The 22nd Annual Depot Days Music Festival is set for Saturday, Sept. 26 on historic Front Street in downtown Newport.
Part of the Monster Nights Downtown Entertainment Series, the festival is a showcase of local, regional, and national talent paying tribute to the early history of rock and roll. Music begins at 11:30 a.m. and will conclude at 9:30 p.m. on the Terry Scoggins Memorial Stage in the Front Street Park.
Please note that the festival will be following the directives of the Arkansas Department of Health for outdoor events. Masks must be worn while moving about the park but can be removed once seated. Spectators may sit with a family group, but social distancing of at least six feet will be required from other patrons. All events will be held outdoors this year, and admission is free.
One of the most electrifying bands in the South, The Memphis All-Stars, generate energy and excitement everywhere they perform. From R&B, to rock and roll, to any music your ear can imagine, The Memphis All-Stars will keep you on the dance floor all night long. They are truly the definition of “Memphis Music.” The Memphis All-Stars will perform at 7 p.m.
The Zyndall Raney Band features veteran performers playing early rock, old country, blues, gospel, jazz, and Big Band numbers. The band includes the George D. Hays Foundation and Music Hall of Fame inductee Zyndall Raney; Doug Greeno, who played in Jackson County night spots since the 1950s; Marcus Grady, lead guitar and vocals; Bill Lewis, bass guitar; and Donna Lewis, vocals; Mike Gio, drums; and vocalist Bill Davis who dresses as a popular 1950s Memphis rock-and-roller. The Zyndall Raney Band will perform at 5:15 p.m.
Guitarist Michael Walker, a Newport native who moved to Dallas in 1989, will share his love for the electric guitar with riveting sounds of blues and smooth jazz. In 2013, Michael was signed to the Spectra Jazz label as a solo artist. He delivered his debut album, “A Smoother You,” which earned him praise and respect from his peers in the Jazz world. In 2018 Michael graced released another CD, “Daylight.” Michael Walker will perform at 4 p.m.
Brick Fields recently won The Ozark Blues Society Blues Challenge and went on to represent Northwest Arkansas at the International Blues Competition in Memphis. There, in a field of over 260 performers, they advanced to the semi-finals, and as some say, put them in the top 40 of the best blues bands in the world. Based in Eureka Springs, Brick Fields have also won folk, songwriting, and regional music awards. Brick Fields will perform at 2:15 p.m.
Founded in 2009, the Side Street Steppers began as a simple duo unearthing rare and popular music from the 1920s and `30s. Dubbed the Golden Age of Gramophone Recording, the Steppers perform on vintage and homemade instruments with backstories about each song. The group has grown into a full-blown Memphis institution that has played over 1,000 shows and released four full-length studio recordings. The Side Street Steppers will perform at 12:45 p.m.
Jackson County’s own Trevor Johnson is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter who will wow you with his voice and shock you with his words. Growing up with influences in all areas, from George Strait to Bad Company and all the way back to newer artists such as Parker McCollum and Koe Wettzel. His debut single, “Memphis Rain,” released in June of 2020 and is the first single from his debut album coming in September. Trevor Johnson will perform at 11:30 a.m.
Old U.S. Highway 67, which runs through the heart of Newport and Jackson County, was the home for dozens of roadhouses and nightclubs which hosted early shows by rock pioneers in the 1950s and 60s. Music legends such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Sonny Burgess all frequented the venues along the highway when rock music was in its infancy. Festival-goers from Europe, Australia, and all over the U.S. make annual pilgrimages to Front Street to catch a glimpse of living legends from the `50s as well as younger generations of musicians who were inspired by the elders.
The festival also offers food vendors, crafts, a BBQ cooking contest, and much more. Coolers are welcome. Bring your lawn chairs. For more information, find Depot Days on Facebook, visit depotdays.org or contact the Newport Area Chamber of Commerce at (870) 523-3618.