The music never dies, but springtime is a special season for concert-goers, ushering in big acts, outdoor music festivals and more.
Things kick off with Justin Townes Earle (March 15, Revolution). He might have a famous father in the great Steve Earle, but he's spent the last few years blazing his own path. This show is a sure bet for anybody into the heartbroken, wistful end of the Americana spectrum. In a bit of direct musical democracy, The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents "People's Choice" (March 17-18, Arkansas Robinson Center Music Hall), the program culled from social media nominations.
Making up for a postponed date, soul/funk legends Maze with Frankie Beverly (March 17, Verizon Arena) are sure to get the big room rocking. The First Ever Ninth Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade (March 17, Downtown Hot Springs) with grand marshal Tim Matheson (Otter from "Animal House") and The Famous San Diego Chicken features live music from .38 Special and kicks off the weeklong Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival (March 18-24, Low Key Arts). VOV includes upwards of 40 bands (Cloud Nothings, Japanther, Psychic Ills, Black Belles, Maps and Atlases and more) as well as panel discussions, workshops, film screenings and more.
In what is one of the best hardcore shows to come to the state in ages, Narrows and All Pigs Must Die (March 19, Dickson Theater) is a must for all fans of blistering ear destruction. The bands boast personnel from Botch, Converge, The Hope Conspiracy and other heavy heavies, so take note.
For something entirely different, you'd be hard pressed to top bluegrass superstars Alison Krauss & Union Station with Jerry Douglas (March 23, Robinson Center Music Hall). Although you'd come close if you mentioned rap veterans Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (March 24, Downtown Music Hall and March 25, Rogue).
He might not have prevailed on American Idol, but Chris Daughtry and his band, Daughtry (March 28, Robinson Center Music Hall), have eclipsed the careers of many of the reality show's winners with a winning formula of Southern swagger and modern rock crunch.
Fans of folk and public radio will be thrilled no doubt at the chance to catch WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour – Live! March 31 at UCA's Reynolds Performance Hall.
For some buzzy, jingle-jangle pop, check out Real Estate April 9 at Revolution. The Brooklyn-by-way-of-Jersey band's latest album, "Days," was a critic's favorite.
Up in Fayetteville, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones (April 12, Walton Arts Center) are coming through with their original lineup. If you're a jam-band fan, you might just want to stay up there on The Hill, as Leftover Salmon (April 13, George's Majestic Lounge) makes a return for what will undoubtedly be a packed house.
Pop-country songstress Miranda Lambert (April 13, Verizon Arena) comes to North Little Rock, with support from openers Chris Young and Jerrod Niemann.
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents "Desert & Sea" (April 14-15, Robinson Center Music Hall), which includes works by Debussy, Wagner and Michael Torke. ASO's "Grand Finale" (April 16, Clinton Presidential Center) includes works by Schubert, Torke and others.
You'd probably better just go ahead and giddy up, oompoppa, oompoppa mow mow in preparation for The Oak Ridge Boys, who play UCA's Reynolds Performance Hall April 16. Umphrey's McGee (April 17-18, George's Majestic Lounge) specializes in progressive rock-flavored jam-band tuneage, with excursions in metal, bluegrass, jazz and nearly any other genre you could name.
The Cali-fried oddballs in Cake bring their winningly weird, mariachi-tinged alt-rock to Fayetteville's Arkansas Music Pavilion April 19. In what's got to be one of Central Arkansas's most anticipated concerts of the year, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Regina Spektor play Verizon Arena April 21.
The Moscow Festival Ballet performs "Romeo & Juliet" April 26 at UCA's Reynolds Performance Hall. Here's one that you will likely never get another chance at seeing: The legendary Glen Campbell, native of Delight, comes to the Walton Arts Center April 27-28 on his farewell tour. Campbell announced in 2011 that he'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and that this would be his final outing.
Veteran Americana act Wilco (May 10, Arkansas Music Pavilion) returns to Fayetteville. Spastic San Francisco garage rock fireball Ty Segall performs at White Water Tavern May 23, which should help get you in fine form for Riverfest (May 25-27, Riverfest Amphitheatre), which this year boasts headliners such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boyz II Men, Little Big Town, Third Eye Blind, Gov't Mule, Chevelle, Mute Math, Trout Fishing in America and more.
Up in Carroll County, the Eureka Springs Blues Weekend (May 31-June 3, The Auditorium and other venues) features Ruthie Foster, Tommy Castro, Kenny Neal, The Cate Brothers, Michael Burks, Lazy Lester and many more. Around the same time, throngs of music lovers will be swarming Mulberry Mountain near Ozark and setting up camp for the annual Wakarusa festival (May 31-June 2). This year's headliners include The Avett Brothers, Primus, Pretty Lights, The Weir, Robinson, Greene Acoustic Trio and many more.
Country superstar and bona fide Louisiana Gentleman Trace Adkins comes to Magic Springs on June 2. Hot Springs Music Festival XVII (June 3-16, various venues) boasts more than 200 performers from around the world, who will gather for 20 concerts and hundreds of open rehearsals at venues all over the Spa City.