You know that any live music season that starts with Diarrhea Planet and ends with Smoke Up Johnny is going to be a very special one, and so it is with the 2013 fall slate of live music in Arkansas.
And yes, that is the real, actual name of an actual, real band. On Sept. 27, Nashville punk outfit Diarrhea Planet returns to Little Rock for a show at Stickyz with openers The So So Glos. That same day sees the kickoff of the second edition of the two-day Arkansas Sounds Music Fest, presented by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and featuring Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks, Collin Raye, Tav Falco and Panther Burns, Bonnie Montgomery and more at First Security Amphitheater and the River Market pavilions. It's all free.
Also Sept. 27, John Paul Keith and The One Four Fives play White Water Tavern, country favorite Pat Green plays George's Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville and the irrepressible Tav Falco and Panther Burns head on down to Spa City for a show with The Bloodless Cooties at Maxine's.
On Sept. 28, alt-country veterans Son Volt and openers Colonel Ford will perform at Revolution. Many in that crowd will no doubt want to rest up, because the very next day, Sept. 29 that'd be, country/punk/metal hellraiser Hank III will be in town for a show, also at Revolution.
There's a great metal show on tap for Sept. 30: Windhand, Iron Tongue and Sumokem will rattle the rafters at White Water Tavern. Also that evening, synth-pop artist Nedelle Torrisi plays at The Undercroft, the new venue at Christ Episcopal Church, 8 p.m., $5. Or if you're up in Northwest Arkansas, NeedtoBreathe is at George's.
The date Oct. 1 is one to keep in mind if you're into virtuosic acoustic guitar wizardry: Australian notable and Certified Guitar Player Tommy Emmanuel returns to Conway for a show at Reynolds Performance Hall at UCA.
There's a tough choice for fans of shaggy singer/songwriter-type rock on Oct. 2, as Okkervil River plays at Revolution and Richard Buckner and Adam Faucett play White Water Tavern.
On Oct. 3, the highly acclaimed psych-pop trio Unknown Mortal Orchestra plays at Stickyz. Also that day, Memphis hip-hop stalwart Yo Gotti is at Juanita's. for something a little more Baby-Boomer-oriented, you can check out Three Dog Night at Oaklawn. Popular Christian singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin plays at Verizon Arena Oct. 4. For something a little more country flavored, The Josh Abbott Band and Tyler and the Tribe play Revolution. Or you metalheads can get a dose of psychedelic heaviness from Savannah, Ga.'s Kylesa at Downtown Music Hall. Also on Oct. 4, Lee Bains III and The Glory Fires return to White Water Tavern and up in Fayetteville, Anda Union, from Inner Mongolia, brings a group of 14 musicians performing on traditional Mongolian instruments, or for something totally different at a WAC venue, classic rock giants ZZ Top get down to some rockin' at the Arkansas Music Pavilion.
On Oct. 4-5, the annual Hot Water Hills Music and Arts Festival returns to Hill Wheatley in Plaza Hot Springs, with two stages of music, artists, kids activities, food, beer and wine and more. Performers include Luella & The Sun, Adam Faucett, The Memphis Dawls, Telegraph Canyon and many others. The DennyWest Music Festival — Oct. 5 at Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts — features Ukulele Bill, REAL Entertaining, Mister Morphis One Man Band, the Hartley Family Bluegrass Band, Posey Hill, the Mulligan Brothers, and BettySoo. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion returns to Little Rock for an Oct. 5 show at Stickyz, or over at White Water Tavern you can catch up-and-coming Portland, Ore., soul-punkers Magic Mouth with Bonnie Montgomery. On Oct. 6, marijuana enthusiast and rapper Afroman is at George's. King Biscuit alums might recognize Memphis singer/songwriter Valerie June, whose new album "Pushin' Against a Stone" is generating some significant buzz. June plays at Juanita's on Oct. 7 with Matrimony and Steve Hester & Deja Voo Doo. Next day, same venue: alt-rock guitar lovers Silversun Pickups perform with openers Electric Guest.
Here's a good one: On Oct. 8, So-Cal hard-rock savants Queens of the Stone Age take to the stage at the Arkansas Music Pavilion in Fayetteville.
The term "legendary" gets thrown around a good bit by music critics (including this one, sometimes), but here's one for which that term is indisputably applicable: Oct. 9, the absolutely stone-cold legendary country singer/songwriter Billy Joe Shaver will perform at White Water Tavern with Bonnie Montgomery. Folks, this will be one of those do-not-miss-under-any-circumstances shows (heads-up: there's another one on Oct. 11, see below). Of course, this being Little Rock, it would have to happen on the same day that Shooter Jennings is in town, for a show at Revolution with Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band and Leopold and His Fiction. Also that night: the outre rock theatrics of Electric Six, with My Jerusalem and Flaming Death Faeries at Stickyz.
Here's the other aforementioned don't-miss show: On Oct. 11, bona fide gospel royalty Mavis Staples will perform at Christ Episcopal Church.
Of course, many folks (including those who come for a ride on the Arkansas Times Blues Bus on Saturday, Oct. 12) will be heading on over to Helena for the annual King Biscuit Blues Festival (Oct. 10-12), with Marcia Ball, Robert Cray and Gregg Allman headlining. On Oct. 12-13, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents "Halloween Spooktacular," featuring works by Wagner, Berlioz, Liszt and more at Robinson Center Music Hall. Also on Oct. 12, old-timey adherent Pokey LaFarge comes to South on Main.
Nu-metal fiends will want to pay attention right about now: long about Oct. 14, Mushroomhead plays at Juanita's.
Thursday, Oct. 17, will provide an early start to a huge weekend of music, with Luke Bryan at Verizon Arena that evening, the Yonder Mountain Stringband's Harvest Music Festival Oct. 17-19 at Mulberry Mountain, classic rock legends Black Oak Arkansas playing at Revolution Oct. 18 with Jocephus and The George Jonestown Massacre and Iron Tongue, '80s hard-rock giants Bon Jovi at Verizon Arena Oct. 18 and Texas-based alt-rockers Blue October hitting up Juanita's on Oct. 19.
Revolution has a big show Oct. 23: indie rock mainstays Dawes and former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell, whose new album "Southeastern" has been drawing universal rave reviews as being the best thing he's ever recorded.
The Conway Symphony Orchestra's first performance of 2013 is Oct. 23 at UCA's Reynolds Performance Hall. From Oct. 23-27, you can check out the 66th Annual Original Ozark Folk Festival at various venues in Eureka Springs, highlighted by a visit from Michael Johnathon's WoodSongs Old Time Radio Hour, featuring Michael Martin Murphy at The Auditorium on Oct. 26.
Come Oct. 24 y'all'd best be ready for "Grits and Glamour: Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan" at Reynolds Performance Hall.
On Oct. 28, Stickyz hosts the kitchen-sink polka-fied eclecticism of Brave Combo. The next day, George's Majestic Lounge will serve up a heap of Leftover Salmon. On Oct. 30 producers extraordinaire Blue Sky Black Death will be at Stickyz and prog-metal giants Coheed and Cambria at Revolution, with Balance and Composure and I The Mighty.
On Halloween, Nashville rockers The Wild Feathers are at Revolution. On Nov. 1, classic rock mainstays The Doobie Brothers are at the Walton Arts Center. Nov. 2 sees the return of the psychobilly veterans in Reverend Horton Heat, with Arkansas's own Mountain Sprout and Shreveport's Dirtfoot at Revolution. Also Nov. 2: a performance from Broadway star and renowned soprano Audra McDonald at Reynolds Performance Hall. A few days later, Nov. 5 to be precise, Straight No Chaser returns to Reynolds.
Nov. 8 will be an evening to bust out the suspenders and mustache wax, as neo-folk superstars The Avett Brothers will perform at Verizon Arena.
That same day, White Water Tavern hosts Patrick Sweany and Stickyz brings in Two Cow Garage.
Nov. 9-10 sees the return of one of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's most popular programs: "Beethoven and Blue Jeans," featuring pieces by Gulda and Beethoven at Robinson Center Music Hall. Also on Nov. 9, The Marcus Roberts Trio is at South on Main and UCA brings in Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's "Wild and Swingin' Holiday Party" to Reynolds Performance Hall.
On Nov. 10, former SouthGang member Butch Walker comes to Revolution. Remember that whole "Harlem Shake" thing that was gripping the nation a few months ago? The track's creator, Bauuer, will be at Juanita's Nov. 14. On Nov. 16, Paul Thorn and Will Hoge perform at Revolution.
Nov. 17 is a don't-miss for pop fans: Pink brings her "Truth About Love Tour" to Verizon Arena. Also that day: guitar guru Steve Vai plays at Juanita's. Here's one that is sure to be a sold-out affair: a living legend, the Chairman of the Board himself, B.B. King plays at The Auditorium in Eureka Springs on Nov. 18.
Fans of indie rock guitar heroics will surely mark Nov. 20 on their calendars for the Built to Spill show at Revolution. Another living legend, the great Willie Nelson, plays at Robinson Center Music Hall Nov. 21 (and at the Walton Arts Center on Nov. 26). Nov. 23 sees an intimate performance from Rosanne Cash at South on Main.
Dec. 12 sees an always-welcome visit from the brilliant singer/songwriter Malcolm Holcombe at White Water Tavern. Next day, same venue: blues favorite Alvin Youngblood Hart. From Dec. 13-15, the Arkansas Chamber Singers present their holiday concert "Spirit of the Season," with traditional carols and new works by Arkansas composers, at the Old State House Museum. You'll really know it's the holiday season by Dec. 20, as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra plays Verizon Arena and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra kicks off its "Happy Holidays" show (Dec. 20-22). And if all that doesn't bring it home for you, maybe Smoke Up Johnny will at White Water Tavern on Dec. 21.