The weekend in music, with Split Lip Rayfield and more

December 5th, 2014 at 5:03 am

Split Lip Rayfield perform live at Yonder's Harvest Festival earlier this year. FILE PHOTO.

Split Lip Rayfield perform live at Yonder’s Harvest Festival earlier this year. FILE PHOTO.

After the nice Thanksgiving break, which found me out of the office for a whole day, this week was a little challenging, with its five workdays and all.

But like it usually does, the weekend provides a respite.

Let’s get to the very serious business of seeing music, shall we?

Bluegrass manipulators Split Lip Rayfield return for a Saturday night (Dec. 6) show in Fayetteville. The trio from Kansas speeds up the bluegrass genre, often adding humor in the process. The group’s show takes place at 10 p.m. at George’s Majestic Lounge. Admission is $12. Foley’s Van opens.

A little more traditional take on country music can be found this weekend in Van Buren.

Veteran country hitmaker Travis Tritt will perform Saturday night in Van Buren. The Georgia native has topped the charts with songs such as “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” and “Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares).” Tritt’s local stop on the “Calm After” tour begins at 8 p.m. at the Van Buren Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $43 and may be purchased via

What else?

How about Aaron Carter? Yes, that Aaron Carter. The brother to a Backstreet Boy and a one-time teen idol performed at George’s Majestic Lounge about a year ago. He returns to that venue tonight. Admission is $15, and the show begins about 10 p.m.

George’s has a busy weekend. They also host a benefit for Meals on Wheels on Sunday (Dec. 7). That event includes performances by Hoi Polloi, Traveling Wheelbearings and Tulare Dust. The show takes place from 3-7 p.m. There’s a $5 suggested donation.

What’s on your concert calendar?

Christmas with Clint Black

December 3rd, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Clint Black

Clint Black

There’s a distinction between a “Christmas” concert and a “Christmastime” concert. It might be a slight one, but it’s one Clint Black wants to make.

A Christmas concert would probably only feature Christmas songs. He’s more familiar with the latter version — a Christmastime concert, where he performs all of his country hits and sprinkles in a few Christmas songs because it is that time of the year.

But Black’s Christmas songs are no perfunctory act. He composed an album full of Christmas originals, including the country radio staple “Milk and Cookies,” like he performs below. (P.S. Holy John Denver sighting!)

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He promises to play that song and several other hits, such as “Killin’ Time” and “A Better Man,” two songs that made him an almost overnight success.

Black recently chatted with me about plans for the 25th anniversary of the “Killin’ Time” album and his newest material. You can read my story online [Note: Subscriber content]

Black and his band will bring their Christmastime concert to the Walton Arts Center for a show on Thursday (Dec. 4). The show begins at 7 p.m., and tickets range from $32-$62. Doug Seegers opens the show.

Soon in tunes: Chris Duarte, Dec. 3 at George’s

December 2nd, 2014 at 11:51 am

Chris Duarte

Chris Duarte

More than 20 years after his breakout album, blues/jazz guitarist Chris Duarte continues to make music and tour. His most recent release, “Lucky 13,” came out in mid-October. His current tour will bring him to George’s Majestic Lounge for a Wednesday night (Dec. 3) show. Admission is $10. Music begins after 10 p.m.

Looking for the best new albums of 2014

December 1st, 2014 at 10:13 am

If you’ve been following along this year, you’ve got an idea of some of my favorite albums of 2014.

I released a midway collection, and I also shared some favorites at a recent KUAF listener meetup.

But that doesn’t mean the search is over, and not just because artists are still releasing Christmas albums this time of year. Those probably won’t make the list.

I’m still reviewing albums, and I love hearing your suggestions. You can share with with me via email or write them below to contribute to the conversation.

Here are a few I’ve enjoyed all year, as a starter: St. Paul and the Broken Bones’ “Half the City,” Rosanne Cash’s “The River & The Thread,” Beck’s “Morning Phase,” Temples’ “Sun Structures” and Phantogram’s “Voices,” to name a few.

What have you been listening to from 2014?

P.S. Here’s another of my album of the year contenders that should surprise no one:

The song is “You Turn Me On” from the self-titled 2014 record by Water Liars.

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Thunder on the Mountain tickets on sale now

November 28th, 2014 at 12:51 pm

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Luke Bryan, reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year, performs at Thunder on the Mountain in 2013. In the song, he says “I Don’t Want This Night To End.” It won’t – tickets for the 2015 version of the festival are on sale now.

We told you a few months ago that Thunder on the Mountain would come back in 2015 after a one-year hiatus. Here’s another promising sign: Tickets for the country music festival are now on sale.

Thunder on the Mountain will take place June 26-28 on the Mulberry Mountain grounds, the same rural site that hosts Wakarusa and Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Music Festival. That’s a little different date than we were initially told, but it’s in the ballpark. And, most importantly, it means the festival is returning.

The lineup for the country music festival has yet to be announced, but we’re expecting names soon. In the meantime, early bird discounted tickets are available now. Current prices are $99 for a three-day pass, and you can add on three days of camping for $99.

VIP passes — which include front-row access — are $605 for the weekend.

The weekend in music, with JB and the Moonshine Band and more

November 28th, 2014 at 5:03 am

JB and the Moonshine Band

JB and the Moonshine Band

Regarding yesterday, I hope for two things: You ate enough to have a food coma, and you have zero regrets about it all.

Regarding today, I hope you’re ready to get into the weekend, because it’s arrived.

Live music wise, there are several options for this weekend.

Texas country act JB and the Moonshine Band formed in 2009 as the result of an open audition arranged by frontman JB Patterson. They’ve worked their way up the country ranks since. The band’s last album, “Beer for Breakfast,” landed in the Top 50 of the Billboard Country and Independent Albums chart in 2012. The band performs a free show at 9 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 29) at Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs. Rod Robertson begins the festivities at 6 p.m.

Want something different?

Not all classical training revolves around violins and pianos, as Josh Massad can attest. He performs on percussion instruments and the tabla, a Middle Eastern drum similar to a bongo. Massad brings a pair of backing musicians with him to Eureka Springs for a night of world music on Sunday (Nov. 30). Massad has lived and performed in Lebanon, Turkey and Morocco. The event at Eureka House Concerts begins at 6 p.m. Admission is by donation.

Elsewhere, Earl and Them performs tonight (Nov. 28) at The Lightbulb Club and, like they always do, the Claudia Burson Trio entertains the brunch crowd starting at 11 a.m. Sunday at Copeland’s in Rogers.

There’s a more comprehensive list of gigs listed on the blog’s home page, if you’re so inclined.

See you at a show or two?

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.