LIVE! in NWA: Local Musicians Head To Memphis For Blues Challenge

LIVE! in NWA: Local Musicians Head To Memphis For Blues Challenge

From Bessie Smith to BB King, Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn., has been a beacon for the blues. Local blues men will head toward that sanctified street soon to compete in the International Blues Challenge the weekend of May 6-9. The event was rescheduled from January due to pandemic concerns.

“Everyone plays a 25-minute set on Friday and again at a different venue with different judges on Saturday. Approximately 10 acts perform at each venue each day. Scores are tallied and those scoring the highest advance to the semi-finals on Sunday. Then, those who score highest advance to the finals on Monday,” Buddy Shute explains. “There is no prize money, but the winners receive a recording contract and the opportunity to perform at festivals and other venues. … And it’s an opportunity to make friends and contacts in the blues community worldwide.” He and harmonica player Mark McGee will compete in the solo/duo category on behalf of Fort Smith Riverfront Blues Society. Jeff Horton Band of Bentonville will also compete in the band category representing the Ozark Blues Society. The weekend also includes seminars, classes and networking events.

The Jeff Horton Band and duo Buddy Shute and Mark McGee are all ready to compete in the International Blues Challenge May 6-9 in Memphis. (File Photos) The Jeff Horton Band and duo Buddy Shute and Mark McGee are all ready to compete in the International Blues Challenge May 6-9 in Memphis. (File Photos)

“Mark and I will be playing on the same street, on some of the same stages, that W.C. Handy, BB King, Carl Perkins and countless other masters performed,” Shute says. “That’s pretty cool.”

To help send Buddy and Mark McGee to Memphis, or just to buy them a round of barbecue, there is a GoFundMe account search for Buddy Shute at There’s also a tab on Buddy Shute’s website,, under the “Buddy and Mark” tab.

“We’re all very excited and proud to be going to the IBC’s. Just the opportunity to play on Beale Street in Memphis, the ‘Home of the Electric Blues’ is already a win in our book,” adds Jeff Horton, who will be competing in the Challenge for the first time. “The blues is the one of my greatest passions, it’s the music that heals and gives hope, and it’s saved my life and others’ more than once.” The group was recently selected by the Ozark Blues Society to represent them in Memphis.

There is a benefit party starting at 7 p.m. April 30 at the Meteor Guitar Gallery in Bentonville to help send the Jeff Horton Band to Memphis. Donations are also accepted at any of the band’s shows.

AMP Update

The Walmart AMP recently announced it will accept only debit or credit cards or mobile payments, including Google Pay and Apple Pay, for in-venue purchases. Concertgoers are also reminded the AMP has a clear bag policy. All bags will be screened.


• Home Sweet Home Festival kicks off April 29-30 ($30 and up) in homes all around Bentonville. Hosted by City Sessions.


• Little River Band plays at 7:30 p.m. May 7 ($5-$85) at The Auditorium in Eureka Springs, 36 S. Main St.

• 96 Miles plays at 7 p.m. April 29; The Damn Neighbors perform at 7 p.m. April 30; and The Wild Turkeys perform at 7 p.m. May 6 at Wanderoo Lodge & Bar, 216 W. Van Buren. 363-6755;

• The Going Jessies perform at 6 p.m. April 30; and Statehouse Electric plays 6 p.m. May 7 at Gotahold Brewing, 409 W. Van Buren,

• The Dirty Seconds play at 9 p.m. April 29; Jenna & Martin perform at 9 p.m. April 30; and Trevor Trula Band performs May 6 at 9 p.m. at Chelsea’s Corner Bar, 10 Mountain St. Free. 253-8231;

• Buddy Shute & the Motivators play from noon to 4 p.m. May 1 at New Dehli Cafe, 2 N. Main St.


• Mingus Big Band plays at 7 p.m. April 29 at the Walton Arts Center, 495 W. Dickson St.

• Amy & Dave with Stanley Ray Hampton perform at 7 p.m. April 29; Rebecca Jed and Megan Ramsey play at 8 p.m. April 30 at Six-Twelve Coffeehouse, 3980 W. Wedington Drive. 856-6382;

• Happy hour with Brick Fields starts at 6 p.m. April 29; a Hill Records showcase featuring Pat Ryan Key FoxpawH3ADCANNONLuke Howard with Midnight SouthAdam PosnakYRLY and Richard Neff starts at 5 p.m. May 3 ($10; free with student ID) at George’s Majestic Lounge, 519 W. Dickson St. 527-6618;

• TownHouseFire with Ted Hamming & the Campaign and Keyven Dunn play at 8 p.m. April 30; and The Rap Rock Show featuring The Dryline, Sam Price, MaeDae, Reno Mix and Bobby Williams and others starts at 8 p.m. May 7 at Nomad’s Trailside, 1863 N. Pluto Drive.

• Rival Sons play at 7:30 p.m. April 29 ($27.50); and Wheeler Walker Jr. performs at 7:30 p.m. April 30 ($25); Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit perform at 7:30 p.m. May 6 ($60 and up) at JJ’s Live, 3615 N. Steele Blvd.

• Jess Harp and Adam Faucett play May 7 at The Smoke and Barrel Tavern, 324 W. Dickson St., Suite 2.

• Deepwood Mac, a Fleetwood Mac Tribute, happens at 7 p.m. May 6 ($15-20) at Prairie Street Live, 509 W. Prairie St., Fayetteville.


• Jake Hoot plays at 8 p.m. April 29 ($12-$15); Huster Brothers Band performs at 8:30 p.m. April 30 ($8-$10); and Lainey Wilson plays at 7 p.m. May 5 ($15-20) at The Majestic, 817 Garrison Ave. 551-2424;

Black Stone Cherry performs at 7 p.m. April 30 at Temple Live, 200 N. 11th St. 222-6186;

• Jackie Darlene plays at 6 p.m. April 29 at The Bakery District, 70 S. Seventh St.

• Ruark & Sherman Connelly play at 8 p.m. April 30 at Hero’s, 1002 Garrison Ave.

• State House Electric plays at 2 p.m. April 30 during Independent Bookstore Day at Bookish, 70 S. Seventh St., Suite F, Fort Smith.


• Tim McGraw plays at at 7 p.m. April 29 ($35 and up) at the Walmart AMP, 5079 W. Northgate Road.


• The TASC (Teen Action Support Center) album release party with Jasper Logan and Matthew John starts at 6 p.m. April 29 (free show) at Fairlane Station, 108 Graham St.

Send info about your upcoming concerts and events to Monica Hooper, music editor, at

Categories: LIVE! In NWA