Mud slide forces Wakarusa detour

May 28th, 2015 at 9:17 am

For all of you approaching Wakarusa from the south, you can go about your business as normal.

For all of you intending to approach the Mulberry Mountain location from the north, well, your plans have just changed.

Credit to my colleague Bill Bowden, who on Friday explored the idea that a major mudslide along Arkansas 23 would likely hamper or block southbound traffic near the festival site. If you haven’t read his story, take a moment to do so now – he digs into details about the history of closures of the road and how long it will take to fix.

I’ll summarize his story — It happens every few years, and it takes months to repair when it does. That also likely means Thunder on the Mountain (June 26-28) is affected, too.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department's official closure map. Make note of the Mulberry Mountain Lodge just to the south of the closure area. That's the Wakarusa host site.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department’s official closure map. Make note of the Mulberry Mountain Lodge just to the south of the closure area. That’s the Wakarusa host site.

The one thing missing from Bowden’s story was the official plan from Wakarusa, who told him they were working on a solution. That was announced late yesterday (May 26) afternoon.

Here’s the summary of Wakarusa’s update: Everyone must enter the festival grounds from the south. The preferred route for Fayettevillians is impassable, and the checkpoint at Arkansas 16 and Arkansas 23 will not exist this year. All entrance and ticketing resources will be transferred to the south checkpoint, located at Arkansas 23 and Arkansas 215. The festival staff says it should not affect the entrance times of festival attendees.

But it is a major detour. From my place in downtown Fayetteville, the festival grounds are 39 miles away via Arkansas 16 and Arkansas 23. The now-necessary southern route, which will take me onto I-49, then to I-40 before I can get on northbound Arkansas 23, covers 83 miles. Not fun.

But I’m not sure what the festival can do, either.

Spread the word. If you try from the north, you’ll be disappointed. Disappointed and late, considering you’ll have to turn around.

Summer music in Northwest Arkansas

May 27th, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Anthony D'Amato

Anthony D’Amato

Memorial Day just concluded, and that always marks the semi-official start of the summer season.

Which means its time to start looking into the summer music series that take place in Northwest Arkansas.

My colleague Becca Martin-Brown had the story on Friday. You can find her recap online, too.

Here’s the roster for two of them:

Mountain Street Stage, 2 p.m. Sundays in Walker Community Room at the Fayetteville Public Library. Admission is free.

June 7 — Earl and Them: with legendary Arkansas blues guitarist Earl Cate

June 14 — Block Street Hot Club: gypsy jazz

June 21 — Rochelle Bradshaw and Hypnotion: reggae fusion

June 28 — Cutty Rye: bluegrass, rock, blues & jazz influences

July 5 — Bill Dollar & Loose Change: rock, folk & country

July 12 — Sons of Otis Malone: acoustic country & bluegrass

July 19 — Brick Fields: Ozark gospel blues

July 26 — Smokey & The Mirror

Gulley Park Summer Concert Series, 7 p.m. Thursdays at the park in east Fayetteville. 

Thursday (May 28) — JM Band: An 18-piece big band playing selections from the Great American Songbook, the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s

June 11 — Anthony D’Amato: Heavy-hearted folk shot through with electric streaks of rock ‘n’ roll

June 25 — The Sisters Sweet: Performing original works by Candy Lee

July 9 — Barrett Baber: Arkansas singer/songwriter with a country/soul slant

July 23 – Groovement: A 6-piece funk-rock band that embodies the soul of Northwest Arkansas – fun, unpredictable, and full of life

Aug. 6 — Fast Times: All ’80s all the time

Announcing the Walmart Shareholders concerts

May 26th, 2015 at 12:25 pm

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Lynyrd Skynyrd performs “Freebird” live. Tickets to their concert on June 3 in Fayetteville were also free, if you were lucky enough to get one.

Each year, Wal-Mart hosts concerts leading up to the retail giant’s Shareholders Meeting. The meeting takes place June 5 in Bud Walton Arena. We never know who is performing at the actual Shareholders meeting until the performers arrive onstage. That’s a secret known by few, but big-name acts such as Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams have performed in recent years.

But we do know who is performing at the Tuesday (June 2) and Wednesday (June 3) night shows that provide visiting associates with a chance to see headlining acts. According to Ticketmaster’s website, tickets for both shows were made available to associates and promptly claimed. Pop rock band Train with guest Lifehouse perform on June 2. Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd perform June 3 with Arkansas-based opening act Backroad Anthem. The shows begin at 7 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena.

Previously, these concerts were opened to members of the general public. Employees claimed all of the tickets last year, and no public tickets were offered. I’ve asked Wal-Mart officials to tell me if that’s the case again in 2015. When I hear back from them, I’ll let you know.

[Update as of 2:15 p.m. May 26: Wal-Mart has confirmed the performers for the two associate concerts. Company spokesperson Kayla Whaling also confirmed the concerts were open to associates starting May 20. All available tickets have been claimed.]

On the way: Kid Rock, Sept. 25 at the Walmart AMP

May 26th, 2015 at 10:50 am

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Kid Rock remembers his “First Kiss.” He’ll perform in September at the Walmart AMP, it was just announced.

Kid Rock seemed like a good fit for the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. His summer tour included many similarly sized outdoor amphitheaters.

It now seems like an even better fit — the noted country/rap/Southern rock act is now booked for a Sept. 25 date. That puts him in the area right during the middle of the Bikes, Blues & BBQ motorcycle rally in Fayetteville. No doubt many bikers will make their way north for the show.

Rock brings his Twisted Brown Trucker Band and openers Tim Montana and the Shrednecks along for the “First Kiss: Cheap Date” tour that will visit the AMP.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday (May 29) through the AMP’s box office. Prices range from $46-$101.

Phases of the Moon announces first Arkansas lineup

May 26th, 2015 at 10:41 am



Several months ago, I asked two members of the organizational team about how the annual music and camping event we’d come to know as Harvest Festival would change after combining with the Phases of the Moon Music + Art Festival.

Harvest Festival had been taking place on Mulberry Mountain near Ozark for nearly a decade and focused on bluegrass and string band music. Phases of the Moon debuted just last year near Danville, Illinois and featured a more jam-heavy lineup.

I was told then they would simply combine.

We know a little more about the merger now that the festival lineup has been released. The combined Phases of the Moon Music + Art Festival returns to Mulberry Mountain from Oct. 16-18. Disco Biscuits, moe., STS9 and Yonder Mountain String Band are among the headliners announced last Tuesday (May 19).

Those are indeed more jammy than the traditional Harvest band — although Yonder performed multiple sets at Harvest the past several years. But several festival staples return, with acts such as Dirtfoot and Mountain Sprout booked for the event.

I talked with festival director Brett Mosiman about the first combined event. You can read my story in Friday’s What’s Up! section, which appeared in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

What caught your eye about the first Phases of the Moon festival in Arkansas?


On the way: Jackson Browne, Oct. 17 at the AMP

May 22nd, 2015 at 12:41 pm

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Tired and run down before the long weekend begins? Jackson Browne knows the feeling. He will visit the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in October.

There’s still room at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion this fall, apparently.

The website of songwriter and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Jackson Browne indicated he’ll perform at the venue in Rogers on Oct. 17, a Saturday night.

The man who penned songs for notable acts such as Nico and The Eagles also recorded many classic of his own, such as “Running on Empty” and “Doctor My Eyes.”

Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams will join him for the event.

The Arkansas Music Pavilion confirmed the show on Friday morning, including announcing ticket prices. Tickets will be $31-$71, and will go on sale at 10 a.m. June 5 through the Walton Arts Center box office.

The weekend in live music with Josh Hoyer and more

May 22nd, 2015 at 5:03 am

Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers

Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers

First of all, I want you to have fun this weekend. It’s Memorial Day weekend, after all. So take a moment to honor someone who died serving the country, as is fitting of the weekend, and then enjoy a good, long break in the process.

Second, please take a look to the right of the blog. Take a look at Saturday (May 23) in particular. I count 20 different bands performing on that day alone. There are plenty of live music acts the entire weekend, too.

So if you’re not spending all weekend on the lake or something, take the opportunity to see some live music this weekend.

Here are a few shows of note:

Lincoln, Neb., does not sound like a hotbed for soul, but that didn’t stop Josh Hoyer from falling in love with the classics of the genre. His second album, “Living By the Minute,” was released in January. Hoyer and his soul band, the Shadowboxers, make a pass through the area, playing several gigs this weekend. Catch them at 7 p.m. today (May 22) at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, 9:30 p.m. today at Smoke & Barrel Tavern in Fayetteville, 9 p.m. Saturday at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe in Eureka Springs and 1 p.m. Sunday (May 24) at the Cathouse Lounge in Eureka Springs.

If you’re in Eureka Springs this weekend, there’s another performer playing more than one gig in that town.

Channeling the spirit of her hometown, Jennifer Westwood brings the sounds of Detroit on the road with her. The vocalist and Her Handsome Devils, who serve as her band on the road and in the studio, just released a new album, “Greetings From This Town,” in early May. The band performs at 9:30 p.m. today at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe in Eureka Springs and sticks around in that town for an 8 p.m. gig at The Cathouse Lounge the following day.

In Fayetteville, one of my favorite purveyors of real rock ‘n’ roll visit tonight.

Athens, Georgia trio The Whigs have toured with a wide variety of modern rock acts, including Kings of Leon, The Black Keys and Social Distortion, to name a few. The band released the album “Modern Creation” in 2014, and like its predecessors, it contains a collection of spirited, loud rock ‘n’ roll. The Whigs tonight return to a venue they have played several times — George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville. Admission to the 9:30 p.m. show is $10.

What else? Well, try any of those bands you see listed to the side. We’re blessed to have talent both here all the time or passing through.

What’s on your agenda for the weekend?

Concert review: Dave Matthews Band, May 19 at the AMP

May 20th, 2015 at 12:59 pm

Dave Matthews Band publicity photo by Danny Clinch

Dave Matthews Band publicity photo by Danny Clinch

Dave Matthews, after the 30-minute break that divided his band’s acoustic opening set from the electric second half, thanked the audience for sticking around.

This was a wholly unnecessary gesture.

No one in the sold-out crowd was going anywhere during the Dave Matthews Band‘s Tuesday night (May 19) performance at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers. Not even during a soaking rain storm strong enough to leave several inches of standing water in the adjacent parking lots did people exit. Those in the lawn, without the benefit of the protective tent covering the higher-priced seats, used the blankets they had brought for seats as makeshift rain protection. The crowd was on its feet all night anyway, not resting on those blankets or beach towels, so it worked out. Another man on the front row of the lawn section — meaning he got to the venue hours early to snag that piece of prime real estate — shucked off his shirt, throwing his arms high in the air with each new song. Matthews thanked the crowd for sticking around in the rain, which came and went several times before switching to full-time deluge mode near the end of the three-hour show.

The Dave Matthews Band was on the radar of the AMP team for several years, but previous incarnations of the venue didn’t have enough room and scheduling got in the way last year, the first for the new pavilion in Rogers. DMB concerts are events, and the crowd arrived early and stayed late. Just before the gates opened at 6 p.m., the line to get in the venue was more than a quarter mile long.

Matthews came out by himself just after 7:20 p.m., starting his acoustic set while issuing a warning to those at the beer lines to find their seats. The band joined him for the second song, and each member would get a moment during the night. Matthews was a quiet bandleader, grateful to the fans if not occasionally weird between songs. His frequent use of his falsetto when addressing the crowd was strange, I thought. But he was quick to defer attention elsewhere, often to guitarist Tim Reynolds or violin player Boyd Tinsley. Both got rave responses from the crowd then they cut loose.

Despite the solo after solo approach, this concert did not feel as a wildly indulgent as I feared. Jam bands always run the risk of self-gratifying playing. But Matthews and company occupy a weird space in the jam world. Groups such as Phish and Widespread Panic never wrote a pop hit; Dave Matthews penned several of them. He would play several songs that found radio success, such as “Don’t Drink the Water,” “Tripping Billies” and “So Much to Say.” The setlist careened between albums, touching most of them while focusing on earlier works. He would bookend the night with cover tracks — John Denver’s “Take Me to Tomorrow” to start things and Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” as the encore. In between these things were many distractions, from intricate spinning lights to a backstage video board framed in light pillars that reminded me of a country church with a tall steeple. There was also the four-song package performed with his backing vocalist trio called The Lovely Ladies. You know the concert is a spectacle when you have backing vocalists but don’t need their firepower until 19 songs and more than 2 hours of the concert have already passed.

All told, Dave Matthews spent about three hours on stage, and the Dylan song — later popularized by Jimi Hendrix — he used to close the evening is both one he does with some frequency and also very fitting. Dave Matthews Band occupies the space in between those two artists — part acoustic, part rock. The last line in that song closes with the emphatic cry of “the wind began to howl.” That was very fitting, too.

Not even a howler of a storm kept Northwest Arkansas residents from seeing the area’s first Dave Matthews Band concert, last night proved.

[Editor’s Note: The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Dave Matthews Band’s management team could not reach a contractual agreement that would allow the newspaper to take photographs at the concert. We apologize for the lack of art.]

Soon in tunes: Dave Matthews Band, May 19 at the AMP

May 19th, 2015 at 1:09 pm

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Dave Matthews comes crashing into the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion later today (May 19). Are you ready?

Dave Matthews Band performs tonight at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. But you likely already knew that. Tickets went exceptionally quick for the show, and I’ve watched a robust resale market for tickets to the sold-out show. (Lawn tickets are currently going for between $95 and $150 on Craigslist)

This will be one of the biggest shows the AMP has hosted, rivaling last year’s Tim McGraw event in attendance and production value. It’s the kind of show we were promised when the AMP was built.

Were you lucky enough to get tickets? Or willing to fork over some serious cash on the resale market?

Concert review: Steve Miller Band, May 15 at the AMP

May 17th, 2015 at 12:56 pm

Steve Miller Band live on stage May 16 at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Democrat-Gazette

Steve Miller Band live on stage May 16 at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Democrat-Gazette

When the front-of-stage curtain bearing his trademark majestic white pegasus fell to the ground, revealing himself and his band, Steve Miller wasted no time. He and the rest of the Steve Miller Band rushed into the hit “Jungle Love,” setting the precedent for a fun Saturday (May 16) night at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion.

Steve Miller BandWEB002

Song after song, hit after hit, Steve Miller Band thundered through several classic rock classics on a night that seemed destined to be spoiled by rain but instead never caught a drop during the hour and 45 minute set. Miller more than once mentioned that song would “take you back” to 1973 or some other year. This indeed was a throwback show. Miller only played one song he released after 1980, the megahit “Abracadabra” from 1982. Miller knows his sweet spot. His 1978 greatest hits album sold 13 million copies. He focused on songs contained on that recording.

Credit Miller and company for their versatility, though. His songs always blended rhythm and blues into the rock mix, and that was present on songs such as “Jungle Love” and “Sugar Babe.” He brought out opener Matthew Curry for two songs in the middle of the set, covers of blues standards by Otis Rush and Freddie King. Later, Miller stepped out with just his acoustic guitar for “True Fine Love.” The acoustic guitar led next song, too, “Dance Dance Dance.” With its homespun tale of grandparents in love and girls in pretty dresses, it had on a country vibe I never noticed before. If Kenny Chesney couldn’t make a major hit of the song today, then I don’t know music.

Miller was everything he wanted to be on Saturday night — a blues rocker, an entertainer and a guitarist. He brought Curry — a fine guitarist with tremendous promise — and used him as a sounding board while he spun off riffs of his own. Miller can still play, that’s for sure.

His voice lacks some of the urgency it once had, but he still sounds like Steve Miller. His band and his stage decorations were lean. But that’s not to say they didn’t make their presence known. Keyboard player and backing vocalist Joseph Wooten was particularly strong.

Strong is relative, though. There wasn’t a weakness to be found during the band’s performance. Several thousand attendees, perhaps 7,000, got to see exactly the show they came to see. No frills, no filler, just hit after hit after Steve Miller hit.

A note about the opener:

Matthew Curry and the Fury

Matthew Curry and the Fury

Matthew Curry and the Fury opened up the evening. The 19-year-old guitarist acts and plays about 20 years older than his actual age. Steve Miller, in praising his opener, told the crowd how tough it is to play to a crowd unfamilar with your product. But Curry’s riff-heavy rock, which on this night he dedicated to the recently departed B.B. King, caught some ears. He’s coming back to the area soon, with an appearance scheduled at the Wakarusa festival in rural Franklin County in early June. I’m curious what he does with a full set of his own.