The amazing series Sessions at South on Main continues, with the month of October curated by local country singer/songwriter Mark Currey.
Currey has played with many artists both legendary and up-and-coming throughout the mid-South. While he may be a household name to the players reading this article, the music fans might not know him by name alone. But that will change once his new record is released.
Recorded at the newly opened Capital View Studios with Mark Colbert producing along with a slew of local talent, the project—Currey’s first, believe it or not—will be an exploration of his interest in Americana, country, roots, and folk music. Currey is gifted with a deft hand for acoustic guitar and an otherworldly voice, though the latter took some getting used to.
“After I do a show,” he said, “I would much rather people talk to me about the songs than about my voice. At this stage in the game, that’s what I’m interested in, is writing good songs.”
Born in Texas, Currey spent the first ten years of his life there before moving to South Arkansas after his parents divorced. While he was growing up, he was surrounded by country and western singers, though you wouldn’t know it based on his teenage years. “When I was fifteen, sixteen years old, I just wanted to be Steve Perry,” he said. It took Currey until after he graduated from UCA, some time in his mid-twenties, to drift back to the tunes he grew up on.
“I was driving home from work one afternoon listening to [Flap Jones’ radio show]…and ‘Mama Tried’ came on. It’s two-thirds through the song when all of a sudden I realized that I’d been singing along, and that I knew all the words,” Currey explained. “So, that caused me to [go] back and began to listen to Merle Haggard and George Jones and Johnny Cash, and sort of reopened all of that, which I’d always been exposed to.”
Like the other curators this year, Currey approached the process of choosing which bands would play without straying too far from his influences. “Generally speaking, [I’m going for] more of a roots kind of thing…especially…since I’m not going to perform. I wanted something that sort of had the flavor as what my sensibilities are, the kind of influences [I have].”
Without further ado, the list of bands!
Oct. 5—Brad Williams. The songwriter and front man of the Salty Dogs, Brad Williams has been kicking around Central Arkansas for years. “I personally think [they’re] the best band in Arkansas,” Currey said. “And Brad is probably the best pure country singer anywhere around here. I love his voice, love his songs.” Williams will most likely be playing solo, which will be a treat for fans of the band and for fans of acoustic music in general.
Oct. 12—Shawn Camp. Camp is performing a solo set at this month’s Sessions by popular demand, as his one-off engagement with the Oxford American sold out in the blink of an eye. An artist from Perryville that now resides in Nashville, Camp plays with the Earls of Leicester and is one of the best songwriters around. His work has been recorded by tons of very famous artist, though you wouldn’t necessarily know it. People like Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn, Blake Shelton, and George Strait. This one’s going to be a treat.
Oct. 19—Brett Ratliff. Ratliff is a banjo player who recently relocated from the Kentucky Appalachian Mountain area who puts a traditional spin on modern bluegrass music. Currey explained: “[Ratliff] doesn’t play the typical bluegrass style, he plays clawhammer, which is a [way of playing that’s] more connected to the old Appalachian folk music.” Ratliff typically mixes traditional tunes in with his own original material, so be sure not to miss it.
Oct. 25—Wildflower Revue. The record is almost finished, kids, so sit tight and enjoy some live music from the ladies of the world famous Wildflower Revue while you wait. A favorite of Currey’s and of Little Rock as a whole, the sphere of influence that he Revue has continues to grow. “I love all of them. And have gotten to sing and play with all of them at different times,” said Currey. Make sure you catch this performance.
All the Sessions shows are all-ages and begin at 8:30 p.m. with a cover charge of $5. Get involved in the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #SessionsAtSOM.