Sounds of Summer

What’s filling our calendars this season? These 17 musical musts


The Festival Circuit

May 31–June 13 | Hot Springs Music Festival

Who to see: Shana Norton, the Festival Trombone Choir, and more perform on Bathhouse Row at 7:30 p.m. June 6.

What to know: This is the 20th season of the concert series that brings a breadth of orchestral, choral and chamber music to Spa City. Entrance to shows ranges from free to $20.

June 4–7 | Wakarusa

Who to see: Ben Harper, The Roots, Galactic with Macy Gray, Old 97’s, Moon Taxi, Reptar

What to know: What could be better than getting funky under the sun and the stars on Mulberry Mountain? Go for two days ($109) or the full event ($204), and be sure to grab a camping, car or shower pass, depending on your plans.

June 11-27 | Artosphere

Who to see: Dover String Quartet and the Artosphere Festival Orchestra, which both play various dates and locations.

What to know: Walton Arts Center presents this lineup of concerts, interactive installations, arts activities and more scattered throughout venues in Fayetteville and the surrounding region. Tickets are free to $25.

June 13–21 | Eureka Springs Blues Week

Who to see: Earl & Them, Patrick Sweany, Kelley Hunt, Chris Thomas King, Jimmy D. Lane

What to know: What used to be a weekend music fest has been upgraded to a full week of blues. Ticket prices vary by day and venue, but a $75 weekend pass is a great deal if you plan to attend both weekends.

June 26–28 | Thunder on the Mountain

Who to see: Zac Brown Band, Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry, Eli Young Band, Sara Evans, Elise Davis

What to know: When taking a break from the nonstop lineup of country music, the hills and streams of Mulberry Mountain offer hiking, fishing, and swimming. Tickets are available in single-day and three-day options.

August 27–29 | Newton Co. Bluegrass Festival

Who to see: Traditional bluegrass and gospel groups with monikers such as Spanky and the Mountain Boys (Thursday) and the Bluegrass Martins (Saturday).

What to know: Feel free to bring your own acoustic instruments—the picnic-like atmosphere has a tendency to spark impromptu jam sessions. Tickets per day start at $8.


June 5 | Futurebirds

Stickyz, Little Rock
With a sound soaked in folksy Americana strings, layered vocal harmonies and dreamy reverb, these Athens, Georgia, indie rockers have garnered a sizable audience across the country since the release of their first album in 2010. They return to the Stickyz stage with Roadkill Ghost Choir opening the show. (Tickets $8 and up;

June 14 | Lady Antebellum

Walmart AMP, Rogers
The pop-radio-friendly country act responsible for ballads such as “Need You Now” and “Just a Kiss” makes a stop in Northwest Arkansas on their Wheels Up Tour. Country music prodigy Hunter Hayes and feel-good country-pop princess Kelsea Ballerini open for the trio. (Tickets $35 and up;

June 19 | Smashing Pumpkins

Brady Theater, Tulsa
The Smashing Pumpkins strip down their sound for this summer’s In Plainsong Tour, which features acoustic versions of the ’90s alt-rock power group’s repertoire, as well as songs from frontman Billy Corgan’s solo collection and his side project, Zwan. Korean rock band YB and Aussie country singer-songwriter Katie Cole open this show. (Tickets $44 and up;

June 20 | Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Timberwood Theater, Hot Springs
The queen of rock ‘n’ roll herself takes a break from The Who’s 50th anniversary tour to play Magic Springs’ summer concert series. Expect Jett and her backing band, The Blackhearts, to check off all their hits—think “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Do You Wanna Touch Me” and “Bad Reputation”—with the same growling ferocity that’s defined their sound for nearly four decades. (Tickets $20 and up;

July 4 | Charlie Daniels Band

Timberwood Theater, Hot Springs
Better known as the fiddler behind “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” that wailing, million-miles-a-minute ballad about a boy locking horns with the devil, 2008 Grand Ole Opry inductee Charlie Daniel brings his band to Hot Springs for this Independence Day show. (Tickets $20 and up;

July 15 | Lord Huron

Rev Room, Little Rock
After finding widespread acclaim for their lofty orchestrations and romantic lyrics following their 2012 debut—notably, that appearance on The Tonight Show—Lord Huron started on the concert and festival circuit. And, really, have yet to get off. The hazy, poppy folk sounds of Brooklyn-based Widowspeak are set to open. (Tickets $17 and up;

July 17 | Widespread Panic

Walmart AMP, Rogers
It practically goes without saying, but the sprawling lawn at the AMP is the perfect setting to lay back on a blanket and take in some tunes. And the chill tunes created by Widespread Panic—who have built their sweeping fan base on a foundation of Southern blues-rock balanced with easy-listening jams and a relentless touring schedule—seem almost tailor-made for the experience. (Tickets $31 and up;

July 27 | Eagles

Verizon Arena, North Little Rock
The Eagles return to North Little Rock, the penultimate stop on their History of Eagles Tour, which began in 2013 in conjunction with the release of the band’s documentary by the same name. But why settle for the West Coast foursome on-screen when you can sway to “Hotel California” live? (Tickets $54.50 and up;

August 4 | Jill Scott

Orpheum Theatre, Memphis, Tennessee
Actor, poet, model—Jill Scott is all of these, but she’s perhaps best known as a three-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter. The R&B artist found fame with her debut, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1—a double platinum album—and has since added the likes of Common, The Roots and Will Smith to her resume. (Tickets $59.50 and up;

August 17 | Sam Smith

Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie, Texas
In less than a year, soulful pop crooner Sam Smith captivated the entire globe with breakout hits “Stay With Me” and “I’m Not the Only One.” This show near Dallas is the last of only 20 North American tour dates for the Englishman. Who’s ready for a road trip? (Tickets $45 and up;

August 27 | Pokey LaFarge

South on Main, Little Rock
St. Louis-based singer-songwriter Pokey LaFarge brings his retro-yet-fresh takes on ragtime, swing, country and jazz to Little Rock as part of Oxford American’s 2015-16 lineup at South on Main. Curious for a taste? His latest album, Something In the Water, was released in April. (Tickets $17 and up;

We’ve Got questions; Ryan Harris Has Answers

In which we ask South on Main’s program director to muse on summer tunes

What’s the best outdoor summer music venue in Arkansas?
Can’t beat the setting at Wildwood—but I love the funkiness of The Bernice Garden.

Three artists/bands you think are overdue a visit (or return trip) to Arkansas?
John McLaughlin, Lucinda Williams, Adrian Belew.

Current favorite local musicians?
Adam Faucett, Bonnie Montgomery, Epiphany Morrow, Bad Match, Chris Parker and Kelley Hurt. Amasa Hines should,
with a little luck, break out nationally this year.

Best concert you saw recently?
I thought Dirty Dozen’s show at South on Main in March was great—they are consistently so much fun.
Favorite out-of-state road-trip destination for good music?
Nashville or New Orleans; also love some places in Cleveland, and my home, St. Louis.

If you could book anyone at South on Main, who would it be?
Living: Ry Cooder. Deceased: Ella and Duke? Miles and Coltrane? Robert Johnson?