CHRIS HENRY: Return of a runner-up.

The ninth Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase begins Thursday, Jan. 25, at Sticky Fingerz in the River Market district, with original music ranging from folk-rockabilly to acoustic rock to all-female indie pop.

The first-night lineup features classic rock-jam band Stone Mountain Crew; girl group Smitten from Conway; Damn Bullets, a rockabilly-style group from Little Rock; and acoustic rocker Paul Sammons and the Black Sheep.


Showtime is 9 p.m., and each band will perform 30 minutes of original music. The bands will be graded by five judges on song quality, originality, musicianship, showmanship and crowd response, with a higher percentage of the score focused on song quality and originality.

The showcase annually highlights the original music of Arkansas bands, pitting a full variety of groups and genres against each other to determine the best non-cover group in the state. It was originally created at Juanita’s by Guido Ritchie and Mark Abernathy in the early 1990s as the Arkansas Music Showcase; the Arkansas Times took over sponsoring the event in 1999. It moved to Sticky Fingerz last year and is co-sponsored by KKPT-FM, 94.1 “The Point,” with disc jockey Jeff Allen serving as co-host.


Bands that advance from the five semifinals will each earn $200 and compete in the finals on March 2 at the Revolution Music Room, 300 President Clinton Ave. The winner of the final will take home a gift certificate from Jacksonville Guitar, recording time from Blue Chair Studio, a guaranteed slot in Riverfest, a photo shoot with Times photographer Brian Chilson, dinner from Trio’s restaurant, and more prizes.

On Thursday, look for house show favorite and recent graduate to the club scene Damn Bullets to charm with its old/new, Beatles-meet-bluegrass sound in such songs as “Trouble in Mind” and “Dancin’ Bones.” Stone Mountain Crew hits the stage first, though, with scratchy-voiced classic rock reminiscent of a reggaeless Sublime in “Sexual Overdrive” and “Legalization.” Smitten rocks with its all-girl Donnas-like approach, and Paul Sammons and his band will perform acoustic-driven rock songs.


Admission is $5. Door prizes will be given away, and Sticky Fingerz will offer a variety of drink specials.


All Thursday shows at Sticky Fingerz, 9 p.m.

JAN. 25: Stone Mountain Crew, Smitten, Damn Bullets, Paul Sammons and the Black Sheep


FEB. 1: Cooper’s Orbit, 4X4 Crew, Beau Nixon, Reverburritos

FEB. 8: Jeff Coleman and the Feeders, Latture, Rigby Fawkes, Sideshow

FEB. 15: American Years, Daybreak Bandits, Dean Agus Band, Rein

FEB. 22: The Global Test, Highway 5, Sean Rock and the Toltecs, Calcabrina

Finals are on March 2 at the Revolution Music Room.