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ACAC Takes me Way Back December 16, 2008

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OK, while you yay-hoos were tucked ‘neath the blankets last night Fearing the Sleeter, CheckOneTwo laced up his Docs and braved the elements.   Hope you enjoyed the cheese dip and Magnum P.I. reruns.   Whilst you were snoggin’ yer sweetie or counting the sugarplums, I had me a big ole ice-drenched punk rock night in the new space for Arkansas Community Arts Cooperative.

This is a great space, perfect for this kind of thing.  Takes me way back to my days as a skater kid at Kierre Hall in Levy, catching bands like Rhythm Pigs and such.  Think big warehouse, no stage, plenty of room, makeshift bar.  ACAC is now located in the Gallery B building on Rodney Parham, and you should go there to support these guys.

Who better to strike the first notes in this space than Little Rock’s own The Chicklettes?  This foursome is loud, snotty and rude, just the way you like it.   Nothing could be finer than drinking cheap beers while listening to girls scream about “going to the prom with a nitroglycerin bomb” or encouraging us to “hang Barry Manilow” while attempting (unsuccessfully) to incinerate a Manilow album cover.    Judging from the between-song patter, the band is (1) armed, (2) tired of violence against women, and (3) encouraging armed female insurrection.  Oh, and they may also be PMS’ing.   Be warned.

Straight outta Milwaukee, next up was Holy Shit!  Yes, they came from Milwaukee, where they have real ice and snow, and you couldn’t be bothered to make it out?  These guys didn’t waste the trip with shoegazing.  Oh no.  They launched into 165-mph sonic warfare, bouncing around the space like golf balls in a paint can.   Lead screamer Tabman (starting off with the aforementioned burned Barry Manilow album cover as a mask) hurled himself screaming around the space like a man being ass-scalded by fire ants.   Good thing he moved fast, b/c Mighty Big Bassist Anthony was ping-ponging around swinging his bass like a scythe.  Careful, boy, you’ll put somebody’s eye out.   Set was way too short–like 30 songs in 15 minutes short.  I stepped out for some air and it was over.  Come back sometime, HS.

The Thing That Always Explodes (locals) finished things up.  I’m personally not feeling it with these guys yet.  Guitarist/vocalist Andy Burns comes at his instrument like the secret bastard child of Greg Ginn, which I respect, but they seemed a bit off last night.  In fairness, I left after the first fifteen or twenty minutes.  Hopefully it got better.

Importantly:  the new ACAC space is great.  It’s worthy of your support.    Don’t be afraid to venture a few miles away from downtown.  We live in Little Rock–pretty much everything is within 8 miles of everything else.   All ages, all the time.




Hallowe’en Weekend, w/photos AND video November 6, 2008

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Forgiveness requested, but life has been happening and getting in the way of CheckOneTwo posts lately.  Trying to pick up and get back into it. 

Hallowe’en weekend was a jumbled shepherd’s pie of costumes, candy, music, hops, barley, backyard fire, trips to funkytown (and back), sugar skulls, a near fistfight, and a certain someone getting dragged out of a particular tavern.  In other words, it was your basic weekend (for Dirty Sean).

Musical highlights started early with  Thursday’s Kyoto Boom show (opening for Ready the Jet).  This band is getting so tight that it’s practically unfair when they are the opening act.  You just want to go all Adrienne Balboa and yell STOP THE FIGHT! STOP THE FIGHT!!  I continue to predict tremendous things for Kyoto Boom.   If they ever get around to putting out an album, it’s the kind that I’ll buy multiple copies of to give as gifts. 

Friday was the Arkansas Community Arts Cooperative’s annual Hallowe’en Cover-up at Vino’s, with a great lineup:  The Moving Front as The Clash, Juggernaut Glitch as The Roots, Speedo Slay as Bikini Kill and Das Gift as Pink Floyd (complete with lasers and three kids on “Another Brick in the Wall”).  Pretty good night–TMF just KILLED, and I utterly dug the Bikini Kill set–but it had kind of a weird order.   It went The Roots/The Clash/Bikini Kill/Pink Floyd.  WTF?  No disrespect to Das Gift, but ending that way kind of put a sleepy mellow cap on an otherwise funky/punky night.   CheckOneTwo would have recommended ending with The Clash. 

If you’d like to see video of The Moving Front as The Clash, check it out at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDeX_HaF9ew

Saturday:  Whitewater Tavern:  Grand Serenade as Nirvana, The Good Fear as Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and The Moving Front reprising their role as The Clash.  Great times, good tunes, and a healthy rowdy crowd. 

Pics below, starting with The Moving Front as The Clash.



The Good Fear as Six Tom Pettys and a Heartbreaker


CheckOneTwo as Dirty, Dirty Coal


Das Gift as Pink Floyd


Jeff Lynne & Siouxsie Sioux

WTF was that??? August 26, 2008

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CheckOneTwo ventured out last night for Thick Syrup’s Monday show at Sticky Fingerz, featuring Robert Abbott, The Weisenheimers, and Ginsu Wives.   The first two came strong, for sure (thanks for the t-shirt, Weisenheimers!), but after watching Ginsu Wives my memory of their performances are a bit muddled.

It’s hard to explain properly to one who hasn’t seen Ginsu Wives live, but I’m gonna try.  Hmm.  OK, what if you took Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons, stripped him down to nothing but boxers, handed him a mic and told him to get his guttural/falsetto/Zack de la Rocha/multi-effect shriek on?  And then paired him with a beefed-up keyboardist who manages to conjure what I think it would sound like if EMF was being gang-raped by the ghost of Frank Zappa to the soundtrack of Natural Born Killers?  Then, for a final touch, throw in some guitar/bass/drum lines that give the whole thing the feel of a teenaged rhino herd rehearsing its new screamo act in your living room?

Yeah, I think that pretty much sums it up. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean I hated it.  I didn’t.  It was utterly mesmerizing.  Sideshow Bob gave it about a thousand percent, flailing his pale, nearly-naked, nearly-hairless body about the stage with the abandon of a guy trying out his new DIY Home Self-Exorcism Kit.  He seemed to be utterly without self-consciousness, a kid who got out of the shower, realized no one was home, cranked the bedroom stereo, grabbed a hairbrush/microphone and WENT AFTER IT. 

Frankly, I wasn’t ready for this to end.  Ginsu Wives…whoa.  Straight Outta Conway.

NOTES:  Robert Abbott’s CD release party for Uneventful is tonight at Counterpoint…The Weisenheimers are still planning to release their self-titled CD sometime soon (c’mon!)…Ginsu Wives are putting together a tour with most dates TBA but in Texas Oct 24 and 25, and at the Lazer Puzzy’s PUZZYWEEN COSTUME PARTY Oct 31.

Conway–The Rebirth of Slick August 23, 2008

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OK, is the Armageddon nigh?  Did I just spend an evening in Conway, having a good Italian meal at a real restaurant, then heading up to the rooftop of said restaurant to order wine and watch actual real live black people play crazy jazz ‘neath the stars?  In Conway??

Yes I did!

Much love to Conway for shaking off most of its 19th Century mores and gettin’ after it.  Last night: dinner at Michelangelo’s and music upstairs by Rodney Block & The Real Music Lovers.   CheckOneTwo was utterly blown away by this bunch:  Block on mad trumpet, Oliver Thomas on bass (standup and six string), Michael Chandler on drums, Sam Carroll just killin’ it on keys…with DJ Swift on the side and an older white guy named Gil on guitar.  Deadly combination.

I’m telling you, this was the place to be last night.  Rodney Block is simply devastating on the trumpet.  I’ve never heard anyone even close to his level.  Block and his group brought the serious funky jazz, adding their own spicy flavorings to the mix all night long.  My highlight moment was when Block threw in a coupla trumpet lines from the Notorious B.I.G. just for kicks.  The additional highlight involved Block gettin’ his Pied Piper on and leading a bunch of tipsy white women around the rooftop in a spontaneous trumpeting conga line.  Alcohol is just what Conway needed, my friends. 

Word around the campfire is that Block and the gang are going to try and make this a monthly event.  Stay tuned, and get on up to Conway when you get a chance.  Next scheduled gig:  at the AfterThought on the 29th.

DJ Sets are Weird July 6, 2008

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Last night, BabySham and I ventured out to the Rev Room to catch a strange combination of acts.  First up:  The Moving Front, followed by a DJ set by none other than Andy Rourke of The Smiths.  Yes, those Smiths.   Welcome to Little Rock, Andy!  It’s not that nobody’s here…we just wanted to give you plenty of elbow room.  Sheeesh.  If folks don’t come out to see a guy who was in The Smiths, on a Saturday night….well, our town gets the rep it deserves.

TMF did their usual lively set, as lively as it could be in front of virtually no one, perched at the edge of the stage in front of a raised DJ table covered in red fabric.   BabySham commented that she expected a vampire to emerge at some point.  Sadly, that didn’t happen.

I was pretty pleased that the Rev Room seemed to have conquered their sound problem (at least for one night), but not quite as pleased that no one was there to witness it.  Who will believe me when I say that the mix was good, the sound didn’t get trapped in the pit, and that I could actually hear and understand vocals?  “At the Rev Room?  P’shawwww!!”  TMF’s new stuff is getting tighter each week.  Hey fellas:  when’s the new album coming out?

TMF departed the stage, and here came Andy Rourke.  No intro, no greeting to the crowd.  Just a guy with a Mac laptop and a “Hard Rock Cafe–Manchester” t-shirt on.  Music started pumping, but CheckOneTwo wasn’t sure that he’d even started the actual set.  So, in my usual, opportunistic way, I just hopped up on the stage to chat him up, welcome him to Little Rock, etc.  No bells started ringing, no alarms ahh-ooh-gah’ing, no mad rush of security.   He seemed perfectly nice and all that.  So, I met a Smith on my birthday!  Not too shabby.  BabySham went up later, and successfully requested some Joy Division (sadly, he had no Duran Duran or Visage, but BabySham made do).

I guess there are two kinds of DJ sets.  One is a man and his turntables, scratching, mixing, blending, showing off skillz, and all that.   The other–the version from last night–is a guy playing a song off his computer, and then playing another when the first one ends, and then playing another….   It was essentially a guy–a former Smith, yeah, but still–playing selections from his iTunes.  Not a Terminator X type thing, a’tall.  As TMF’s Jeremy Brasher put it, it was Andy Rourke “on the 1s and 0s”.  Strange.  Maybe I can get that gig someday. 

Surprising, also, were the tunes that he chose.  Nice list, but I thought it might be a bit more obscure.  I picked up the following:

The Beatles

Stealers’ Wheel

The La’s

New Young Pony Club (maybe?)

The Killers

The Smiths (Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before)



The Breeders

The Who

The Cure

New Order (maybe?)

The Clash

The Kingstons


Depeche Mode

Joy Division

At any rate, it was an interesting night.  With so few folks in attendance (ahem….), it was seriously like being in my living room with a couple of friends dancing to our favorite tunes.  Odd, but nice. 

Thanks for the birthday show, fellas.  T’was memorable.  Next time, just come on over.



“Can I Get a Little More Euphonium in My Monitor?” June 26, 2008

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Dude, I’m-a have to run out and pull a con job or something.  The music I heard tonight has irresistibly pulled me into a life of high crimes and misdemeanors. 

Tonight was the debut of ECLIPSE GLASSES, a brand-new five-piece band featuring folks like Andrew Morgan (from Les Attaques, Chinese Girls), Collin Miles (late of The Moving Front), Zach Reeves &  Kyle Carpenter (via Tel Aviv) and Lorenza Harrington (one of the late, lamented Applescruffs).  Think keys, drums, guitar, bass, no vocals…and mad horns!  I’m talking about Harrington playing trumpet AND euphonium, sometimes effortlessly interchanging and playing them in the same song.  The Flag & Banner space was packed with a crowd that was feelin’ it, yours truly included.

CheckOneTwo was pretty much transported directly into a floating mental mix of 70s crime shows and modern glitzy hustle schemes.  This was definitely stellar soundtrack music, the kind that makes you want to go out and create the best movie ever just so you can lay these tracks over your impossible heist job. 

Kudos to the new combination of veteran scenesters.  Mad fun, way too short of a set, and I want to do it again.



Bleary O’Leary, Reporting for Duty May 27, 2008

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CheckOneTwo managed to cram two cookouts and three days/nights of Riverfest into a Memorial Day weekend.  My own personal salute to the men and women of our armed forces.  I hope they feel properly saluted.   Holy frijoles, I’m tired.


Epiphany & One Night Stand.  Could this bunch be any tighter?  Sweet Fancy Moses, they put on a ridiculous show Saturday night in the Arkansas Music Tent.  I’m talking about Big Piph, Gina Gee, the whole band, guest spots by Sean West, Rodney Block and Rockst*r…for about an hour and a half in the thick thick heat.  A sweaty show, fo sho, you know, but it was outstanding.  Hats off.  This may be the last year that these guys get small-staged at Riverfest.  Intensely good set.

The Moving Front blew it out on Friday night in the same tent, in even more formidable heat, and played just about every song they have in their repertoire.  I’m tellin’ ya, kids, if you weren’t there you shoulda been.  Old stuff, new stuff, and a big ole pile o’ sweaty folks.  Look out for TMF’s new CD sometime soon.

Kyoto Boom.  4:30, Saturday afternoon, in the steaming grass,after the rain…gotta call that love.  I love these guys, and they did not disappoint.  They had a pretty good crowd of emo-looking kids who were waiting for the next band and got an unexpected treat.  Best moment was when a love-struck mother-daughter act (not 7 and 27, more like 37 and 57) hopped up onstage and nearly assaulted lead singer Scott Cook.  Too much.  Scott, yer a rockstar. 

Also seen at KB:  my new true love.  She was the full hot order in the front row.  Camo shorts?  Check.  Over a bathing suit?  Ubetcha.  Gap-toothed grin?  Uh-huh.  One baby on hip, another tugging at her shorts? Right on.  Tramp stamp peeking out over the shorts!?  YES.  Cig?  Si.  Big ole jug of lemonade?  Flip flops?  Say it ain’t so…it’s SO!  My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun, boyeeee.

ZZ Top.  Yes, CheckOneTwo acquiesced and took CheckOneTwo jr out to see the big show on Sunday night.  An ocean of shirtless dudes and half-shirted gals with babies on hips, Marlboro Reds, and baby bottles full of Coke.  Arkansas, you run deep in me. 

The show was pretty routine, but the crowd was worth the effort.  I also got a bang out of CheckOneTwo jr looking at me and hollerin’ out “LA GRANGE!” when those first few notes rang out. 

Kevin Kerby & Battery, 607, Silverton.  What were these dudes doing way over in BFE, at the extreme end of Riverfest?   These are super-Arkansas acts, that need to be on a bigger stage or in the Arkansas Music Tent.  Please, for the love o’ God, don’t stick ’em over in Siberia.  I caught ’em all, but had to do some serious logistics and hoofin’ to make it.

I needs a weekend to recovers froms my weekend.

See y’all out tonight?



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Midnight Tuesday has come and gone, and I’m in a dim ‘n’ rowdy Fayetteville basement brimming with broken guitar strings, a whirling barefoot tambourinist, and a sweetly sweating wave of countrified bo-ho coeds.  We are the latest lucky victims to come under the spell of Silverton, an eight-piece folk-rock act that is helping redefine what it means to be a country music act in Arkansas.

Seeing Silverton live is an exercise in involuntarily shedding one’s cool pose.  Comfortable in the corner nursing a beer?  Put it down and move to the front.  Are you the laconic head-bobbing scenester, smirking at those who dare to dance?  Prepare to give yourself up to the ecstasy. 

The sheer size of Silverton is a logistical challenge for most venues.  Tonight, even minus the presence of vocalist Haley Mattox, Silverton’s seven remaining members arrange their equipment with the precision of a jigsaw puzzle enthusiast.  While drummer Josh Spillyards,  tambourinist Thom Asewicz, and bassist Ryan Hitt occupy the tiny step-up stage,  lead vocalist/guitarist Phillip Huddleston, vocalist Jessica Hendricks, Jesse Bates (guitar, pedal steel) and keyboardist Whitman Bransford take up spots on the floor at eye-level with and a nose’s worth of distance from the
crowd.    It’s a necessary move logistically, but it also instantly connects Band With Fan and ratchets the energy up immediately.

Bam!  Silverton opens up with a rollicking take on “Highway Rough” that sends Asewicz into instant percussive overdrive.  Silverton is a band that owes a heavy debt to the country ghosts of days gone by, and soon segues into a shuffling, sing-along version of “I Get By” that signals a night of tunes very different than those generally provided by a band of twenty-somethings.   Some like to speak of “old souls,” and that wouldn’t be misplaced when it comes to describing Silverton.  If I close my
eyes, I can sense this music being played in the roadhouses of my father’s younger years, or my grandfather’s.

The energy of Silverton is the type that can overcome obstacles that would cripple a lesser band.  Broken strings by Huddleston and Bates pose little problem, and  the buzz is enough to overcompensate for the utter lack of a PA system.  Tonight is not about technical superiority or acoustics.  Tonight is about howling dogs, shimmyshaking, and erasing boundaries.   By show’s end, the magical line between musician and audience has evaporated entirely—Hendricks is in the crowd dancing  with one-and-all, Asewicz is everywhere at once, and the twirling coeds from the audience have magically infiltrated the band space, snaking and slinking between the pedal steel and the keyboards.  For a few moments, lines are obliterated and what was billed as a concert becomes an experience. 

Catch the Silverton train whenever you get a chance.  Their next gig is at Riverfest on Friday May 23rd, opening for 607 and Arrested Development.




OK, You Missed It April 15, 2008

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Several years ago, I was the point man in a seven car pile-up on I-67/167.  A few years later, I had a head-on collision at 18th & Main in NLR and totaled my car.  But neither of those scenarios compare to the whiplash neckbreaker showcased last night at Vino’s.

Teenage Bottlerocket.  Are you kidding me?  Good lord!

This was a bullet train of a set, full-throated, lightning-fast, two minute chunks of blazing melodic punk, each song seamlessly seguing into the next, faster track with only a !!ONETWOTHREEFOUR!! from the drummer signaling the separation.  Think early Green Day x The Ramones, with extreme power stances and a whole lotta sweat by song #2.   My neck is sore from a blistering tornadic set that came in under an hour but was well worth getting out for on a Monday night.  Please do yourself a favor and check out TB if you get a chance.  Hell, make SURE you get the chance–the tour continues with shows tonight in Kansas City, Wednesday in Denver, and Thursday in Fort Collins, Co.

Lucky me:  the Copyrights got added back to the bill late (they’d dropped off the tour, but came back on for this, their last show on the TB tour).  Out of Carbondale, IL, the Copyrights are a power pop-punk trio on Red Scare records who drove a looooong way to make the show but hit the stage with their A game flying.  Good show, fellas.  Much love for bringing your new album for sale on vinyl (yes, I bought it).   I also dug guitarist Jeff’s choice of t-shirt for the Arkansas show (he tells me it’s a Detroit band, but for us it means something different): 

Opening act was The Weisenheimers, who gave it their always-fun, always lively punk set.  Great interplay between vocalist/bassist Karle and Mark who apparently plays “awesome/guitar”.   Mark is our town’s School of Rock-era Jack Black, a man who will, indeed, someday, probably sooner rather than later, strip his shirt off and stage dive/face plant into the Vino’s floor.  Hats off to a man who fears NOT the solo.  I especially like the Weisenheimers’ song “Bubble Gum”.

So what were you guys doing last night, watching TV?  Sheesh.  Get out on a Monday night!



Rock N Roar Is NIIIIIIIICE in the Springtime April 13, 2008

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Clear, cool night…cold beers within arm’s reach….The Girl right up next to me whispering funny things in my ear…I can’t think of many better ways to set the table for a good night of music.    Perfect night at the Little Rock Zoo’s latest installment of their ROCK N ROAR series.  

I may be the only person in Little Rock who’d never seen Runaway Planet’s bluegrass show, but you can now put me on the list of fans.   This four-piece of Greg Alexander (guitar and vocals), Steve Brauer (banjo and vocals) Ben Ellis (mandolin) and Michael Proveaux (bass and vocals) worked the all-ages crowd into high-steppin fits of ecstasy.   Runaway Planet has some seriously tight three-part harmonies and I can’t say enough about Ben Ellis’s mandolin playing.   Mandolin, when done right, can make you weep with regret for the mistakes you’ve made then make you howl with joy about how good life can be  This guy knows what he’s doing, as does the rest of this amazing band.  It’s traditional, wonderful, throw-your-shoes-off-and-dance-the-Dance-of-Thanks-to-Earl-Scruggs-music, and had the grownups and the little curtain-climbers in the audience movin’ and yellin’ for more. 

Less lively, but no less skilled, was the classic country stylings of Chris Denny and the Old Soles.  Denny is a young performer with an ancient voice, a countrified Roy Orbison who has a direct vocal channel to the ghosts of crooners gone by.  Under the moonlight, accompanied only by a slap-bass and drummer, Denny’s warbly falsetto twang soared into the skies and hypnotized those lucky enough to be nearby (presumably the baboons as well).  Denny’s album Age Old Hunger is a treat for the headphones.  Don’t miss it.

Next up for Rock N Roar:  American Princes on May 10th. 

QUESTION:  Is there anything more fun than an outdoor bluegrass show at nighttime?