The Next Marfa? Migos, X Ambassadors, ZZ Top & More Flock To Arkansas For “MAD” Launch

While a hub for arts and culture may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the Southern state of Arkansas, the town of El Dorado — a historic oil boomtown — is changing perceptions with the launch of Murphy Arts District (MAD), a $100 million development, with the first phase launching in September.

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During this unprecedented revitalization, El Dorado will call upon top entertainment execs from the likes of House of Blues and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, along with chart-topping artists such as Brad Paisley, Train, X Ambassadors, Smokey Robinson, ZZ Top and what many are calling “The Beatles of this generation,” Migos, to celebrate the inaugural weekend of MAD.

Hoping to join the ranks of Marfa, TX and Woodstock, NY, MAD has set its sights high with the star-studded launch of the district’s renaissance.

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On schedule to debut during a five-day grand opening extravaganza, Phase I of MAD will officially launch on September 27. MAD has enlisted an A-list roster of musical artists to celebrate the inauguration, including:

Wednesday, September 27

  • 8:30 p.m. — An evening with Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen & John Hiatt (Griffin Restaurant)

Thursday, September 28

  • 8 p.m. — Natasha Bedingfield (Griffin Music Hall)
  • 9 p.m. — Train (Griffin Music Hall)

Friday, September 29

  • 6 p.m. — ROBERT RANDOLPH & THE FAMILY BAND (Amphitheater)
  • 7:30 p.m. — X Ambassadors (Amphitheater)
  • 9 p.m. — ZZ Top (Murphy Amphitheater)
  • 11:30 p.m. — Ludacris (Griffin Music Hall)

Saturday, September 30

  • 6 p.m. — Chase Bryant (Amphitheater)
  • 9 p.m. — Brad Paisley (Amphitheater)
  • 11:30 p.m. — Migos (Griffin Music Hall)

Sunday, October 1

  • 4 p.m. — Smokey Robinson with the South Arkansas Symphony (Amphitheater; free concert open to the public)

While MAD will be the epicenter of El Dorado’s revitalization, the project will also breathe new life into the city’s downtown area, which flourished in the early half of the 20th century, but suffered a serious decline in the 80’s and 90’s.

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Now, historic Main Street has rebounded and is lined with 65 specialty shops, eateries, inns and the state’s oldest continuously operating pool hall. All this is on the heels of a huge civic mobilization in 2011, which included mass restorations, a new conference facility and an enlarged roster of annual festivals such as MusicFest El Dorado, which will celebrate its 30th year this September as a part of MAD programming.

Tickets for the grand opening of MAD are now available. For more information, please visit

Tony Bowles is one of the youngest sought out journalists in the media world. He focuses on lifestyle, travel, entertainment, food and more! Based out of NYC.

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