The weekend in live music, with Smokey Robinson and more

June 19th, 2015 at 5:03 am

Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson

Tropical depression Bill just keeps coming our way, dumping water wherever he travels. It’s not a laughing matter — there’s been some serious flooding.

So be careful out there, and avoid low-lying areas.

But by the time you get off work, and get to the point of going out for the weekend, Bill should have taken his buckets of rain to the east. It might even be clear out tonight. Wouldn’t that be a nice change of pace?

Let’s discuss the things going on this weekend around the area. You do want to get out of the house, right?

Chris Thomas KingWEB

Chris Thomas King

Motown legend Smokey Robinson, still a force in the music industry, makes a swing through the area for a gig at 8 p.m. Saturday (June 20) at Downstream Casino west of Joplin, Missouri. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member both as a solo artist and as a member of The Miracles, brings his current tour to the outdoor Pavilion venue. Tickets range from $30 to $45 and are available through the casino’s gift shop or via

Take a look at the calendar on the right side of this page. See all the blues acts in Eureka Springs? There’s a reason. It’s the final weekend of the Eureka Springs Blues Weekend, meaning there are dozens of acts scheduled to perform. Highlights should include three sets by blues rocker Patrick Sweany at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe (he plays tonight and Saturday and again Sunday) and a set by Chris Thomas King of “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” fame at The Auditorium.

Another option this weekend is Vintage Pistol, a Fayetteville band fresh off a performance at Wakarusa. They perform Saturday night at George’s Majestic Lounge.

What’s on your agenda for the weekend?

Final thoughts on Wakarusa

June 17th, 2015 at 12:47 pm

YouTube Preview Image

The Glass Animals performing at Wakarusa.

It’s been almost two weeks since I departed for Wakarusa. I’m still finding remnants of it everywhere, little things I packed in my car or the memories of the bear in my campsite.

Ah, yes, the infamous Wakarusa bears, the ones the annual music festival quite cheekily puts on some of their official merchandise.

The bear was hardly the wildest creature on the Mulberry Mountain grounds for the festival, which ran June 4-7 on the rural Franklin County property.

I recounted some of the things I’ll remember most from Wakarusa 2015 for a column that ran in Friday’s What’s Up! section. You can read the online version right now.

What will you remember most from Wakarusa 2015?

Thunder on the Mountain canceled

June 16th, 2015 at 2:21 pm

There was reason to get excited about Thunder on the Mountain. The country music festival debuted in 2013, then took a year off in 2014.

We were told to expect a return in 2015, and dozens of acts, including headliners Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown Band, were booked for the affair.

It was all for naught.

On Saturday (June 13), Organizers announced a cancelation, citing circumstances out of their control. What that means, I’m not sure. We’ve heard rumors, and we’re checking in to them.

But I do know there are disappointed fans, and they are upset even though refunds are headed their way. Staff intern Jaime Dunaway looked for answers yesterday. Read her story online, if you get the chance.

I understand there will be an alternative, impromptu festival (though much smaller) in its place at Byrd’s the weekend of June 26-28. I’ll provide updates soon.

What do you think about the cancelation?

Soon in tunes: Dowsing, June 16 at the Lightbulb Club

June 16th, 2015 at 9:41 am



The Chicago indie pop outfit Dowsing will bring its current tour to The Lightbulb Club for a free show on Tuesday night (June 16). The quartet cites ’90s indie rock and emo as influences, as well as “geography” and “feelings.” Dowsing will be joined by Woozy, an experimental rock trio from New Orleans. The Fayetteville show begins at 9 p.m.

Concert review: Lady Antebellum, June 14 at the Walmart AMP

June 15th, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Lady Antebellum live at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion on June 14. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Democrat-Gazette.

Lady Antebellum live at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion on June 14. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, NWA Democrat-Gazette.

Pardon the sentimental start.

My sister got married Saturday night. She and her husband picked “One Great Mystery” by Lady Antebellum as their first song. They knew the song well; it obviously means something to them.

The song, on Lady Antebellum’s newest album, “747,” is sweet and it’s light and it talks of the hard-to-describe power of love. A pretty solid combo as far as wedding songs go, I’d say.

Sunday night (June 14), Lady Antebellum played at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers. They’ve had a busy week, playing at the CMT Awards (and picking up a win in the process), being selected as the first dance for my sister and brother-in-law and playing in Rogers.

Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum

Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum

The band on Sunday night was barely the same group that recorded “One Great Mystery.” Cranked up loud and with giant video boards behind them, Lady Antebellum went a different direction. Sure, technically speaking, the same three-headed attack of vocalist Hillary Scott, vocalist Charles Kelley and multi-instrumentalist Dave Haywood recorded both “One Great Mystery” and the lead single from the band’s newest album, “Bartender.” But “Bartender,” with it’s “lets throw them back” mentality, shares bonds with a million other songs on country radio right now. It’s potentially Lady Antebellum’s worst (meaning least original) song, and it’s one of their most popular. Go figure.

But Lady Antebellum wasn’t exactly pressured into diving into the softer parts of their repertoire, although the cover of “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, delivered from an auxiliary stage in the lawn area of the venue, was a tender moment. Little else could be described as “tender,” during their set, which covered 19 songs in 90 minutes. It mostly could be described as 90 minutes of mid-tempo contemporary country, which is a lot like pop music except for people drink in fields instead of clubs in country songs.

Part of the rock ‘n’ roll tilt to Sunday’s proceedings no doubt came from Hunter Hayes, who used his hour on stage to showcase his guitar playing skills and voice. He’s a country version of John Mayer — an excellent blues/soul musician who instead desires to write pop music but lets those influences creep in — but not quite take over — his sound. Unfortunately.

Lady AntebellumWEB002

Hayes also brought a first-class light and video system, using a combination of his own system and the same video boards used by Lady Antebellum. He ran around the stage, alternately playing guitar, mandolin and piano. His enthusiasm almost certainly pushed the tempo and tenor of the evening. He came back out twice during Lady Antebellum’s set, once during the song “Compass” and again during a cover of Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine,” which also featured opening act Kelsea Ballerini. I suspect some would argue that Hayes, occassionally a headlining act, outperformed the top billed artist of Sunday, and I’d put myself among them. He put the pressure on Lady Antebellum to make things move, and that’s what they did.

There was also the need to keep things moving for the fans, who filled or nearly filled the venue — I’d guess there were 8,500 in attendance. Those on the lawn got drenched courtesy of a brief but powerful rain storm that bullseyed the pavilion. No one left, and everyone showed up on a Sunday night. It’s one thing to sit stationary in the rain, it’s another thing altogether to dance in it. The bands gave them dance music, even Ballerini, who played a medley of pop hits by the likes of Britney Spears and N’Sync in addition to her current No. 2 country radio hit, “Love Me Like You Mean It.”

Many hits were played last night. Ballerini had her supporters. Ten likely members of the executive board of the Hunter Hayes fan club were two rows in front of me, and they consisted of nine 13-18 year-old girls and one 45 year-old man. All of them knew all of the words and belted them out, particularly for his biggest hit, “Wanted.” Lady Antebellum closed the night with a few of their biggest ones, too — “Need You Now” and “We Own The Night,” to name a few.

A jet-powered version of Lady Antebellum owned Sunday night, and in a weekend of happiness, many were happy for that very result.

Rolling on: Lady Antebellum bring ‘Wheels Up’ tour to Rogers

June 12th, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum

On Wednesday (June 10), country stars Lady Antebellum performed during the CMA Awards ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee. They also picked up the CMA for Group Video of the Year courtesy of their hit “Bartender.”

On Sunday (June 14), the band performs at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers.

Band member Charles Kelley recently chatted with the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s summer intern, Jaime Dunaway, about Lady A’s current tour and specifically about the song “Bartender.” The songs on the newest album, including “Bartender,” are a loud departure from their popular balladry of just a few years ago, he says.

Read Jaime’s story, which appeared in today’s What’s Up! section. It’s available on newsstands and also online.

Sunday’s show at the Walmart AMP begins at 7 p.m. Hunter Hayes will also perform. Tickets range from $35 to $65 and are available through the venue’s website.

See you at the show.

The weekend in music with The Sisters Sweet and more

June 12th, 2015 at 5:03 am

Sisters SweetWEB

The Sisters Sweet


I like to think those who read this blog are a pretty savvy bunch.

You don’t need my prompting to know it’s the weekend. You know a lot of the music heading our way, and you know how to read the concert calendar from your favorite local club just as well as I do.

So my job, I feel like, is to provide a little insight into the whys. Why would you go to a show? What’s so special about this one?

With that in mind, here’s the recommendations I can offer.

How about a homecoming for a local songwriter?

Candy Lee calls Fayetteville home, but she’s rarely in this town. Instead, she’s out on the road, performing solo or with her band. Having recently played at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas, Lee returns to Arkansas for about two weeks before taking off again. Lee and The Sisters Sweet will have a joint homecoming show Saturday (June 13) with fellow Arkansans Handmade Moments, who just returned from a trip to of Argentina. Admission to the concert at Smoke & Barrel Tavern in Fayetteville is $5.

Or how about a free show? Those are always good.

Country musician Mark Chestnutt charted several songs during his career, including the mid-1990s hits “Bubba Shot the Jukebox” and “Blame It on Texas.” The native Texan tours frequently, and he brings his live show to the Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs for an event tonight. Chestnutt goes on at 9 p.m. The show is free.

What else is happening this weekend?

Lady Antebellum headlines a show at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion this weekend, for one. Check back for details in a minute.

Also, blues guitarist extraordinaire Samantha Fish performs tonight at George’s Majestic Lounge. You might recognize her from Bikes, Blues & BBQ, where she’s performed before.

What are you hoping to catch this weekend?

Soon in tunes: Anthony D’Amato, June 11 at Gulley Park

June 10th, 2015 at 11:43 am

Anthony D'Amato

Anthony D’Amato

Folk and soul performer Anthony D’Amato has a busy summer lined up. He’s touring behind his newest album “The Shipwreck From the Shore,” which was recorded with members of Bon Iver and Megafaun. One of his dates is a stop at Mumford & Sons’ Gentlemen of the Road traveling festival. Another of the dates is a free show at 7 p.m. Thursday (June 11) at Gulley Park in Fayetteville. It’s part of the Gulley Park Summer Concert Series. Bring you lawn chairs or blanket.

Soon in tunes: Canatlouper, June 10 at George’s

June 9th, 2015 at 1:57 pm



Missouri quartet Cantalouper just released its newest recording, “Reproduction,” in early May. The band, which describes its sound as “new wavey, shoegazy, feel goody,” visits Fayetteville for a midweek show at George’s Majestic Lounge. Joining in for the 8 p.m. Wednesday (June 10) set are locals The Brothel Sprouts and Dividend. Admission is $5.

Photos from Wakarusa

June 8th, 2015 at 11:57 am

Have you looked at our Wakarusa photos yet?

I sent out a link to them yesterday, but I think they deserve a little more attention. Credit for the majority of them goes to intrepid photographer Michael Woods, who took time off his busy scheduling of shooting Arkansas Razorback baseball games to be down on the mountain.

I contributed several as well.

The images come from the four-day event, which concluded yesterday at the Mulberry Mountain event grounds near Ozark. Included are photos of headlining acts such as Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, STS9, Umphrey’s McGee, The Roots and more. Also included are images of Wakaruvians being Wakaruvians and some of the quirky things discovered on the festival grounds.

See them below as a slideshow, or look through them as a gallery, if you prefer. It’s more than 300 photos, so make sure to grab some popcorn first.