Career opportunities (a thank you and a goodbye)

September 17th, 2015 at 3:26 pm

I remember early in the life of this blog when a web producer started tallying the hits on the site.

There were just a handful of readers. He pulled out some Google Analytic data and preached the potential reach of this project. My first out-of-state visitor, he told me, came from a small town in Kansas. If people there could find it, he mused, people anywhere could find it.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him what I immediately knew — that one reader from Paola, Kansas, was most certainly my mother.

People eventually did find this blog, and not just family members. And for that, I owe each and every one of you a debt of gratitude. The blog has grown in readership and scope beyond what we ever conceived.

That is not expected to change, even if some of the behind-the-scenes logistics do.

As of this afternoon, after more than 2,550 posts spanning eight plus years, I’m stepping away. I’ve accepted a copywriting job with a nearby marketing firm.

TunedIn will take a break. For how long, I’m not sure. I’ve been promised it will return when the paper finds someone to fill the role. (Interested? Email our managing editor.)

I ought to take a break. I’ve always wondered if there’s a shelf life on music critics. I don’t understand the value of EDM music. I suspect some now 50-year-old music critic said the same thing about “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” 15 years ago, too.

It’s been a great run. The blog has survived three different parent papers and its primary author (me, Kevin Kinder) has lucked through four rounds of layoffs. That kind of longevity is a blessing, and I don’t take iy for granted.

It’s yielded a lot, and I do mean a lot, of content

The 2,500 posts include 284 I’ve categorized as Concert Reviews. That’s almost a full year of concerts. Some were massive, such as the Kenny Chesney show at the Walmart AMP. Some featured a half dozen people in a basement. I’ve loved shows. I’ve even hated a few shows. I’ve enjoyed them all in their own way. I still love what I do.

As a result, I think you’ll see just as much of me. I might take a minute-long break, maybe even a week-long break, from writing about music. But not much more. You’ll see me at shows, I promise.

Until then, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for sticking around and allowing this opportunity.

Long live rock ‘n’ roll. And long live The Clash, and long live career opportunities.

YouTube Preview Image

A Fayetteville songwriter storms ‘The Voice’

September 17th, 2015 at 10:26 am

Congratulations are in order to local songwriter Barrett Baber.

Televised singing competition “The Voice” next airs on Monday (Sept. 21). A promotional video for the upcoming episode features Baber, who covers Jeff Healy Band’s “Angel Eyes” before a panel of celebrity judges.

And he impressed them all.

I don’t know what this means, exactly. I can’t say I’m much of a “Voice” fan.

But I do know it means another moment in the national spotlight for Baber, who also won a national contest and performed a Grammy Gig of a Lifetime show in 2014.

This is a very promising turn for Baber, a teacher at Fayetteville High School, and it’s a great opportunity for exposure for Fayetteville, too.

Here’s a video of his performance, which stops just shy of showing us which celebrity judge he’ll work with on the new season:

YouTube Preview Image

Break a leg, Barrett. We’re pulling for you.

Concert review: Hozier, Sept. 15 at the Walmart AMP

September 16th, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Hozier captured at his Sept. 15 concert at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Democrat-Gazette.

Hozier captured at his Sept. 15 concert at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Democrat-Gazette.

Last night (Sept. 15) during his concert at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers, Hozier reminded me of Taylor Swift.

I’ll get back to Hozier in a minute. Let’s talk about TSwift for just a second first.

I watched her live in Bud Walton Arena, where she offered a headlining concert as part of the Walmart Shareholders’ week. It was June 2008, she was 18, and she had one album to her credit. Swift was turning into a pop star right before our eyes, even if she self-described as a country act until earlier this year. Standing in front of a crowd in excess of 10,000, she looked flabbergasted in a charmed “how is this my life?” sort of way. The Bud Walton crowd that day was one of her largest she’d ever drawn. We all know what’s happened since — Swift has turned into a megastar of the kind of wattage only a handful can claim.


Now back to Hozier, who drew about 6,000 on a beautiful evening in Rogers. The 25-year-old Irish singer-songwriter stands on the same kind of precipice, looking out into the adoring masses, and they certainly adored his nearly 90 minute set on Tuesday. During the start of his second song, he grinned large and wide following the cheer that erupted after he played the first chord. Not so long ago, no one knew any of his songs by heart, much less an album cut. It’s hard not to smile seeing your art appreciated for the first time.

Pop music is a fickle creature, and there’s no way of knowing if Hozier becomes the next big(ger) thing. But he possesses the talent, and right now he possesses the momentum, started by the crossover hit “Take Me to Church” and followed by other singles such as “Someone New.”

He certainly did not treat his performance like a novice show, even if he got momentarily amused by the veracity of the crowd. He bolstered his blues plus folk songs with a heavily choreographed light show and a full band, complete with two backup singers. There was only one guitar player in the band, however — Hozier handled those duties with a intricate finger style. He’s a very good guitarist, although that’s easy to lose in the spectacle of it all.

Nate Ruess

Nate Ruess

Speaking of spectacle, the concert was made instantly better by the inclusion of Nate Ruess and his new band the Grand Romantics. You may know Ruess as the lead vocalist of fun. (or maybe even his pre-fun. band, The Format). Leading a new group and touring behind a new solo album, he didn’t move far from fun.’s fun formula (sorry about that pun). His bouncing, twirling and jumping routine came in equal measures to his bouncing voice. I heard more than one person say his 45-minute boisterous warmup set outshone Hozier’s slower-paced blues musings. I’m not sure I completely agree, but I understand exactly why someone might think it.

It’s a rare modern concert — short of someone not in country music or not named Taylor Swift — that includes one song EVERYONE knows. There were two last night in Ruess’ “We Are Young,” originally by fun., and Hozier’s “Take Me to Church.” I’m not quite sure which got the bigger response.

Hozier, meanwhile, milked everything he could from his debut album and his EPs. He played all but one of the songs on his late 2014 self-titled full-length debut, and also included two covers, a sped-up electric version of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and Ariana Grande’s “Problem.” Neither of those moments were my favorite, which says something about the stoutness of his original material. He’s likely reached the peak of his crowd size and experience that a single album can yield in the modern music world.

Hozier’s continues ascent will rely on a solid second album, of course. But the first provided a high plateau from which to climb.

Soon in tunes: Josh Abbott Band, Sept. 17 at George’s

September 16th, 2015 at 9:31 am

Josh Abbott Band photo by C. Taylor Crothers

Josh Abbott Band photo by C. Taylor Crothers

As Texas country outfit Josh Abbott Band prepares to release an ambitious new album, the group is hitting the road, including a stop at 9:30 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 17) at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville. The new work, “Front Row Seat,” will be dropped Nov. 6 and will be fashioned into 15 songs spread over five distinct acts. Mike Ryan also performs. Admission to the band’s set at George’s is $20.

Soon in tunes: Roy Clark, Sept. 17 at the Alma PAC

September 15th, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Roy Clark

Roy Clark

Known both for his tenure hosting the country variety show “Hee Haw” and his music abilities, Roy Clark continues his career more than 55 years after it started. The 82-year-old member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame will visit the Alma Performing Arts Center on Thursday (Sept. 17) for a set with The Tulsa Playboys. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show range from $25 to $45 and are available by calling 632-2129 or via

Welcome to the AAC Live season

September 14th, 2015 at 10:33 am

Laurence Juber

Laurence Juber

The Artist Audience Community Live concert series gets a bit of a lift to kick off it’s 2015-16 season. You might even say the opening event has “Wings.”

Or maybe just the lead guitarist from the band Wings, the Grammy-winning outfit fronted by Paul McCartney.

The annual season of intimate shows in Fort Smith begins Thursday (Sept. 17) with a performance by Laurence Juber, who played in Wings from 1978 to 1981.

Here’s a schedule of concerts for the season:

Thursday — Laurence Juber

Oct. 22 — Eliza Gilkyson

Nov. 18 — Sam Baker

Dec. 11 — Seth Glier

Jan. 14 — The Cate Brothers

Feb. 10 — Martin Taylor

March 10 — Regina Carter

I spoke with AAC Live’s production manager, Tom Ware, about the upcoming season. You can read my story in the online version of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Season tickets are $250 and on sale now. Single tickets for Juber’s performance go on sale early this week. Other single-session tickets go on sale early this week.

Jazz up your weekend in Eureka Springs

September 11th, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Joey DeFrancesco

Joey DeFrancesco

When Beto and the Fairlines pull into Basin Spring Park in Eureka Springs, they’ll notice a few differences from 1985.

The world music meets jazz outfit from Austin, Texas, played the first-ever Eureka Springs Jazz Festival. They return this weekend to play the modern version of the festival, which takes place this weekend in Eureka Springs.

In the 30 years since their inaugural performance, the festival has changed its name to Jazz Eureka. And there was also a dormant period without shows. But the festival is indeed back, and so is Beto and company.

They play a free show today (Sept. 11) from 7-9 p.m. in Basin Spring Park. Other acts fill out the free offerings on Saturday (Sept. 12) in the park, and organist Joey DeFrancesco performs the headlining show at 7:30 p.m. that evening in The Auditorium. Joe Cartwright is also on the bill for the event.

Organizer Rod Sumner told me recently about the history of the festival and why Eureka Springs is such a good host for jazz. Read my story in today’s What’s Up! section, available in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette or online.

Tickets are still available for Saturday’s headlining event.

The weekend in live music, with Paper Moon Shiners and more

September 11th, 2015 at 5:03 am

Paper Moon Shiners

Paper Moon Shiners

I remember this weekend last year.

I know because I ran the Winslow Half Marathon. And I remember it because because I had trained in the heat all summer, and, like magic — POW — fall arrived overnight. It was about 50 degrees that Saturday morning of the race, and I’m convinced the perfectly cool morning and overcast skies helped shave some major time off my run. It was perfect fall weather.

Fast forward a year and — POW — fall is coming right back. We’re due for that 50 degree morning this week, the same weekend as the run. If you aren’t out and enjoying this weekend, well … you have no excuses.

I’m excited, you guys.

And there’s some music to get excited about this weekend, too. Several of these suggestions involve some time outside, and that’s on purpose. Go. Please. Just go.

The Austin, Texas, duo Paper Moon Shiners makes a pass through the area for a pair of shows this weekend. On the band’s website, the musicians claim to “mine time periods that conjure up smoky prohibition speakeasies, dust bowl medicine shows, Mississippi Delta juke joints and Harlem Renaissance night clubs.” The band performs at 8 p.m. today at Kingfish in Fayetteville and at 9 p.m. Saturday at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe in Eureka Springs. For show details, visit

Speaking of Eureka Springs, you might want to drive there this weekend – with the windows down, of course — to see the Jazz Eureka events. More on them in a minute.

Another outdoor option is the now third annual Midtown Music Festival, which takes place Sunday (Sept. 13) in the parking lot in front of Ozark Natural Foods. Featured acts are Rochelle Bradshaw and Hypnotion and Cutty Rye.

In Fort Smith this weekend, Gooding performs Saturday at R. Landry’s New Orleans Cafe. The same evening, folk songwriter Chuck Brodsky has the stage at the Fayetteville Underground in Fayetteville.

What’s on your live music agenda?

Soon in tunes: Roby Pantall, Sept. 10 at The Big Chill

September 9th, 2015 at 11:19 am

The Roby Pantall Trio

The Roby Pantall Trio

Jazz guitarist Roby Pantall has teamed up with bassist Ron Pennington and drummer Ken Everts to record a new album, the 12-track “Elysian Fields.” The album, recorded at Crisp Studios in Fayetteville, features several jazzy, bluesy cuts and a jazz-inspired take on songs by The Beatles and James Taylor, too. The trio releases “Elysian Fields” on Thursday (Sept. 10) at The Big Chill in Rogers. The concert starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free, and there will be raffle drawings for free CDs.

Thoughts on the Roots Fest’s enduring appeal

September 8th, 2015 at 4:13 pm

In my column regarding the Fayetteville Roots Festival, I wrote that this town would collectively talk about the Watkins Family Hour for some time.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I still think about that set – the weirdness, the wildness, the occasional greatness.

The Watkins Family Hour wasn’t the only noteworthy set — Punch Brothers, Pokey LaFarge and John Fullbright all dazzled at various in the hectic Roots weekend.

I talked about the significance of the festival, and how it’s impacted by Bob Dylan‘s electrified folk album, “Highway 61 Revisited,” released exactly 50 years before the 2015 Roots Festival’s final day (Aug. 30). I promise that connection makes sense if you read my Listen Here! column, which appeared Friday in the What’s Up! section.

Do you have any lingering thoughts about the concerts you saw at the Roots Festival?

P.S.: Here’s a video of Fiona Apple and her bandmates in Watkins Family Hour covering Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” while at the Fayetteville Roots Festival. It’s really stellar, and the video is good quality, too.

YouTube Preview Image