Taking flight: Dana Louise and the Glorious Birds

May 5th, 2015 at 9:37 am

Dana Louise and the Glorious Birds

Dana Louise and the Glorious Birds

Local duo Trout Fishing in America, a Grammy-nominated folk act, are now playing as side men.

But the work is no ordinary project.

Dana Louise and the Glorious Birds release a new album tonight (May 5) at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville. Dana Louise is Dana Idlet, daughter of Trout Fishing’s Ezra Idlet. And joined by fellow Trout and bass player Keith Grimwood and local multi-instrumentalist Adams Collins, the quartet plays when Trout isn’t busy with their own schedule or Dana Louise isn’t performing as a solo act.

My colleague Becca Martin-Brown wrote about how it all came together and the band’s thoughts for the future. You can read her story about the Glorious Birds online.

Admission to the CD release party, which starts at 7 p.m., is $5.

Bentonville Film Festival announces musical acts

May 5th, 2015 at 8:27 am

Samantha Crain photo by Todd Roeth

Samantha Crain photo by Todd Roeth

I’ve written a lot about the Bentonville Film Festival in the print edition of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. But not here, because the focus is always live music. You can read my latest story, if you like, which details how to get tickets for sold-out events.

But today officials with the festival unveiled several music acts that will perform during the course of the festival.

Jon Foreman, the lead singer of Switchfoot, will perform at today (May 5)’s opening ceremony. The Railers, named as a band to watch by Rolling Stone magazine, will perform at the closing ceremony on May 9.

In between are many artists representing the nation, region and closer to home. Among the shows is the My Country Nation concert featuring Meg & Liz on Wednesday (May 6) at Arend Arts Center in Bentonville.

Many of the artists also perform at the official music venue of the festival — The Ice House of Bentonville. Foreman and Samantha Crain perform there tonight. Meg & Liz, Barrett Baber and Ashley McBryde perform Wednesday (May 6). Groovement and Ashley Nichole & Taylor Lane have the honors on Thursday (May 7). Smokey and the Mirror and Brynn Elliott both perform May 8. And Breaking Silence and Funk Factory close everything out on May 9.

Tickets are available at the door. Admission is $50 per night.

Concert review: Chicago, May 3 at the Walmart AMP

May 4th, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Robert Lamm of the band Chicago in concert at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Media.

Robert Lamm of the band Chicago in concert at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Media.

My dad and I had a tiny debate about the band Chicago on Sunday (May 3) morning in the hours before the music act from that city took the stage at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers. My dad, a savvy listener who helped me cut my teeth on classic rock, mused how unique Chicago was, considering they were led by a horn section. No, I countered, the band’s sound is led by the guitars and keyboards, and the brass instruments act as a supplement. In support of my argument, I hummed him the riff from “25 or 6 to 4.” (In my lucky world, this qualifies as a disagreement with my father).

I must admit that dad was right.

The very stage arrangement gave credence to that theory, with the horns front and center and instruments such as drums and keyboard relegated to a back riser. Even the guitar of Keith Howland came from the side of the stage, although he like the other members was free to roam around the stage and took advantage of that opportunity. It helps too that each of the horn players — Lee Loughnane on trumpet, Walter Parazaider on saxophone and flute and Jimmy Pankow on trombone — are original members of Chicago, meaning they’ve logged 48 years in the band. Joined by fellow original member Robert Lamm on keyboards and for one song, acoustic guitar, they make one of the longest-tenured combos in rock music. They get help from a cast of newer additions such as Howland and Jason Scheff, who has the tough task of replacing the bass licks and tenor vocals of Peter Cetera, who left Chicago in the mid-1980s. Scheff has been in Chicago ever since.

Lee Loughnane of Chicago

Lee Loughnane of Chicago

All told, Chicago sounded like a very reasonable replica of itself. The horns blared. Howland threw out his riffs. And keyboard player Lou Pardini played prominently on “Ballet for a Girl From Buchannon,” a seven-song medley the band played to close out the first half of the set. Yes, there were seven-song medleys, and a full second half. The band took a 20-minute intermission, but split between the two halves and the encore, cranked out 34 songs in about 2 hours and 10 minutes of stage time. Key to making the whole thing work was the level of enjoyment from onstage. The band members each maintained their own level of reaction and enthusiasm, save for the trombone player Pankow, who was on an entirely different level. He never stopped dancing, winking and pointing into the audience when he wasn’t belting out a note. He stole every moment in which he played a role.

Walter Parazaider of Chicago

Walter Parazaider of Chicago

The crowd never quite returned Pankow’s exuberance. This group assembled Sunday skewed much older than those for the first two events in the AMP’s young season. There were also fewer of them, with perhaps 5,000 or so out on a nice spring night. But the crowd did oblige during the band’s biggest hits, which all came rolling out toward the end of the night. “Hard Habit to Break” and “You’re the Inspiration” were issued back to back, for instance, as were “Saturday in the Park” and “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day.”

One factor my dad and I never got around to discussing was the schmaltz factor of the evening. There was a certain silliness to the proceedings, and Pankow wasn’t the only one dancing and winking. I laughed more than ever expected to, and I don’t know if Chicago ever courted that kind of response. But I noticed it happening all around me, too, except for the gentlemen two seats over, who clearly loved Chicago more than any other band on the great wide earth. I don’t think it amounts to laughing at someone when they smile and wink in your general direction. And I don’t think Chicago cared. They were having fun on their own accord.

On the way: Hank Williams Jr., Aug. 22 at the AMP

May 4th, 2015 at 11:45 am

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All of Hank Jr.’s rowdy friends are coming to play. And he’s coming to play the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion this summer.

[Update at 12:32 p.m. May 4: Within minutes of getting this post up, official confirmation reached my inbox. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday (May 8) through the venue’s website and range from $41-$95.50.]

Country concerts keep happening at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion, and I can tell you why — crowds, and I mean big crowds, keep showing up for them.

So it was fitting that at the May 1 concert headlined by Brantley Gilbert, another country show was announced. Hank Williams Jr. will perform at the venue in Rogers on Aug. 22, it was announced at the show. Southern rockers .38 Special and Whiskey Myers will join the festivities.

AMP officials have yet to confirm the event, which also means details are sparse on ticket availability. I’ll update you as more information arrives.

Concert review: Brantley Gilbert, May 1 at the Arkansas Music Pavilion

May 2nd, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Brantley Gilbert at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion on May 1. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Democrat-Gazette.

Brantley Gilbert at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion on May 1. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Democrat-Gazette.

Somewhere past the halfway mark of Brantley Gilbert‘s Friday (May 1) concert at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion, he shucked off his T-shirt, which featured the words “Come As You Are,” a nod to a song title by the seminal rock band Nirvana.

Underneath, Gilbert revealed two things: Large arms, the result of copious amounts of time spent in a gym, and a camouflage tank top. He called attention to the camouflage coloring, too, making sure his country music fans saw it.

The combination of clothing intersects precisely with the spot in the music world that the Georgia native seeks to occupy. He’s a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, with his pockets chains and his love Guns and Roses, whose very name he appropriated into a song title. But he’s also within the ranks of modern country music, or as it’s sometimes called, bro country, with its predilection for tailgates and bonfires.

Brantley GilbertWEB002If Gilbert leans in one direction to tip the balance, it’s in the direction of rock ‘n’ roll. Four times, his band played the lick to a familiar rock song as a prelude or postscript to a song of his own creation. None of those songs, which included Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Motley Crue’s “Dr. Feelgood,” were flushed into full versions, but the point was made. Gilbert’s backing band looked the part, too, with three-foot-long dreadlocks, all-black clothing and a six-inch tall yellow mohawk split between the players. There was also the very telling note on the setlist between the songs “Take It Outside” and “Small Town Throwdown.” It read only “rock jam” and the band members did just.

Brantley GilbertWEB003

Brantley Gilbert band drummer Ben Sims.

For his part, Gilbert rushed about the stage, motioning for the crowd to respond and twirling his handheld microphone in circles. He rarely addressed the crowd during the fairly tidy set, which spanned 14 songs in about 80 minutes. For all the rock posturing and yelling, I preferred Gilbert in his more tender moments, such as the song “One Hell of an Amen,” which he told the crowd was dedicated to two men who changed his life, and he offered it as a tribute to the armed services. On his bigger, brasher songs, he lacked the vocal oomph to match. Either he doesn’t have the voice of his contemporaries on the country scene, or he was hoarse just for last night. I’m not sure which. But Gilbert’s smart, too, and he turned the microphone to the crowd on multiple occasions. They were happy to oblige. And what a crowd it was, too. More than 7,000 tickets were sold before the start of the event, and a large walk-up crowd pushed that number much higher on a perfect spring night.

Casey Donahew

Casey Donahew

Michael Ray and the Casey Donahew Band had the privilege of warming up for Gilbert, and both had the monster crowd in front of them. I didn’t make it into the venue early enough to hear any of Ray’s set — I was still on my 10-minute walk from my car to the venue — but did catch all of Donahew’s. His band came out playing a snippet from progressive rock band Rush’s “Working Man.” It’s fitting this would be Donahew’s walk-up music. He’s utilitarian country — sturdy, never very flashy but also never boring. About the only time he got worked up was when he offered an aside in support of the right to bear arms, a message he also proudly displayed behind him as a backdrop. Meanwhile, venue staff made sure to stop all pocket knives from coming into the venue at the security checkpoint.

Both acts I watched enjoyed raucous responses. At one point, Gilbert squatted onstage to address the crowd, and he crouched there for three minutes as the applause rained down on him. It was a spontaneous moment, and he looked genuinely taken aback by the level of adoration.

“What’s happening in Arkansas?” he wondered aloud, to more cheers.

What’s happening is the residents of Northwest Arkansas are showing their love for country music, an early theme at the venue that continued heartily in the second show of this season. And it’s not likely to go away. A concert with Hank Williams Jr. on Aug. 22 was announced at the beginning of Donahew’s set. Country music in its various forms continues unabated at the Arkansas Music Pavilion. And so does the response for it.

Bringing Chicago to you — Chicago, May 3 at the AMP

May 1st, 2015 at 11:41 am



Lee Loughnane, the trumpet player for the band Chicago, told me the band’s concerts get many reactions. A common one is this: Someone will say “I didn’t know they did that song, too!”

Yes, that’s the kind of thing that happens when you have so many hits, and those hits get so much play on oldies and classic rock stations. And it’s the kind of thing that happens when you’ve sold more than 100 million albums — yes, more than 100 million, which ranks them near the top of the all-time sales list — in their career.

And local fans will get the chance to hear hit after hit, from “Colour My World” to “Make Me Smile” to “Saturday in the Park.”

The band’s current tour comes to the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion on Sunday (May 3). I chatted with Loughnane about the band’s recording process and building a setlist when the group has so many hits to choose from. You can read my story in today’s What’s Up! section or online.

Tickets for Sunday’s show range from $42-$97 and are available through the venue’s website.

I’ll see you there.

The weekend in live music, with Flight Machine and more

May 1st, 2015 at 5:03 am

Flight Machine

Flight Machine

Let’s take off this weekend. Just go. The weather looks great. And there are several travel-themed concerts taking place this weekend, too.

Northwest Arkansas pop rock act Flight Machine will release its second album at a show Saturday night (May 2) at The Lightbulb Club in Fayetteville. The album, “It’s the Future,” was released April 21 but gets an official celebration this weekend. The show starts after 9 p.m., and the cover charge is $5. DJ Cycle will close out the evening.

Feel like just rambling?

The acoustic duo Gypsy, which used Northwest Arkansas as a touring base during the 1990s, will reform this weekend for a show at George’s Majestic Lounge. The duo of Tyler Bell and Jay Reynolds toured the college circuit a decade ago, opening up for acts such as Big Head Todd & The Monsters and the Spin Doctors along the way. The show takes place at 9 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $10, and tickets are available via georgesmajesticlounge.com.

If you want to travel to Chicago, the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion hosts the legendary rock band with horns on Sunday (May 3) evening. More on that show in a minute.

If you want to go to a (figurative) backwoods bash, the AMP has that covered, too.

Country hitmaker Brantley Gilbert will bring his current tour to the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion for a show tonight with guests Casey Donahew Band and Michael Ray. Gilbert has written chart toppers such as “My Kinda Party” and “Dirt Road Anthem” for Jason Aldean and “Bottoms Up” and “Country Must Be Country Wide” for himself. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $45 and are available through arkansasmusicpavilion.com.

Elsewhere, Boom! Kinetic will perform tonight at George’s and that venue will host a benefit event on Sunday.

What’s on your calendar?

Concert review: JJ Grey and Mofro, April 28 at George’s

April 29th, 2015 at 9:29 am

JJ Grey and Mofro live at George's Majestic Lounge on April 28. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Democrat-Gazette.

JJ Grey and Mofro live at George’s Majestic Lounge on April 28. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Democrat-Gazette.

How do you work off a hangover that’s already settled in for the day? A college friend of mine swore by Pedialyte, the electrolyte solution designed for children. Some opt for rest, or a strong cup of coffee, perhaps. There’s a million different theoretical remedies, each with varying degrees of success.

For JJ Grey, his solution was to sweat it out onstage. His first address to the nearly sold out crowd last night (April 28) at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville mentioned his hangover. He said the headache had gone away, and the energy of the crowd would buoy him.

It seemed like idle chit-chat at the time, the kind of funny thing a performer says to break the ice. But if there’s something to learn from the lyrics of Grey’s blues/soul/funk/Southern rock songs, it’s that he’s the honest, confessional type. He mentioned more than once that his songs are based on true stories, so one ought to take him at face when he talks, too.

JJ GreyWEB003

And, sure enough, his revival only progressed as the evening continued. Grey and his six-piece backing band, Mofro, powered through two hours of material pulled from all sections of his catalog. Like so many of his better songs, such as the not subtle at all, come-hither tune “Slow, Hot & Sweaty,” the set list built slowly into a climax that found Grey dancing like a madman at the end of the night, a far cry from his somewhat demure introduction. The crowd likewise fed off the increasing energy in the room, and extended jams caused dancing and repeatble chorus caused a chorus of singing. As things heated up in the room — literally, too — Mofro often went jammy, as they did during the encore, when two songs, “Lochloosa” and “Ol’ Glory,” covered 23 minutes of stage time.

Grey and the band rambled some, both during the jam sessions and his banter between songs. But that’s easy to explain away — Grey was working it all out onstage, and no one can say he didn’t give it his all. How do you cure a hangover? Perhaps the best way is by playing smoldering guitar and screaming your lungs out.

A note about the opener:

Anderson East

Anderson East

Anderson East got about 35 minutes to showcase his young career. The earlier-than-published start time meant the Nashville-based artist and his band took the stage about 8:15 p.m. to an audience of about 50 people, a fraction of what would show up later in the evening. On an album of his I listened to earlier this week, East sounded like a soul singer. Re-created live, the Nashville sound showed up in greater quantity, although soul played a part, too. Perhaps he’s country soul? With some blues thrown in for good measure? He’s got promise, that’s certain, and he and his band did a fine job catching the attention of an audience that likely had never heard of him before.

Soon in tunes: JJ Grey and Mofro, April 28 at George’s

April 28th, 2015 at 12:21 pm

JJ Grey and Mofro photo by Jim Arbogast

JJ Grey and Mofro photo by Jim Arbogast

JJ Grey and Mofro are a force of nature on a stage, and the 2011 live album “Brighter Days” proved that. But the band recently returned to the studio for “Ol’ Glory,” which like previous JJ Grey and Mofro albums contains elements of southern rock, gospel and the blues. The band’s current tour brings it to George’s Majestic Lounge tonight (April 28) with opening act Anderson East. Tickets to the 9 p.m. show are $22 and are available through stubs.net.

On the way: Fifth Harmony, July 24 at the Walmart AMP

April 27th, 2015 at 10:21 am

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Meghan Trainor, the star behind the mega-hit “All About That Bass,” also wrote “Sledgehammer” for girl group Fifth Harmony. The Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion has landed a July 24 concert by the pop quintet.

My commitment to not watching traditional television got the better of me this morning.

Because if I watched any at all, perhaps I would have heard of the girl group Fifth Harmony, a project that started on “The X Factor.” After forming there, the group has gone on to appear on many other programs, and their album “Reflection” cracked the Top 5 on Billboard’s 200 album chart earlier this year. The quintet, whose members range in age from 17 to 21, have also released an EP.

The group has announced dates for their summer tour, and the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion announced on their Facebook page that the venue in Rogers would be one of those stops. The event takes place July 24. According to the Facebook post announcing the event, opening acts will be Natalie LaRose, Debby Ryan & The Never Ending and Bea Miller. No other details have been released.