed Tribe and the psych-glitch electronica of Heyoka. Arkansas acts abound as well, with boogie-woogie folkies Damn Bullets, the brass-laced funk jam of 1 Oz. Jig, instrumentalists Echo Canyon and a slew of DJs including Cool Shoes regulars Wolf-E-Wolf and Shawn Lee. Get more information on the three-day festival at www.myspace.com/pronoiafest.
Having spent years fronting thrash and doom metal acts in Louisiana, Dax Riggs has come into his own, spearheading the successful, garage duo of Deadboy and the Elephantmen while nurturing his own solo career, a swampy amalgamation of Jack White, Beck and Nick Cave, for lack of better touchstones. While Deadboy is no longer, Dax's still on the road with his glammed-up, psych-swollen take on roots-rock, singing about the devil, cigarettes and graveyards. Time will tell whether this crossroads will be Dax's final destination or if it's just another stop in his long, weird drive through disparate genres. His newest album, "Say Goodnight to the World," is set to be released next Tuesday on Fat Possum Records.Badhand opens.
I'd like to propose that Randy Travis has not only one of the greatest voices in country music, but one of the greatest voices in recent music. It's one part rocking-chair Appalachia, one part Tuvan throat singing. A bit froggy, a bit brassy, but always rounded; it's far from typical but worthy of endless repeat. Look no further than his biggest single, "Forever and Ever Amen," and the recent "Faith in You" for the Lefty Frizzell cum Kurt Wagner (of Lambchop) tone. It helps, as well, that Travis has stuck with his traditionalist country sound, not keying into the auto-tuned "pop with a twang" sound that's taken the place of dobros and snare brushes in recent years. All in all, he's one of country music's most beloved defenders, and this is your chance to catch him serenade and strut.
After spending years providing vocals for Hot Water Music, one of the acts that defined post-hardcore and pre-eyeliner emo-core, Chuck Ragan is back, peddling hard-edged Americana folk. It's become borderline commonplace for old punkers to make the transition to anthemic, acoustic rally songs, but Ragan's innate skills with rhythm and his ability to mesh punk syllabics with plain-stated folk help him sound like an actual folkie, opposed to a punk dude in the midst of a flirtation with an acoustic guitar. It's a natural progression that's lent itself to three solo albums and a fistful of live recordings. His last visit to town was a 2008 show at Juanita's, doing acoustic sets alongside Tim Barry (of Avail) and Ben Nichols (you know) in front of a capacity crowd. Even if the show at Sticky's doesn't reach that type of elbow-to-elbow standing space, you can be assured it'll be full of passionate fans.
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