Yesterday and today's music slump 


Northwest Arkansas continues to produce popular music acts. The venerable blues-rock Cate Brothers still perform regularly, as do the younger jam-rock groups led by B Side and the Sarah Hughes Band. But the club music scene seems to be suffering.

Randy Stratton, who runs the entertainment company started by his father, Dayton, during the late 1950s, says, “Back in the old days, the music was off Dickson Street, but today when you talk about live music it’s Dickson, and it’s slumping, according to the club owners.

“I don’t go poking my nose into the club owners’ business, I just go on what I hear, but the lines are shorter, and you hear the sad-song thing. Dickson Street is down … The Cate Brothers [whom Stratton represents] say they’ve seen it slump off a bit. Times have changed for the younger set. They’re more into the techno entertainment. And the older folks don’t get out as often or stay out as long.”

Stratton and his family operated the Rink, west of town on Highway 62, for 35 years before selling that landmark, which featured some big names in live music (Joe Walsh and the James Gang, Van Morrison in Them, the infamous Zorro and the Blue Footballs) but now is set up as a remix, techno hip-hop/billiard club. In and around Dickson Street and the town square, J.R.’s Light Bulb Club dropped live music last year and is now called Tangerine. The Dickson Street Theater hasn’t had any live music of late. George’s Majestic Lounge, which in the 1980s became a favorite live music joint, and the Gypsy almost stand alone as contemporary live venues with touring acts, though Jose’s and Benson’s Bar & Que have some live original music. The Dart Club on North College brings in heavy metal groups.

Stratton notes that today, Fayetteville’s style of music is all over the map, unlike the days of the Rockwood, Tee Table and Shamrock clubs with rockabilly and rock ’n’ roll. Those latter two buildings no longer exist; Ronnie Hawkins’ Rockwood Club on Highway 71 near the Fayetteville Country Club became St. Michael’s Disco Alley in the late 1970s and today is used for office storage.

“Maybe the market still isn’t big enough to support all the diverse styles out there now. I just think it’s a slump and will come back around,” Stratton said. “It’s no fault of the club owners, they’re all bringing in decent talent. Sometimes college towns can be real fickle.”

Stratton, whose booking business takes him often into Oklahoma, says, “Stillwater [home of Oklahoma State University] had its ups and downs, and Norman [home of the University of Oklahoma] is starting to rejuvenate around Campus Corner and is starting to happen again, but it went through a slump two or three years ago.”

It’s the major cities in the region — Little Rock, Oklahoma City and Tulsa — Stratton says, where live music is flourishing.

“Here in Fayetteville, in the late 1970s, early ’80s, disco took over, but live music came back around,” he said. “It’s a little different this time. We’re inundated by more types of entertainment from everywhere. There used to be three TV networks, and now you have dozens just on basic cable. It’s the same analogy with going out, there’s so much more than just live music to do.”



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Saturday's open line, plus some political notes

    The Saturday open line, with some political odds and ends:
    • Dec 15, 2018
  • Obamacare's ruin: Where are the boastful press releases from Arkansas Republicans?

    Silence so far from Republican politicians such as Leslie Rutledge on achievement of their long-stated dream, death to the Affordable Care Act. Could that be because most people now understand what a good thing President Obama did with its passage? Update: Rutledge applauds and offers empty promise of coverage.
    • Dec 15, 2018
  • Entergy demolishes old power plant near Stamps

    Entergy, the state's largest electric utility, yesterday used explosives to destroy the major parts of its closed Couch Plant near Stamps, which dated to 1943 and was designed to burn fuel oil or gas at two generating units. Named for power company founder Harvey Couch, it's been out of commission since 2013.
    • Dec 15, 2018
  • More »

More by Jim Harris

  • Mandolin Orange at South on Main: A Review

    While the North Carolina duo's work is music to chill by, there were no sleepers.
    • Dec 7, 2018
  • Less Cowbell: Foghat and Blue Oyster Cult at Magic Springs

    A dozen years or so separated visits to the Timberwood Amphitheater for me and my son. But one thought was the same, and at the same time reminded me that a dozen years of watching your kid grow up flies by like a flash. That thought: Man, I wish Little Rock had an outdoor music site like this.
    • Jul 20, 2018
  • Travs return

    And much more.
    • Apr 5, 2018
  • More »

Latest in Top Stories

  • Good for the soul

    The return of Say McIntosh, restaurateur
    • Jun 1, 2010
  • Robocalls are illegal

    Robocalls -- recorded messages sent to thousands of phone numbers -- are a fact of life in political campaigns. The public doesn't like them much, judging by the gripes about them, but campaign managers and politicians still believe in their utility.
    • May 31, 2010
  • Riverfest winds down

    With Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Steve Miller Band, Robert Cray, Ludacris and more performing.
    • May 30, 2010
  • More »

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation