Kicking off the 2013 stretch of spring music, on the first official day of the season, are the libidinous Oklahoma hard-rockers in Hinder, with Aranda and Acidic (March 21, Juanita's). If your bag is a bit more on the Red Dirt country side of things, The Randy Rogers Band plays an 18-and-older show (March 21, Revolution).
If folk-flavored indie rock is your thing, you might want to get on over and see The Apache Relay with Adam Faucett & The Tall Gras (March 22, Stickyz), or if outlaw-country style Southern rock is more to your liking, a sure bet would be Confederate Railroad (March 22, Juanita's). Fans of Southern-fried hip-hop can get their fix with Nappy Roots (March 22, Revolution). San Diego-based indie rock mainstays Pinback come to town with tongue-in-cheek TV theme weirdo JP Inc. (March 23, Revolution).
Soul survivor and singer extraordinaire Lee Fields & The Expressions are a must-do for fans of vintage soul and R&B. Fields is on tour with female retro-soul duo Lady (March 24, Juanita's). The next day, you can catch Minneapolis punk-scene veterans turned grunge pioneers Soul Asylum at an all-ages show at Revolution.
Catch pop singer (and youngest-ever male singer to have four Top 40 hits) Aaron Carter, with The Supporting Cast, Nikki Flores, Petrel and Pricecrew (March 26, Juanita's).
Prairie Home Companion fanatics take note: Garrison Keillor: A Brand-New Retrospective is something you'll probably want to get tickets for (March 28, Walton Arts Center). The next day, if you're still in Fayetteville you can catch gritty singer/songwriter James McMurtry at George's Majestic Lounge. Memphis retro-rocker John Paul Keith and his band The One Four Fives return to White Water Tavern, and San Antonio's Pop Pistol comes back to Maxine's, with Blue Screen Skyline and recent Times Musicians Showcase winners The Sound of the Mountain.
On March 31, rising Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly plays Juanita's. Contemporary Christian Music fans will no doubt be excited to see one of the pioneers of the genre. Amy Grant plays Reynolds Performance Hall at UCA (April 2). For something a little different on the same day, the Walton Arts Center hosts funk forefathers Kool & The Gang.
On April 3, White Water Tavern hosts one of the year's absolutely-do-not-miss shows, with one of the Crescent City's finest street bands, the Hot 8 Brass Band. The Chamber Music Society of Little Rock presents a performance featuring Sebastian Baverstam on cello (April 4, St. Mark's Episcopal Church). If that's not your thing, perhaps singer/songwriter Corey Smith, who has a massive grassroots following? He's at Revolution for an 18-and-older show.
Hess Clothing and Phunkee Love host their Spring Release Party (April 5, Revolution) with live tuneage from War Chief, Falcon Scott, Underclaire and DJ Doug Kramer. Meanwhile, over at White Water Tavern, you can catch the flawless classic country sounds of The Salty Dogs.
Rock out for a good cause on April 6 at Revolution, at Amp Out Alz 2: A Rock & Roll Event Benefiting Alzheimer's Arkansas. Featuring Geezer, it's an all-ages affair. Gospel enthusiasts can thrill to the country sounds of Bill Gaither & The Gaither Homecoming Tour (Verizon Arena).
Athens indie rock invades Central Arkansas April 7, when The Whigs and Futurebirds hit up Stickyz for an 18-and-older get-down. Up in Fayetteville, blues rocker Bob Schneider takes to the stage at George's Majestic Lounge. The next day (April 8), Arkansas's American Idol Kris Allen will perform at George's. Stick around the following day, if you are so inclined, for So-Cal skate punk/hip-hop outfit Slightly Stoopid, also at George's.
Christian rock enthusiasts will want to mark April 12 on their calendars, as their (perhaps) favorite band Third Day comes to Verizon Arena with Colton Dixon and Josh Wilson in tow.
Friday April 12 will no doubt go down in the Central Arkansas record books as one of the biggest days for live music all year, as country superstar and all-around superhuman hitmaking machine George Strait comes to Verizon Arena on his "The Cowboy Rides Away Tour." As one might surmise from the title, this will be the last time King George will hit the road, so if you want to see him live, better get a move on and get some tickets. The opening act is Martina McBride.
If country isn't your bag, well, on the same days over on the complete opposite end of the musical spectrum, Juanita's hosts punkers Bobby Joe Ebola & The Children MacNuggits with The Bad Years, Glittercore and Crooked Roots opening. Meanwhile, Revolution has an all-ages evening of international indie pop, with Glaswegian ensemble Frightened Rabbit and Nova Scotia outfit (and Juno Award nominees) Wintersleep.
Up next is The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, with "Midori & Tchaikovsky," featuring Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro Overture" (April 13-14, Robinson Center). "Jackass" star and skateboarding prankster Bam Margera will be doing his thing at Revolution April 13 with Hunter Moore and members of CKY; it's 18-and-older.
Fans of classical piano performances from large groups of siblings will surely want to check out The 5 Browns (April 15, UCA's Reynolds Performance Hall). The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's Chamber Series presents "Appalachian Spring," featuring works by Copland, Debussy and more (April 16, Clinton Presidential Center).
If it's prog rock-informed jam-band virtuosity you're looking for, be sure to get your tickets ahead of time for Umphrey's McGee. The band plays a two-night run at George's Majestic Lounge April 17-18. Or hey, how about some "classical Judeo-Arabic music from the Andalusian tradition," eh? Sound good? Well cool, because Caravanserai: Orchestra of Fes, directed by Mohammed Briouel with Francoise Atlan comes to the Walton Arts Center April 19. Or over at George's on that same evening, you can catch the tireless traveling troubadours in American Aquarium. If you're wanting to start your weekend with a night of rockin' Red Dirt country, you'd best head on over to Revolution for The Casey Donahew Band, playing an 18-and-older show with Brian Keane. Donahew also plays George's April 20.
Could there be a better way to celebrate April 20 than by catching a performance from the livewire Latin-funksters Grupo Fantasma at Juanita's? Maybe, but probably best not to chance it.
If getting all covered in fake blood and whatnot while watching some over-the-top cartoon metal sounds like a blast, then do not miss the legendary Gwar, playing an 18-and-older show with Warbeast and Wilson (April 21, Revolution). And hey, why not stick around the next day for some makeup-clad crazy jester rap, with Twiztid, performing at Juanita's with heavy alt-rockers Hed(pe), Glasses Malone and Potluck.
Legendary Little Rock alt-country outfit Mulehead plays at White Water Tavern April 27.
Probably one of the most anticipated concerts of the year is Fleetwood Mac (May 3, Verizon Arena). Blues favorite Delbert McClinton comes to the Walton Arts Center May 5.
Modern rockers Sick Puppies are at George's May 7 and at Juanita's May 8. The lightning-fast bluegrass/blues/country trio The Devil Makes Three comes to Revolution May 8, with Jonny Fritz.
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra gets physical, with "Cirque de la Symphonie," featuring acrobats, contortionists and aerial flyers performing while the orchestra plays (May 11-12, Robinson Center). The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas presents "A Tribute to John Williams" (May 18, Walton Arts Center). White Water Tavern has a special show May 23, when singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier comes to town.
Riverfest brings the throngs to the banks of the Arkansas May 24-26. No word on the lineup yet, but you know what to expect: one of the best entertainment values all year long. Baltimore rockers J. Roddy Walston and The Business come back to town for a show at Stickyz May 26. And of course, music lovers of all sorts will be packing up their tents and coolers and slathering on the bug spray and sunblock for the annual Wakarusa music festival up on Mulberry Mountain near Ozark (May 30-June 2). The headliners include The Black Crowes, Widespread Panic, Snoop Lion and STS9. A few days later, a very different sort of crowd will take over Mulberry for Thunder on the Mountain, with headliners Toby Keith, Luke Bryan, Big & Rich and many more (June 6-8).Clarification: An earlier version of this story described George Strait as a songwriter. He primarily does not write his own material.