The Unexpected unexpectedly hits Fort Smith early this year. At Tuesday’s (April 18) meeting of the Central Business Improvement (CBID), event director Claire Kolberg announced the previously-held-in-September art festival would shake things up for 2017 – its third year of existence – by connecting to the Peacemaker Music & Arts Festival the last week of July.
“Art and music have always been a successful combination and we were pleased when the organizers of Peacemaker felt the same. The combined weekend creates an opportunity for increased awareness for both events, introducing new audiences and artists to each other,” Kolberg said.
Charlotte Dutoit, curator of The Unexpected and owner of Justkids, a creative house that conceives and produces art projects internationally, said linking dates to Peacemaker “seemed like a natural fit for us,” touting the company’s collaborations with Life Is Beautiful and Coachella as examples. Of The Unexpected and Peacemaker, Dutoit said, “We are glad both events embraced our vision as it’s our role to bring them diversity and to continue to grow The Unexpected’s art audience.”
Since launching in September 2015, the art and murals festival has put downtown Fort Smith on the global map, welcoming thousands of local and tourist visitors and racking up more than 5 million views on social media channels.
Artist announcements for year three are expected sometime in June. Previous participants have included Alexis Diaz, Okuda San Miguel, Guido Van Helten, Jaz, Pastel, Faith 47, Bordalo II, Cyrcle and two-time Unexpected artists D*Face and Maser. Last year, the event even staged its first mural in Fayetteville. The Unexpected will be held in the “same downtown area footprint” as Peacemaker and will be “easily walkable” between the two events, Kolberg noted.
The 3rd Annual Peacemaker Music & Arts Festival will hit downtown Fort Smith on July 28 and 29 with headlining acts Gov’t Mule and Jamey Johnson leading a lineup of eight bands at Riverfront Park.
Eleven-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Johnson will lead Friday night’s slate. He has been called “one of the greatest country singers of our time” by the Washington Post, and has won two Song of the Year Awards from the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music Awards (ACM). The Lonesome Song, his 2008 album was certified Platinum for one million in sales and his 2010 follow-up, The Guitar Song, achieved Gold certification. His best-known singles are “Color” and “High Cost of Living.”
On Saturday, Gov’t Mule will be the lead attraction. Gov’t Mule is a four-member group consisting of Danny Louis, Jorgen Carlsson, and founding members Warren Haynes and Matt Abts. Originally a trio, fellow founding member Allen Woody died in August 2000. Gov’t Mule has been active for over two decades with 15 live and studio albums to their credit as well as millions of album and track sales and thousands of live performances. The band has also recorded with members of the Grateful Dead and The Who.
Other acts performing on Friday (July 28) will include Andy Frasco & The U.N., Natalie Stovall, and the North Mississippi Allstars. Music will start at around 4 p.m. Saturday’s openers will be Split Lip Rayfield, Greyhounds, and Hayes Carll.