Deb Finney Takes Over the June Sessions at South on Main

Sessions at South on Main continues to wow audiences, and this June’s crop of artists was curated by Deb Finney.

Born in Fort Meade, Maryland, Finney moved all around the United States and Asia because her father was in the military. She lived in Alaska, New Orleans, Thailand, and Denver, before finally making her way to Arkansas, where she graduated from Jacksonville High School.

Finney married young and entered college after graduation, leaving for a job at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, first as an investigator and most recently as an outreach and education manager. Throughout all of this, her love, interest in, and admiration for music never diminished.

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“I used to listen to the Traffic Jam [on KABF]. And there was a man on there called Mr. Lee,” that inspired Finney. Offhand, she said to a friend that she could do what he does on the radio. Unbeknownst to her, it just so happens that this friend knew the programmers at KABF, and when Finney’s name was mentioned, they offered her a timeslot. Called “Blues House Party,” (Fridays, 3 – 5pm) the show has been on the air since 1992 and offers listeners the best in blues from around the country, and Finney has curated a great selection of artists that exemplify the style.

June 1 — Trey Johnson & Jason Willmon. This will be their second time appearing on the Sessions stage and it certainly is a treat, especially for those who missed their last performance back in April. Johnson & Willmon bring a charismatic, often whiskey soaked brand of blues, spinning tales of life in the South, love and loss. Don’t miss them this time.

June 8 — Gil Franklin. “I got the idea for him [to play] solo acoustic because we have these impromptu porch parties [at my house],” Finney explained. “And Gil is one of the ones we always call and he comes, as long as you have Crown Royal and Coke, he’s there, and it’s just amazing.” Franklin has been playing in the Arkansas music scene for over thirty years and has drawn many listeners in with his smoky-gravel voice. The set, comprised entirely of original material, will be a treat for everyone in attendance.

June 15 — The Arkansas Brothers. Comprised of brothers Jess and Tim Hoggard, as well as friend Matt Pierce, the band takes influences from most American music, including gospel, blues, rockabilly, and country. “I first started seeing Jess years ago at the Press Box, when it was on Fair Park Boulevard, and Kevin Brittan owned it,” Finney said. “[Hoggard] had a band called Jess and The Mess and they would rock it out. [The time you’re supposed to close a bar is 2am but] Kevin would lock the door and we would come out of there at sunup many nights.” If you’re looking for an old fashioned rocking good time, this is it.

June 22 — Doug Duffey. He hails from Monroe, LA, and has been in a number of bands over the years, including the Louisiana Soul Revival. He has written and recorded with basically every significant person in popular music from the time he began his career in 1970 to the present day, including David Byrne, Bootsy Collins, and George frickin’ Clinton and the Parliament/Funkadelic. “He is a prolific songwriter and, truth in advertising, he’s my cousin, but beyond all that, he’s amazing,” Finney said. This is a can’t-miss show.

June 29 — Brick Fields. Rachel and Larry Fields play Fayetteville gospel blues unlike any you’ve ever heard. “Rachel has a unique voice that when you hear it, you turn around,” Finney explained. “They’re a very talented duo and I’m excited that they were able to come. Their music to me is pure, it’s beautiful and pure.”

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Deb Finney Takes Over the June Sessions at South on Main