Posted on June 26, 2014
Originally published in El Dorado News-Times on June 27, 2014.
Main Street El Dorado rolled out Thursday the headlining acts for MusicFest XXVII, revealing a lineup mixed with an assortment of musical flavors ? with a dash of comedy ? to an eager crowd that jammed into the Merkle and Price galleries of the South Arkansas Arts Center for the annual kick-off party for the city?s largest festival.
MSE executive director Mark Givens had promised a roster filled with Grammy-Award winning, platinum-selling artists, and MSE didn?t disappoint, judging by the ebullient reactions to the popular names that were dropped during a video presentation.
Jerrod Neiman. Shock G. of Digital Underground. Coolio. Brothers Osbourne.
All drew wild cheers and applause, but the crowd erupted loudest upon the announcement that hip-hop luminaries Salt-N-Pepa will rock the mic and the Main Stage on the Friday night leg of MusicFest, which is set for Oct. 3 and 4 in Downtown El Dorado.
"We think it?s a good mix. We think it?s going to be fun,? Givens said as the fervor following the announcement of the headliners began to die down.
Snagging SNP for MusicFest was no easy feat, Givens told the crowd.
"You have no idea how hard it was to book Salt-N-Pepa ? They don?t perform a lot, so it was pretty tough. I?m glad we got them,? he said.
The pioneering femcees blasted through the male-dominated doors of hip-hop in the late 1980s with their seminal hit "Push It,? following it up with "Shake Yo Thang,? and "Get Up Everybody (Get Up),? from their second album, "A Salt With a Deadly Pepa.?
SNP, along with DJ Spinderella, helped to blaze a trail for women in hip-hop by continuing to make hits well into the 90s with the release of the albums "Black?s Magic? and "Very Necessary,? which featured the top 10 hits "Shoop? and the En Vogue infused "Whatta Man.?
The group has sold more than 10 million albums and has been nominated for four Grammys. SNP took home the golden gramophone in 1995, winning for Best Performance by a Duo or Group for the defiant anthem "None of Your Business.?
SNP will be joined on Friday by Coolio, another Grammy Award winner who has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.
Recognized by his wiry, spiky braids, Coolio rose to rap prominence in 1995 with "Gangsta?s Paradise,? which was featured on his album of the same name and the "Dangerous Minds? movie soundtrack.
Fueled by a sample from the Stevie Wonder melody "Pastime Paradise,? the track became one of the most successful rap songs of all time, holding the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for three weeks.
Rounding out the headlining performances on Friday is Shock G. of Digital Underground, an alternative group that represented the humorous side of hip-hop with the hits "Doowutchyalike? and the even more popular and catchy "The Humpty Dance.?
The leader of Digital Underground, Shock G., also performs as his alter-ego, "Humpty Hump,? a nasally-voiced character who sported Groucho glasses. Digital Underground is credited with giving late rapper-actor Tupac his start in the entertainment business.
Givens said MusicFest is looking for a boost on Saturday from up-and-coming country music artist Neiman, whose current album, "High Noon,? has already spawned a number one single, "I Could Drink to That All Night,? which was re-released to pop radio after it was remixed with rapper Pitbull.
Neiman?s song "DONKEY? is climbing the charts.
He drew comparisons to past MusicFest performers Jake Owen and Justin Moore, who were both rising country music stars and had albums and singles that were climbing the charts when they performed for MusicFest in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
"Jerrod Neiman is in the same place where Justin Moore and Jake Owen were. Maybe his song will be a number one hit in October and maybe it will carry us through until then,? Givens told the audience.
Jerrod?s 2010 major-label debut album, "Judge Jerrod and the Hung Jury,? included the chart-topping, platinum digital single "Lover, Lover,? and the top 5 single, "What Do You Want.?
Another crowd- pleaser on Thursday was sibling duo Brothers Osbourne. The country group was recently named by Rolling Stone as "10 Artists You Need to Know: Summer 2014? and listed by Country Weekly magazine as "One to Watch in 2014.?
David Fanning, Dauzet St. Marie, Dash Rip Rock, and Backroad Anthem are other featured acts for MusicFest weekend.
Comedic entertainment has been incorporated into the festival lineup this year with Buckets N Boards, a musical comedy act that is popular in Branson, Mo., and comedian Keith Terry of Arkadelphia.
Local acts will also be spotlighted during MusicFest, Givens said, pointing out American Idol contestant LeBryant Crew, who was in the audience on Thursday.
Givens said plenty of slots remain for musical acts.
For more information or to book a slot, call the MSE office at (870) 862-4747 or visit www.musicfesteldorado.com.