The weekend in live music, with James Wesley and more

July 25th, 2014 at 5:03 am

James Wesley photo by Glenn Sweitzer

James Wesley photo by Glenn Sweitzer

This relationship works well, and has for several years.

You come here to learn about live music, and I’m happy to provide.

I can’t thank you enough for that, by the way. You keep stopping by, and I’ll keep posting notes about the local live music scene.


This weekend, like many in the area, provides a wealth of diversity.

Country fan?

A name change didn’t change the music of James Wesley. The country artist debuted in 1999 under his given name, James Prosser. He had some minor country hits and released an album through Warner Brothers Records called “Life Goes On.” It did go on, and 10 years later Prosser resurfaced, recording under the name James Wesley. He has since recorded several country songs, including “Real,” which cracked the national Top 25 country song chart. Wesley performs a free show at 10:30 p.m. Saturday (July 26) at Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs. Austin Cobb opens the show with a 7 p.m. set.

Also Backroad Anthem takes over George’s Majestic Lounge on Saturday. That’s probably going to be a full house.

Blues? Three bluesy bands play tonight (July 25) at George’s, with Leah and the Mojo Doctors from 6-8 p.m., The Bel Airs from 7-9 p.m. and soul/funk/blues band Groovement on about 9 p.m.

Kory Montgomery has the stage Saturday at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe in Eureka Springs. Guitar slinger Keith Nicholson takes the stage that same evening at Landry’s in Fort Smith. And Dawn Cate and the Rhythm Kings take the stage Sunday (July 27) at Jose’s in Springdale.

Pop rock?

Chasing Pictures makes their Smoke & Barrel debut tonight. Dead Indian joins them. Also, Barrett Baber performs a free show Sunday at the Fayetteville Public Library. That one starts at 2 p.m.

What’s on your agenda this weekend?

Soon in tunes: Sarah and the Meanies, two local gigs

July 23rd, 2014 at 10:41 am

Sarah and the MeaniesWEBSarah Angela started as a solo artist, performing often in the Pacific Northwest. Now based out of Colorado and backed by a band, The Meanies, her current tour will come to Gulley Park in Fayetteville and Chelsea’s Corner Cafe in Eureka Springs. The pop rock outfit will perform from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday (July 24) in Fayetteville and 9 p.m. Friday (July 25) in Eureka. Details can be found at

The steely resolve of Steely Dan

July 22nd, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Steely Dan

Steely Dan

In the midst of remarkable success in the mid-1970s, Steely Dan stopped touring.

They didn’t stop making music, of course. The album largely considered to be their masterpiece, 1977′s “Aja,” came after the tour hiatus.

But cracks were bubbling under the surface nonetheless. Steely Dan was shelved indefinitely following the release of the band’s 1980 album, “Gaucho.”



When Steely Dan’s songwriting duo Donald Fagen and Walter Becker came back together in 2000 for the album “Two Against Nature” and a tour to follow, they brought along Jon Herington. The guitarist has worked with ever them since, a feat of some measure considering the band’s noted instability.

Herington talked to me recently about teaming up with Steely Dan, his own music project and how he balances the printed music with a call to improvise.

You can read the resulting story in Friday (July 18)’s What’s Up! section [Note: Subscriber content]

The story comes in advance of Steely Dan’s current “Jamalot Ever After” tour, which comes to the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion on Thursday (July 24). The tour is about three weeks old now. If you’re curious, a show on Saturday (July 19) in Kansas City, Mo., drew high praises [Note: Setlist spoiler alert!].

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show in Rogers with openers the Bobby Broom are still available. Prices range from $30-$100 and are available by calling 443-5600 or via the venue’s website.

See you at the show?

Soon in tunes: Trapt, July 22 at Neumeier’s Rib Room

July 21st, 2014 at 12:11 pm



Hard rockers Trapt peaked at No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart with the smash “Headstrong.” Ten years removed from that hit, the bandmates are now on the “Self Titled” tour, during which they play their late 2002 album “Trapt” in its entirety, along with other songs. The band is currently also at work on a new album, which would be its sixth. Trapt visits Neumeier’s Rib Room in Fort Smith at 7 p.m. Tuesday (July 22) with The Veer Union, Arcane Saints and Letters from the Fire. Tickets range from $15 to $20 and are available through

The weekend in music, with Sons of Brasil and more

July 18th, 2014 at 5:03 am

Sons of Brasil

Sons of Brasil

Friday, I’ve missed you. You’re a cruel tease, coming around only once per week, leaving me waiting and wanting from the start of Monday morning to the time of my exit from the office after the end of the work week.

I usually work on weekends, too, but, you know…

Work for me, of course, is live music, and that’s what the list below compiles. In search of some live music this weekend? Here are some best bets.

From the town where Count Basie and Charlie Parker found jazz success now comes something completely different. Kansas City, Mo., band Sons of Brasil plays Brazilian jazz and has done so since 1991. The group visits the region as part of the KUAF Summer Jazz Series, performing at 3 p.m. Sunday (July 20) at 21c Museum Hotel just off the Bentonville square. Tickets to the show are $25-$35 and are available through

Elsewhere, sugary folk pop outfit Candy Lee and the Sweets will offer a free show at the Fayetteville Public Library on Sunday. That one begins at 2 p.m.

Another option is the Leave Me Bees, who perform Saturday (July 19) at The Lightbulb Club. Joining them will be be Pagiins and Brothel Sprouts. That show begins at about 9 p.m.

What’s on your live music agenda this weekend?

Soon in tunes: Kory Montgomery, multiple venues

July 16th, 2014 at 10:59 am

Kory Montgomery

Kory Montgomery

Rogers-born blues guitarist Kory Montgomery has recently moved out of the area and now uses Colorado as a home base between frequent tours. He comes back home this week, performing today (July 16) at JJ’s Grill in Rogers and Thursday (July 17) for Party on the Patio at Powerhouse Seafood and Grill in Fayetteville. Admission prices vary. For details, visit

On the way — The Avett Brothers, Sept. 26 at the AMP

July 15th, 2014 at 8:37 am

YouTube Preview Image

Good morning! Here’s a “Morning Song” for you, courtesy of The Avett Brothers. Here’s some morning news, too — the band is heading to Northwest Arkansas in late September.

The Avett Brothers are known for several things, among them writing infectious pop songs and touring almost nonstop.

Both those elements will align on Sept. 26 at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion, it was just announced. The North Carolina brother act will return to the area in support of their latest album, “Magpie and the Dandelion.”

They’ve been here several times, including a previous gig at the AMP’s former location in Fayetteville.

Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. Friday (July 25) through the Walton Arts Center’s box office or through the venue’s website. Tickets range from $32-$53.50.

Concert review — Miranda Lambert, July 12 at the AMP

July 14th, 2014 at 9:31 am

Miranda Lambert. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Media.

Miranda Lambert. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Media.

Imagine having the No. 1 song in all of country music. Now take it one step more, and imagine having 9,000 screaming fans in front of you for a concert, then not playing that hit.

And now, imagine the greatest stretch of them all — that you got away with not playing it, too.

Sure, Miranda Lambert sort of, kind of, maybe offered up “Somethin’ Bad,” a duet with Carrie Underwood that rests atop the country charts. A video of Lambert and Underwood performing the song together played as an introduction to Lambert’s Saturday (July 12) stop at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers. Lambert walked out onstage with her large band after the video concluded and never looked back.

I can guess how difficult it would be to find a suitable substitute for Underwood’s half of the song, and maybe that’s why Lambert kept that song off the list. But the more remarkable part is that she didn’t need it. Her 21-song set, which spanned about 90 minutes on a hot summer night, included plenty of other hits. She’s had more than a half dozen country chart toppers, and they touched off appropriately wild responses. Some of the bigger moments of the night included the songs “Platinum,” which provides the title for her current tour, and “Mama’s Broken Heart,” “Automatic” and “White Liar.”

Lambert first shot to fame courtesy of the now-defunct, countrified “American Idol”-clone “Nashville Star.” She placed an amazing third (anyone seen Buddy Jewell or John Arthur Martinez recently?) in the first season. Slowly, surely, she’s continued her ascension.

Miranda LambertWEB003I’m not sure she can continue that climb, but only because she’s at the pinnacle. The aforementioned Underwood might be her best rival, but it’s a friendly one, considering the recent collaboration. Underwood’s last album, just like Lambert’s last, topped all albums in sales the week it debuted. But in terms of current relevance, Lambert’s “Platinum” release from June of this year is having a remarkable run.

That’s to say nothing of where they fall on the country spectrum. As Underwood veers often into pop territory — a place fellow country queen Taylor Swift arguably resides permanently — Lambert remains true to her Texas roots, and not just with her voice, although that’s a dead giveaway.

She occupies an interesting space in the country music continuum, still traditionally rooted and smarter than those in the bro country scene by a clear margin. She wore a black tank top with a skull on it but sang into a pink microphone. She’s sassy, taking risks with songs such as “Old Sh!t” — that’s her spelling — and speaking her mind. She’s the kind of woman you’d want to have a beer with but wouldn’t dare anger. If her onstage rallying cries are an act, she deserves an Oscar.

One of the evening’s nicer moments, in fact, proved some of those roots. Her stout backing band put down the electric instruments and gathered around for an all-acoustic take on “Me and Charlie Talking.”

Lambert didn’t hide behind the band then, and she especially didn’t when she opened the two-song encore with a solo acoustic performance of “Makin’ Plans.”

She can make plans to stay at the top of the country music heap for some time.

The Swon Brothers

The Swon Brothers

A note about the openers: In a testament to the new model for music, The Swon Brothers didn’t mention album sales, which generally pale in comparison to those of just a few years ago. No, they thanked the audience for downloads, and for helping them make a splash on the iTunes country charts. The brother duo from nearby Muskogee, Okla., served up several of the songs they performed on “The Voice,” which they performed on in 2013. Among those were “Danny’s Song” by Loggins and Messina and “Fishin’ in the Dark” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Both of those are fine songs, and they suited the brother act’s range well. It didn’t work well during a cover of Boston’s “Long Time,” which was homogenized into a country-pop track and stripped of any passion.

RaeLynn, another “Voice” contestant, looks and sings her age — 20. She opened up the evening, but I was only able to catch a few of her songs. She has a solid voice, and with a few good songs, and some time working on her stage presence, she has potential. She’s got time to work on it.

Miranda Lambert: “Platinum” album, “Platinum” tour, (almost) platinum sales

July 11th, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert

Everything is coming up Platinum for Miranda Lambert. That’s the name of her most recent album, which currently sits at No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Albums Chart.

It’s also the color of her hair, as she discusses in the title track. She got a hair cut recently, and it got much coverage in celebrity gossip mags. You know you’re a big star when your hairstyle gets national media attention.

Meanwhile, “Platinum” could also describe the kind of sales she’s achieving. She’s sold an estimated 3 million albums, although no one single recorded has reached platinum-selling status just yet.

And, of course, “Platinum” is the name of her current tour, which kicked off last night (July 10) in Ohio. The tour, with guests The Swon Brothers and RaeLynn, stops in Rogers for a Saturday-night (July 12) show at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion.

Lambert’s schedule was too hectic to sit down for a phone conversation, but she did take a few moments to answer some emailed questions. Her responses to questions about her growing merchandise empire, her recent run of success and more can be found in today’s What’s Up! section, which appears in newsstands or online [Note: Subscriber content].

Tickets for the performance, which begins at 7 p.m., range from $44-$79. Tickets are available by calling 443-5600 or via the AMP’s website.

See you there?

Joe Crookston takes over FPL

July 11th, 2014 at 10:23 am

Joe Crookston

Joe Crookston

I watched the first time Joe Crookston took over the Fayetteville Public Library. It was during the 2013 Fayetteville Roots Festival, and despite following icons Del McCoury and Iris Dement, he wowed the audience then.

The town likewise wowed him, and he fell in love with the city, he told me recently by phone.

So it made sense for him to come back, and for him to be at the library when he did.

Crookston completes a three-day residency today (July 11) with a documentary screening and a public concert at 7 p.m.

The documentary, which will be screened at 2 p.m., is called “Blue Tattoo.” It tells the story of Crookston meeting a Holocaust survivor and her daughter, then writing a song about them. Fayetteville will be only the second city to see the documentary.

“Blue Tattoo” trailer

Tonight, he tells me he’ll perform a high-intensity show, including several tracks from his newest album, “Georgia, I’m Here,” which owes some inspiration to celebrated painter Georgia O’Keeffe.

Crookston spent part of his Fourth of July chatting with me about O’Keeffe, his residency and why he likes Fayetteville. You can read my story in today’s What’s Up!, which appears in print in the five Northwest Arkansas Media daily newspapers or online [Note: Subscriber content].

Crookston’s concert begins at 7 p.m. at the library. It’s free to attend.

See you there.