Still growing — The Fayetteville Roots Festival returns Aug. 28

August 27th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams

Moving the Fayetteville Roots Festival main stage from its recent home at the Walton Arts Center would take effort in any circumstance.

Moving it to a smaller venue with just a month’s notice is an even bigger ordeal. But that was the deck handed to the organizers of the annual event. Walton Arts Center officials announced in late June that roof repairs would temporarily close the downtown Fayetteville venue. Roots festival organizers announced a move to the Fayetteville Town Center a few weeks later.

I’ve chatted with Roots Festival planners, who tell me the venue is ready. There were changes, sure — the WAC seats about 1,200 per night, and the Town Center will accommodate about 1,000. And with a slate of headliners that includes The Wood Brothers on Friday (Aug. 29) and Lucinda Williams on Saturday (Aug. 30), this seemed certain to be the year the festival sold out the larger home.

Hurray for the Riff Raff

Hurray for the Riff Raff

But there is plenty of good to come from the move, too. The festival is now more compact — events take place around the Fayetteville Square during the day and on Dickson Street during the evening hours.

And all the associated festival events take place as scheduled, from Thursday (Aug. 28)’s VIP-ticket-only introductory culinary and music combination to the late-night stages at George’s Majestic Lounge.

In addition to the late-night events, which will include acts such as Ben Kweller, Water Liars and Hurray for the Riff Raff, there’s also a new free show taking place on Monday (Sept. 1). Several acts will take the show to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which will host concerts that afternoon.

My preview story on the festival, which examines the new venues, the food elements and many of the artists performing at the festival, appeared in our What’s Up! section last Friday. You can still check out the online version [Note: Subscriber content].

Come back tomorrow, when I’ll offer a Top 5 (or Top 7?) list of bands you should check out. Come back later in the week for reviews and photos of all the shows. And check out the festival’s website for a full schedule of events and ticket information. As of this writing, the only tickets available were to the late-night shows at George’s — everything else was sold out.

See you there?

Soon in tunes: Chucky Waggs, Aug. 29 at Chelsea’s

August 26th, 2014 at 11:17 am

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Chucky Waggs performs the song “The Bottom” from a previous recording.

Chucky Waggs, a.k.a. Charles Adam Wagner, has been playing Americana on the road for about a decade as part of Mountain Sprout and other bands. Waggs also records music on his own, playing a mixture of guitar, banjo, harmonica and kazoo. The Eureka Springs-based musician will release his third solo album, “Low Road Ramble,” on Thursday (Aug. 29) at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe in Eureka Springs.

How to get listed on (or interact with) this blog

August 25th, 2014 at 11:47 am

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‘Do You’ like local live music? You’ve come to the right place. Thanks for finding us. Also, why music from the band Spoon? Why not? They’re great.

If you’re new to town (hello new U of A students!) welcome to Fayetteville. Or Rogers, or Bentonville, or wherever else you may call home.

Here’s what you’ll find on this site going forward: lots of information about the local live music scene. That includes gig updates, concert announcements and reviews. Every once in a while, I recommend a bit of music (like the video above), but mostly I stick to writing about things you can experience in Northwest Arkansas, both in the clubs or at the new amphitheater.

There’s a current live music calendar on the homepage, and I’ll break out items of interest throughout the week.

Enough about the blog. Here’s how you can play a part.

If you’ve got a band and you want to get listed, send me an email. If you’re a venue owner and want to get listed, send me an email. And if you’re a promoter and you have something headed this way, yep, you guessed it, send me an email.

It’s free, and all you have to do is give me enough lead time (usually a week in advance) to make sure it lands in the paper on time.

Make sure you also find us on Twitter and read us on the web, where we provide even more in-depth coverage.

Thanks for stopping by, and hope to see you around.

Have a great first day of classes, by the way.

Making a (second) home: Andy Frasco’s love of Fayetteville

August 22nd, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Andy Frasco

Andy Frasco

If there’s one specific thing that made Andy Frasco love Fayetteville, he won’t say. Or doesn’t say.

But about six years ago as a 20-year-old musical rookie, he made a stop here at a music venue that now serves as a boot shop. No one came to the show.

How that developed into love, it’s hard to say. But love it is. Frasco now talks about his family here, which includes no blood relatives but plenty of musical contemporaries and a legion of fans. Through hard work, he’s moved to progressively larger venues in this town and to more prominence nationally, too. He just returned from a European tour, and he’s played major festivals such as Electric Forest in addition to serving as the official party spokesperson/special guest host for the local Wakarusa festival.

Frasco at a previous Harvest Festival. FILE PHOTO.

Frasco at a previous Harvest Festival. FILE PHOTO.

Several years ago, he drew 200 people to the 700+ capacity George’s Majestic Lounge on a Sunday night. This weekend, he’ll play to a pair of full or nearly full houses at the venue. His show there tonight (Aug. 22) features opening act Kris Lager Band. Saturday (Aug. 23)’s event features Dirtfoot.

Frasco talked to me recently about the times Fayetteville has rallied around him and his love of this city. He also talked about finding musicians to jam with here and his upcoming return to Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Music Festival, where he tells me he will close out Saturday night’s activities in one of the festival’s most coveted time slots.

He also talks about his plans to set a world record at Harvest Fest. You can read about it in today’s What’s Up!, available in Northwest Arkansas Newspapers’ five daily newspapers. There’s also an online version, if you’re a subscriber to our paper or our digital products.

Tonight’s show begins about 10 p.m. Saturday’s starts around 9 p.m. Admission to either show is $10.

See you there.

The weekend in music, with Building 429 and more

August 22nd, 2014 at 5:03 am

Building 429

Building 429

Sorry for the slightly sappy and vaguely political post here, but I feel obligated. It’s been a tough week for journalists, both in the United States and abroad.

You’ve probably seen the news stories, and I won’t share them again. The resulting discussions are necessary and vital, but there are far better forums for them than this blog.

But thoughts of journalists in peril make me realize how blessed I am to cover music, where the deepest arguments we have revolve around the talents of pop stars or the merits of reunion tours.

I write about music for a living. By proxy, I listen to music for a living, and I attend concerts for a living. It’s not a bad gig, and I’m reminded of that today.

So let’s talk about live music, shall we? There’s plenty of it in our local amphitheater and our clubs, and I believe in music’s cathartic power. Do yourself a favor and go enjoy some. I will on several occasions this weekend, and I hope you’ll join me out there.

What’s on the agenda for the area this weekend?

Well, the Fort Smith Convention Center on Saturday (Aug. 23) hosts an all-day Christian music festival called Rock the River. Headlined by Grammy-nominated act Building 429, the festival features more than a dozen acts and raises money for Hannah House, a Fort Smith-area women’s shelter. Read more about that event in today’s print section or the online version [Note: Subscriber content].

In Rogers, funnymen Cheech & Chong will be joined by the band War for a Saturday show at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. My colleague Allison Carter interviewed Tommy Chong in advance of that one, and I recommend checking out her story in today’s paper, too.

Elsewhere, classic rock cover band The Klocks have a two-night run at Neumeier’s Rib Room in Fort Smith. The Friday (today, Aug. 22) and Saturday shows raise money for the Fallen Office Memorial Fund. Admission to either show is $10.

Also in the area for a two-night run of shows is Andy Frasco. He’s at George’s Majestic Lounge tonight and Saturday. More on him in a minute.

What are your weekend plans?

Soon in tunes: DEERPEOPLE, Aug. 20 at Lightbulb Club

August 19th, 2014 at 12:17 pm

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I wasn’t sure which DEERPEOPLE song to include with this post. Then I noticed the band has a song called “Impala Abdul.” Dilemma over.

Want some credentials?

Oklahoma’s DEERPEOPLE have performed with fellow indie acts such as Vampire Weekend, Ty Seagall and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, to name a few.

Or how about this — the video above was recorded live in The Flaming Lips‘ studio.

As the group prepares to release their first full-length album (after dropping two EPs), DEERPEOPLE will on Wednesday (Aug. 20) visit The Lightbulb Club.

It’s the first of what may become a series of free shows for the Block Street-venue. There’s another announced for September, when Genders will play with Llinda on Sept. 17.

Wednesday’s show includes an opening set by Dividend.

Doors open at 9 p.m. Music begins at 10 p.m.

Concert review: Boston, Aug. 15 at the Walmart AMP

August 16th, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Boston live at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Media.

Boston live at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Media.

Boston is a ‘Rock & Roll Band’ that came to ‘Party.’ They left a crowd of about 5,000 at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion ‘Feelin’ Satisfied.

I’ll drop the puns now, but only because Boston provided many of their own during their Friday-night (Aug. 15) set in Rogers. Boston is in the middle of their “Heaven on Earth” tour, a fairly bombastic display of big guitar riffs and big-voiced songs. This was the pairing that made the band famous in a hurry in the late 1970s. They remained so until the early 1980s — Tom Scholz played a mean guitar and Brad Delp could hit notes on the upper or lower edges of the vocal spectrum with ease.

Scholz, a musical mad scientist dressed on Friday in a skull T-shirt, cargo shorts, tennis shoes and a knee brace, remains the star of the show. As it should be. Boston began as his pet project, with layers and layers of noise assembled while he held a day job and no record label was watching. He teamed up with Delp and they signed a record contract together. The results were stunning. The band’s debut album is one of the best-selling such records of all time. There’s a reason, too — it’s a near flawless album start to finish. The band faithfully and precisely played most of the cuts from that album (six of the album’s eight tracks) and when they did, the crowd promptly stood up and belted back the lyrics.

Tom Scholz, founder of Boston

Tom Scholz, founder of Boston

Scholz played a large part in Friday night’s proceedings then, obviously. He mostly played a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, but did switch quickly between an acoustic guitar or the organ situated behind him.

Sadly, his cohort in making the band’s signature sound, Delp, died in 2007. Effectively, the band replaced him with three people: Kim Dahme on vocals and guitar, Tommy DeCarlo on vocals and, occasionally, former “American Idol” contestant Siobhan Magnus. The bulk of the lead vocal duties fell to DeCarlo, and he was mostly up to the challenge. His voice falls in the same general range as Delp’s, but lacked some of the richness and robustness of the band’s famed singer. But few voices can match Delp’s. DeCarlo may have lacked Delp’s range, particularly the ability to reach the human vocal range’s stratosphere, but DeCarlo never let that get in his way. He sang to his own strengths, and that’s as much as you can ask of someone tasked with replacing an iconic voice.

The show proved to be a larger production than I anticipated, and in a good way. The stage setup of many acts from the classic rock era leave much to be desired as they trim away accoutrements as they age. Not so with Boston, who stacked the stage with three video boards emulating the face-forward display of a moving airship. The videos contained on the boards were often incongruous with the song, as the crowd spent time flying through space and diving underwater. (I don’t know either, you guys). It fit the mood, however, which was bolstered by dry ice, big guitars, a band member with a sweet mullet and some gratuitous fist raising. Boston was basically every classic rock cliché rolled into a tidy package.

BostonWEB005They earned the right to play whatever they want based on massive album sales early in their career, but that same fame hindered the show at several points. When the band played its biggest hits, such as anything off their self-titled debut or the tracks “Amanda” and “Don’t Look Back,” the crowd responded with a flourish. Anything else and the crowd sat still. Whether the radio stopped paying attention to new Boston music because the band periodically goes into hibernation (averaging more than five years between albums) or because they simple stopped writing good songs is a real chicken versus egg conundrum. Whichever came first, the end of Boston’s radio days or the end of their quality offerings, very few in the crowd knew any song but the most popular. Live, that manifested itself in polite clapping for nonradio songs. When the band came out of the encore with “I Think I Like It” from their third album, it sucked a lot of the enthusiasm out of the venue, especially considering they’d just unleashed a sprawling, headbang-inducing version of “Foreplay/Longtime” a song before.

Such is the life of an aging ‘Rock & Roll Band.’ Thankfully, the strength of the band’s many hits will always carry them to crowds, and that should give the band some ‘Peace of Mind.’

A note about the opener: Opening duties were given to Fort Smith-based act Oreo Blue. After more than 20 years together, the band has decided to cover fewer songs and focus more on their original material. They pulled from their own pockets on Friday, letting each of the band members sing. Among them, guitarist Gary Hutchison is a monster on a six string, and he draws a lot of the attention. Good on the AMP for booking a local band and exposing them to such as large crowd.

Let’s go see Boston (the band)

August 15th, 2014 at 12:51 pm



If someone tells you they’re going to Boston tonight (Aug. 15), don’t naturally assume the city in Massachusetts.

That’s because the rock band of the same name from that very city is coming to Northwest Arkansas. They play tonight at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers.

I also bet I’m the first person to ever make that joke.

Anyway, you probably know Boston the band from classic rock radio, where hits such as “Foreplay/Longtime,” “Peace of Mind” and “Feelin’ Satisfied” are staples of the rotation.

I spoke with one of the band’s guitarists, Gary Pihl, about the development of Boston’s signature sound, the mad sonic genius behind the band, Tom Scholz, and how they are replacing original lead vocalist Brad Delp, who died in 2007.

You can read my story in today’s What’s Up! section, or you can also read it online [Note: Subscriber content]

Tickets for tonight’s show range from $29-$79 and are available online.

See you there.

The weekend in live music, with Foley’s Van and more

August 15th, 2014 at 5:03 am

Foley's Van

Foley’s Van

If you’re ever awake at the time these weekend posts go live (just after 5 a.m. CDT on Fridays), you’re a step ahead of everyone else. And you already know this important fact — it’s the weekend.

To those of you still asleep, knows there’s a lot waiting for you when you do get going. The list below should prove that to you.

Where to start? How about with Foley’s Van?

At its core, local band Foley’s Van is a bluegrass outfit. But the members’ influences are much broader, as evidenced by a recent show with Grateful Dead tribute band Forgotten Space in Dallas. They also fit in at the all-genre Wakarusa festival, where Foley’s Van played this summer. The group has a pair of Northwest Arkansas shows this weekend — the late show tonight (Aug. 15) at George’s Majestic Lounge and with Mountain Sprout on Saturday (Aug. 16) at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe in Eureka Springs.

Speaking of George’s, they’ll host another good one prior to the set by Foley’s Van. Local heroes Trout Fishing in America will perform during the venue’s happy hour from 6-8 p.m. That show will run you $5 at the door.

And speaking of Eureka Springs, which is where Foley’s Van will be on Saturday night, the town is hosting its annual bluegrass festival this weekend. I wrote a little about it earlier this week.

Another option for the weekend is a concert by Nashville songwriting act Lo-Fi. The duo performs Saturday at Mermaid’s Seafood Restaurant. Start time is 7 p.m., and admission is $25.

And don’t forget Boston tonight at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. We’ll have more on that one in a minute.

What’s on your weekend agenda?

Two NWA bluegrass festivals begin today

August 14th, 2014 at 11:43 am

Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show

Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show

If you like bluegrass music, there is plenty to pick from this weekend.

Including needing to pick which city you choose to visit for a bluegrass festival.

Both the Eureka Springs Bluegrass Festival and the Northwest Arkansas Bluegrass festival just outside Harrison begin today (Aug. 14). Both continue through Saturday (Aug. 16).

The Eureka Springs festival kicks off at 7 p.m. today at Basin Spring Park with a watermelon social and picking session. Free music continues Friday (Aug. 15) and Saturday at Basin Park from noon-6 p.m.

Headlining acts in The Auditorium include Melvin Goins on Friday and Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show on Saturday.

In Harrison, the bluegrass festival offers the sounds of several family bands, most with a gospel influence. Tickets for the festival range from $10 for a one-day pass to $25 for an all-weekend ticket.