- GET ON THE BUS: Robert Plant and Band of Joy will be playing JazzFest.
n After the success of last year's Arkansas Times Blues Bus trip to Helena to watch King Biscuit, we've set our sights on a significantly larger festival, JazzFest in New Orleans.
We're going for the first weekend, the one that's a truer reflection of New Orleans, with more local music on the bill and more manageable crowds. Which is not to say that it lacks big names. Among the headliners: Robert Plant and Band of Joy, The Avett Brothers, John Legend and the Roots, Irma Thomas, Bon Jovi, Wyclef, Dr. John, Mumford and Sons, The Decemberists, Jeff Beck, John Mellencamp, Robert Cray and Kenny G.
The bus leaves Friday morning, April 29, and is scheduled to arrive in New Orleans at 5 p.m. It returns mid-morning on Monday (we'll let you nurse your hangover a bit) and is scheduled to be in Little Rock around 8 p.m.
Tickets include transportation, lunch on the way down and three nights in the Holiday Inn French Quarter. All for $675. If you're flying solo, you have to pay $289 more to offset the cost of occupying a hotel room alone.
Reserve your seat today by calling 501-375-2985. If demand is as high as it was for the Blues Bus, we'll likely sell out early.
The Arkansas Literary Festival, April 7-13, announced its slate of authors early in the week.
The big names: vamp queen Charlaine Harris; humorist David Sedaris, who was previously announced and who, unlike most all other authors, will cost to see; fantasy hero Peter S. Beagle and celebrity profiler and ghostwriter Alana Nash.
Visit Rock Candy to see a fuller rundown of the schedule.
Valley of the Vapors, the annual multi-day independent music festival in Hot Springs to be held March 20-26, recently announced its line-up. Highlights include Brooklyn experimentalists Parts & Labor, Japanese punk superheroes Peelander Z, noise punk duo Japanther and Kiwi rockers Surf City and Oliver Ackermann (a pedal maker and engineer for U2), Nine Inch Nails and Wilco, delivering the presentation, "How to Build and Use Guitar Effects Pedals." For more info, valleyofthevapors.com.
The Laman Library announced earlier in the week that Little Rock novelist Kevin Brockmeier is the recipient of the $10,000 2011 Laman Library Writers Fellowship. It will assist Brockmeier as he writes his first memoir, "Seventh Grade," a book the writer calls "by far the most Arkansas-centric I've attempted to write."
In concert news, cut-off-shirt-lovin' country star Kenny Chesney returns to Verizon Arena on Friday, April 1, with Billy Currington and Uncle Kracker in tow.
Tickets, which range from $26.50 to $75, go on sale on Friday, Feb. 18, via the Verizon Box Office and Ticketmaster.
Also, funk sax god Maceo Parker, a veteran of James Brown's band, P-Funk and Bootsy's Rubber Band, is coming to the Walton Arts Center's Baum Walker Hall in Fayetteville on Friday, April 8.
Tickets, which range from $25-$75, are on sale via waltonarts.org.
Local super group The Big Cats recently released 15 demos recorded between their near breakup in 1996 and reformation in 2001 via rustyjames.bandcamp.com, where the songs are available for streaming and purchase via download. Proceeds go to Where the Stars Still Shine, a North Little Rock-based philanthropy organization focused on providing health care and education in Haiti.