Before getting to back to the entertainment happenings, a final word on a week of mourning over the death of Paul Eells, the voice of the Razorbacks and KATV sportscaster: If you didn’t attend last Friday’s memorial service at Robinson Center, which turned into a great celebration of Eells’ life, Keith Jackson wowed everyone like you wouldn’t believe. More than a few people were heard to mumble quietly, “He ought to run for governor,” or some other high public office, after his time at the microphone as one of the four friends eulogizing Eells. Not that the other three didn’t have enough humorous stories and positive comments about Eells to keep us entertained and yet tearful, but Jackson’s delivery and choice of words were amazing.
Early on it was geared both to hit home with people familiar with the inner workings of the Razorback announcing team, yet still funny to everyone who wouldn’t necessarily know the people involved. Under the most adverse of conditions to get a broadcast of a Hog game over the air, Jackson said, “Paul took it all in stride.”
Then, Jackson drove home the key point. “If Paul Eells set the bar” for deserving a place in Heaven, he said, “we’d better hope they grade on the bell curve.”
Eells was obviously the most liked TV personality to come around these parts. Football season won’t be the same without him. We’re confident in saying that Arkansas’s football team has the weapons in place to have a surprisingly strong season, but it’s going to seem bittersweet not hearing Paul at the radio microphone enjoying it all.
It appears that Mike Nail, the Hogs’ veteran radio announcer for basketball, will take over the football play-by-play duties for this season. A national search for a permanent replacement for Eells is expected after the season.
Dozens of people have already told us they’ve purchased their tickets for the Al Green show, which will put a rousing finish to the River Market 10th Year Celebration on Saturday, Aug. 19. Talented local Chicago-style bluesman Michael Burks has been added to the bill along with the band Crisis. Tickets are $30 and $20 for reserve seating and $10 for the lawn, through Ticketmaster.
Green’s show is the first summer concert at the Riverfest Amphitheatre since Power 92’s Juneteenth, but we’re happy to report it won’t be the last.
One day later, a huge jazz lineup of Kirk Whalen, Waymon Tisdale, Jonathon Butler and Brian Simpson will visit the amptheather as part of the Rendezvous All-Stars.
Poison and Cinderella, who were among the better “hair” bands of the late 1980s, are back and putting on what observers say are terrific shows around the country, and they visit on Aug. 27. Matt Smith, the owner of Market Street Cinema, has been submitting reports on hard rock music to the Little Rocking blog (www.wordpress-237995-832720.cloudwaysapps.com/arkansasblogs/littlerocking/) and said he saw Poison absolutely rock at the Wisconsin Rockfest last month. The Little Rock show will also include Starkz, a Fort Smith-based band that has developed a large Central Arkansas following. Starkz is good.
The big summer concert scene then goes indoors with Nickelback headlining a modern rock show at Alltel Arena on Aug. 31. Hoobastank is also on the bill. Another big indoor show, in a smaller setting than Alltel, comes Monday, Aug. 14, with Ted Nugent brings his wild guitar to the Clear Channel Metroplex in a 8 p.m. concert. Check the Magic 105 website, at www.magic105fm.com, for tickets.
There are a few club shows of serious note, beginning with drummer and blues singer Doyle Bramhall (who played with Stevie Ray Vaughan) on Saturday, Aug. 12, at Sticky Fingerz. John Davies, the current bassist for Big John Miller and who has played with the Cate Brothers and Michael Burks, says this is a show not to miss.
Then, two peas in a pod will be at different Little Rock clubs on Aug. 24-25. Ray Wylie Hubbard plays Juanita’s on Aug. 24, and Robert Earl Keen is back in town, playing the new Revolution Room on Aug. 25 with Reckless Kelly.
And, if you caught the Lee Boys at Riverfest in May, you saw a high-energy show of gospel rock in a similar style to pedal-steel-guitar-playing Robert Randolph and the Family Band. The Lee Boys, from Miami, will play the Revolution Room on Aug. 17, a show dubbed the “Rumba Rum Party” that the Arkansas Times is sponsoring.
Elise Davis was one of the young shining lights of the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase late in the winter. Her band, the Sandbox Lizards, qualified for a spot in the first round of shows at Sticky Fingerz, and even though the Lizards didn’t move out of their semifinal, it was obvious we were going to hear much more from Davis, who was attending Episcopal Collegiate School at the time.
Davis, who sings and plays guitar, now has her own band, the Elise Davis Band, and a CD as well, which she’ll preview in a release party at Juanita’s this Thursday (Aug. 10).
Yet another local singer-songwriter we enjoy listening to will be releasing his newest CD: Joe Patrick, who can rock hard with an uptempo whiskey drinking song or give you a beer-drinker’s lament about unrequited love, will play Friday at Cornerstone Pub on Main Street in North Little Rock.
Look for a new CD from Lucero this September, Ben Nichols told us a few weeks back when we attended a sneak peak screening of his brother’s independent film, “Shotgun Stories.”
Nichols and Lucero, which is based out of Memphis, recorded the CD at David Lowery’s studio in Richmond, Va. Lowery is the leader of Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven.
The American Princes recorded their well-received Yep Roc label record “Less and Less” at Lowery’s studio, too, and they’ll be playing Sticky Fingerz on Friday, Aug. 18. The Princes’ former label mates at the local Max Recordings, run by Burt Taggart, will be releasing two new records on Aug. 22, Taggart says. Trusty’s “Sugar Smack” and The Contingencies’ “Viva Ole” will both come out that day.
Trusty’s CD has two new tracks to go with seven others the band dusted off from back in the day. The Contingencies, meanwhile, show off 14 tunes in their debut release. Their CD release part is Aug. 18 at the White Water Tavern, playing along with Kevin Kerby and the Moving Front.