Local Live Artist Insider: Amy Garland Angel

Good food, great drinks, and epic music. These are the things you can expect when you attend South on Main’s Local Live night. Born out of an ArtPlace grant received in 2012, the nonprofit arm of the Oxford American has since developed a one-stop location on South on Main’s stage for the beloved Local Live programming.

Each week on Wednesday, Little Rock’s music fanatics can flock to a free show starting at 7:30 and hear homegrown talent representing all genres. This lineup this week consists of The Amy Garland Angel Band. The group will simultaneously tug at your heartstrings and make you crack a smile, all while exhibiting a sound that is uniquely their own. If you like a little taste of folk, bluegrass, country, R&B and pop – you simply can’t miss their upcoming show.

But what makes a band tick if not the individual musicians within? This week we chatted with Amy Garland Angel to get to know Little Rock’s music scene a little more intimately.

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Angel, a Louisiana transplant and the vocals behind the band, has been actively playing in Little Rock for the past 20 years. Her introduction to music goes back even farther, and as an eight-year-old she began taking guitar lessons on the Sears guitar her grandmother gave her. She kept with it and throughout high school and college she was always chasing performances.

“I would sing in church and eventually I was sneaking into clubs and even playing there,” she laughs. She couldn’t shake the draw of music, and her influences are vast although they center around one genre, as she says, “I grew up doing country.” Other earlier influences include everything from Joan Jett and Chrissie Hynde to R.E.M. and Blind Melon.

When she got to Arkansas in 1995 she began exploring the blues. Her first live Arkansas show was an impromptu performance at Grumpy’s. “I had just moved here and Jim Porter told me he would get me a gig. It was during a Razorback game,” she remembers, smiling. That sealed the deal, however, and Angel decided she would stay ­– and more than that – sing and play music.

As she continued to become entrenched in the local scene she formed the band she now plays with, and has been with, for the past little while. With Nick Devlin on guitar; Mike Nelson on bass; Bart Angel (her husband) on drums; Jeff Coleman on keyboard; and Brad Williams, whom you may know from the Salty Dogs, on the mandolin, guitar, and harmonica, Garland says together they form her “dream team.”

“I trust these guys implicitly, they are people I admire and they’re some of the best players I’ve ever gotten to collaborate with,” she says. “Sometimes they know the songs better than me.”

Garland loves the Natural State’s music community. In her experience, Arkansas artists aren’t about competition, rather, they’re full of support. These days she’s also glad to see “more chicks on the music scene.” She cites Bonnie Montgomery and Mandy McBryde as a few examples of the many lovely ladies she says we should all give a listen.

It’s worth making it out to Local Live nights, because as far as playing live shows go, Garland says, “It’s a treat to play on the South on Main stage.” Sound man Jonathan Chandler knows what he’s doing, and he knows the room. In other words, the space will appeal to every type of music enthusiast – “It’s a real listening room, musicians love playing there as much as people love listening there.”

Even though Garland is so thankful for all the local music supporters, she believes “it could be even better.” So why not come out to the show this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.? With the combination of head chef Matt Bell, head bartender David Burnette and program director Ryan Harris, Garland says, “That stage is a positive force of nature.”

Keep up with Garland by tuning in every Friday as she hosts a radio show on KABF titled “Backroads.”

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Local Live Artist Insider: Amy Garland Angel