With summer come and gone, it’s time to mark your calendars for the best of the fall concert season, from Bret Michaels and Kool Keith to Justin Moore, Killer Mike, Slipknot and Rodney Crowell. It’s like William Cullen Bryant once said: “Autumn … the year’s last, loveliest smile.” Or as Rick Ross put it, “Middle of December, I will melt your fucking snow.”
The first weekend in October is a crowded one, with Minneapolis jazz trio The Bad Plus (Oct. 2), known for covering Neil Young, Aphex Twin, Stravinsky and whatever else they feel like, at South on Main as part of the Oxford American’s Jazz Series. Little Rock native and Nashville transplant Adam Hambrick (Oct. 2) will play at Stickyz with fellow local country singer Cliff Hutchison; Austin roots-rock group Band of Heathens (Oct. 2) will be at Revolution with Charlie Mars; and synth-pop band Polica (Oct. 2) will play Juanita’s with Web of Sunsets. The next night, local indie rock group Collin vs. Adam (Oct. 3) will play an album release show at White Water Tavern (free CD with the price of entry), while former Poison frontman, reality TV star and frequent bandana-wearer Bret Michaels (Oct. 3) will play Juanita’s.
Charlie Wilson (Oct. 4), the R&B legend and former lead singer of funk greats The Gap Band, will be at Verizon Arena. Local metal favorites Mothwind (Oct. 4) will play their long-awaited album release show at White Water Tavern alongside Peckerwolf and Jab Jab Suckerpunch. Brooklyn by-way-of Atlanta indie rock group Gringo Star will be at Maxine’s in Hot Springs (Oct. 4) and Stickyz (Oct. 5), and singer, producer and L.A. ratchet pioneer Ty Dolla $ign (Oct. 5) will be at Juanita’s. Mega-star Santana (Oct. 5) will play the Walmart AMP in Rogers.
The King Biscuit Blues Festival, which this year features Sonny Burgess, Bobby Rush, Guitar Shorty, Delbert McClinton, James Cotton and more, will be held in downtown Helena Oct. 8-11.
Remember 38 Special? Enjoy betting on horse races? Well, don’t miss the iconic arena rock group (“Caught Up In You,” etc.) at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs (Oct. 9). Everyone else should make their way over to the Joint in Argenta to see the legend Kool Keith (Oct. 9), formerly of the Ultramagnetic MCs and a genuinely bent, brilliant person. “In my real world,” Keith once rapped (under his Dr. Octagon guise), “orangutans dance for Thanksgiving with skeleton bones and skunk tails.”
Alt-country stalwarts Cody Canada and The Departed (Oct. 9) will be at Stickyz, and long-running Denton, Texas, punk group Bobgoblin will be at White Water. Blues harmonica legend James Cotton (Oct. 9), who’s won Grammys and toured with Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, will be at Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts, and indie pop group Foster the People (who made a very famous song called “Pumped Up Kicks”) will be at the Walmart AMP with Fritz and The Tantrums.
The Arkansas State Fair is set for Oct. 10-19 and will feature a series of top-shelf concerts by the likes of George Thorogood, Travis Tritt, Dru Hill, Color Me Badd and more. The Arkansas Chamber Singers (Oct. 10) will, appropriately, perform Haydn’s “Mass in Time of War” at St. James United Methodist Church, and New Orleans brass funk group Bonerama (Oct. 10) will be at South on Main. Memphis redneck rocker John Paul Keith (Oct. 10) will return to the White Water Tavern, and New Orleans-based self-proclaimed “prog funk” band Earphunk (Oct. 10) will be at Stickyz.
Electronic rock duo and Big Boi collaborators Phantogram (Oct. 11) will be at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, and Austin blues rock group The Sideshow Tragedy (Oct. 11) will be at White Water. Locals The Casual Pleasures (Oct. 11) will be at Maxine’s in Hot Springs with Landrest and Switchblade Razors.
Big-time festival favorites and “livetronica” stand-outs Big Gigantic (Oct. 15) will be at Revolution with Manic Focus. Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Music Festival, on Mulberry Mountain in Ozark (Oct. 16-18), will feature dozens of bands, including The Jayhawks, Trampled By Turtles, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dumpstaphunk, Andy Frasco and Tyrannosaurus Chicken.
Mysteriously popular Vegas metal band Five Finger Death Punch (Oct. 17) will stop by Verizon Arena with Volbeat, while Arkansas native, country superstar and occasional NRA spokesperson Justin Moore (Oct. 17) will be at First Security Amphitheater. Anyone looking to not pay anything that night can go to South on Main to catch Americana group The Easy Leaves (Oct. 17), or stop by Velvet Kente’s Reggae Dance Party (Oct. 17) at White Water Tavern.
Austin singer-songwriter Emily Wolfe (Oct. 20) will come to Juanita’s, and Killer Mike and El-P (Oct. 20) will bring their electro, frenzied brand of indie-rap to Stickyz. The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (Oct. 21) will perform “Quartet for the End of Time” at the Clinton Presidential Center. Insane-sounding, anonymous Nashville funk band Here Come the Mummies (Oct. 22), whose existence I’ve only just learned of and who Wikipedia claims are “best known for their live performances in which band members perform in full mummy attire,” will be at Juanita’s. Bearded prophet Adam Faucett (Oct. 23), whom you may also recognize for his floor-quaking vocal range, will be at White Water Tavern with Iron Tongue and Them Witches.
Later on in the month, raucous Alabama redneck rapper Yelawolf (Oct. 26) will be at Juanita’s, and beloved alt-country band Drive-By Truckers (Oct. 28) will come to George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville. Seminal hardcore band 7 Seconds (Oct. 29) will play a rare show at White Water, and Amasa Hines’ Joshua Asante (Oct. 30) will play the Pow Wow Radio Show launch party at The Joint with Big Piph and Sean Fresh.
In November, Creed singer Scott Stapp (Nov. 1) will come to Juanita’s, and masked nu metal icons Slipknot (Nov. 4) will come to Verizon Arena with Korn. Barry Hannah-referencing Oxford, Miss., indie rock group Water Liars (Nov. 4) will return to the White Water Tavern, and enduring alternative hip-hop group Atmosphere (Nov. 6) will come to Juanita’s.
The Blue Man Group (Nov. 3), which, for the uninitiated, is exactly what it sounds like, will be at Reynolds Performance Hall at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, and self-styled “nerdcore” rapper MC Chris (Nov. 8) will be at Juanita’s. The North Mississippi Allstars (Nov. 8), fronted by Jim Dickinson’s sons, will be at Revolution, and blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa (Nov. 11) will stop by Verizon Arena the following week. Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Italian Serenade (Nov. 11) will be at the Clinton Presidential Center.
Cincinnati indie-pop band Foxy Shazam (Nov. 15) will come to Juanita’s, and folk-rock singer-songwriter John Kilzer (Nov. 20) will play a free show at South on Main. Locals Knox Hamilton (Nov. 20), who recently got a big-time record deal off the strength of a hugely catchy song called “Work It Out,” will play Juanita’s, and trippy blues-ish rock group Tyrannosaurus Chicken (Nov. 28) will return to Stickyz.
In December, former pre-teen star Aaron Carter (Dec. 4), famously a better basketball player than Shaquille O’Neal, will be at Juanita’s, and Grammy-winning country legend Rodney Crowell (Dec. 4) will come to South on Main. Meanwhile, in Fayetteville, country star Clint Black (Dec. 4) will be at the Walton Arts Center. The Arkansas Chamber Singers will perform their annual Holiday Concert (Dec. 12-14) at the Old State House Museum, and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (Dec. 19-21) will present its Swinging Holiday Extravaganza at the Pulaski Academy Performing Arts Center. Lubbock, Texas, country songwriter William Clark Green (Dec. 19) will come to Stickyz, and, just in time for the holidays, yacht rapper Rick Ross (Dec. 21), a.k.a The Teflon Don, a.k.a. Ricky Rozay, will be at Barton Coliseum.