I wasn’t around for the beginning of the Musicians Showcase a decade ago, but I’ve got to think that the decision to call it the “Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase” as opposed to something like the “Arkansas Times Battle of the Bands,” spoke to a desire to host a contest that showed off local talent in all its diversity, local acts the community didn’t know about, but should.
Our line-up last year fit that criteria, I think, but if people didn’t know a lot of the participants, it was because they weren’t following local music at all. This year, I believe our talent pool is just as rich (or richer), but it’s filled with a lot of bands even the most ardent follower of local music might not have seen. So make plans to come out; there’s bound to be plenty of surprises.
To whet your appetite, follow this link to download a .zip file of a compilation of all the featured acts. There’s hi-res cover art included, too (that’s it above).
Also, you can stream all the tracks below.
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Here’s the lowdown: Over the next five weeks — one Friday, three Thursdays and another Friday — 20 semi-finalists (four each week), selected from scores of entrants from across the state, compete at Sticky Fingerz to advance to the final round, to be held Friday, March 6, at Revolution.
And the schedule:
Jan. 30: Frown Pow’r, Velvet Kente, Magic Hassle, Jordan Atwater
Feb. 5: Whale Fire, Nik and Sam, Gina Gee, Loch Ness Monster.
Feb. 12: Four on the Floor, Style Guide (formerly Bad Balance), the See, Sean West.
Feb. 19: Midwest Caravan, Rockst*r, Good Time Ramblers, the Chicklettes.
Feb. 27: The Weisenheimers, Jonathan Wilkins, Riverboat Crime, Apples and Spades.
Each week the four permanent judges below and one guest judge will grade the semi-finalists on song quality, originality and, to a lesser extent, musicianship and showmanship.
Tomorrow I’ll do more in-depth previews on the first round acts.