KASU to Present “T Chicken” Band at Coffee House Concert
JONESBORO — KASU-FM, the broadcast and online public media service of Arkansas State University, presents the band Tyrannosaurus Chicken of Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the first of four Coffee House Concerts for 2015, on Thursday May 21, 7 p.m., at the Arts@311, located at 311 South Church Street in Jonesboro.
“T Chicken” is a blues and rock band comprising two multi-instrumentalist/vocalists – Rachel Ammons and Smilin’ Bob Lewis — decades apart in ages, yet jointly dedicated to passionate presentations of raw, primitive Delta and Piedmont blues to listeners in the 21st century’s second decade. Influenced by jump blues, rock, southern gospel and dance/trance, they attract concertgoers ranging from Millennials members like Rachel to Vietnam vets like Smilin’ Bob.
Lewis, a native of Paris, Ark., plays slide and resonator guitar, dulcimer, keyboards, mandolin, banjo, bass and harmonica. Ammons’ similarly lengthy list of instruments includes fiddle, cello, viola, Jew’s harp, ukulele, slide guitar, drums and clawhammer banjo. Both sing together and solo.
Their shows include a flair for the unusual that brings people out of their seats in places like George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, Webby D’s in Fort Smith, the Mercury Lounge in Tulsa, White Water Tavern in Little Rock, and similar spots in St. Louis, Oklahoma City, and Carbondale, Illinois.
When Tyrannosaurus Chicken won the Arkansas Times Music Showcase in 2011, the publication’s John Tarpley wrote, “They’re primal and progressive, foreign and familiar, abrasively gritty and technically brilliant. The last duo to have that type of thing written about them was the newly defunct White Stripes.” The Arkansas Times described their music as ”Psychedelta.”
Tyrannosaurus Chicken has played on the Windy City Blues Society Stage at the 2014 Chicago Blues Festival and has been invited to appear at that festival this year. The duo has played on the Rising Biscuit stage at Helena’s King Biscuit Festival.
Hendrix College graduate Rachel Ammons grew up in the Fort Smith area and began studying and playing violin when she was 13. She said, “After I got back from college, I heard our family friend Smilin' Bob play some Delta blues and felt instantly hooked, so it must have been meant to be. With the blend of old and new, we came up with Tyrannosaurus Chicken and it has taken over our lives in a wonderful way.”
The band was formed in 2008, taking its name from “one time when Bob was watching a PBS TV special about unlocking latent dinosaur genes in chicken embryos,” according to Rachel. “They were showing pictures inside the egg and he said it looked like a little tyrannosaurus chicken. I was like, ‘That’s our band name!’” The band has recorded three albums, two in-studio and one live.
Gregg Langford Bookout Funeral Home, KASU Radio, Dr. Richard Stevenson and Jonesboro Infectious Disease and Control Consultants underwrite KASU Coffeehouse Concerts at 311 South Church St., in Jonesboro. These exclusive concerts feature some of the most-talented musicians in the region performing in downtown Jonesboro’s most-intimate audience setting. Admission costs $10 per person when doors open at 6:30 p.m. May 21.