Art Amiss Music Director Works To Compile Sampling of Arkansas Musicians
By Terrah Baker
It’s hard to find a good mix of local music, bred and generated from Arkansas. It takes hours of attending shows, talking with bands, researching the Internet, and then following leads across the state.
That’s the task music director of local nonprofit Art Amiss Eric Jensen has taken on when compiling his collection of Arkansas music, available to download often for only a donation online. His interest in the compilation albums began with his love of the local music scene.
“I was involved with KXUA … and reviewing electronica and jazz, starting to go to house shows around town and getting into the scene,” Jensen explained. “I would go to house shows, shows at Smoke and Barrel, J.R.’s (Lightbulb Club), George’s (Majestic Lounge), keeping tabs on local bands that were active at the time.”
Then Bo Counts, President of Art Amiss, asked him if he wanted to serve as music director. Jensen agreed and began creating a database of Arkansas music that spans genre and longevity, as some of the bands highlighted have already split up. But each album is a glimpse at what was happening in local and Arkansas music for the past several years.
“I have this Excel spreadsheet that now has over 300 different bands and artists,” Jensen said.
Thanks to the Internet, he said, he’s not only confined to Northwest Arkansas musicians. While the majority of music on the albums features NWA artists, through research and connections, Jensen has managed to bring in a sampling from across the state.
Jensen wanted a way to get the compilations to the public so he created a Bandcamp page where they can be downloaded, often just for a donation. All of the proceeds go back to Art Amiss for future projects of supporting local artists.
The work of collecting the music he’s included on the albums starts several months in advance before creating the album, along with collecting event descriptions, original dates of song release and even some accompanying art work.
The first three albums were put out in 2005 for a fundraiser for Art Amiss, which later helped fund their website launch. At other events, a CD compilation was part of the attendance fee to Art Amiss events, as well as a book of local literature and poetry. By 2009, there were nine compilations, followed by the most popular compilation to date, made of all Arkansas Punk. February 2010 marked the first release party held specifically for local music. Most recently, Jensen has released a compilation of all NWA Heavy Metal called, “The Hills Have Amps: Heavy Metal from Northwest Arkansas.”
Their highest distribution to-date was 600 of the Arkansas Punk album, with 200 to 300 distribution for many of the others, most being digital. They’ve given away about 100 albums at events for artists, but have tried to cut back on costs and are giving out less hard-copy albums than in previous years. The album covers are created by local artists also.
To get a sampling of the compilation albums and to download your very own, visit arkansas-music.bandcamp.com