Giving thanks this Thanksgiving

November 26th, 2014 at 11:21 am

There’s not much to talk about in the live music world right now.

So, instead, here’s to hoping you’ll get a little free time with family in the next few days.

Thank you all so much for reading this blog, and for reading my stories in the paper.

See you Friday with more on the blog and in print.

Until then, here’s a thank you song from one of my favorite bands:

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Soon in tunes: Ben Miller Band, Nov. 26 at George’s

November 25th, 2014 at 9:49 am

Ben Miller Band photo by Joshua Black Wilkins

Ben Miller Band photo by Joshua Black Wilkins

Those looking to dance away some room for Thanksgiving dinner might consider a Wednesday night (Nov. 26) show at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville. That’s the venue for the Joplin, Mo., neo-traditionalists Ben Miller Band, a trio that in August released its second album for New West Records, “Any Way, Shape or Form.” The pre-Thanksgiving show begins at 9 p.m. Admission is $10.

A glance at the Arkansas Music Pavilion’s inaugural season

November 24th, 2014 at 2:27 pm

The Arkansas Music Pavilion. FILE PHOTO.

The Arkansas Music Pavilion. FILE PHOTO.

In a message to potential sponsors, Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion officials unveiled some attendance figures for the concluded 2014 concert season.

In short, a lot of people visited the new venue in Rogers during its first year.

Seventeen musical acts took the stage this year, drawing in excess of 88,000 fans. That’s an average of nearly 5,200 per act. Talking to a well-placed source there, I understand that factor doesn’t include a few sponsor events that likely pushed attendance north of 100,000 visitors for the first year.

That’s an impressive haul, and it shows this region is willing to support big-name acts.

I plan to dig a little deeper into the numbers later this year, but thought I’d provide a preview of what I’ve found.

By the way, the email I received about becoming a potential sponsor lists prices, too. Membership in the AMP Rocks club, which provides access to preferential parking and ticket pre-sales, costs $600 for individuals and $5,000 for a version that includes VIP access, VIP parking and other amenities.

A lesson on swearing and pop songs with The Dan Band

November 21st, 2014 at 11:39 am

The Band Band

The Band Band

Appropriately, The Dan Band started as a joke. Dan Finnerty decided to sing Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” at a karaoke bar. Soon after that, a friend asked Finnerty to jump onstage before her and repeat the process because she wanted it to look like she had an opening act.

It was Finnerty who got noticed, and a booking agent inked him for a followup show.

If that unlikely beginning was indeed appropriate, it should be savored. Everything else the now full-fledged band does is wildly inappropriate.

That jokey premise of a bloviated male huckster singing pop songs originally performed by women took off. Finnerty and company appeared first in the movie “Old School” performing Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” [Caution: That link contains several examples of rock-star language] and has since been featured in several other movies.

Finnerty talked with me about the art of swearing, about his nervous tick and about learning Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”

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Finnerty, calling from New York City, also talked about his banter with the audience during his shows. Hint – no one is safe. He also talked with me about his forthcoming album, which will feature guest artists such as Rob Thomas (of Matchbox 20 fame). Read my story featuring Finnerty in print today (Nov. 21) or online [Note: Subscriber content].

The Dan Band’s tour will tonight bring them to the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. The show begins at 9 p.m., and admission ranges from $18-$38. Tickets are still available.

See you at the show.

The weekend in live music, with Sevendust and more

November 21st, 2014 at 5:03 am



Last weekend’s snow is gone (if it ever really arrived). This weekend’s rain is here, or almost here.

And, this weekend’s live music is almost here, too. It starts about 6 p.m. at George’s Majestic Lounge, like it always does. And it continues in waves throughout the weekend. It goes late into Sunday (Nov. 23), for sure.

Here are a couple options:

Hard rock bands can take a quieter approach, too, and that’s exactly what Sevendust is doing at an upcoming show in Fayetteville. The metal band from Georgia will perform an all-acoustic set Sunday at George’s Majestic Lounge. Admission to the 9 p.m. show is $20 at the club or via

Up for something different?

Elisha Israel and Az-One have more than once been nominated as Kansas City, Mo.’s best reggae act. The band has also served as an opening act for Bunny Wailer at a reggae festival in its hometown. The group, now more than two decades old, ventures away from Kansas City for a gig on Saturday (Nov. 22) at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe in Eureka Springs. The event starts at 9 p.m.

If you’re looking for a gig tonight (Nov. 21), I suggest trying The Dan Band at the Walton Arts Center. More on that one in a minute.

The list of live music events I know about appears on this website, and also in our print section, What’s Up!, which comes out every Friday.

What’s on your weekend agenda?

Blooming: The growth of The Black Lillies

November 19th, 2014 at 11:33 am

The Black Lillies

The Black Lillies

The Black Lillies have hit an important threshold in the career arc of the band. The members now command enough of a crowd — and enough of a paycheck — that the Tennessee-based band can fly out for a gig instead of racking up mileage on the van.

That’s a welcome transition, even for a veteran road warrior like Cruz Contreras, frontman for The Black Lillies. He once drove a truck commercially, and he has traveled many hundreds of thousands of miles either with The Black Lillies or previous bands.

That road-weary mentality shows up in the band’s latest release, “Runaway Freeway Blues.” Many of the songs are about traveling.

But those airplane trips — even if still infrequent — now allow a little bit more rest, and a little bit more time to record the band’s newest project. It’s the new project that has Contreras’ attention right now, and he’s excited to play some of his newest songs on the road. Local fans will have the chance to hear several of the new tracks when The Black Lillies perform tonight (Nov. 19) at George’s Majestic Lounge. Smokey and the Mirror opens the 9 p.m. show, and admission is $8.

Contreras recently talked about the band, its members’ habit of switching instruments on the fly and the “live test” he puts all new songs through. You can read my story about tonight’s show in last Friday’s What’s Up! section, which is still available online [Note: Subscriber content]

Here’s a clip to watch before the show:

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See you there.

Jeremy Bonham memorial service planned for tonight

November 18th, 2014 at 9:17 am

The Fayetteville music community lost a good one on Thursday (Nov. 13) when it lost Jeremy Bonham. He was 31.

I met Bonham several times, and he played with many of the area’s popular rock bands over the years — Brighter Later, Benjamin Del Shreve and others. I didn’t know him well, but many of my good friends did. They all speak of a real saint of a human, and Bonham’s death has sent waves of grief through the music community here.

Bonham’s funeral takes place today. Those who wish to honor his memory plan to gather at The Lightbulb Club from 6-9 p.m. today. Here’s the official Facebook invite for that event.

R.I.P., Jeremy.

Soon in tunes: Archnemesis, multiple venues

November 17th, 2014 at 11:49 am



Labeling itself “electro hip hop soul,” the act Archnemesis will play a pair of gigs in the area. The Waffle House Regulars Club tour will bring Archnemesis to George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville on Tuesday (Nov. 18) and Webby D’s in Fort Smith on Nov. 21. Ticket information and free music downloads can be found at

Small instrument, big sound: Jake Shimabukuro and the ukelele

November 14th, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro

Ukeleles are cute. Particularly in the world of folk pop music, the ukelele is something that adds a little brightness or color to a song, but rarely serves as the leading attraction.

But when Jake Shimabukuro plays his ukelele, it’s another thing entirely.

Although he’s still in his 30s, Shimabukuro has been playing a uke for almost 35 years. A native of Hawaii, he learned at a young age and now tours the world. When the term “viral” was just becoming a thing, Shimabukuro was one of the internet’s first stars, as covers of songs such as The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” played on ukelele earned him accolades.

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My colleague Allison Carter interviewed Shimabukuro about his trip to stardom, his instrument and his tour, which will bring him to Fayetteville tonight (Nov. 14) for a performance at the Walton Arts Center. Read her story in print or online [Note: Subscriber content].

Tickets to his 8 p.m. show are $10 and are available through the Walton Arts Center ticket office.

The weekend in music, with The Dirty Guv’nahs and more

November 14th, 2014 at 5:03 am

The Dirty Guv'nahs

The Dirty Guv’nahs

All anyone wants to talk about is the weather. And I get it. It’s cold.

But, it’s not as cold as it is in say, Denver, and we wouldn’t normally complain about mid-20s temperatures, unless they directly followed 70 degree days. Like happened this week.

But if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to instead talk about live music. Because that’s what I do. And that’s why you’re here, hopefully.

This weekend offers several shows that ought to make you dance enough to stay warm. Such as the one tonight (Nov. 14) by The Dirty Guv’nahs.

This year has been a good one for Tennessee roots rock band The Dirty Guv’nahs — the musicians have gotten invites to festivals such as SxSW, Wakarusa and Bonnaroo and otherwise spent the year on the road opening for bands such as Wilco, Zac Brown Band and Needtobreathe. In support of a new release “Hearts on Fire,” the Guv’nahs bring a live set to George’s Majestic Lounge tonight for a 10 o’clock show. Admission is $10, and Cereus Bright opens.

For something a little noisier, try Dope Body.

Baltimore’s Dope Body visits The Lightbulb Club on Saturday night (Nov. 15) for a 9 o’clock show. The noise rock act released its newest album, “Lifer,” on Oct. 21. Joining the band for the evening is Llinda. Admission is $5.

Elsewhere, ukelele wizard Jake Shimibukuro performs tonight at the Walton Arts Center. More on him in a minute.

Also, the punk band Such Gold performs Sunday night (Nov. 16) at George’s. That’s an 8 p.m. show, and admission is $10.