Naturally, the more popular the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase becomes, the harder it is for the judges to narrow down the contestants to 16 semifinalists. With more than 50 entries this year, some strong bands — including some acts who made the semifinals last year — were left on the sidelines.
When the Showcase opens Thursday, Jan. 27, at Juanita’s Cantina Ballroom, the four bands playing that night and the other 12 semifinalists will make up the most diverse Showcase music lineup yet, with heavy rock, modern rock, jazz rock, hip-hop, bluegrass and country music acts. There are more semifinalists from outside Central Arkansas (and a number coming from the Fayetteville area, which produced last year’s winner, Grandpa’s Goodtime Fandango) than ever before.
The semifinalists (in alphabetical order) and their hometowns are: Beau Nixon and the Big Machine (Little Rock), the Boswells (Little Rock), Charlotte Taylor and Gypsy Rain (Heber Springs), DJ Dirtbag (Little Rock), Fine Line (Hot Springs), the Frup (Arkadelphia), Further Down (Jonesboro), Highway 5 (Sherwood), the Odds (Fayetteville), Phantazmelodia (Fayetteville), PM Today (Jacksonville), Stone Mountain (Conway), Table 12 (Little Rock), Temper Effect (Little Rock), 30 Percent Grey (Little Rock) and Wildwood (Fayetteville).
Here is the performance schedule:
• Jan. 27 — PM Today, Wildwood, Charlotte Taylor and Gypsy Rain, Phantazmelodia
• Feb. 3 — The Frup, the Odds, Table 12, Fine Line
• Feb. 10 — Highway 5, Stone Mountain, DJ Dirtbag, Further Down
• Feb. 17 — 30 Percent Grey, Beau Nixon and the Big Machine, the Boswells, Temper Effect
Semifinal performances will be at 9 p.m. Admission is $5. The Jan. 27 show will be open for all ages until 10 p.m.; for the rest of the showcase, the admission age is 18 and up. The winner of each Thursday contest will advance to the final round, scheduled for Friday, March 4. The overall winner will take home music equipment, recording time from Blue Chair Studio, a guaranteed spot in Riverfest, a photo shoot, $200 in food from Trio’s and more.
Along with the Times, main sponsors for the event are Juanita’s and KMJX-FM, Magic 105. Juanita’s will offer drink specials, and door prizes from Magic, the Times and Juanita’s will be given away throughout each semifinal.