“The music of Arkansas is synonymous with the music of America.” Dylan Earl said that. He’s a singer, songwriter and performer from Arkansas who is heading to the deer park this summer. Earl was due to join us in 2021 – indeed, you may remember him introducing us to the history of The Natural State – but this summer you can hang your hat on the fact that he’ll be picking, playing, strumming and singing his way around our wild and spectacular deer park. The rub? He’s bringing his friends with him: “Many artists from Arkansas come from rural working-class backgrounds,” Dylan says. “Perhaps this is why their music is so inspiring and contagious?”

Who knows… what we do know is that the state is a breeding ground for Americana heroes. Names such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Johnny Cash, Levon Helm and Jimmie Driftwood roll off the tongue when musicians and music fans talk about Arkansas. “The sound of the blues – rhythm ‘n’ blues and country music – is what we lived for,” Levon Helm has said. “It gives you strength to sit on one of those throbbing Allis-Chalmers tractors all day if you know you are gonna’ hear something on the radio.”

The Music of Arkansas’s Playlist, compiled by Earl, tells one story of the history of music from Arkansas, but it’s the current crop of artists we are interested in today. And we are delighted to announce, in conjunction with Visit Arkansas, that Willi Carlisle, Bonnie Montgomery and Dylan Earl are heading to Black Deer Festival in 2022.

Willi Carlisle

What we say:
A distinctive song stylist and an American folk singer who draws straight lines from what he does to where it all comes from.

What he says:
“I plan to get wild as hell at Black Deer…”

What they say:
“The greatest Americana artist you’ve never heard of…” – The Guardian


Bonnie Montgomery

What we say:
A contemporary songwriter of some renown and one of The Natural State’s finest ever performers.

What she says:
“I am thrilled to represent my home state of Arkansas in the UK and play the fabulous Black Deer Festival.”

What they say:
“The kind of country you wished some of your favourite women of country would write, but never do.” – Saving Country Music


Dylan Earl

What we say:
Genre boundaries are there to be broken like borders are meant to be crossed.

What he says:
“These days, it’s rare to find such a well curated and cared for festival like Black Deer; I’m thrilled to be a part of this celebration and, even more so, this family.”

What they say:
“I know what a real American sound is…” – Willi Carlisle

Arkansas’s musical heritage is as diverse as the state’s landscape. From blues to folk, gospel to rockabilly, music has always been a part of life in The Natural State. For further information, please visit Arkansas Tourism Official.