Justin Vinson and Come Sundown

Justin Vinson of Come Sundown. Â Photo by Kandi Cook


Justin Vinson is a country boy at heart, born and raised in Lake City, Arkansas, which he affectionately refers to as “Home of the Lake City Catfish.”   Considering he grew up surrounded by the St. Francis River, cotton fields and southern churches, it’s no wonder that six years ago with the creation of his band, Come Sundown, his music career took a turn from the punk bands he was in as a teenager back toward his country roots.

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Youell Swinney

David Whitehead aka Youell Swinney

Singer-songwriter David Whitehead, who performs under the name Youell Swinney. Â Photo by Brandi Rinks

Singer-songwriter David Whitehead of Asheville, North Carolina, has been performing his old-time country influenced music since 2005 under the moniker Youell Swinney.  The name refers to a dark corner of Arkansas history, the unsolved Texarkana Moonlight Murders of 1946, and is a fitting match for the pensive, somber topics his songs tend to deal with.

Arkansas born and raised, Whitehead’s songs are partially inspired by his experiences growing up in the tiny town of Mangrum Landing.  “It’s just like three houses,” Whitehead said.  “And some of them are empty.”  Also influenced by the country music his father listened to when Whitehead was a child, he eschews the sound that modern country artists strive for, instead embracing the style of legends such as Hank Williams and Townes Van Zandt while performing songs about death, loneliness, and the nearly impossible feat of escaping from small hometowns.

“A lot of the country that plays on the radio these days doesn’t sound like country to me,” Whitehead said.  “It just sounds like pop music being sung by someone with a drawl.”

David Whitehead aka Youell Swinney

David Whitehead takes a break between recording sessions while working on a friend's album. Photo by Brandi Rinks

After a friend gave him a broken guitar in the ninth grade, Whitehead soon taught himself to play and began recording tapes in his bedroom.  “I didn’t have instruments so I had to use a little metal trashcan as a drum,” he said.  As Whitehead got older, he started becoming interested in punk music, and with his band Candy Coated Warheads recorded an album and played shows in the Jonesboro, Arkansas, area on a regular basis.  Eventually, though, Whitehead returned to the country music he had grown up with.

“I quit playing punk music because really I think it’s music for younger people,” Whitehead said.  “It doesn’t seem honest when I see a 40 year old man up there barely standing up and trying to play the music he played when he was 19.”

Honesty is a virtue that Whitehead appreciates in music, and that’s part of the reason why he writes the way he does.  “I try to make my songs as honest as possible,” he said.  “That’s why I write sad songs. They’re more honest to me than the rest of them.”

Whitehead is nearing completion on an album entitled “Poor Man’s Lament” to be released in the coming months.  You can preview the album at




If you’ve been paying attention to the music scene in Fayetteville, Arkansas, you may have noticed that the band Voyageurs is getting more and more buzz as their skuzzy, lo-fi psych rock gets the attention it deserves. With four free albums on their website, Voyageurs has been getting tons of blog and tumblr love, especially from Arkansans excited to hear the fuzzy, space-age chaos being put out by a band from the Natural State. Voyageurs’ sound walks a fine line between sounding like it’s about to completely fall apart and melding perfectly, full of droning noise, eerie transmissions, and vocals so full of reverb they’re at times indistinguishable. Other songs, like “Envy is Inevitable”, are straight up garage rock, minus the space camp goes stoner feel. Check out Voyageurs and download some free albums at:

Voyageurs on Bandcamp

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Voyageurs on Myspace

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