Soon in tunes: Albert Lee, July 21 at George’s

July 21st, 2015 at 10:13 am

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British-born guitarist Albert Lee is instead a “Country Boy” by heart. Here, he joins other country acts such as Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. Listen to him tonight at George’s Majestic Lounge.

There’s a chance you don’t know the music of Albert Lee. As a studio musician and hired gun of a guitarist, he’s flown just under the radar.

But talk to country music insiders, and performers, and they likely know him. He wrote what became an eventual hit for Ricky Skaggs. He shared the stage with Emmylou Harris in her Hot Band. The list of other artists he’s worked with is a mile long.

Lee, born in England but sounding like he came from somewhere deep in Texas, brings his live show tonight (July 21) to George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville. The set by the five-time “Best Country Guitarist” — as ranked by Guitar Player magazine — and Grammy winner will begin the show about 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Concert review: Widespread Panic, July 17 at the AMP

July 18th, 2015 at 11:49 am

John Bell of Widespread Panic, photographed at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion on July 17. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

John Bell of Widespread Panic, photographed at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion on July 17. All photos by KEVIN KINDER, Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“Do you like Widespread?” I was asked more times last night (July 17) than I could count while at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion.

I’m a walking target, with my camera bag and notebook giving away my intentions and purpose.

The cult of Widespread Panic is quick to welcome a fellow diehard or initiate someone experiencing the now almost 30-year-old jam band for the first time. As for the ambivalent, or rarer, the unconvinced, there’s usually a line of defenses constructed.

I found an empty area of the lawn for the first half of the show to watch the band’s light show, which is impressive and expansive. Swirling lights affixed to towers placed all across the stage danced just as much as the crowd did, which was a considerable amount. When I found my seat for the second set, the woman sitting next to me wanted to know how much I loved the band.

I told her I try not to make judgments until the day after a show. That’s true, by the way.

“For me, so far so good,” she said. “But you’re talking to a superfan.”

Jimmy Herring of Widespread Panic

Jimmy Herring of Widespread Panic

The Georgia-based jam band drew about 5,000 to the outdoor venue in Rogers on a warm summer’s evening. Most, like my neighbor, could pick out the name of the song after the first chord, drum fill or lick. She liked to scream out the name of the song as soon as she recognized it. There was a seat open to my left, and for that I’m glad. One seat could not contain the spastic dancing of my concert neighbor, so I shuffled left to give her some space. The crowd came to boogie, and they did just that.

The seats created a different vibe, actually. Friday night’s set in Rogers was actually my fourth Widespread Panic show. All three previous sets were part of a music festival — I’ve watched them twice at Wakarusa, and once at Bonnaroo. In large open fields, with space to roam, those shows felt like a carnival, everyone dressed in strange attire and screaming. Inside a proper venue — albeit outdoors — with seats, this show seemed subdued or somehow constrained. To wit, earlier in the day, the venue posted on social media that hula hooping wouldn’t be allowed because the hoops are considered potential projectiles. This was the tamest Widespread Panic show I’ve watched. It also was a bit on the short side, at least compared to Widespread standards. The band played for just a little less than three hours, if the 30-minute break between sets is factored into the equation. The band did roll well past 11 p.m., generally considered the cut-off time for shows at the venue.

Dave Schools

Dave Schools

Even if subdued, the show expanded the collective mindset and demographics of the AMP. This show set many records for AMP shows, including most tie dye clothing, most guitar solos, most shoeless attendees and most marijuana smoked. When a concert crowd out-smokes those assembled for a Willie Nelson concert, a show that took place last year at the same venue, you know it’s a significant factor. Friday night’s show also set the record for most people wearing Viking horns with American flags taped to the tips of those horns, with one such example. One is plenty for such things.

The most remarkable thing during the evening was the playing onstage, however, and that’s the draw for Widespread Panic. Each of the band members got a moment, if only one. I often wished the band would turn excellent bass player Dave Schools loose a few more times, but like all of the members, he was fairly stoic and subdued in his onstage mannerisms. If all of the members had at least a moment, lead guitarist Jimmy Herring had moments, plural. His ace playing graced each and every song, and the band wasted no opportunities in letting him ramble.

I like surprises at concerts — choice covers, unexpected tempo changes, guests and the like. There were too few such interludes last night. Widespread Panic jammed, just like they always do. The players, looking inconspicuous and unaffected, dazzled with their musical abilities, just like they always do. And for the cult of Widespread, that was a perfect combination.

The spread of Widespread Panic

July 17th, 2015 at 12:47 pm

Widespread Panic

Widespread Panic

John Bell thought about it for just a second. I had asked him if tonight’s Widespread Panic concert at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion would eclipse the three-hour mark. He looked at the date, realized the start time and lack of opening act, and reached his conclusion.

Yes, we’re in for 3 hours, and likely close to 3 and a half hours, of Widespread Panic tonight (July 17) at the Walmart AMP in Rogers.

The highly regarded Southern-rock influenced jam band came back from a hiatus earlier this decade and came back with a flourish. They’ve passed through the area twice in recent years, both times headlining the local Wakarusa music and camping festival. And they’ve returned to the studio, too, prepping for the September release of the album “Street Dogs,” the band’s first in five years.

Bell, Panic’s founding guitarist and vocalist, talked to me about his tomato plants, the current lineup of the band and the new album. You can read my story in today’s What’s Up! section, available in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette or online.

Tickets remain for tonight’s concert. Those tickets range from $31-$55.50.

See you at the concert.

The weekend in music, with Here Come the Mummies and more

July 17th, 2015 at 5:03 am

Here Come the Mummies

Here Come the Mummies

When I interviewed Here Come the Mummies a few years ago, one of the members — they are always anonymous, so I’m not sure which — talked about how hot it was in their costumes.

That was in advance of Wakarusa, the outdoor music extravaganza in rural Franklin County, which often takes place on hot days.

Here Come the Mummies get the benefit of air conditioning this time around, but I suspect it’s still miserable in a full mummy outfit, considering all the dancing they do.

Funk rock bank Here Come the Mummies will rise up for a concert tonight (July 17) at George’s Majestic Lounge. The band with anonymous members — yes, they really dress up like mummies — will peform at 9:30 p.m. Tickets to the event are $25 and are available via

The Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society‘s Summer Concert Series starts Sunday. And the first event is already sold out. Vocalist Kenny Washington performs Sunday (July 19) at 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville with the Claudia Burson Quartet. You can read a Q&A session with Washington in our What’s Up! section today, if you’re interested. The second and final event of the series, called the Composer’s Showcase, takes place Aug. 13 at George’s Majestic Lounge.

Other big shows this weekend include a marathon set by Widespread Panic tonight at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. More on that one in a minute.

Speaking of the AMP, a tickets for a show there go on sale this morning. Tickets for Bryan Adams will be made available at 10 a.m. today.

What’s on your live music agenda for the weekend?

Soon in tunes: The Honeycutters, July 16 at George’s

July 15th, 2015 at 11:19 am

The Honeycutters photos by Sandlin Gaither

The Honeycutters photos by Sandlin Gaither

Americana act The Honeycutters, based in Asheville, N.C., visits Fayetteville on Thursday (July 16). The group’s tour in support of the April album “Me Oh My” comes to George’s Majestic Lounge for a free show that begins at 9 p.m.

On the way: Bryan Adams, Sept. 19 at the AMP

July 14th, 2015 at 8:17 am

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Bryan Adams will “Run to You.” You’re going to want to run to the Walmart AMP box office on Friday if you’re a Bryan Adams fan. Or call or go online. Those work too.

With more than 65 million albums sold and a string of hits such as “Summer of 69″ and “Cuts Like a Knife” to his credit, rocker Bryan Adams this year embarks on a 30th anniversary tour celebrating the release of his album “Reckless.” Six singles from that album made the Top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The tour includes a Sept. 19 stop at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers, it was announced on Monday (July 13) morning.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday (July 17) through the Walmart AMP box office. Tickets range from $30 to $79.50. Note: Due to Walton Arts Center construction, the AMP’s in-person ticket outlet is currently located at Nadine Baum Studios at the corner of West Avenue and Spring Street in Fayetteville. Tickets are also available online.

On the way: TobyMac, Oct. 4 at the Walmart AMP

July 13th, 2015 at 11:33 am

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Here’s TobyMac’s lyric video for “Backseat Driver,” featuring Hollyn, who will join him on the “This is Not a Test” tour coming to the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion on Oct. 4.

As far as Christian hip hop artists go, TobyMac is certainly the best known of them. That’s not some slight on a narrow genre — in fact, he’s a crossover act with two Grammy Award wins and several No. 1 Christian hits. His newest album, “This Is Not A Test,” is scheduled for an August release.

TobyMac will bring his new “This Is Not A Test” tour on the road this summer, and it includes at stop at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers. The show takes place Oct. 4 and also includes guests Britt Nicole, Colton Dixon and Hollyn.

Tickets are already on sale through the venue’s box office. Tickets range from $26-$65.

Soon in tunes: Paul Pfau and Callie MaRae, various venues

July 10th, 2015 at 12:17 pm

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Paul Pfau sings “Fly Me To The Moon” on ‘The Voice.’ Not sure what mode of transportation he’s using for his trip to Northwest Arkansas, but he’s heading this way.

Maryland songwriter Paul Pfau — whose last name rhymes with ‘wow’ — earlier this year earned some recognition on the television contest “The Voice.” His current tour will pass through this part of the country, including a stop at JJ’s Grill in Rogers tonight (July 10) and at JJ’s Grill in Fayetteville on Saturday (July 11). Joining Pfau will be Jonesboro artist Callie MaRae, who earned one of 100 blind auditions for the televised singing contest but ultimately did not appear on the show. The gigs start at 8:30 p.m. Admission is free.

The weekend in live music, with Aaron Sarlo and more

July 10th, 2015 at 5:03 am

Aaron Sarlo and the Dangerous Idiots

Aaron Sarlo and the Dangerous Idiots

I was not in town last weekend. I was not in town the weekend before that. I took a little much needed respite and saw some live music in Ireland and England instead.

A big thank you to our web editor Caleb Fort for making sure things ran smoothly on this site in my absence.

I’m officially back now, and I’m ready to catch some local tunes.

Here’s what I’m finding when I look at the calendar:

Little Rock musicians Aaron Sarlo and the Dangerous Idiots have a pair of records coming out soon. One features a live set of material recorded in 2013 at the Whitewater Tavern in Little Rock. The other is a collection of new material. The power pop band with sometimes politically charged songs performs tonight (July 10) at the Smoke & Barrel Tavern. The show begins after 9 p.m.

There’s another big local pop rock show this weekend, too. At least I think it’s pop rock. The band is so new, I’m not exactly sure what to expect.

About six months after announcing the end of his previous project, Randall Shreve and the Sideshow, the frontman of that group is back with a new band. Randall Shreve and The DeVilles is already at work on a new album, “The Devil and The End,” and limited live performances. Among those gigs is a Saturday night (July 11) event at Ryleigh’s on Dickson Street in Fayetteville.

Elsewhere, Americana band Dusty Pearls perform tonight at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe in Eureka Springs. Americana/country/outlaw/rowdy band Texas Hippie Coalition has the stage on Sunday (July 12) at George’s Majestic Lounge.

Or, catch the Ezza Rose Band on Saturday night at Smoke and Barrel. Sounds like a good weekend at the Barrel.

What’s on your agenda?

Soon in tunes: Cody Johnson, July 9 at George’s

July 8th, 2015 at 11:41 am

Cody Johnson

Cody Johnson

Like late country star Chris LeDoux, Cody Johnson sold his music from the back of a pickup at rodeos. Johnson, a Texas native, has graduated to clubs now, and his current tour brings him to George’s Majestic Lounge for a show on Thursday (July 9). A blend of traditional and outlaw country, Johnson and his band start their set around 9 p.m. Admission is $15.