These past couple of weeks of gloriously fall-like weather have been so sublime as to make one nearly forget the terrible state of nearly everything: the ravaged environment, the limping economy, the broken political process, the very fact that Rick Perry exists and is allowed to hold office. It's enough to make you want to medicate yourself heavily. But don't do that! Just check out some live music, which is the healthiest way to make the world not seem so crummy. There are a bunch of shows — most of them really good — just around the corner. Oh, and the Hogs. Don't forget about the Hogs.
A founding member of two of the best American bands of all-time — The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers — Chris Hillman is a legend in country rock circles. He plays the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View with bluegrass veteran Herb Pedersen (Sept. 23). As the inventors of the highly critically respected (just kidding) genre known as "crab-core," Attack Attack! (Sept. 25, Downtown Music Hall) will appeal to fans of tight pants, expensive haircuts and chugga-chugga-scream-style modern hardcore, whatever that means. For a punk rock take on the good ol' freak-show, check out the Hellzapoppin' Freak Show Revue, (Sept. 26, Revolution) with local bitchin'-riff merchants Iron Tongue.
If you're still hungry for more outrageous and over-the-top showmanship, check out the other Detroit Madmen in the dance-punk outfit Electric Six (Sept. 27, Stickyz). For something totally different, don't miss Richard Buckner (Sept. 28, Stickyz), whose latest album, "Our Blood," has gotten rave reviews and will surely be loved by the lonesome-mopey singer/songwriter set. If you're up northwest that day, you can go see the Traffic-co-founding, Mama-Cass-collaborating, "Feelin' Alright"-penning Dave Mason (Sept. 28, George's).
The legendary Meat Puppets return to Little Rock for what's sure to be an excellent show (Sept. 29, Stickyz). Bubble-grunge maestros Candlebox take to the stage at the Arkansas Music Pavilion in Fayetteville (Sept. 29). For another dose of '90s nostalgia, check out The Lemonheads (Sept. 30, Revolution) as they perform their classic album "It's a Shame about Ray" in its entirety. Ambitious modern-day Outlaw country troubadour Jamey Johnson plays Arkansas Music Pavilion (Sept. 30).
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra starts its season with "Italian Vacation" (Oct. 1-2, Robinson Center Music Hall), featuring works by Mendelssohn, Respighi, Puccini and Rossini. The "Masterworks" series continues with "Legends" (Oct. 22-23, Robinson Center Music Hall), featuring Haydn and Brahms, and "Beethoven & Blue Jeans" (Nov. 12-13, Robinson Center Music Hall), featuring Beethoven, Roumain and Bernstein. The symphony's chamber series kicks off with "Summer Vacation" (Oct. 4, Clinton Presidential Center), featuring pieces by Debussy, Vivaldi and more. The series continues with "Norman Krieger" (Oct. 25, Clinton Presidential Center), including works by Kodaly, Chopin and Brahms and "Bridging New and Old" (Nov. 15, Clinton Presidential Center), which includes works by Haydn, Griebling and Dvorak. The pops series begins with "Music of John Williams" (Oct. 8-9, Robinson Center Music Hall) and continues with "Happy Holidays" (Dec. 16-18, Robinson Center Music Hall).
ZooJam 2011 (Oct. 2, War Memorial Park) is a benefit for The Little Rock Zoo, with performances from the boot-in-your-ass-stickin' country superstar Toby Keith, with openers Sara Evans, Eric Church and Diamond Rio. You might have been wondering what Diamond Rio had been up to, and now you know. If you've got any discretionary dollars left after ZooJam, you might want to think about handing them over to a scalper, because odds are really good that Taylor Swift (Oct. 4, Verizon Arena) has already sold out. But you never know. If anybody would be worth forking over the big bucks for, it's America's Sweetheart.
So you know that there are only, like, four Certified Guitar Players in the world, right? Well one of them — Tommy Emmanuel — is coming to UCA's Reynolds Performance Hall (Oct. 6). Singer/songwriter James McMurtry (Oct. 6, George's) doesn't sugarcoat a damn thing for anybody, ever. Got it? So if some from-the-gut truth-telling via the majesty of song is what you're after, check him out.
The King Biscuit Blues Festival (Oct. 6-8, Helena) includes headliners James Cotton, Buddy Guy, Delbert McClinton, Bobby Rush and Keb' Mo'. While Musicfest El Dorado (Oct. 7-8, downtown El Dorado) might not have quite the cachet of King Biscuit, the event boasts performances from Boyz II Men, Easton Corbin, Tone Loc, James Otto, Sunny Sweeney and more. It's definitely festival weather, with Hot Springs newcomer Hot Water Hills Music & Arts Festival (Oct. 7-8, Hill Wheatley Plaza), which includes more than 24 visual artists, family-friendly activities and games, food, beer and wine and live music from Grand Marquis, Big Smith and Ben Nichols playing Friday night, and Grand Marquis, The Extraordinaires and Mountain Sprout Saturday night. Batesville is bringing it with Rocktoberfest (Oct. 8, Riverside Park), which includes Lucero, Pop Evil, Egypt Central, Devon Allman's Honeytribe and more. The Canadian duo Dala (Oct. 7, Walton Arts Center; Oct. 8, Argenta Community Theatre) has won plaudits worldwide with its ethereal folk-pop.
Guit-box virtuoso and international man of mystery Buckethead (Oct. 10, Juanita's) brings the fretboard freakout. Probably not a lot of fan crossover here, but legendary singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams plays the same venue the very next day. The 6th Annual Harvest Music Festival (Oct. 13-16 Mulberry Mountain near Ozark) is a surefire bet to scratch your jammy-bluegrassy-hippy itch with headliners Yonder Mountain String Band, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Railroad Earth and more. The Arkansas Chamber Singers will perform works by Claudio Monteverdi, as well as Brahms and Schubert (Oct. 14, St. Mark's Episcopal; Oct. 16, Clinton Presidential Center). Little Rock Wind Symphony presents Warhorses for Winds, featuring Andy Wen on alto saxophone (Oct. 16, Second Presbyterian Church). For a heaping helping of funkyelectronicajammaliciousgroovidelica, check out New Orleans' Galactic (Oct. 26, George's). Mrs. Jones, you have a lovely concert, with Herman's Hermits, The Lettermen (Oct. 27, UCA).
The stoner-friendly, vintage-sample-lifting DJ known as Pretty Lights plays what's sure to be a packed house of glowstick-wielding young folks (Oct. 29, Verizon Arena). Crescent City wunderkind Trombone Shorty (Oct. 29, Southern Food & Wine Festival, El Dorado) is a virtuoso jazz player who's wowed audiences the world over. The Munich Symphony (Nov. 1, Walton Arts Center), helmed by renowned conductor Philippe Entremont, will perform Mozart's Requiem. Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson and his backing band, The Brotherhood play George's (Nov. 2). Up in the hollers of Northwest Arkansas is the 64th Annual Original Ozark Folk Festival (Nov. 3-5, various locations in Eureka Springs), which includes arts and crafts demonstrations, a parade and performances from Split Lip Rayfield, Big Smith, 3 Penny Acre, Still on the Hill and others. Philadelphia act Dr. Dog (Nov. 8, George's) always packs out the house with its Beatles/Beach Boys/The Band blend of throwback rock. The Brasil Guitar Duo (Nov. 10, St. Mark's Episcopal) has performed with symphonies around the world, playing a blend of traditional and Brazilian works.
Downtown Music Hall has a damn mouthful of bands playing Nov. 15, including Between the Buried and Me, Animals as Leaders and Tesseract. Here's one that'll make your ears happy and your liver hate you: Little Rock's rowdiest bunch of rock 'n' roll ruffians ever, Smoke Up Johnny, play a rare show that will no doubt serve as a respite from all that Thanksgiving family time (Nov. 26, White Water Tavern). The River City Men's Chorus offers up a holiday program (Dec. 4-5, 8 at Trinity United Methodist). Arkansas Chamber Singers' "Holiday Concert" includes Respighi's "Laud to the Nativity" and the premiere of a new work by Scottish composer Cecilia McDowell (Dec. 9, Trinity Presbyterian Church; Dec. 11, Cathedral of St. Andrew). It's gonna be a Kenny Rogers kind of Christmas (Dec. 7, Walton Arts Center) in Fayetteville, unless you want to wait a few days for The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas' Christmas Pops (Dec. 10, Walton Arts Center) or maybe Pat Boone's "A Holiday Celebration" (Dec. 11, UCA) or The Manhattan Transfer's Holiday Show (Dec. 15, Walton Arts Center).