Perhaps there is another Jason White out in Arkansas like the Central High grad who landed a regular gig with one of the greatest bands of the past decade (see Joy Ritchey’s story on this page). There may even be another Evanescence lurking in some home studio, ready to explode on the scene, or another American Princes ready to capture the fancy of a national record label such as Yep-Roc.
For the past six years, I’ve had the fascinating job of sorting through dozens of demo CDs (well, six years ago there were as many cassettes as discs) of amateur bands, garage acts and some serious performers who weren’t that well known and culling them down to 16 bands for the annual Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.
This year, with Sticky Fingerz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack alongside as a presenting sponsor and the site of the 2006 Showcase, we’re taking entries from any original music group in Arkansas. We welcome individuals, but group acts fit the showcase format better. Such singer-songWe’ve had such acts as Jody Evans, who this past year was a finalist on the “Nashville Star” country music program and performed in several major concerts in 2005. Last year, semifinalist Wildwood, a Fayetteville bluegrass trio, lost a close decision on the first Thursday of the contest, then two nights later went to Conway and won the Arkansas Acoustic Festival Showdown group contest at the University of Central Arkansas’s Reynolds Performance Hall.
Last year’s showcase winners, the Odds, have been ubiquitous at clubs from here to Fayetteville and captured several music trophies in the process with their original rock sound.
The contest winners the past six years have ranged from modern pop-rock Big Silver — which has reunited for shows beginning this week (see “In the Clubs”) to bluesy groove rock Mojo Depo to bluegrass Runaway Planet to Bakersfield-style country Salty Dogs to the more jam-rock Grandpa’s Goodtime Fandango. The entries have ranged from stellar pop-rock song writer Johnny Mac playing with a lamp and coffee table as stage fixtures to a sampling rap act.
To put it simply, we accept all music styles. Chris King at Sticky Fingerz and several other music aficionados will sort through the entries, and the Showcase will kickoff Jan. 26 with four consecutive Thursday semifinal nights. The winners of each semifinal come together for the final show March 4. In another change from the way we’ve ended the contest, the winner will be announced not immediately after the performance but the following week, when we’ll bring pervious years’ winners together for a show at Sticky Fingerz.
It’s all about having some fun, getting some music heard that might go overlooked, and maybe opening the doors for a music act to advance to bigger things: We offer recording time, concert spots and the like as prizes, but the sky for the winner beyond the Showcase is limitless.
The entry forms run weekly in the Arkansas Times and are also downloadable from our website at www.arktimes.com. Entry deadline is Jan. 12.