Live music was high on the agenda during my recent visit with my sister in Arkansas. Ever the excellent tour guide, she scoured local venues for blues acts during my trip. However, when she discovered opera-trained, country western musician Bonnie Montgomery we kissed the blues goodbye and headed for Little Rock.
Bonnie performed at Forequarter, a recently opened bar in the Argenta neighborhood. It’s actually a private club, which enables Forequarter to stay open late and allow indoor smoking. Patrons purchase a membership, making us card-carrying members of a Little Rock club! The vibe is divey, but the formidable list of local brews, a satisfying menu, and friendly staff knock the unassuming space up a notch. While the band set up on the stage in the window we snacked on trolley wheels, house-smoked pork deep fried and cut into circles, referencing the Central Arkansas transit.
Bonnie is a charismatic performer with an incredible range and expressive songwriting. She won me over with “Nashville” a toe-tapping, honky-tonking Music City kiss-off. Her ballad, “Black County,” invokes traditional country to touch on the themes of leaving home and dashed expectations that are familiar to so many of us. “This is our Spaghetti Western,” Bonnie joked before a moody fiddle kicked off “Take Me or Leave Me,” a darker track that follows an outlaw on the run.
We were fortunate to see the Austin-based, Arkansas native play in her home state. Outside of her work in country music, Bonnie is also known as the composer of a folk opera based on the youth of Bill Clinton. I’ll be keeping an eye on Bonnie’s tour dates for the chance to see her up north and keeping a bit of Ozark folk in my step.
415 Main Street
North Little Rock, AR 72114