FRIDAY 8/9-SATURDAY 8/10. 6:30 p.m. First Financial Music Hall, El Dorado. $10-$25.
The former oil boomtown of El Dorado has been, for two years now, refashioning its historic downtown area as an arts destination called the Murphy Arts District, named after its chief corporate benefactor. That MAD overhaul has meant a lot of things: the positioning of former Rock & Roll Hall of Fame CEO Terry Stewart at the helm, a meticulously renovated Vaudeville-era theater, a 7,000-plus capacity outdoor ampitheater, concerts from the likes of Migos and Steve Earle and Jason Isbell, the largest children’s park in the region and now, its own regional battle of the bands.
Up for a $2,500 grand prize, plus $100 honorariums for Best Vocals, Best Instrumentals and Best Showmanship: Akeem Kemp Band (pictured above), As the Willow Burns, Crutchfield, Cypress Knees, Jimmy Lewis and 8 Second Ride, McKuin, Monsterboy, R@ndom, Saving for Tuesday and SiedSwipe. Each band will play a 15-minute set Friday evening, and the battle’s judges — Stewart, vocalist Bijoux Pighee, Noalmark Broadcasting Corp. Operations Manager Caleb Burger and this reporter, representing the Arkansas Times — will pick five of those bands to advance to the finals on Saturday evening. Get tickets and details at eldomad.com.