Listen Up

Music — local and live — permeates Northwest Arkansas

See video of the Kory Montgomery Band at Powerhouse Seafood’s Party on the Patio at the Free Weekly’s YouTube channel

By Richard Davis

TFW Staff Writer

(Photo: JASON IVESTER) Shannon Wurst of Fayetteville performs May 6 during First Friday in Bentonville.

Northwest Arkansas has a love affair with music from the hills and valleys of Eureka Springs to the Fayetteville scene to the square in Bentonville and beyond.

Fayetteville in particular likes its tunes and has been described as a smaller version of Austin, Texas. The city has nurtured a lively cadre of local musicians, some of whom have performed here for many, many, many years, including Earl Cate, Emily Kaitz, Jed Clampit and Trout Fishing in America’s Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet. Fayetteville’s fertile ground in turn has grown such names as 3 Penny Acre, Cletus Got Shot, Groovement, Memphis Pencils and more.

(Photo: Richard Davis) Kory Montgomery and his band perform Thursday, Aug. 18 at Powerhouse Seafood in Fayetteville.

Whether you’re looking for a “one-guy-with-a-guitar” evening a la Jeff Carey or Ben Coulter, a night of jazz with Claudia Burson or the Walter Savage Jazz Trio, a more lively performance along the lines of funk band 1 Oz. Jig or cover band Big ’Uns, or even touring acts such as the Reverend Horton Heat and Grammy Award-winners Brave Combo, chances are you can find it in Fayetteville on any given weekend — sometimes even any given night.

But don’t forget about the rest of the region. Bentonville has been populating its monthly First Friday events with music. Eureka Springs has some entertaining venues for music along with blues, jazz, bluegrass and classical festivals. Rogers has guaranteed blues music at the Bayou and a nice mix at Eddie Haskell’s. Springdale gets in on the act with live music on a nice outdoor patio at the city’s Jose’s location. Even our neighbor to the south, Fort Smith, has some nice options, as well as the annual Riverfront Blues Festival.

And if live music isn’t your thing, it’s easier now than ever to take a local musician or band home with you. No, not like that .. in the form of a CD, you perve! Maybe ordered off an artist’s website or picked up at a local shop such as Sound Warehouse in Fayetteville. Just the last couple of months alone have seen releases from Groovement, the Christmas Fuller Project, Earl & Them, Memphis Pencils and Messy Sparkles with more on the way. Keep on eye out for Randall Shreve and the Sideshow’s anticipated October release of “The Jester.”

6 Places To Listen Up

George’s Majestic Lounge

There’s several reasons George’s can bill itself as the king of Dickson Street, and it’s not just because it’s been there since 1927. George’s has both a lounge and a beer garden, meaning two acts can be performing under one roof at once. And those acts can range from locals such as Charliehorse, The Shady Janes  and Red Ambition to touring acts such as Reckless Kelly, Billy Joe Shaver and the Reverend Horton Heat.

GoodFolk Productions

Folk enthusiast Mike Shirkey has built up a venue where you can go 
to listen — really just listen — to music. The GoodFolk stage on Block Avenue in Fayetteville has played host to Hot Club of Cowton, Katy Moffat, the Austin Lounge Lizards and many more.

Smoke & Barrel Tavern

Not just a purveyor of fine whiskeys — though there is that too. Smoke & Barrel has dedicated itself to booking quality acts — and sometimes very unusual acts such as the Pretty Things Peepshow — and has become a key piece in the live music scene on Dickson Street in Fayetteville.

You Know Uno’s

This is where you go to hear … well, you at the karaoke bar behind Hog Haus brew pub and next to Hammontree’s in Fayetteville. Sure, sometimes the vocals may stretch the limits of what you can define as “music,” but if you enjoy a 
night of raucous bar sing-alongs — with often garbled lyrics — this is the place for you.


Not just variety of music but variety of venue, three locations bear the JJ’s marker in Northwest Arkansas in Fayetteville, Rogers and even on the lake at Prairie Creek. Depending on your willingness to drive, you could hear live music at a JJ’s pretty much any night of the week.


At either Springdale or Fayetteville, go for the margaritas as much as the music — though the music can be good too. And Jose’s is the place to listen to live music in Springdale with as nice an outdoor patio as you’ll find around here.

6 Acts To Check Out

Whether you track them down 
for a live show or pick up one of 
their recordings, here are six locals 
to check out.

Matt Smith

Guitar jazz that can go from 
smooth and cool as a perfect ice 
cube to ripping and shredding like Jimmy Page in an instant. Pick up a copy of his “Now or Never” CD for a treat. Check out Matt Smith live for 
an even better one.

The 1 Oz. Jig

As they say, 1 Oz. Jig “puts the fun back in funk” was voted Best Funk Band this year for the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards. Check out The 1 Oz. Jig — along with many others — on the Fayetteville 2011 Compilation Album, created by the Jig’s own Jeff Kearney.

Big Bad Gina

The women of Big Bad Gina — 
Renee Janski, Melodie Griffis and 
Jori Costello — always bring out a 
loyal following ready to party 
wherever they go. Check out these talented musicians on their aptly named “Amazon Warrior Princess.”

Earl & Them

How can you pass up a chance to hear the legendary Earl Cate playing alongside Jimmy Thackery, RJ Mischo, Dave Renko, Mike Murray, Terry Cagle and Jason Davis. It might not be java, but you’ll definitely wake up for the just released “Special Blend.”

Randall Shreve 
& the Sideshow

Vaudeville rock. Yeah, that’s 
right, vaudeville rock. The band just recently performed “The Entertainer” set for the final time in Fayetteville, but there’s plenty to look forward 
to with the anticipated release 
of “The Jester” in October. Watch 
for a chance to see this spectacular act perform live once the CD comes out.

Cletus Got Shot

The acoustic group — Adam Cox, Nathan Miller and Mark Landry is an unrelenting slap of bluegrass and punk across your face that’ll leave you beginning for more. (Please, sir, may I have another?) Check out “Unamerican” for some powerful protest songs and calls to action.

Categories: Music
Tags: featured