- SANTA CLAWS: Big Cats.
Big things are happening for the music scene in the days leading up to Christmas, with several performances by Max Recordings artists as well as an old-school reunion show for much-beloved poli-punk act Trusty.
The original members of Trusty — Bircho, James Brady, Bobby Matthews, Paul Dowling — left Little Rock 10 years ago to expand their horizons, landing in Washington D.C., where they hooked up with Dischord Records and released “Goodbye, Dr. Fate” in 1994.
Then they disbanded; some went on to play in other bands, and others went the family way.
The question was how to get these guys together back home after being apart for so many years.
In this case, the go-to guy was Burt Taggart of Max Recordings, using his contacts, connections and friendships to get Trusty back together for a show Friday, Dec. 23, at Vino’s Brewpub.
“I just mentioned that I was willing to help if they ever wanted to reissue or release something via Max Recordings — I think that is what initially got them interested,” Taggart said. Two new songs, along with seven other previously unreleased tracks, will make up the new CD “Sugar Smacks,” scheduled for a March release by Max Recordings and the first Trusty CD since “The Fourth Wise Man.”
Sugar and the Raw and Mat Mahar will open the all-ages show. Sugar has recently toured through Texas and will be showcasing some newer tunes along with its favorites with a full horn section and tambourine crew.
Mahar will start things at 8 p.m. with his smooth folk-rock stylings.
Admission is $6.
Taggart’s own band, the Big Cats, will headline a show on Thursday, Dec. 22, at Sticky Fingerz with Kevin Kerby and Battery as the opening act. The show starts at 9 p.m.
The 10-year-old Big Cats are working on their second full-length album (previous releases include the “Fayetteville Blues” 45 rpm single, and a debut full-length CD, “Worrisome Blues”).
Taggart says that he’s looking to have the record finished by next summer, with a CD release and a tour to follow in the fall and winter with local drummer Josh Bentley and guitarists Jason White and Colin Brooks — both of whom work around their other jobs with Green Day (White) and Canada’s the Stills (Brooks).
Taggart says the next album, as yet untitled, has taken on a new musical direction, including the songs written in the past six months. “Worrisome Blues” songs were written over seven years.
Kerby, who has taken his career solo after years with Mulehead, will be debuting his new Max CD, “The Secret Life of Radios.”
On going solo, in typical Kerby fashion, he says, “It’s fantabulous. It’s great ’cause I don’t have to worry about what key I’m in. I enjoy the fact that I can Battery — Geoff Curran (a former bandmate in Mulehead), Jason Weinheimer, Marcus Lowe and Josh Bentley (also of the Big Cats) — will be Kerby’s backup band.
Arkansas native “Sunpie” Barnes, a true Renaissance zydeco man, will appear at the Press Box on Thursday, Dec. 22. He’s been living in New Orleans, recording and performing with the Sunspots, who travel the U.S. and Europe and perform at the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. After Hurricane Katrina he became estranged from his band and is booking solo gigs.
He is a post-modern harpist (a style of Sonny Boy Williams, but with modern interpretation) and a joyful accordionist, vocalist and songwriter with elements of zydeco, Caribbean and blues.
The Lookback Marys, after having taken a few months off from live performance, will play at the Press Box on Friday, Dec. 23. During their time off, the Lookback Marys recorded an EP, “Let It Go.” The EP will be on sale at the 9:30 p.m. show. The cover charge is $5.
Folk poet and troubadour Hayes Carll will return to Sticky Fingerz on Wednesday, Dec. 28. Carll’s CD “Little Rock” has received well-deserved praise for the songwriter's keen wit and deceptively simple songwriting style. The Sidehill Gougers, a three-part harmony group with upright bass, guitar and mandolin, will open the 9 p.m. show. The band’s debut CD is “Runaway Scrape.” Admission is $10.