Adventureland Brian Chilson

The last semifinal round of the 2019 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase brought bouncy literary rock with mad drum fills, a band that very well might be the only Little Rock ensemble that boasts two accordion players, clever commentary paired with mandolin and reimagined reggae from Fayetteville.

The winner of round four? Adventureland, a trio that won hearts with three-part harmony, infectious exuberance and seamless instrument switch-offs, musical-chairs style. Here’s a snapshot of what our panel of judges, along with guest judge/powerhouse vocalist Charlotte Taylor said about the evening’s performances, and [coming soon] some photography from our very own Brian Chilson.

Join us at the Rev Room Friday, March 1 to hear Adventureland, Illusionaut, White Mansion, The Mad Deadly and the “wild card” band, determined by the top-scoring runner-up across all four semifinal rounds. That band was Willowack, who scored the highest among the runners-up across all four rounds of competition in the scoring categories: originality, musicianship, songwriting and showmanship.

(A footnote of showcase history: Jamie Lou & The Hullabaloo were the “wild card” band in 2018, and ended up winning the entire competition.)

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Willowack joins the four winners from each semifinal round to faceoff for a robust prize package, including a performance spot at Low Key Arts’ acclaimed Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival, a performance spot at Thursday Night Live at the Griffin in El Dorado’s revitalized Murphy Arts District, a performance spot at Jacksonville’s FestiVille, a performance spot at the Arkansas State Fair, eight hours of studio time and artist development at The Hive Studio, a gift certificate from beloved farm-to-table eatery Trio’s Restaurant, cold hard cash and more.

Adventureland: intellectual pop candy, with ripping guitar riffs, loads of vitality and three-part harmony. Everyone sings, and the trio’s chops are diverse; a drum fill accompanied a bass guitar/lead guitar switcharoo, and that wasn’t even the last rotation in the musical chairs game that comprised their set last night.
From our judges:

“Great band with a fun, lively sound.”

“They finished strong. I liked their vibe.”

“Young. Fun. Happy. They got me right in the first minute of the first song.” 

Big Red Flag: This six-piece is making sounds that nobody else in town is really making: “ragtime gypsy grass” with mandolin, vocal trade-offs, accordion and unusual percussion, carefully chosen to provide variety and texture to the songs.

From our judges:

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“It was a fascinating blend of music…..a fun, creative sound that made me want to tap my foot and move around.”

“Lyrics silly, clever and danceable but I fear ventured a bit too close to novelty act for me.”

“Nice to hear such a variety of instruments. A fun carnival ride of sounds.” 

Irie Lions: reimagined reggae with an-ultra polished presentation, clean/classy synth sounds and a euphoric vibe that made everyone in the room want to find their higher power — and maybe burn one down.

From our judges:

“While Irie Lions were the most professional, accomplished musicians of all bands tonight, they didn’t bring anything fresh to the genre.”

“Trippy jam band. Smooth sound.”

“Chill and enjoyable.”

Chemtrailblazers: First  off, killer diller name. Secondly, anytime a mandolin gets paired with lyrics about politics and smoking reefer, everybody wins. [CORRECTION: Chemtrailblazers’ aforementioned “Jolly Rogers Arkansas” wasn’t part of this showcase set, but it’s awesome, and you should check it out here.]

From our judges:

“Lyrics were thoughtful. The mandolin was great.”

“I’d like to see how they do with a full band, while not bad musicians.”

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