Party rock

Cody Belew returns from Nashville for a New Year’s Eve performance with The Mercers at Cajun’s Wharf.
Cody Belew returns from Nashville for a New Year’s Eve performance with The Mercers at Cajun’s Wharf.
Dec 27

‘Bash’ your brains out this New Year’s Eve.

Bash. It’s a fun word with several meanings depending on the figure of speech. As a verb, bash means to strike hard and violently or criticize severely. As a noun, bash is a more direct word for a heavy blow. But it’s a bash of a different type we’re concerning ourselves with here: a party or social event. How best does one describe the New Year’s Eve parties around town, ushering 2011 out and welcoming 2012 in?

By now, you have your New Year’s Eve bash plans finalized. Perhaps. If you don’t, here are a few helpful hints for local bashes where live music will be a centerpiece.

The Peabody Little Rock

Perhaps the biggest party in all of central Arkansas will take place at this downtown Little Rock hotel with Bring on 2012, the hotel’s annual New Year’s Eve party. The most bands. The most people. The most partying. This year’s bash boasts four bands: the awesome party music of dance and rock cover band Tragikly White (the Bee Gees to AC/DC to Kanye West and more); the dance-creating, “freestyle trance Delta blues” of Tyrannosaurus Chicken (Smilin’ Bob Lewis and Rachel Ammons prove you can dance to the blues); the fusion of R&B, rock and jazz with a hip-hop foundation of Epiphany and Tomorrow Maybe; and the jazz, hip-hop, R&B, funk and soul blend of Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers.

But that’s not it. The night will also include three DJs doing their things: Power 92.3 on-air personality Tre’ Day; the party music of DJ G-Force blending jazz, funk, ’70s, ’80s, R&B, rock and rap; and the techno-meets-hip-hop music of DJ Brandon Peck (aka DJ 1-Up).

The party starts at 9 p.m. with tickets $45 in advance and $55 day of the event. It’s a 21-and-up event.


Vino’s will not be outdone when it comes to live entertainment on New Year’s Eve. For the downtown Little Rock institution’s MoJo Music New Year’s Eve Bash, Vino’s is offering three bands of rock ‘n’ roll fun: FreeVerse, Interstate Buffalo, and Justin Bank and the Knights of Pulaski. FreeVerse is a free-spirited, rock ‘n’ roll jamband known for keeping their jams tightly focused while infusing them with funk and jazz; Interstate Buffalo is a Southern rock and blues monster; and Justin Bank and the Knights of Pulaski is a new band of music veterans who play a collection of classic rock covers, and roots-rock and Americana originals.

The doors open at 7 p.m. with the music starting at 8 p.m. for the all-ages bash. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $25 for reserved seating, and tickets include a champagne toast at midnight.

Cajun’s Wharf

Cajun’s Wharf might have scored the biggest get of the New Year’s season with a re-appearance by the one and only Cody Belew & The Mercers, a band that will definitely bring a crowd. Arkansas-native Belew might have moved earlier this year to Nashville, Tenn., but he is back in town, saying hello to 2012 as he guides his crack band through a collection of R&B, soul, rock ‘n’ roll, pop ... really any tune that will get the party going. And on top of it all is Belew’s soulful vocals that can go from a whispered plea to a roof-raising wail in a moment’s notice.

The doors open at 4:30 p.m. with happy hour music provided by local singer/songwriter Richie Johnson starting at 5 p.m. There’s a $25 cover starting at 4:30 p.m., and the cover includes party favors, an appetizer buffet from 7 p.m. to midnight and a midnight champagne toast. Arrive early because Belew’s talents always bring a crowd.

The Afterthought

Little Rock honky-tonk country band Good Time Ramblers will provide the soundtrack for the party at this Hillcrest haunt, playing a collection of high-octane country with rock ‘n’ roll, blues, Texas swing and folk. The music starts at 9 p.m., and the cover is $20, which includes a champagne toast at midnight.


The Riverdale dance club is bringing the circus to Little Rock for its New Year’s Eve with its Under the Big Top party. And yes, the party will actually feature circus attractions with clowns, an invisible man, a bearded lady, a strong man, a trapeze artist and even a ringmaster conducting the festivities. Then, of course, there is the music as well: Dominique’s New Year’s Eve Show and special guest in the Showroom; Ewell, Jared, Jason Crawley and JMZ Dean in the Disco Tech; and DJ Mistery in the Lobby. Admission is $15.

More parties in your area:

In the River Market

A number of River Market bars are joining forces for their annual Pub Crawl with wristbands going for $25 and allowing entrance into all participating bars, and the live music includes cover band Mayday by Midnight at The Flying Saucer starting at 9 p.m.

Other live music offerings in the River Market includes Katmandu downstairs and B Level upstairs at Juanita’s starting at 9 p.m. (cover is $25 in advance and $30 day of show); Fireball 6 at Rev Room featuring Memphis party rock cover band The Venus Mission starting at 9 p.m. (cover to be announced for the 18-and-up show); and Fayetteville pop rocker Benjamin Del Shreve at Stickyz being joined by opening acts Careworn and belair. with the music starting at 9 p.m. (Cover is $15 for the 18-and-up show.)

In Downtown

Porter’s Jazz Cafe is offering a New Year’s Eve dinner featuring the Porter’s House Jazz Band from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Then, starting at 9 p.m. (and going till 1:30 a.m.), Porter’s is hosting a New Year’s Eve Celebration featuring On Call Band. Admission is $35 in advance or $40 at the door per person, or $65 in advance or $75 at the door per couple. The celebration includes free champagne toast, balloon drop and party favors. Table reservations, including a bottle of champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries and an appetizer sampler, are also available starting at $100 for a table of two.

Just down the street and around the corner, Downtown Music is offering an all-ages dance party — the Glo Party — to welcome in the new year. The lineup of DJs include Ewell, Jason Crawley, Joel Allenbaugh, J-Dawg and others. The doors open at 7 p.m. with the music starting soon afterward, and cover is $5 in advance and for the first hour, and $10 afterward.

In Argenta

The great thing about this North Little Rock neighborhood that hugs the Arkansas River is that it boasts five great bars/restaurants — Cornerstone, Cregeen’s, Crush, MacDaddy’s, Reno’s — within walking distance yet is less crowded than the River Market.

Cregeen’s Irish Pub’s New Year’s Eve party includes the music of The Fragile Elite with their soul, blues, classic rock and grunge covers. Reno’s will host the rockabilly music of Billy D and the First-Time Offenders.

Here are a few more New Year’s Eve stops — some with parties, some just great places to quietly celebrate — to keep in mind:

• Four on the Floor at Flying DD

• Mr. Happy at Shooter’s Sports Bar & Grill

• Ryan Couron at Denton’s Back Porch

• Big Silver at White Water Tavern• Grim Musik at Cornerstone Pub

• Minutes to Midnight at Sway

• DJ Shane Train at Fox and Hound

• Taylormade at West End Smokehouse and Tavern

• White Collar Criminals at Markham Street Grill and Pub

• The Shannon Boshears Band at Dugan’s Pub

• JR Brow at Loony Bin Comedy Club

• Rip Van Shizzle at Thirst N Howl Bar & Grill

• MacDaddy’s Bar & Grill

• Midtown Billiards

• Electric Cowboy

• Town Pump

• Pizza D’Action

• The Hillcrest Fountain

• Ciao Baci

• Capital Bar and Grill

• The Peabody Lobby Bar and Mallards


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