It's spring, the birds are singing, and music is being made by the human persuasion, too. On March 20, the Robinson Center Music Hall will host weirdo, novelty a cappella singers Pentatonix, who cover pop songs with unsettling sonic precision and were the season three winners on "The Sing Off," an NBC show about weirdo, novelty a cappella acts. The next night, the Clear Channel Metroplex will welcome upstart Atlanta rapper Rich Homie Quan, best known for his once-ubiquitous street hit, "Type of Way." Quan hasn't won any NBC shows (yet), but he's a hero in Georgia and his star is rising.
Prolific local songwriter and butcher Kevin Kerby will play at White Water Tavern on March 22 alongside Brent Best, sharing a bill with Denton, Texas, garage rock duo RTB2. That same night, over at Stickyz, Little Rock rapper Big Piph, fresh from his adventures in Africa (ask him about it), will perform with his band Tomorrow Maybe.
Little Rock's honky-tonk heroes, The Salty Dogs, will be at South on Main on March 26 celebrating the release of their new EP, "Too Old To Fight," and will follow it up with a show at White Water on March 28 with the Buffalo City Ramblers. Meanwhile, Cher's "Dressed to Kill" Tour will roll through town March 28, stopping at the Verizon Arena with special guests Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Chicago native and former child prodigy violinist Rachel Barton Pine will perform with the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra at Wildwood Performing Arts Center on March 30. On April 2, Amasa Hines will bring its cinematic, lavishly orchestrated indie rock to South on Main. That same night, Outlaw Country legend and irrepressible curmudgeon Merle Haggard will be at Robinson Center Music Hall.
In Fayetteville, on April 3, world-renowned soprano Laura Aiken will perform at the Walton Arts Center, and Red Dirt country artist Stoney LaRue will be at George's Majestic Lounge. That same day in Little Rock, Dax Riggs, former frontman of the '90s sludge metal group Acid Bath, will play at Stickyz.
On April 4, swamp pop act Shinyribs, the solo project of The Gourds' Kevin Russell, will come to White Water, which, the following night, will showcase the best of Arkansas garage punk's youngest generation, featuring Bombay Harambee, Teenagers and Pagiins.
Country singer and Rogers native Joe Nichols will headline the Washington Regional Gala at the Walton Arts Center with Backroad Anthem on April 8, and Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase finalist John Willis will play a free show as part of South on Main's Local Live series on April 9.
On April 10, the Rev Room will host Kansas City underground rap legend Tech N9ne and Gary, Ind., country rapper Freddie Gibbs, alongside Krizz Kaliko, Jarren Benton, Psych Ward Druggies and 870 Underground. Grammy-nominated English R&B singer and former Floetry member Marsha Ambrosius will perform at Juanita's on April 11.
In honor of the recently deceased country icon, South on Main will present "That Nashville Sound: A Tribute to Ray Price" on April 13, featuring performances by Katmandu, Amy Garland, Bonnie Montgomery, Mark Currey, Dave Almond, Ben Meade, Lauralee Williard, Buddy Case and John Talley.
Birmingham, Ala., Sub Pop-signees Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires will be at White Water on April 15 playing ruthless Southern rock. On April 17, Houston rap stalwart Paul Wall will take over the Rev Room with Triggaman, Young Jose and The Corner Kingz. Fellow Texan Adam Carroll, who otherwise has absolutely nothing in common with Paul Wall, will celebrate his new record release at White Water April 18, with opener Christian Marie Carroll.
Country star and Georgia native Brantley Gilbert will bring his "Let It Ride" tour to Verizon Arena on April 19, featuring Thomas Rhett and Eric Paslay. Legendary jazz pianist Chick Corea, who began his career performing with Cab Calloway and Miles Davis, will be at UCA's Reynolds Performance Hall on April 22 with Bela Fleck, the world's most famous banjo player.
Also on April 22, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's chamber group will perform an ambitious program of Beethoven and Wagner compositions at the Clinton Presidential Center, and Cirque Du Soleil will present its "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour" show at Verizon Arena. The show features 49 dancers, acrobats and musicians, many of whom toured with Jackson while he was alive.
On April 25, The Walton Arts Center will offer a tribute to Nat King Cole, "Straighten Up and Fly Right," featuring Ramsey Lewis and John Pizzarelli. In Little Rock, synth-heavy North Carolina indie rock band Future Islands will be at Stickyz with Ed Schrader's Music Beat and Fine Peduncle. (Ballet Arkansas's "Momentum" will open on April 25 as well, and will run through the 27th.)
Athens, Ga., group Of Montreal will bring its colorful and hyper-disorienting dance-pop funhouse vibe to the Rev Room on May 2. The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, maybe anticipating his August appearance at the Verizon Arena, will perform a tribute to the music of James Taylor at the Robinson Center Music Hall May 3-4.
Grammy-winning L.A.-based mariachi ensemble Mariachi Los Camperos will play at Walton Arts Center on May 3, and alt-rock-mathcore group The Dillinger Escape Plan will be at Juanita's on May 5 with Tera Melos, Vattnet Viskar and Fear The Aftermath. On May 6, country singer Lyle Lovett and His Acoustic Group will be at Walton Arts Center. REO Speedwagon, meanwhile, is still around and will perform at Robinson Center Music Hall on May 8, while Arkansas native Iris DeMent will be at the Ron Robinson Theater on May 10.
On May 14, you can bliss out to Brit Floyd's "Discovery World Tour," a Pink Floyd tribute and laser show, at Verizon Arena, and on May 15 the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will perform "Mozart by Candlelight," set at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. Bruno Mars will take his incredibly named "Moonshine Jungle" Tour to Verizon Arena on June 10.
Music festival season kicks off with Riverfest 2014 on May 23-25. Headliners this year will include Hank Williams, Jr., Salt-N-Pepa, Buckcherry, Chicago, Three Days Grace, Len Brice and many others yet to be announced. The Hot Springs Music Festival is next, June 1-14. On June 5, the giant campout and music festival Wakarusa will take place at Mulberry Mountain in Ozark. This year's lineup includes The Flaming Lips, The String Cheese Incident, STS9, BASSNECTAR, Umphrey's McGee, Dr. Dog and many others.