A lost Cate Brothers EP sees the light of day

July 30th, 2014 at 9:57 am

The Cate Brothers

The Cate Brothers

The Cate Brothers made it in the music industry.

The band from Springdale recorded a Top 25 national hit, toured with Queen and released several major-label albums.

But success, particularly in the music industry, is a fleeting notion.

Seeking a new record deal after their previous two had expired, the Cates in the early 1980s recorded four songs in the famous Shangri-La Studios in Malibu. The demo got shopped around, but it never earned the band another major deal. The music sat unreleased.

Cate Brothers CD

Until recently, that is.

A four-track EP called “The Malibu Sessions” has been released on the local label Swingin’ Door Records some 32 years after the music was first recorded. I spoke with several of those involved with the production, including lead vocalist Ernie Cate and music agent Randy Stratton, about the release. The tale is a fascinating one, and it’s a history lesson with a look at what might have been. It also includes cameos from many music industry folks, including Bonnie Raitt and Garth Hudson.

The story turned into my most recent Listen Here! column, which you can read online. [Note Subscriber content].

The album is available through Swingin’ Door’s website and at Cate Brothers gigs. They don’t play often — maybe twice per year — but The Cate Brothers Band has a gig soon. The band plays Aug. 9 at Basin Spring Park in Eureka Springs.

Soon in tunes: Native Lights, July 30 at Lightbulb Club

July 29th, 2014 at 11:31 am

Native Lights photo by Jeremy Charles

Native Lights photo by Jeremy Charles

Convening midwinter in an abandoned, unheated cattle auction house, Oklahoma band Native Lights recorded its debut album in a week’s time with minimalism in mind. The band describes its sound as “alt-shoegaze,” and the current tour brings Native Lights to the Lightbulb Club in Fayetteville on Wednesday (July 30) with Pagiins and Fire Retarded. The show begins at 9 p.m.; admission is $5.

Soon in tunes: Julie Byrne, July 29 at Backspace

July 28th, 2014 at 1:41 pm

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If an upcoming show at Backspace is anywhere near as intimate as this video (and it might be), Fayetteville is in for a treat. The video is by Julie Byrne, who performs in town Tuesday.

Chicago songwriter Julie Byrne‘s national tour will bring her to the friendly confines of Backspace, located just off the Frisco Trail in Fayetteville. (Don’t know Backspace? Check out a profile in last week’s Fayetteville Free Weekly).

Byrne’s album “Rooms with Walls and Windows” finally got a proper release in 2014, and several music publications have placed it on their early best-of-the-year lists.

Her breathy, haunting vocals and guitar work should be a perfect fit for the space.

Joining her for the evening will be Adam Lempel & Sunatirene from Baltimore, Md.

Admission is $5. The show starts at 9 p.m.

On the way: Santana, Oct. 5 at the AMP

July 28th, 2014 at 8:19 am

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Santana’s performance at 1969′s Woodstock event, during which he played the song “Soul Sacrifice,” earned him national recognition. His current tour will bring him to the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion this fall.

It’s a rare guitarist who gets the band named after him instead of the lead singer. Carlos Santana is one of those rare guitarists.

It’s a rare music group that sells more than 100 million records. Santana the band has done just that.

Nearly four decades after performing at Woodstock, a version of the band who performed at the famous music festival has reunited with Santana for his current tour. The trek makes a stop on Oct. 5 at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion, it was announced late last week.

Tickets for the show go on sale at 9 a.m. Friday (Aug. 1) and range from $39-$129. Tickets are available through the venue’s website or by calling 443-5600.

Concert review: Steely Dan, July 24 at the Walmart AMP

July 25th, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Steely Dan. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Media.

Steely Dan. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Media.

There are many bands on the “least cool” list.

I’m not talking about the bands you avoid talking about in casual conversation. You know the ones — You’d never publicly declare fandom for Creed, Nickleback or, for a more contemporary example, One Direction. Not unless you’re a pre-teen lacking fully developed musical tastes, at least.

No, I’m talking about the mathematically complex or nerdy rock acts. Canadian prog rock trio Rush comes to mind — I once watched them toss T-shirts to the crowd from an onstage, semi-functional clothes dryer. I took my dad to that show. It was fantastic. So you can guess where I fall on the nerd-rock spectrum.

Radiohead might fit this bill. So might Tool (haters gonna hate, but I’m not one of them). I think the Velvet Underground — and in particular, songwriter/frontman Lou Reed — fits well here, too.

Donald Fagen, left, and two of the three Danettes

Donald Fagen, left, and two of the three Danettes

These groups, naturally, are among the most polarizing in our popular music cannon.

I’m reminded of this phenomenon because I believe I watched the least cool band of all time last night (July 24).

Steely Dan brought their “Jamalot Ever After” tour to the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion on a slightly muggy summer evening. They brought with them a legion of fans who, well, looked like my dad. Or my mom. At the risk of spilling the secret of that generation’s age, know that the average concert goer at last night’s show grew up when the songs on classic rock radio were current pop hits.

Steely DanWEB003Previous shows at the AMP have drawn considerable numbers of younger fans — Willie Nelson, for instance, still has the kind of iconic status that draws fans from all ages and credos.

Steely Dan, meanwhile, doesn’t have the same kind of broad-spectrum appeal. That’s not to say there were no attendees younger than 30 last night. It’s just to say there were far fewer of them, and the venue was noticably less full as a result. I’d guess 5,000 or so gathered for the show, a crowd on par with the AMP’s earlier show featuring Darius Rucker.

Let’s talk again for a minute about the unlikeliness of what we watched. Steely Dan, stripped down to its essence, is two slightly-beyond-middle-aged men, dressed nondescriptly (I’ll stop just short of saying frumpy) playing complex rock. And not just complex rock, but jazz heavy, time-signature-shifting stuff with obtuse lyrics. This is also a good time to mention a 20-year recording hiatus and a touring moratorium in the mid-1970s even when they were making music.

That this band is known by anyone is a remarkable feat, and perhaps a vote of confidence in the American Dream.

Of course, smart songwriting and expert playing make up a lot of ground. Backed by an ace band, the songwriting duo of Donald Fagen (keyboards and vocals) and Walter Becker (guitar and occasional vocals) serve as unlikely popular antiheros in the music world.

They do have hits, and they played several of them on Thursday night. Radio hit “Reelin’ in the Years,” in particular, provided an access point for singing, and the crowd was happy to oblige. Even that song, with a booming chorus, is surprisingly complex.

But it was on lesser hits such as “Bodhisattva” that the band showed their full capability. Fagen and Becker were backed by a monster band, with three backing vocalists and four-piece horn section. All of them showed their chops throughout the night. Among the band members, guitarist Jon Herington was particularly exceptional. Becker left some of the heavy lifting to him, and he kept picking things up with what looked like ease. Herington’s midsong duel with trumpet player Michael Leonhart was particularly compelling.

Rarely, but noticably, the pace of the show dragged. The band stood fairly motionless onstage, with the minor exception of the trio of backup singers, The Danettes, who swayed in place. Otherwise, that was about it, and the stage decorations were equally sparse.

Which brings us back to the music, and the musicianship. For just more than two hours, Steely Dan rolled through their catalog, and they have enough solid material no one seemed to miss hits such as “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number” and “Deacon Blues.”

None of it was particularly cool. The band did not care. The fans did not care. And sometimes that’s the coolest thing of all.

A note about the opener:

Bobby Broom

Bobby Broom

Bobby Broom‘s set consisted of jazz versions of many familiar songs, such as Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” and Derek and the Dominos’ “Layla.” As an all-instrumental occasion, and from a mostly unknown act, the crowd talked through the entirety of the opening set. That said, the set was a good fit for the situation, and for Steely Dan.

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 sarahangelamusic.com.

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 ribroom.com.

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 digjazz.com.

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?