On Tuesday, Jan. 23, the Arkansas Times is throwing a party to celebrate Central Arkansas music at the Ron Robinson Theater, and you should clear your calendar/hire a babysitter/ask off from work/sleep a lot the night before/find a date/launder your tuxedo, ball gown or favorite vintage concert T-shirt — to make sure you’re there and in full effect. Think of it as a local version of the Grammys, but without any of the lame parts. Our celebrity host is Kevin Kerby, aka “the poet laureate of Pulaski County,” “the king of the one-liner” and “the hirsute heckler.” The cover charge is only $5, and once inside, there’ll be complimentary beer courtesy of Glazer’s Beer and Shiner Bock and wine courtesy of 107 Liquor in Sherwood. Plus, the lineup of performers is a diverse mix of up-and-comers and local stars in all sorts of genres.

We’ve got rock ‘n’ soul dynamos Dazz & Brie, winners of the 2017 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase; Hot Springs blues-rock band Brethren, the longtime backing band of the late, great CeDell Davis; the internationally renowned electronic producer Yuni Wa; rockabilly and Sun Records legends The Legendary Pacers, who are still playing after more than half of a century together and the death of lead vocalist Sonny Burgess last August; singer/songwriter Adam Faucett, whose voice makes the hairs stand up on your arms; experimental electro-pop-punk act Princeaus; and the good-time rockin’ Brian Nahlen Band of North Little Rock.

Of course, there will be awards, too. We’re officially calling CAMA a ceremony of recognition, which may sound hokey, but it’s purposeful. We joined with Arkansas Sounds, a project of the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, to launch and host the event because we don’t think Central Arkansas music and musicians get the attention they deserve, especially outside of Central Arkansas, but also sometimes within our bounds.


To put CAMA together, we dreamed up 22 categories and then solicited a board of 10 eminent local members of the scene: Arkansas Sounds music coordinator and blue-eyed soul man extraordinaire John Miller, Thick Syrup Records head honcho and talent booker Travis McElroy, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra associate conductor and moonlighting honky-tonker Geoffrey Robson, Tree of Knowledge and Lucero merch impresario Mary Chamberlin, founder of Low Key Arts and Visit Hot Springs special events coordinator Bill Solleder, singer/songwriter and owner of Capitol View Studio Bryan Frazier, in-demand Little Rock jazz and soul vocalist Bijoux Pighee, Yellow Rocket Concepts creative guru Amber Brewer, educator and Little Rock rap O.G. Leron McAdoo and “Not Necessarily Nashville” host Flap Jones. Together with the board, the Arkansas Times staff put together a list of the acts and music that deserved to be nominated in each category and then asked the public to add nominations to an online form. After we had the full list of nominees (which you can see at arktimes.com/camanoms), we asked each board member to vote for his or her favorite in each category. Here is a shortlist of the finalists in each category:

Best Listening Venue: South on Main, White Water Tavern, CALS Ron Robinson Theater, Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack. Classical Innovator: Joe Joyner, Tatiana Roitman Mann, Izzy Getzov, Katherine Williamson. Expat of the Year: Kari Faux, Ben Nichols, Beth Ditto, Chris Maxwell. Best Supporting Role in a Scene: Matt White, N’ell Jones, Chris King, Peter Read. Best Album Art: Isaac Alexander, “Like a Sinking Stone”; Wildflower Revue, “Wildflower Revue”; Junkbomb, “Tourtape“; Sumokem, “The Guardian of Yosemite.” Best Live Performer Rock/Indie: Amasa Hines, Dazz & Brie, Ghost Bones, R.I.O.T.S. Best Live Performer Folk/Bluegrass: Runaway Planet, Sad Daddy, Lark in the Morning, The Creek Rocks. Best Live Performer Punk: Spirit Cuntz, Headcold, Ghost Bones, Attagirl. Best Live Performer Electronic/DJ: Country Florist, Yuni Wa, Princeaus, G-Force. Best Live Performer Funk/Soul: Dazz & Brie, Amasa Hines, Sean Fresh, The Rodney Block Collective. Best Live Performer Blues: CeDell Davis, Gil Franklin, Charles Woods, Charlotte Taylor & Gypsy Rain. Best Video: Couch Jackets, “The Brute”; Big Piph, “Celebrate”; The Uh Huhs, “Wrong Young Lady”; Bazi Owenz, “Don’t Blow My High”; Recognizer, “License to Kill.” Best Radio Show/Podcast: “NVRMND The Morning Show,” “Backroads,” “Shoog Radio,” “Arkansongs.” Best Festival: Harvestfest, Valley of the Vapors, Flux, Holiday Hangout. Best Live Performer Jazz: The Ted Ludwig Trio, The Rodney Block Collective, Chris Parker, Brandon Dorris. Best Live Performer Heavy Music: Living Sacrifice, Colour Design, Sumokem, Pallbearer. Best Live Performer Country: Bonnie Montgomery, Dylan Earl, The Wildflower Revue, The Salty Dogs. Best Live Performer Hip-Hop: Big Piph, 607, Rah Howard, Solo Jaxon. Album of the Year: Pallbearer, “Heartless”; Dazz & Brie, “Can’t Chase Girls & Your Money Too”; Wildflower Revue, “Wildflower Revue”; Big Piph, “Celebrate.” Best Songwriter: Joshua Asante, Adam Faucett, Shannon Boshears, Bonnie Montgomery. Artist of the Year: Big Piph, Bonnie Montgomery, Dazz & Brie, Joshua Asante. We’ll also give an award for Local Legend, our version of a lifetime achievement award.

We’re hosting this on a Tuesday because it’s generally an off night for working musicians, and we want as many who can to be able to come. Advance ticket sales have been strong; you’re encouraged to buy your ticket in advance from centralarkansastickets.com to ensure you get a seat (all seating is open). Befitting a throw-down such as this, we’re starting early, with a pre-party at 5:30 p.m. at next-door Cache Restaurant’s private upstairs bar for drinks and appetizers at happy-hour prices. Be prepared to make a grand entrance to the event; we’ll have photographers on hand. After CAMA, move down the block with us to the after-party at Revolution Taco & Tequila Lounge, where DJ Mike Poe will be on the ones and twos.