- LIVING THE DREAM: Sturgill Simpson, whose sound has been favorably compared to Waylon Jennings, visits Hendrix College's Staples Auditorium on April 29.
I don't know about you, but I haven't left my apartment in months. I've been standing at the window, sipping coffee, waiting for the end of the snow and black ice and rain and seasonal affective disorder. I've been living off granola bars and small mandarin oranges, looking up pictures of the sun on the Internet. But no more! Arkansans, our long seasonal nightmare is over. These are the months of Riverfest and Wakarusa, of Steve Earle, Bone Thugs & Harmony and Todd Rundgren. Of Chance the Rapper, Sturgill Simpson, Big K.R.I.T. and Sheryl Crow. It's time to shave and throw open your windows and put away childish things. It's time for spring.
On March 26, your options are both promising and absurdly wide-ranging. The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will give a free concert at the Capital Hotel, only to be drowned out by Detroit beatmaker and former J Dilla collaborator Black Milk, who will be at Stickyz with Nat Turner. Much-hyped noise pop group Mitski will be at Juanita's while local psych-rockers and Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase finalists Open Fields play across the river at The Joint with Emma Branch.
The following night, March 27, finds Verizon Arena hosting the nation's biggest Christian music tour Winter Jam, featuring Grammy nominees Skillet alongside Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battistelli and many others; Denim and Stetson-clad outlaw legend Billy Joe Shaver returns to White Water Tavern; G-Unit rapper and Cash Money Records cast-off Young Buck performs at IV Corners, country singer-songwriter William Clark Green headlines at Stickyz and Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers play at Revolution. Next up: Atlanta indie pop group The Shadowboxers (March 28) comes to Stickyz, and beloved local country mainstay Bonnie Montgomery plays at White Water Tavern with Robert Banta.
Vegas alt-rock band Stolas (March 29) comes to Juanita's with Motion in Color, Lame Johnny, Move Orchestra and more. Andy Frasco and the UN (March 29) bring their brand of feel-good "party blues" to Stickyz. More or less famous L.A. cock-rock band Buckcherry (March 31), best known for a song called "Crazy Bitch," plays at Juanita's.
April kicks off with performances by award-winning blues harmonica player R.J. Mischo and His Red Hot Blues Band at South on Main, Tucson cowpunk cult favorites Supersuckers at Stickyz and experimental, self-proclaimed "audio/visual rock duo" Darsombra at White Water Tavern (featuring Auto-Dreamer and Mainland Divide) all on April Fool's Day.
On April 2, Alabama Americana troupe The Mulligan Brothers play at Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts; the Oxford American Jazz Series continues with an appearance by the Bennie Wallace Quartet at South on Main; Devon Allman (April 2), son of the more famous Gregg and founder of the band Honeytribe, comes to Revolution; and local punks The Trophy Boyfriends play at White Water Tavern with Glittercore and the newly renamed Glowing Life. Alt-country favorite Mulehead returns to White Water the following night, April 3, and trombone-heavy New Orleans rock group Yojimbo comes to Stickyz April 5. In Fayetteville, avant-metal band The Body (April 7) will be at the Lightbulb Club with Not On Your Life.
- TAKE A CHANCE: Chance the Rapper is part of a huge bill of diverse acts at Wakarusa on Mulberry Mountain June 4-7.
Iska Dhaaf (April 8), a Seattle indie rock duo who claim to be primarily influenced by Sufi poetry, play at White Water Tavern with locals The Coasts, who made our 10 best Little Rock albums list last year with their LP "Racilia." Northwest Arkansas "outlaw bluegrass" group Cutty Rye (April 8) plays a free show at South on Main. Indiana country three-piece Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band (April 9) comes to George's Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, while Billboard-charting country group the Randy Rogers Band (April 9) plays at Revolution and Memphis singer-songwriter Amy LaVere (April 9) returns to White Water.
Mall-punk royalty New Found Glory (April 10) comes to town next for a show at Juanita's, followed by Macon, Ga., native and country star Jason Aldean (April 11) at Verizon Arena. Also that weekend: a metal showcase featuring Neverafter, Mothwind and Enchiridion (April 11) at Juanita's; Memphis rockers Dead Soldiers (April 11) at Stickyz; local super-group Bad Match (April 11), fronted by John Willis collaborator Sarah Stricklin, at South on Main, and the first of two performances of Mozart, Prokofiev and Strauss compositions by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (April 11-12) at Maumelle Performing Arts Center.
Later that month, country auteur, frequent Grammy winner and "The Wire" actor Steve Earle (April 15) comes to Juanita's. Tulsa songwriter and White Water regular John Moreland (April 16) returns, closely followed by Memphis pro John Paul Keith (April 17). Everclear frontman Art Alexakis (April 17) presents an evening of "songs and stories" at Revolution. Seventies rock wizard and true star Todd Rundgren comes to Revolution April 19, though you'll have to flip a coin to decide between his show and fellow baby boomer heavyweights Fleetwood Mac, who rescheduled their much-anticipated Verizon Arena concert due to illness (and, presumably, because they have a longstanding grudge against Todd Rundgren and enjoy seeing him upstaged) to the same date.
Christian singer-songwriter Chris Tomlin (April 23) comes to Verizon Arena, bugged swamp rock icon Jimbo Mathus (April 24) comes to White Water, indie-folk favorites Iron & Wine (April 25) come to Juanita's and Nashville garage punks Pujol (April 25) return to Stickyz with locals The Uh Huhs. Deep South blues-fusion jam band JJ Grey and Mofro (April 28) comes to Fayetteville's George's Majestic Lounge. The Oxford American magazine presents Sturgill Simpson (April 29), the acclaimed cosmic country star-in-the-making, at Hendrix College's Staples Auditorium.
Looking ahead in Little Rock, there's New Orleans Americana group Hurray for the Riff Raff (May 5) at South on Main, classic West Coast street punk band Swingin' Utters (May 11) at White Water, rapper and Tech N9ne affiliate Rittz (May 16) at Discovery and indie rock favorites Clay Your Hands Say Yeah (June 4) at Stickyz.
Big-time country celebrity Brantley Gilbert (May 1) headlines at the Walmart AMP in Rogers with the Casey Donahew Band. Also at the Walmart AMP this summer: Chicago (May 3), The Steve Miller Band (May 16), Dave Matthews Band (May 19), Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional (June 2) and Kenny Chesney (July 30).
- SOAKING UP THE SUN: Sheryl Crow headlines Riverfest on Memorial Day weekend.
Music festival season kicks off with Riverfest on May 22-24. Headliners this year will include Sheryl Crow, Sister Hazel, Bone Thugs & Harmony, 311, Galactic (featuring Macy Gray), Big K.R.I.T., Girl Talk, Kris Allen, Better Than Ezra, Robert Earl Keen, Jake Owens and many others. The Hot Springs Music Festival is next, May 31-June 13. From June 4-7, the giant campout and music festival Wakarusa will take place at Mulberry Mountain in Ozark. This year's lineup includes The Roots, Chance the Rapper, Ben Harper, STS9, Major Lazer and countless more. Thunder on the Mountain, Ozark's country music festival, is June 26-28 and features Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown Band, The Band Perry and more.