This weekend brings the most great live music that we've had packed into one weekend in months, with stellar bands playing at several venues both nights. Following are my picks for the best shows each night:
Ever heard of JJ Grey & Mofro, or the band called Lettuce? How about Galactic or the Grateful Dead? Or The New Mastersounds, or Gov't Mule?
If you like any of these groups, you will love the soulful, uptempo, blues-rock sounds coming out of Squid and Whale Pub on Friday night as Kansas City-based groove-rock/jamband Brother Bagman takes the stage.
The four-piece band features a classic-R&B groove as it moves smoothly through tracks ranging in genre from jam to blues, from rock to soul. And the keyboards -- which sound a lot like an old organ on their most recent album -- add a depth and spirited energy to this band that most four-pieces lack, honestly.
The group plays a mix of originals and covers, with their favorite covers coming from such well-known bands as Widespread Panic, the Allman Brothers, JJ Grey & Mofro and Gov't Mule.
Brother Bagman has been together six years and has played dozens of festivals, including Wakarusa four times and Yonder Mountain String Band Harvest Festival last fall.
Music critics in and around their hometown are also big fans.
Alternative weekly paper The Pitch, based in Kansas City, wrote about the group: "With its debut indie release, 'notorious b.a.g.,' Brother Bagman borrows from the same 'unclassifiable' playbook as many of its improv-oriented compatriots. But the tale of the tape tells a different story. This album has a number of overt, and covert influences, with obvious nods going to the Southern-fried style of Widespread Panic and the North Mississippi Allstars. ... It's unusual to find a freshman group with this focus, especially when influences too often keep aspiring artists from spreading their own wings -- but these brothers apparently know their bag, man."
More recently, the critic at NewsPressNow.com in St. Joseph, Mo., wrote: "When Brother Bagman entered the 2010 International Blues Competition in Kansas City, ... they mostly saw it as a good chance to reach a new audience. But the Kansas City jam band did more than just win over a bunch of new fans: They nearly won the thing, bringing home second place. While the roots-groove rockers recently put out a solid studio effort in 'Rise Above,' bassist Cliff Moore says Brother Bagman is a band best experienced live. He likens the emotional, dynamic experience the band tries to build at each show to a thrilling roller coaster ride, with peaks and valleys of sound and energy. 'If you can't dance to something or you can't feel it, then there's not much use in playing the music,' Moore says."
To listen to some of the band's music, visit www.reverbnation.com/brotherbagman.
Brother Bagman's show at Squid and Whale begins around 9 p.m. Friday. No admission charge; ages 21 and up.
(P.s. If hillbilly-foot-stomping Ozarks party music is more your thing, my recommendation for Friday night is Ben Miller Band at Chelsea's. I saw them on New Year's Eve and they blew me away. For more about them, check out a blog I wrote about the previously at CarrollCoNews.com/blogs/livemusicinnwa/entry/48884.)
Saturday will bring a whole different kind of dance groove to Eureka Springs as the locally based group Fossils of Ancient Robots headlines a 9 p.m. show at Chelsea's Corner Cafe & Bar. Opening up at 7 p.m. is a group called Forever Blowing Bubbles.
Fossils of Ancient Robots, if you've never seen them live, puts on an AMAZING show -- full of energy, great lyrics and vocals, and a heavy synthesizer-driven rhythm that reminds me of what might happen if A-Ha (you know, 1980s hit "Take On Me") listened to Ghostland Observatory or STS9 a whole lot and then recorded a new album or went on tour again. LOL! They also remind me a lot of The Polish Ambassador, and even the Scissor Sisters in some ways.
I cannot stress enough how fun and contagiously energetic this group's music is.
KXUA's station manager had this to say about the group after their premiere there earlier this year:
"Who knew there was synth-pop dark disco band homegrown and active in Arkansas? Also surprising was the epic length of their performance, with a seemingly endless supply of instrumental and vocal material. The six songs collected on the EP 'Dead Letters' exhibit diverse styles, some more successfully executed than others, but still a promising beginning to this area's most unique band."
Their show at Chelsea's is open to ages 21 and up; admission is $5.
* Chelsea's, 10 Mountain St., 479-253-6723: Jazz Night, 9 p.m.
* Squid and Whale, 37 Spring St., 479-253-7147: Open Mic Musical Smackdown featuring Bloody Buddy and Friends, 7:30 p.m.
* Berean Coffee House, 4032 E. Van Buren, 479-244-7495: Live music, 7 p.m.
* Cathouse / Pied Piper, 82 Armstrong St., 479-363-9976: Chooch, 8 p.m.
* Chaser's, 169 E. Van Buren, 479-253-5522: DJ, 9 p.m.
* Chelsea's: Ben Miller Band, 9 p.m.
* Eureka Live!, 35 N. Main St., 479-253-7020: DJ & Dancing 9 p.m. to close
* The Lumberyard, 104 E. Van Buren: The Dirty Roots, 8 p.m.
* New Delhi Cafe, 2 N. Main St., 479-253-2525: Acoustic guitarist, 6:30 p.m.
* Rowdy Beaver Den, 45 Spring St., 479-363-6444: John Harwood, 7 p.m.
* Rowdy Beaver Tavern, 417 W. Van Buren, 479-253-8544: Ladies Night, 7 p.m.
* Squid & Whale: Brother Bagman, 8 p.m.
* Voulez-Vous Lounge, 63A Spring St., 479-363-6595: Closed until Jan. 17.
* Cathouse / Pied Piper: Chooch, 8 p.m.
* Chaser's: DJ, 9 p.m.
* Chelsea's: Fossils of Ancient Robots with Forever Blowing Bubbles, 7 p.m.
* Eureka Live!: DJ & Dancing 9 p.m. to close
* New Delhi Cafe: Springbilly, 6:30 p.m.
* Rowdy Beaver Den: Skillet Lickers, 7 p.m.
* Rowdy Beaver Tavern: Karaoke with Tiny, 7 p.m.
* Squid and Whale: Matt Reeves Band, 8 p.m.
* Voulez-Vous Lounge: Closed until Jan. 17.
* Chelsea's: Tilford Sellers and the Wagon Burners with Chucky Waggs, 6 to 10 p.m.
* Eureka Live!: Customer Appreciation Night specials 5 p.m. to close
* New Delhi Cafe: Live music, 1 to 4 p.m.
* Squid and Whale: "Local Kine" Local Musicians Showcase, 7 p.m.
* Chelsea's: Springbilly, 9 p.m.
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Lively Entertainment is written and complied by Managing Editor Kristal Kuykendall. Deadline for venues to submit their events for inclusion is noon Mondays. Events should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or phoned in to 479-981-9419 by noon Monday each week. Kuykendall also writes Kristal's Northwest Arkansas Live Music Blog, which includes video and song clips of band she previews each weekend, as well as additional previews and recommendations of major, not-to-be-missed live concerts throughout the region. The blog is at www.CarrollCoNews.com/blogs/livemusicinn....