The 23rd Annual Depot Days Music Festival is set to take place September 24-25 on historic Front Street in downtown Newport, Arkansas. Part of the Monster Nights Downtown Entertainment Series, the festival is a showcase of local, regional, and national talent paying tribute to the early history of Rock and Roll. Music begins at 6 p.m. September 24 and at 1 p.m. September 25 on the Terry Scoggins Memorial Stage in the Front Street Park. All events will be held outdoors this year and admission is free. Depot Days will closely monitor CDC guidelines so that the event can be held in a safe manner.
This year’s entertainment lineup is surely to entice music fans of all ages. On Friday, September 24, Newport native and singer/songwriter Jim Ranger will bring an acoustic set to Depot Days. With big vocals, charisma and skill, Jim impressed music legends Blake Shelton, John Legend and Gwen Stefani on season 19 of NBC’s The Voice, where Jim eventually placed runner-up on an incredibly talented season. Jim continues to make music with friends, perform at sold out shows and create authentic songs of hope and heartbreak. Northeast Arkansas favorites Nightwing will open the Friday night show at 6 p.m. playing a wide range of rock hits from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
A full line-up has been secured for Saturday, September 25. Headliners The Artimus Pyle Band will honor the music of Ronnie Van Zant’s Lynyrd Skynyrd, featuring legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame member Artimus Pyle. The Artimus Pyle Band is a high energy, true to the music, true to the era, rock group. They deliver hit after hit, night after night from “Free Bird” To “Sweet Home Alabama,” they give fans the best of Skynyrd with one of the men who made it.
For most of the ‘50s, Bill Haley was a presence on the record charts, and he appeared in several rock and roll movies aimed at teenagers. Now his son, Bill Haley Jr. & The Comets, will recapture the heyday of his famous father and carry on the family tradition. Re-creating the music, the feel, the excitement, and the authentic stage costuming, you will enjoy all your favorite hits like “Shake, Rattle & Roll” and “Rock Around the Clock.” The audience will be on their feet, dancing in the aisles and singing along to every song during this incredible, all-ages, show.
Providing 66 years of music, The Legendary Pacers still want to boogie! The Pacers have been honored by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, Hot Springs Walk of Fame, Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame, Now Dig This Hall of Fame in Europe, Arkansas Governor’s Award, Arkansas Travelers Award, Sonny Payne Blues Award, and many others. Although the Pacers lost Sonny Burgess in 2017 and Kern Kennedy in 2018, they are rockin’ on and include a tribute to them during shows. Enjoy great 50’s and 60s music that they helped to invent.
Fonky Donkey music combines traditional Delta, Hill Country, and Chicago Blues with the influences of Bob Dylan and beyond, all while emphasizing some original Swamp Donkey and Gil Franklin songs. Fonky Donkey is the House Band for the Arkansas River Blues Society’s Sunday Afternoon Blues Jam in Little Rock and was the Champion of the Rail Yard Battle of the Band in Little Rock in 2019. Come and enjoy some authentic Arkansas Blues music with award winning musicians.
Assembly Worship is a contemporary Christian Worship Band that serves at The Assembly Church in Tuckerman, Arkansas. The group is made up of Malachi Gates, Jaxson Gates, Cole Gates, Braylee Smith, Ami Driver and Devin Soles. Assembly Worship recently competed in a national competition in Orlando, Florida where they won small worship group with a perfect score against 35 other teams in their division. Assembly Worship has played at other venues and continue to accept invitations to help spread the word of God through their music ministry.
The Jimmy Dunham Family loves playing Gospel music and have been playing for over 40 years. Jimmy, his daughter Brenda and Brenda’s son David have an interesting blend of Southern Gospel to what some may say is “Rocking Gospel.” The family has travelled all over Arkansas and the surrounding states performing at churches, family reunions, and just about anywhere they are invited to play.
Old U.S. Highway 67, which runs through the heart of Newport and Jackson County, was the home for dozens of roadhouses and nightclubs which hosted early shows by rock pioneers in the 1950’s and 60’s. Music legends such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and Sonny Burgess all frequented the venues along the highway when Rock music was in its’ infancy.
The festival also offers food vendors, crafts, a BBQ cooking contest and much more. Coolers are welcome. Bring your lawn chairs. For more information, find Depot Days on Facebook, visit www.depotdays.org or contact the Newport Area Chamber of Commerce at 870-523-3618.
Cathy Drew is a lifelong resident of the region that she loves to promote. As a matter of fact, she was born in downtown Batesville in the late ’60s, which is in one of the eight counties she now enjoys encouraging people to visit.
She has a son, Jonathon (Jon) Drew, his wife Devyn Stewart. Drew is also grandmother to Jon and Devyn’ s son, Jase Drew.
However, Drew can’t skip the other part of her family: the pets! Lady Bird (a stray dog welcomed into their home in June 2012) and of course, Howard – – a puppy compliments of Lady Bird shortly after arriving at the Drew home. They also have Bullet, a stray they adopted in November of 2016.
Drew, became associated with the Ozark Gateway Region in 1990 while working at the ad agency (The Media Market Inc.). The agency handled marketing for the regional association where she along with her co-workers produced an annual tabloid publication. She began work as the director of the Ozark Gateway Region In June 2000.
After Drew became director, she took the region to the next level by helping the tourism organization create a new website and moved it from the old newspaper paper tabloid publication to a color magazine format.
Over the years Drew has helped the organization meet new marketing goals, such as in- and out-of-state marketing, assuring that all 105,000 copies of their magazines are distributed each year.
Drew also helped the region create a heritage trail map that is still on posters in many establishments across the region and Arkansas. She oversaw development of a motorcycle route map that folds into a credit card format for riders, as well as those seeking scenic routes to enjoy the beautiful Ozark Mountains.
She has attended several AARP Shows across the U.S., representing Arkansas. She helped open a visitor center for the Ozark Gateway, allowing visitors to pick up information from across the entire state 24/7.
In 2016, she assisted creating the first Ozark Gateway Region Golf Classic and the tournament continues to grow each year, allowing the organization to grow its co-op program, helping each county have dedicated promotion. Drew stays busy at Ozark Gateway as the ad sales manager, magazine editor, day-to-day office operations, trade show representative, as well as magazine distribution representative all while making sure that the region is represented all over Arkansas and southern Missouri.
Drew has been featured in several local and statewide publications over the years as well as the 1997 cover of the Ozark Gateway Region tabloid along with her then 4-year-old son, Jon. She has received several awards such as the Batesville Rotarian of the Year in 2010 as well as a three-time Paul Harris Fellow.
She also has served as an Independence County election commissioner for several years and now serves as their co-election coordinator, helping with behind-the-scenes management of voting equipment, day-to-day election deadlines as well as poll worker training.
Drew serves on the Arkansas Travel Council Board of Directors, Ozark Foothills Film Fest Board of Directors, Batesville Rotary Club Past President and is the Rotary Clubs current publicity chair.
In March of 2018, Drew was honored with induction into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame for her many years of dedicated service to the tourism industry.