Congratulations to The Rios, winners of the first round of the 2018 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase!

Check out the schedule of upcoming semifinalist rounds here, and make plans to be at Stickyz any (or every) Thursday night in February to hear the next three rounds of competition. The Rios, along with the winners of each of those semifinal rounds and a “wild card” winner (the top-scoring semifinalist who did not win their particular semifinal round) will advance to the final round, to be held at The Rev Room on Friday, March 9.

The winner of that final round will be named the 2018 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase champion, and will receive a prize package including: cold hard cash, an in-studio showcase at Capitol View Studio, a live spot at the Arkansas State Fair Bud Light Pavilion, a live spot at Musicfest El Dorado, a live spot at Low Key Arts’ Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival in Hot Springs, a Thursday Night Live performance at Griffin Restaurant in El Dorado, eight hours of artist development at The Hive Studio, a PRS SE 245 Standard 22 Electric Guitar from Sunrise Guitars and more.


Here’s a quick recap of the night, with videos and comments from our four judges; Sarah Woolf, Robert Locke, Dazzmin Murry, Brie Boyce and our guest judge for the night, Stephen Neeper.


The Rios

Judges’ comments:

“Solid all the way around. Songs are good and the musicianship is on point.”

“This is a band I would seek out to see again. Can’t wait for their EP.”


“These guys just feel good. Bass player is killer. love the jazz/blues chord progressions.”

“I do wish they had keys and maybe even horns. That would put this band over the top IMHO. My personal favorite of the night.”

‘Bassist is filling all the holes with magic and he’s fun to watch. … Can’t wait to hear album.”



Judges’ comments:

“Kept me wanting to hear more, and to dig into their EP.

‘I do like that they showed some musicianship with the little snippet of the jazz deal they did between songs. if there were a way to incorporate that with the early 2000s thing they’ve got going on, that would be killer!”

“Nice layering in your songwriting.”

“Drummer on vocals: total surprise!”

“Drum transition and synth = sick.”

“Singer is sincere in her delivery which comes across. When they mesh they are a tight unit.”

Black River Pearl

Judges’ comments:


“Straight to the point rock and roll.”

“This is a Little Rock bar band and they’re okay with that.”

‘Silly lyrics, but I wanna dance.”

“Is this frontman [Scott] Diffie’s first cousin or something??! He’s like Diffee with a filter!”

“Strong sound collectively. Would like to hear more variation in lyrics and composition.”

“Big sound for just a three piece.”


Judges’ comments:

“Tracks are dope. Good energy. reminds me of my favorite levels of Donkey Kong.”

“The most ambitious artist of the night.”

“You seem so free on stage. Never lose that!”

“Definitely taking me to the Twilight Zone. Trippy, man!”

Check out the photographs of the evening from Vince Griffin and Brian Chilson, and stay tuned to Rock Candy for an introduction to our panel of judges.