- DESCENDANTS OF HILL COUNTRY: The Holly Springs native and grandson of R.L. Burnside brings his Grammy-nominated Cedric Burnside Project to the White Water Tavern on Oct. 21.
If the eclecticism of Arkansas's music scene was ever in question, this fall's spectrum of sounds is proof positive that there's something left to discover in our own backyard. In the span of a lunar cycle or so, Little Rock will be home to Swedish heavy metal, homegrown honky tonk, shadow puppetry with an original score by local composers, rap that's made its way to New Zealand and back, a rock 'n' roll lecture on "the power of partying," crystalline harmonies from a world-renowned men's choir, Nashville Hall of Famers and a madly stylish children's music duo. Resist the hermit routine this autumn if you can; Netflix will still be there when the stage lights go out.
The Arkansas Symphony String Quartet plays music inspired by Middle Eastern culture at the Terry Library on Thursday, Sept. 29, as part of CALS' Banned Books Week. Later that day, beloved power pop pioneers The Posies inaugurate the brand-new Capitol View Studio with an intimate show featuring Little Rock's own Sarah Stricklin on backup vocals, and just down the road, the White Water Tavern hosts a very Ameripolitan evening with Bonnie Montgomery and original honky tonker Dale Watson. Also that night, Club Sway hosts Pride Idol, an "American Idol"-inspired competition for a chance to perform at the Little Rock Pride Fest finale. Fayetteville's feel-good pop rockers Boom Kinetic play at Rev Room Friday, Sept. 30, and the Hot Water Hills Music and Arts Festival returns to downtown Hot Springs' Hill Wheatley Plaza Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30-Oct. 1, with Sinkane, Big Piph and Tomorrow Maybe, Sad Daddy and more.
- LEYLA MCCALLA: The multi-instrumentalist (center) comes South on Main as part of Oxford American's "Archetypes and Troubadours" series, Nov. 3.
Tyler Bend on the Buffalo National River is home to the Ozark Folklife Festival, featuring music from Still on the Hill, Mark Jones (son of Grandpa Jones of "Hee Haw" fame), Nathan Eaton and more, Oct. 1. Pianist Elisso Bolkvadze opens the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra season at Maumelle Performing Arts Center with a concert of Mozart and Schubert, Oct. 1-2. On Oct. 6, Kenny Rogers stops at Verizon Arena on his farewell tour, "The Gambler's Last Deal," and violinist-vocalist Amanda Shires plays a show at Stickyz with Rob Picott. On Oct. 7, Catch The Avett Brothers at Verizon Arena, local pop poet Isaac Alexander at The Undercroft or seasoned Nashville songwriters Wayland Holyfield and Randy Goodrum as part of the Butler Center's Arkansas Sounds concert series at the Ron Robinson Theater.
Hitch a ride to the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena on the Arkansas Times Blues Bus Oct. 8 for performances from Willie Cobbs, John Mayall, Charlie Musselwhite and more. Clutch brings some heavy rock to the Clear Channel Metroplex with Zakk Sabbath and Kyng Oct. 10. Big Brothers Big Sisters hosts a concert by Martina McBride at the Statehouse Convention Center Oct. 13, and later that night in Fayetteville, Ray Wylie Hubbard plays a show at George's Majestic Lounge. On Oct. 14, Oxford American's annual fundraiser concert "Books, Bourbon and Boogie" at South on Main features Jerry Douglas Presents The Earls of Leicester, and Little Rock's rap collective Young Gods of America welcomes Goon des Garcons back from a New Zealand tour with a show as part of Vino's "Fireroom" showcase series. Also Oct. 14, former Poison rocker turned reality television star Bret Michaels plays the Arkansas State Fair.
On Oct. 15, Korn and Breaking Benjamin play the Walmart AMP in Rogers and duo mömandpöp celebrate the release of their kid-focused album with a show at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library. Five Finger Death Punch and Shinedown take the stage at Verizon Arena Oct. 18. That same night, Heart plays at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and Rick Springfield performs at the Arkansas State Fair. Country star Clint Black also plays at the Arkansas State Fair Oct. 20, the same night Ronnie Millsap plays a show at the University of Central Arkansas's Reynolds Performance Hall in Conway.
The White Water Tavern hosts the Cedric Burnside Project Oct. 21, and the State Fair presents a show from Kenny Wayne Shepherd that day. Stephanie Berg, ASO's Composer of the Year, is at the centerpiece of the program "Ravish & Mayhem" at Maumelle PAC Oct. 22-23. Emo rockers Hawthorne Heights come to the Rev Room Oct. 23. The Ron Robinson Theater hosts "Halloween Tree" Oct. 27, a shadow puppet performance with an original score by composers Paul Dickinson, Karen Griebling, Cory Winters and Michael Pagan (El Zocalo Immigrant Services benefits). Tool gets Dissectional with a show at Verizon Arena Oct. 28. Chanticleer, probably the world's most renowned male choral ensemble, brings its signature shimmer to Christ Episcopal Church on Oct. 29. On Oct. 30, party-metal pioneer Andrew W.K. stops at the Rev Room with a talk titled "The Power of Partying." Swedish metal band Ghost plays a Halloween show at the Metroplex, with new music for all ticket-holders.
Legendary indie rockers Guided By Voices play Nov. 1 at the Rev Room. Haitian multi-instrumentalist Leyla McCalla performs at South on Main on Nov. 3. Delta bluesman CeDell Davis celebrates his 90th birthday at the Ron Robinson Theater with Zack and Big Papa Binns and Brethren Nov. 4. A few days later, Nov. 9, Ron Robinson hosts innovative guitarist and El Dorado native Richard Leo Johnson. Jazz pianist Helen Sung brings her quartet to South on Main Nov. 10 for Oxford American's Jazz Series. The same night, British vocal ensemble VOCES8 performs at UCA's Reynolds Performance Hall in Conway.
Here's hoping the floors at the White Water Tavern are up for the return of Dikki Du and the Zydeco Krewe Nov. 11. The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra kicks off a new era at the Robinson Center with Opus Ball XXXII Nov. 12, featuring music from the ASO String Quartet and from the ASO Big Band. Todd Snider brings Americana-with-punchlines to South on Main Nov. 17, and a few blocks away the acclaimed New York-based Lysander Trio plays a recital at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. The ASO's "Return to Robinson" concert Nov. 19-20 features Philippe Quint on violin, and Nov. 25 the ASO joins Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith for a concert at Verizon Arena. Trans-Siberian Orchestra ushers in the holiday season at Verizon Arena, Nov. 30. Country crooner Jim Lauderdale comes to South on Main on Dec. 1. In Fayetteville, the Walton Arts Center hosts "Songs & Stories," an acoustic show from Kathy Mattea and Bill Cooley on Dec. 1 and a show from Art Garfunkel on Dec. 9. Ballet Arkansas joins the ASO for "The Nutcracker" at the Robinson Center Dec. 9-11. Manheim Steamroller plays at the Fort Smith Convention Center Dec. 13.