A whole lot of music has emanated from the little brick building located at 519 W. Dickson Street over the years. A lot of sweat has dripped down from guitars and onto that stage, and a whole lot of dancing feet have shuffled, strutted, and slid across the concrete floor in front of it. A lot of unforgettable nights have happened there. A lot of joyous nights, some of them wild.
The building has been home to George’s Majestic Lounge since 1927, and the music has come from a host of genres, from folk, to funk, to rock, to blues, to red dirt, and EDM played by artists from all over.
As of recently, a brand new mural located on the east side of the stage house pays homage to some of that rich musical history.
The new mural, commissioned by George’s Majestic Lounge and paid for from funds made available by local arts organization CACHE with some help from the Fayetteville A&P, was painted by local artist Brandon Bullette.
George’s co-owner Brian Crowne said he has wanted to find an artist to create a piece that paid homage to the history live music in Fayetteville, and in particular, at George’s since the new and improved stage house was erected about seven years ago.
“Really for seven years I’ve wanted to do something, and when the pandemic hit, I wanted to do it even more,” he said.
An opportunity for funding came from Creative Arkansas Community Hub and Exchange, or CACHE, a relatively new arts organization established through the Northwest Arkansas Council along with funds from the Fayetteville A&P, and the project began to grow some legs.
Through a few chalk art projects at the Walmart AMP, Crowne was aware of Bullette’s talent, and that had already led to more collaboration. A painting by Bullette is also located inside the George’s green room, where artists performing at the venue hang out before a show, and when it came time for the mural project, Crowne said he knew just who to call.
The concept for the mural, including the train, and some notable musicians that have graced the George’s stages over the years, were Crowne’s, but it was Bullette who was able to bring it to life.
“I knew I wanted something with the train, and I knew what musicians I wanted to feature on there,” he said.
Bullette took the idea and ran with it.
“We started working on a draft, and (Crowne) told me what he wanted with the musicians, celebrating the train, and Fayetteville,” Bullette said. “I added inspiration from prog rock album covers, I threw that to him, he told me which artists he would prefer, and I just kind of tweaked it until it was good.”
The artists selected for the side of the building all have significance to Fayetteville’s music history, but are also all personally significant to Crowne, he said.
From right to left, musicians depicted on the mural include local legends The Cate Brothers, Earl and Ernie Cate, along with the late blues guitarist Michael Burks, the late Martin Fierro on sax from the Jerry Garcia Band, and his band mate, Steve Kimock, Oteil Burbridge of Col. Bruce Hampton’s Aquarium Rescue Unit and Dead & Company, Randy Rogers of the Randy Rogers Band, local artist Rochelle Bradshaw, songwriter Lucinda Williams, and artist Amy Helm, daughter of Arkansas-born artist Levon Helm of the Band.
All of the artists are of significance to the venue, but none more so than the Cates, that have performed for more than 50 years and are still fixtures playing the venue today.
“There was no question to me, it would be Earl and Earnie driving that train,” Crown said.
Crowne said he could see the work becoming a living piece of work that gets updated over the years, as other artists could be added. The new work kind of creates an unofficial Mount Rushmore of musicians significant to George’s, one that is certain to continue to evolve over time.
Bullette said he left room for such additions to the wall in his concept down the road.
“That’s why I kind of made everyone floating from vapor,” Bullette said. “You can always add to that, pull and push figures into the background.”
Bullette has been working on the project for several weeks, and officially finished the mural last week. Crowne said he couldn’t be happier with the result.
“Seeing it come to life in person, the depth of the colors and the way he made it pop was even more impressive than the concept than he originally sent me,” Crowne said.
“It is going to be interesting to see how others experience it,” he said. “It truly to me is a public piece that honors the heritage of Fayetteville, and live music has always been a big part of that.”