The AMP gets some help, makes some comments

February 27th, 2008 at 10:08 am


The Arkansas Music Pavilion, empty. File photo.

About a week ago, we told you a few of the bands the Arkansas Music Pavilion was trying to secure for its upcoming summer season.

On Feb. 26, we learned that they’ll get a little bit of help doing it. AMP officials announced that Brian Crowne and Suzie Stephens, owners of Dickson Street staple George’s Majestic Lounge, would be buying an “ownership interest” in the summer outdoor music venue that has existed for the past three years in the Northwest Arkansas Mall parking lot. A news story about the partnership can be read here.

To continue reading, click here.

Presumably, it means Crowne and Harold Wieties, booking agent for George’s, will be responsible for bringing bands to the AMP. Although we don’t know yet what that will mean, I know from a previous conversation with Wieties he hoped to bring in Jason Isbell, now scheduled for a July 10 show at the AMP, for a show at George’s earlier this year.

Expect bands similar to what one might hear at George’s — but that need more room than the venue’s capacity of 700 or so will allow.

In addition to announcing the partnership, the press release also offers some thoughts on the benefits of the AMP. From the release titled “The AMP adds to the sustainability of live music”:

“In 2005, when The AMP was unanimously approved by The City Council, music was not in great shape in the area. Only George’s promoted ongoing music throughout the year, Barnhill was dormant and the [Randal Tyson] Track Center just began to have concerts. There were sparse promotions but nothing ongoing. Then the AMP changes everything. With 12 concerts in their first season of 90 days, the area was alive again with music and events to look forward to.”

And more:

“Fast-forward 4 years to today. Barnhill Arena is alive. Many new small music venues have cropped up. The town center and track center have played host to performances. … Since The AMP opened in 2005, there has been a resurgence of music with programming at The Walton Arts Center, the Track Center and a return to Barnhill Arena.”

I think those at The Gypsy and The Music Hall would argue they have music “throughout the year” and those at places such as The Green Door wouldn’t list The AMP as the No. 1 reason they opened their doors.

Futhermore, at least two clubs — J.R.’s Lightbulb Club and The Copper Bar, the downstairs venue at U.S. Pizza — have discontinued live music since the AMP formed.

Of course, we hope the new incarnation of the AMP will be a successful one, a venue that provides area residents with diverse, acclaimed live music performers we can’t get anywhere else. It is a mid-sized venue, sized somewhere between George’s and Barnhill Arena, and as such has a lot of potential to bring in great acts. We just hope that potential is met, or better yet, sustained.

  • statesman

    This is an interesting development. The George’s crew never looked kindly on the AMP’s choices in past years (who did, honestly?), so you have to imagine that some changes are in store. Brian and Harold surely have a more realistic outlook on who will and won’t play the AMP. They probably also have better connections in the booking world, meaning they can get more for their money than the Whites did.

    At the same time, the notion that the AMP will become a larger garden venue for George’s disappoints me. Brian and Harold really, really dig guitar-based blues, red-dirt country and free-form jam bands; beyond that, their knowledge (and more importantly, their interest) tapers off pretty quickly. I understand that their patrons skew toward the 30-plus demographic, which is the same group that’ll pay hefty prices for AMP shows, but the more influence George’s has on other clubs, the more homogenized the music scene’s gonna be. It may help the sustainability of live music, but only for a select audience and a select group of touring bands.

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