“Middlemarch” author George Eliot claimed once that if he were a bird, he’d fly around the world “seeking the successive autumns.” It’s a lovely idea, but then, George Eliot was not a bird. Nor was he George Eliot or even a he, for that matter, but that’s a story for another day. What’s really important for you this crisp season, music lover, is to spread your wings into the sleeves of your snuggliest sweater and seize the only autumn you’ve got right in front of you — this one. It’s the one in which the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires and a drag queen named Trixie Mattel land in Pulaski County within a fortnight’s span. It’s the one where a 6-foot-8 clown with a supple voice interprets David Bowie and R.E.M. on the stage of a technical college in North Little Rock. It’s the one where hometown heroes like The Salty Dogs and Mulehead and Akeem Kemp share calendar space with Buddy Guy, the Moscow Ballet, Toby Keith, Gucci Mane and The Drive-By Truckers. See our calendar wrap beginning on page 15 for a statewide guide; meanwhile, here’s a quick rundown of some of that aural inspiration, well worth seeking.
The ever-intense Malcolm Holcombe is returning to the legendary White Water Tavern, where he’ll officially release his latest, “Come Hell or High Water,” at the venerable joint Sept. 20. That same day, Buddy Guy, 82-year-old Chess Records house guitarist and Checkerboard Lounge owner-turned-blues legend, performs at the University of Central Arkansas’s Reynolds Performance Hall in Conway.
Touring in support of their album, “Arkansas,” John Oates (of Hall & Oates) and the Good Road Band come to Oaklawn’s Finish Line Theater in Hot Springs Sept. 21. On the same night, tremolo lovers in Little Rock can probably catch organist Kimberly Marshall’s free concert at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and still make it to the Rev Room’s “Fabulous Freddie Mercury Tribute” featuring Randall Shreve at 10 p.m.
On Sept. 22, jump back to the ’90s with the Toadies at the Rev Room, catch Royal Thunder and Headcold with Or at the White Water Tavern, or drink in Claude Bourbon at Hibernia Irish Tavern’s hosting of an installment from the Little Rock Folk Club series. The Stardust Big Band floats into the Arlington Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom in Hot Springs Sept. 23. Jazz and parks are two great tastes that taste great together, with a free Jazz in the Park concert from the Rodney Block Collective Sept. 26 at Riverfront Park’s History Pavilion. That night, Sunflower Beam rises at Stickyz.
Amythyst Kiah shines at South on Main’s Oxford American Concert Series Sept. 27, while the Randy Rogers Band rides high at the Rev Room. And, if you’re ready for some Southern-style storytelling, it won’t get much better than West Monroe, La., native musician/poet Kevin Gordon’s appearance at The Joint’s Potluck and Poison Ivy, also Sept. 27. (If the casserole has leaves of three, let it be.)
No wave scenester and actor/singer/poet Lydia Lunch (nee Lydia Koch) comes to Four Quarter Bar Sept. 28. Lunch is performing with composer Weasel Walter, bassist Tim Dahl and original Sonic Youth drummer Bob Bert; Mouton and Listen Sister open. Over at the White Water Tavern, Danville sage William Blackart releases his latest record, “Return,” with support from Colour Design and Fiscal Spliff. Also that evening is a concert from Pine Bluff native Mark Edgar Stuart at South on Main, as well as “Gershwin: Remembrance and Discovery,” an Arkansas Sounds-presented concert from Richard Glazier, who’ll interpret the work of the second-generation Jewish American who crystallized the American songbook.
Then, get the bucket brigade ready for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s interpretation of “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” Sept. 29-30 at Robinson Center Performance Hall. Should you find yourself in the Spa City, check out May the Peace of the Sea Be With You, Mouton and Fiscal Spliff at Maxine’s Sept. 29. Zipped back up again, Squirrel Nut Zippers (with Arkansas son-in-law Jimbo Mathus at the helm) visit the Rev Room Oct. 3.
The always-anticipated Hot Water Hills Music & Arts Festival goes up at Hill Wheatley Plaza in Hot Springs Oct. 5-6, with headliners Larkin Poe, Broncho, J.D. Wilkes and more. And, if you missed J.D. Wilkes at Hot Water Hills, catch him at the White Water Tavern Oct. 6 — that is, if you’re not at the Rev Room the same night conducting some soul re-examination to the tune of Amasa Hines.
Lagniappe performs for Arkansas Times’ “R&B: Rhythm & Blues, Ribs & Butts” at Argenta Plaza Oct. 7. RuPaul’s Drag Race champion Trixie Mattel struts her stuff at Robinson Center Performance Hall Oct. 9. On Oct. 11, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires burn down the house — and the racist patriarchal establishment, for that matter — at the White Water Tavern. Kings Live Music in Conway hosts a show from Arkansas Times staff faves The Rios Oct. 13. Guitarist Brooke Miller, hailed as an heir apparent to fellow Canadian songstress Joni Mitchell, plays at The Joint Theater & Coffeehouse as a guest of the Argenta Acoustic Music Series on Oct. 18. Also that evening, the Oxford American Concert Series hosts a show from Bernice, La., soul singer Robert Finley, recently and rightfully returned to the stage’s limelight.
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band is the tip of the multigenerational NOLA iceberg at UA Pulaski Tech’s Center for Humanities and Arts for “Take Me to the River” Oct. 22. Also: Hey youuu guys! It’s the electric 86-year-old national treasure Rita Moreno at UCA’s Reynolds Performance Hall Oct. 23! Thankfully not a Rolling Stones tribute band of the era, but a Virginia-based string band from the Blue Ridge Mountains, The Steel Wheels, rolls into South on Main Oct. 28. Frankie Valli trots out the hits — and the falsetto — at Verizon Arena Nov. 9, and later that weekend, the ASO takes on the work of a beloved English composer with “Elgar’s Enigma,” Nov. 10-11. Stuart Baer brings his capable keyboard work to Sherwood’s Amy Sanders Library as part of CALS’s “Sounds in the Stacks” series Nov. 13. Mountain Sprout gets rowdy at Kings Live Music Nov. 17.
Garvan Woodland Gardens is showing its true colors this fall with a series of November events at its Anthony Chapel: Tom Christopher’s tribute to Elvis Presley on the 19th; a holiday concert from Sharon Turrentine on Nov. 25; and a choral concert from Voices Rising on Nov. 28.
This pity party requires audience participation! Puddles Pity Party, the sad clown with the golden voice, croons classic rock covers with a twist to UA Pulaski Tech’s CHARTS on Dec. 1. If you need to skip the sorrow and head to straight to the Five Finger Death Punch, you’ll find it that very same night with Breaking Benjamin at Verizon Arena.
Finally, and maybe it’s much too early in the game, but what are you doing New Year’s Eve? The Squarshers and Jamie Lou and the Hullabaloo are holding down the countdown fort at Kings Live Music in Conway.