The Summer Soundtrack of Northwest Arkansas

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Darrell Scott performing at the Roots Headquarters
Darrell Scott performing at the Roots Headquarters

What does summer sound like? Drifting on the breeze in Northwest Arkansas is the music of Santana, Leon Bridges, The Killers, The Avett Brothers, Train, Goo Goo Dolls, Brad Paisley, Nelly, TLC, Flo-Rida, St Paul & The Broken Bones, John Fullbright, The Travelin McCourys, Amy Helm, The Cate Brothers and so many more.

Numerous artists from big name acts to regional and local bands play at outdoor amphitheaters, music festivals, and urban locales. You can also catch a summer opera season.

Here’s where to hear live music in Northwest Arkansas:

  1. The Walmart AMP (Arkansas Music Pavilion) is a premiere outdoor concert venue located along Interstate 49 in Rogers. Its new venue opened in June 2014 and accommodates 9,500-plus people, with 3,200 covered seats and additional general admission seating on a sloped lawn. It has air-conditioned concessions and restrooms, a permanent pavilion and the biggest stage house in Arkansas.
  2. George’s Majestic Lounge, the iconic bar and live music venue on Dickson Street in Fayetteville, has been around for 360-plus seasons – that is more than 90 glorious years – proving that the right people, passion and management, great live music, and a cold libation stand the test of time. Fayetteville has several other popular summer music venues, including Kingfish and JGBG.
  3. The AUD, a.k.a. The Auditorium, in Eureka Springs offers an intimate setting with clear and distinctive acoustics. It seats 984 with the balcony and main. The Aud has a long history of attracting stars. The first performance in the facility was John Phillip Sousa and his 67-piece band. It was the dream of Mayor Claude A. Fuller, who pushed construction in 1928 to fill the needs and expectations of visitors that desired the most current entertainment available while visiting the Victorian town known for its beautiful scenery and soothing springs. It continues to attract big names such as Ray Charles, John Prine, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Bill Cosby, Bela Fleck, Willie Nelson and Doc Watson.
  4. Fayetteville Roots Festival is a four-day urban music festival that takes place each August in the university town of Fayetteville. The main stages are the Fayetteville Town Center and George’s Majestic Lounge with additional shows taking place at multiple venues across the city, including Kingfish, the Fayetteville Public Library and the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. The festival’s key components are music, food and community. With the slogan, “A Mountain Town in its Natural State” the festival is a showcase of many of the elements that make Fayetteville a beloved cultural hot spot. Headliners have included: The Punch Brothers, Fiona Apple, Sara Watkins, Pokey LaFarge, John Fullbright, and The Steel Wheels.
  5. Eureka Springs Blues Weekend headliners are the Who’s Who of Blues. This four-day weekend of great blues music takes place all around historic Eureka Springs in early summer. Go for hot Blues, cold beverages, great food, arts & crafts vendors, and fun for kids of all ages.
  6. The Ozark Folk Festival in Eureka Springs is America’s longest continuously running annual folk festival. It includes a Barefoot Ball, free music in Basin Spring Park, concerts in The Aud and other venues throughout town, including Chelsea’s.
  7. TempleLive in Fort Smith started out as a Masonic Temple in 1929. It’s about 53,300 square feet with four stories and was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1992. Today, it’s a one-of-a-kind building for meetings, dining, theater, and concerts. It has been restored utilizing its original design attributes to create a one of a kind gathering, dining, and club facility with a speakeasy feel. The Sphinx Club offers hand-crafted specialty cocktails from around the world and American Cuisine with a “farm to plate” focus. The ornate and intimate 1,100-capacity theater is outfitted with a new state of the art climate control system and a superior audio and video system for all major touring productions and acts.
  8. For more than 60 years in Eureka Springs, Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point, a non-profit organization, has provided talented young artists with the opportunity to hone their operatic skills during an intensive six-week training program which prepares them for their professional careers. It is not only one of the oldest summer opera training programs in the country, but it is acknowledged by opera educators to be one of the best total experiences for career entry artists. The public benefits too with the opportunity to see productions of some of the world's most beloved operas at what has been recognized as one of the top 10 summer opera festivals worldwide. Don’t miss these future stars, who come from across the country, to perform for the public.

Of course, another favorite soundtrack to an Arkansas summer is the simple sounds of the birds and the bees, rippling water, lakes lapping at the shore, and other natural auditory elements at numerous campsites and cabins, and city, state and federal parks throughout the region.

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt playing at The Auditorium in Eureka Springs
Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt playing at The Auditorium in Eureka Springs
Fayetteville Roots Festival
Fayetteville Roots Festival
Kingfish in Fayetteville
Kingfish in Fayetteville
TempleLive in Forth Smith
TempleLive in Forth Smith