The Arkansas Times took over the Arkansas Musicians Showcase in the late 1990s to help local bands with original music — particularly the groups that people might know little or nothing about — reach the local clubgoers. It continues today, stronger than ever, with an outstanding Showcase earlier this year that exposed the clubgoing public to the bluegrass talents of Hannah Blaylock and Eden’s Edge and the acoustic guitar wizardry and modern rock lyrics of Chris Henry, the No. 1 and No. 2 finishers out of 70-plus entries and 20 semifinalists.
Plenty more acts this year got significant notice, such as The Munks, Starroy and Riverbilly, the other three finalists. The hip-hop of Trapper the Rapper, the modern jam-jazzy sounds of Phantazmelodia and the good rock of the trip The Cosmonauts were just some of the new acts to be heard, and not surprisingly they’ve shown up on club listings throughout the state since the Showcase.
Anyway, to further this effort of bringing local original music to the masses, we’ve added an Arkansas Musicians Showcase link to our homepage (www.arktimes.com), which we’ll gradually continue to add mp3s from worthy acts. Already, Chris Henry and Hannah Blaylock can be heard on the jukebox, along with a song from the state’s next big thing to gain a national recording contract, American Princes. We hope to add more of the bands who competed in the Showcase and their best songs in the coming weeks as we boost the entertainment offerings on the website (the direct link is www.arktimes.com/musicians.aspx).
And speaking of increasing the offerings, we’ve now doubled our entertainment weblogs, with the addition of Amy Brawner’s “Amy After Dark” blog, which highlights club happenings nightly in the area. That runs in concert with the Little Rocking blog, which includes music and entertainment news and opinion, sports (including the popular J.R. and Henry sports column) and other “to do” happenings daily, plus the occasional spot review and live blog report from an event, such as Amy’s blogging from South-by-Southwest in Austin earlier this year.
The Little Rocking blog has afforded us the opportunity to opine on a variety of subjects that a weekly column space doesn’t allow, and it’s also given us a chance to provide daily entertainment news as well, such as breaking UCA’s Public Events schedule for 2006, starting with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in September (the real “Jersey Boys”). Concert announcements, as well as cancellations (such as the lamented Ashlee Simpson cancellation), have shown up first on Little Rocking the minute they break.
For those still unfamiliar with blogging or finding our sites, our blogs are accessible a couple of ways: On www.arktimes.com, click on “blogs” at the top of the home page and the link will take you to all three blogs the Times has running, including the popular News Blog manned by Max Brantley and WarwickSabin.
The Arkansas News Blog and Little Rocking blogs have their own link as well on the home page (people often ask me, “Where is your blog?” and it’s on the page just by scrolling down a little further). The Musicians Showcase has a link under “Entertainment” on the home page, and you soon should find a quick link via Little Rocking and Amy After Dark.
If you haven’t attended the annual Showcase in person, you’ll find some impressive music on the website.