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story.lead_photo.caption Music Country U.S.A. will present a 34th anniversary show, starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, featuring an eclectic lineup, including Joe Mack Bennett, shown. Singer-songwriter Charlie Mars will play at 8 p.m. tonight at Hopkins Icehouse downtown. (Submitted photo)

For anyone who feels a need to start off the fresh, new year with live music, the Texarkana area has it going for you.

Here are two shows worth a look this weekend, just some of what local talent and local venues have cooked up for the listening masses:


Saturday at Music

Country U.S.A.

Music Country U.S.A. will bring together some of the friends, older and younger, who make the New Boston, Texas, venue a popular home for traditional styles of country music. A Saturday night 34th anniversary show, start time 7:30 p.m., features an eclectic lineup, plus the consummate musicians who make up the Music Country U.S.A. Band.

Performers on tap for this special show include Joe Mack Bennett, David Palmore, Phillip Osburn, Dwayne Johnson, Mike Daniel, Dru Wilson, Scott Threlkeld, Brandon Pope, Rex Pope, Carl Jackson, Joe Dale Cleghorn, Leslie Daniel, Darla Drake, Rhonda Neal, Fabienne Thrash, Lacy Wolf, Eric Shipp, Melodie Clements and Tommy Cleghorn.

Adam McLain, co-owner and operator of the venue, says they'll feature some of the biggest guests they've had at the concert venue.

"Joe Mack Bennett, he's been around the area for years and he's one of the huge draws here in the area. Of course, he's going to be there," McLain said. Newer, more up-and-coming artists like Palmore perform, too, as part of the anniversary show, he explained.

"Eric Shipp is really good; he's a younger guy," McLain said. Then about Wilson, he said, "If you close your eyes you'll think Johnny Cash just walked out on that stage. He's got that deep, deep voice. He's really cool." There's Wolf, who performed shows at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee.

"Lacy is — shoot — she's good," McLain said, who said artists like these favor a traditional style of country. "They love the tradition, the traditional country they love what it started with," he said, noting he attributes the venue's success to the community.

"It's the town. I mean, the town stands with us. We've got a lot of local support and all of our guests — that's the big reason we're still here. The guests love it, they keep coming," McLain said of this family-owned venue — started by his grandparents — in a former First Baptist Church. It feels homey here, he said, and Nashville acts tell him it's special.

"They can stand up on stage and talk to the man in the very back corner," McLain said, "and have a discussion. There's not many rooms you can do that in."

Tickets are $15, available at the door or at Ar-Tex Printing in New Boston.


Music Country U.S.A. will present a 34th anniversary show, starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, featuring an eclectic lineup, including Joe Mack Bennett. Singer-songwriter Charlie Mars, shown, will play at 8 p.m. tonight at Hopkins Icehouse downtown. (Submitted photo)

Today at Hopkins IceHouse

Singer-songwriter and pop-folk-rock artist Charlie Mars' music beckons the listener with a relaxed vibe propelled by his cozy, inviting voice. Lyrically, his songs are equally mellow, thoughtful and accessible.

This former Southern Methodist University student and Mississippi native got a start playing with the likes of Jack Ingram, plus forming his own band back in the 1990s before retooling his life and then returning to music.

The most recent Mars albums include "Like a Bird, Like a Plane," "Blackberry Light" and "Money." Together, they're known as his "Texas Trilogy." Mars followed with 2018's "Beach Town."

He'll perform here in Texarkana on Friday night, 8 p.m. show time, at Hopkins Icehouse downtown. Tickets are $25 and available via His Texarkana show comes between dates in Houston at McGonigal's Mucky Duck and Austin's Saxon Pub. This show is presented by Scalespace Realty.

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