Covering festivals can be dirty business, so it always helps to show up prepared for anything! From center stage to late-night campground parties, here are a few concert essentials I’ll never wristband up without! *this post contains affiliate links* Pelikus Felt Purse & Tote Organizer Insert / Multi-Pocket Handbag Shaper (Medium–Slender, Red) When you’re living the tote life, it’s impossible to stay organized without a little extra help. I use a combination of ipsy pouches and this handy bag insert to keep my blogging & beauty gear separated and easy to sort through. View on Amazon Peaches & Petals | Monthly Lifestyle Box I’m a proud subscriber to Peaches & Petals monthly glam box simply so I can stock up on fun flirty jewelry, scarves, and accessories that always seem to come in handy over the summer. In the past I’ve gotten hammocks that easily tie up between cars in the campgrounds, notebooks, pens, cooling cloths, sunglasses, sun cover-ups and so much more that I continue to treat myself all year long! View on Peaches & Petals Ipsy Beauty Bag | 5 Beauty Products. $10/Month. Free Shipping. The sample and travel-sized cosmetics, cleaners, and fragrances that ipsy sends are perfect for packing up a bare-essentials beauty pouch to get you through a festival without lugging along your whole bathroom cabinet, and the little bags they come in are cute to boot! View on ipsy.com Tim And Ted Bad Decisions Make Good Stories Be Wild Festival Shopping Carrier Tote Bag Soft, washable, and convenient, a canvas tote is the perfect all-weather festival friend!View on Amazon NFASHIONSO Women’s Chiffon Bikini Swimwear Printed Bathing Suit Cover Up Capture the breeze, but not the burn! I always keep a sheer cover-up in my festival bag to protect my skin when the sun starts to scorch. Just because there’s a Phoenix on my back doesn’t mean today is burning day! View on Amazon MIRA 40 Oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Wide Mouth Water Bottle | Thermos Keeps Cold for 24 hours, Hot for 12 hours | Double Walled The key to a good time is feeling good the whole time, and at a festival the fastest way to finish early is by getting sunsick and dehydrated, so I keep a wide-mouth refillable insulated water bottle with me at all times, and fill it with icewater every chance I get. View on Amazon PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer Portable Bottles – 1 oz. Variety Pack Travel Sized Jelly Wrap Bottles (Case of 8) You know nobody wants to come home with the festiflu! I keep one of these strapped to my bag through all the meet & greets and communal campgrounds all through festival season and manage to come out clean!View on Amazon Plugable Bluetooth Headset (Neckband, In-Ear, Audio EQ, Built-in Mic) When you’re camping on the festival grounds, tuning out the neighbor’s noise an be a real challenge. I like to pop in a pair of earbuds for my morning run and while I finish up articles covering Continue reading May Gift Guide: Concert and Festival Essentials
The Life I’ve Picked: A Banjo Player’s Nitty Gritty Journey recently came across my desk and from the moment I picked it up, I couldn’t put it back down. The raw honestly and humor John McEuen recounts his experiences with make his story read more like a friend regaling tales from a party last weekend rather than the boring punchlist of timelined events so many biographies can slip into. But don’t take my word for it… here’s an excerpt straight from the book: It’s hard to stay depressed in the Apple. I could pick up my mood just by walking the streets. The years on York and 88th were great in many ways, although I was further away from the rest of my family than ever before. That made it difficult emotionally, but made it extra exciting when anyone visited. Marilyn always made it great when they came to see us. I knew some things could happen in my life and career just by being conveniently based in The City. Right off, I got a call to sing and play with fifty goats, a cow, and twenty kids for a Sesame Street music video of “Oh, Susanna!” The shoot, on a Long Island farm, was incredibly cool. It was my first video where I had to lip-synch the singing, which was exciting. We recorded the song at about eight in the morning, shot that afternoon, and we were done! Next. Soon after, I guested on All Night with Joey Reynolds, his famous late-night talk show on WOR-FM. That led to about twenty more times over the ensuing five years, bringing along Matt Cartsonis, David Amram, Martha Redbone, and Jon Mark Fletcher—all great musicians with whom I’ve worked regularly in the new century—and whomever else I could entice to go to lower Manhattan after midnight. I was exploring new music and people for hopeful use in the near future. It was like rehearsing on the radio. During one show I even interviewed the great Les Paul, who was a pioneer both musically and technologically. Immortalized by Gibson’s iconic Les Paul guitar, I asked which invention was his favorite. He said, “They’re like children. I love them all!” I had seen him play and shook his hand at the famed Iridium on Broadway two years earlier, when he was only ninety-two. The intimate and often funny first-hand telling of a Nitty Gritty tale. John McEuen give readers his perspective of a life in music as a member of the legendary Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a solo artist, studio musician, and radio personality, and it’s a must-read any aspiring musician. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oR-jCH_WsWo
Corey Smith Ends A 10-Day Run At George’s. This past Saturday, May 4, Corey Smith played George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville. It was the day after dead-day for the University of Arkansas and the last show of Smith’s 10-day run on the road. Of course the crowd wasn’t strictly Razorback co-eds, as George’s pulls fans from all over Northwest Arkansas, the River Valley, Oklahoma and Missouri. But no matter where people came from, they were all there to have a good time and enjoy Smith’s music. Andy Frasco opened the show and definitely had the crowd pumped and ready to go. Smith took the stage a little after 10:30pm and entertained with his hits “If I Could Do It Again,” “Twenty-One,” “Maybe Next Year,” “Drinkin’ Again,” “Party” and more! The best part of seeing one of Smith’s shows, in my opinion, is singing along and dancing with your friends (and usually some complete strangers, or “friends for the night” as I like to call them). Everyone suddenly has a kinship when yelling “and they wonder why folks don’t trust ’em no more.” Before the show, I had a little time to talk with Smith about his upcoming Grand Ole Opry debut. He will perform Saturday, May 18. “I’m excited, it’s a feather in my cap, a milestone,” Smith said. “It was always a dream of mine to play the Opry and my grandparents see it.” Y’all be sure to watch and see which two songs Smith will play with the Opry band in a few, short weeks!
Stoney LaRue At George’s Majestic Lounge. Last Thursday Stoney LaRue played George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It was a fun time, with great music and awesome company! LaRue played some of his classics, some songs from Velvet and a few covers. I have been a fan of LaRue for many, many years now, and I believe he has one of the best voices there is. He is one of those that you can see again and again, and still be impressed by his talents. His set list that night included “Texas Moon,” “Look At Me Fly,” “One Chord Song,” “Down In Flames,” “Feet Don’t Touch The Ground,” “Velvet” and more! It’s hard for me to pick a favorite song performance from the night, but he obviously never disappoints with “Oklahoma Breakdown.” But as far as I’m concerned he KILLS it when he does “Te Amo Mas Que La Vida!” I’m not sure if it is his Spanish skills or what, but I always have the best time dancing and singing to it! I definitely recommend everyone catch one of his shows soon. It is sure to be a night full of singing, dancing, laughter and fun! If you’re in or around the Fayetteville area, come out to George’s for Corey Smith this Saturday (5/4)!
Eric Church Brings His Rock and Roll Country LIVE to London – Show Review. If you are a country music fan living in the UK, or know any, it will have been hard to escape the buzz that has been building leading up the Eric Church live show for months. But it was no ordinary country gig buzz; this is the first time he has ever played in the UK, following the fast increasing line-up of acts who have suddenly visited this side of the Atlantic in the past twelve months. Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, The Band Perry, and the inaugural Country to Country festival; yet for many Church was the first less commercial (but still mainstream) country artist to visit, and that was important. There was no support act, so excited fans filled the theater, waiting (perhaps impatiently), until 8:45pm when Eric graced the stage, although they enjoyed screaming at the various sound guys who milled about beforehand. Eric began with ‘Creepin’’, which really got the crowd going, singing along enthusiastically and holding their hands and drinks in the air. About half of the songs played were from his award-winning 2011 album Chief, but he made sure to include older tracks from his previous two albums, like ‘Pledge Allegiance To The Hag’, ‘Lotta Boot Left To Fill’ (which was a huge crowd pleaser in particular), ‘How ‘Bout You’ and ‘These Boots’. During this song half the standing section of the audience took off one boot and held it in the air, two people even throwing theirs on stage. Continuing in the revelry, Eric held the boots in the air during the remainder of the song, and then signed them before throwing them back, no doubt really making someone’s day! Eager and fully enjoying themselves, the crowd were really behind Eric during the show, getting 100% involved in tracks like ‘Keep On’, ‘Sinners Like Me’ and ‘Drink In My Hand’. In response, Eric barely stopped grinning, and seemed genuinely surprised and ecstatic when the audience were screaming every word, a sea of movement as they danced. Although deciphering his Southern drawl was difficult at times when he spoke to the crowd (the microphone blurred his words) he was very interactive, riling everyone up into a huge party, although he kept simply talking to the crowd a minimum, focusing on the music and getting as many songs in as possible. The band disappeared for the acoustic set, that included the 2013 ACMs version of ‘Like Jesus Does’, which was beautiful, and ‘Two Pink Lines’. It really showed Eric’s prowess as a genuine country musician behind all of the crashing guitars and drums, that sometimes gets lost. The atmosphere throughout was incredible, and was brought to an absolute peak when he performed the final song of the night, ‘Springsteen’. I have known nothing like it at any gig I have been to, and many I spoke to afterwards said it was the best show they’d ever seen. Every member of Continue reading Eric Church at The Forum, London, April 2013 – Review
Little Big Town Brings The Tornado Tour To Northwest Arkansas. Last Friday The Amp kicked off their concert season with the ACM award winning Vocal Group of the Year, Little Big Town. The night was a little chilly, but that didn’t keep the fans away! David Nail opened the show and performed “Red Light,” “Let It Rain,” “Turning Home” and more. He even threw a Brooks and Dunn cover in there that really had the crowd going. Probably the most exciting part of Nail’s set was when he played “Whatever She’s Got.” Nail said this was his new single that should be hitting radio in the near future, so y’all be sure to keep your ears open for that one. Little Big Town basically blew me away with their performance. I had never seen a show with theatrics like I did Friday. It wasn’t too much, just on one song, but it was really, really awesome! The song was “Tornado” and they really made it seem like a tornado was brewing on that stage! There was lightening and wind and fake rain and Karen Fairchild looked amazing in her black, fringed jacket, almost like a pretty tornado herself! It was awesome. LBT of course sang “Pontoon” with the help of the crowd. Everyone was singing every word, wishing it was warm enough to be on a boat right that second. They opened with “Pavement Ends” and ended with “Boondocks.” The party never settled down in between, even during the slow songs like “Your Side of the Bed,” “Shut Up Train,” “Self Made,” “Can’t Go Back” and “Bring It on Home.” LBT told the crowd about their online videos they call “Scattered, Smothered & Covered.” They are videos of songs that are NOT country, but LBT puts their own touch on them (along with some upright bass and banjo) to make them country. That night they gave us Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and let me tell you it was pretty freaking cool! They played my favorites “A Little More You” and “I’m With the Band,” then rocked The Amp crowd with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” I’m telling you, these guys are the real deal. I have always liked Little Big Town, but I walked away from this show a true fan. To me, that’s what live shows are all about…bands entertaining the crowd and proving just how talented they are. You can check out our photos from the show on Facebook! Congrats to The Amp for a successful first show! Check in with them for more upcoming concerts, and be on the lookout for more acts to be added to this concert season right here in Northwest Arkansas!
The Lone Bellow: Cry, Dance, Smile and Shout…Live From Memphis, TN! I’ve been listening to The Lone Bellow for quite a few months now. “You Never Need Nobody” is one of those songs I sing in my car on every commute home. A unique blend of country, folk and gospel, the trio’s heartfelt melodies pull you in and simply won’t leave you alone. If I had to describe this band in one word, it would be “emotional.” It’s rare to come across music that triggers such a wide range of feelings. Every song on their self-titled, debut album makes you want to cry as hard as you can, dance as much as you can, smile as big as you can and shout as loud as you can – all at the same time. I was blessed with the opportunity to see trio, made up of lead singer Zach Williams, guitarist Brian Elmquist and mandolin player Kanene Pipkin, in an intimate setting at 1884 Lounge in Memphis, Tennessee. Elmquist and Pipkin, also vocalists, harmonize with Williams in a way that makes you wonder how three people who are so musically compatible managed to find one another. My favorite concerts have always been the kind where you can literally reach out and touch the artist. This was one of those concerts. There were moments when I closed my eyes and forgot where I was. There were moments of dancing and there were moments of tears. I guess you could say I was all kinds of emotional, and I wasn’t the only one. Aside from their stunning execution, my favorite thing about The Lone Bellow’s performance was that you could feel the raw emotion radiating from their vocal chords and fingertips. What’s more, after the show, the band was much obliged to chat with their fans, sign autographs and take photos. They were approachable and relatable. It’s quite apparent that they love what they do and appreciate those who feel the same way. If you haven’t heard The Lone Bellow, please do yourself a favor and do so – right now. I guarantee you will be crying, dancing, smiling and shouting before you know it. Brittany is a guest contributor! Find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/beedab or Twitter, @BrittanyBigfish.
Kacey Musgraves Delivers with Debut Same Trailer Different Park Album! There is a lot of real, solid talent on the country music scene, but even in this sea of amazing folks, there are clear stand outs. Kacey Musgraves with her debut album release Same Trailer Different Park is one of those individuals that was quite simply born to shine. Her first single “Merry Go Round” was a runaway success with a Billboard peak at 14 and current spot of 16 on the Hot Country Songs chart, and like that single this album is honest, smart, original, well written and beautifully composed. As a Texan, I’m probably biased, but Musgraves has that strength, raw energy and authenticity that we consistently hear from the Texas-centric country artists, and I am just blown away by her. All I can say is look out country, because Kacey is here to take you by storm! Top 5 Best Things About Kacey Musgraves Debut Album. 1. Refreshing perspective. Musgraves has her finger on the pulse of the heartbreak that runs through country music, but she approaches it in an altogether modern way. The sentiment may be familiar, but the message is brand new. 2. Beautiful lyrics like this: “If you want to find the honey, you can’t be scared of the bees. If you want to see the forest, you’re gonna have to look past the trees.” -Silver Lining (Track 1) 3. Soft delivery of strong words. Kacey doesn’t (and shouldn’t!) hold back in sharing her POV, but she does it with such a kind voice that it all goes down smooth without losing any poignancy. 4. The use of Harmonica on “My House.” There is a lot of great instrumentation on this album, but for some reason this element in this song in particular delighted me! 5. Witty and insightful observations like this: “Whatever gets you high will always bring you down.” -Step Off (Track 7) Listen to Samples from Kacey Musgraves Same Trailer Different Park Album! Same Trailer Different Park Complete Track Listing. 1. Silver Lining 2. My House 3. Merry Go ‘Round 4. Dandelion 5. Blowin’ Smoke 6. I Miss You 7. Step Off 8. Back On The Map 9. Keep It To Yourself 10. Stupid 11. Follow Your Arrow 12. It Is What It Is Musgraves has toured with country mainstays like Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, and Lady Antebellum, and you can currently find her on select dates with Kenny Chesney’s No Shoes Nation 2013 Tour! Keep up with her on her official website and of course, Twitter!
Clint Black At The Van Buren School District Fine Arts Center. This past Saturday (March 2nd) I got the chance to watch Clint Black in Van Buren, Arkansas! The show began with Black and his guitar. He played a handful of songs, and then the band he has been touring with since 1987 joined him on stage. “It’s all about the songs and stories tonight,” Black said. “Don’t be waiting on the dance productions and wardrobe changes, cause there won’t be any.” The night was complete with some of Black’s biggest hits (“Killin’ Time,” “Like The Rain,” “Something That We Do,” “When My Ship Comes In” and more) , as well as some new material (“Better and Worse“). In between each song, Black gave the audience some background information on how each one came to be. He was also full of jokes on Saturday. He kept the evening lively and comical. Black gave Van Buren a real show when he stood up for his performance of “Been There.” He used the whole stage to sing to every corner of the room and play the heck out of his harmonica. Black ended the show with “A Better Man” and his fans, including me, thanked him with a standing ovation. I grew up on Clint Black and thoroughly enjoyed every second of the show. There isn’t another voice like his, and I can’t wait to purchase his next record, whenever that might be. “I’ve been working on a new album for about 7 years,” Black said. “It should be ready in a couple more.” Look below for more Clint Black tour dates and catch a show near you soon!
Review: The Eli Young Band & Backroad Anthem Live In Fayetteville, Ark. The Eli Young Band performed at The Fayetteville Town Center in Razorback country earlier this month, and the house was packed with EYB fans ready to belt out some “Crazy Girl” Before the main act took the stage, though, Backroad Anthem primed the crowd up good! Backroad Anthem is a local, Arkansas band who have recently gained an impressive following in a short time. They know how to get a party started in about 35 seconds and keep the energy rocking during their entire set. They do some more recent hits justice like “She’s Country,” “Wanted,” “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” and “Cruise.” But I myself was impressed when I heard “Ain’t Goin’ Down ‘Til The Sun Comes Up” and “Devil Went Down To Georgia.” I was super excited when it came time for the Texas boys to hit the stage. I have been a fan of this band for many years, and when they played some of their older material, the memories came flooding in. You really can’t beat “So Close Now” and “Oklahoma Girl.” EYB also played “Guinevere,” “Always the Love Songs,” “Radio Waves,” and the ones that made them go from regional to stardom in what seems overnight, “Crazy Girl” and “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” The boys ended with a very energetic performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps.” As soon as the concert was over, many attendees made their way to George’s Majestic Lounge on Dickson Street for the official after-party, and a special thanks goes out to the George’s crew for bringing EYB and other great acts to Fayetteville, AR! To sum the night up, “A good time was had by all.”