Along about this time, I have to start urging local musicians to exercise something I don’t have near enough of myself: patience. Several have been calling and asking, “Are y’all gonna have your showcase again this year?” In a word: absolutely. And this week, everyone can start focusing on it, as the first entry form runs in this week’s edition on page 45. The Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase starts Jan. 27 and features four Thursday nights of competition between 16 original-music bands. The two-week buildup between semifinals and finals was so much fun last year, we’re doing it again in 2005, deciding our winner on March 4. Any band or individual can enter as long as the artist has original music. You don’t need 30 minutes for your entry, but you’ll have to play up to 30 minutes in front of a full house at Juanita’s Cantina Ballroom when the competition starts. All the information you need is in the showcase entry ad. We’ll have entries available at the Times (375-2985) and running in subsequent issues of the paper through the entry deadline, Jan. 13. There is no cost to enter, though qualifying bands will be paid to perform, and the eventual Showcase winner gets an array of prizes (recording time, music equipment, a guaranteed spot on the Riverfest lineup, photography, food from Trio’s and more). Meanwhile, as the AT Musicians Showcase is starting up, the University of Central Arkansas’s Arkansas Acoustic Festival will be winding down, with its showdown finals on Saturday, Jan. 29, at Reynolds Performance Hall. After successful showdowns in 2002 and 2003 and terrific concerts to go along with them, UCA waited until early 2005 for its third event, which will coincide with an acoustic concert on Sunday, Jan. 30, with Nickel Creek mandolin player Chris Thile and virtuoso bassist Edgar Meyer. The showdown winners will open the Sunday concert. Brooks Walthall, festival organizer, says an avalanche of entries came in at deadline last week. Tickets for the Jan. 29 showdown and the Jan. 30 Thile-Meyer Sunday concert are on sale now. Call 866-810-0012.