It’s A Small World For Music

It’s A Small World For Music

Arkansas favorites among bands on AACLive! season


Ezra Idlet and Keith Grimwood might as well have been singing “It’s a Small World After All” at Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance in Taos, N.M., last weekend. Trout Fishing in America took the stage just before Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines — actually, they did a song together. As part of the upcoming Artist, Audience & Community Live! season in Fort Smith, Grimwood and Idlet will perform in October, followed by Hendrix and Maines in December.

“Some have referred to this music series as ‘the best musical artists you’ve never heard of,’” says Rob Goodfellow, president of AACLive! this year. “Many, if not most, have won Grammy Awards or been Grammy-nominated. They are typically not artists you would find playing in a club setting. [Production manager] Tom Ware does a wonderful job of mixing it up; the genres, styles, male and female vocals, band size, etc.

“Every season is diverse and eclectic,” he adds. “The secret sauce in the original model was the routing. Shows are typically on weeknights, and we usually try to get them while they are passing through the area, say from Nashville to Tulsa or Memphis to Austin. That makes it affordable for us, and it’s a booking for the artists. It’s a win-win.”

Of course, for Trout Fishing in America, Fort Smith is just an hour over the mountain from home — if the duo were ever actually at home in the Fayetteville area. The schedule for the next few months will take them to Austin, Texas; Shreveport, La.; Belle Plaine, Kan.; Columbia, Md.; Utica, N.Y.; Reading, Pa.; St. Augustine, Fla.; and Memphis, Tenn., with brief stops at home for the AACLive! concert and two free outdoor shows Oct. 19 in Bentonville.

While the world of folk music may be intimate, the venues are as varied as they sound, and both Grimwood and Idlet love them all. In Taos, playing in front of 3,000 people isn’t unusual. The AACLive! hall seats about 110.

“I go to these big festivals and try to find the little stage, where it’s more intimate,” Grimwood says by phone from Taos. “A lot of bands are scared of that. We’re not! If you’re not sitting next to us, we’ll be out in audience with you! I love seeing 3,000 people singing along, but seeing 100 in an intimate setting like [AACLive!] is beautiful.”

It’s still not the most intimate show that TFIA has been known to play. Every summer, they travel with their audience on the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad from Alamosa, Colo., to Fir, Colo., which Grimwood says was once a town but is now a unique performance venue.

“The only way to get there is by train, horseback or hiking,” he explains. “So we all get on the train, take this beautiful ride up through the mountains in a club car that’s called the City of New Orleans, with one of the railroad owners and some of the people. We play a set, then hop back on the train, and on the way home, we always have a jam session back in the club car. It gets very lively, shall we say?”

It might be a little less boisterous at AACLive!

“We encourage a listening room environment, although we’ve also had some phenomenal acts that like to get the place shakin’,” says Goodfellow. “It depends on the show.

“The sound and the acoustics are great,” he enthuses. “I’ve seen many artists open their act, and you can almost read their mind, as if they’re thinking ‘Why am I playing this little venue?’ But then, after the crowd erupts in grateful applause, they say something like, ‘Wow, you all have a really great space here!’ And then they go on to play their hearts out.

“When the artists recognize that the audience is really paying attention to every note, they seem to dig a little deeper, and it makes for a wonderful experience. That’s when the audience becomes participants rather than just spectators.”





Sept. 19 — John Jorgenson

Oct. 10 — Trout Fishing in America

Nov. 14 — Adrian Legg

Dec, 12 — Terri Hendrix with Lloyd Maines

January — TBA

February — TBA

March — Chris Smither

WHERE — 801 Media Center in downtown Fort Smith

COST — Season tickets are $250


Categories: 'Tis the Season