Category: Meet the Band

Global Blues & Soul Standout John Németh of Memphis plays Stickyz Friday [Jan. 5]

John Németh is feeling freaky. And he brings it all, every night. Playing to huge crowds across the world, this globe-trotting bluesman’s voice is smoother than his black sunglasses and brighter than his yellow-tie-dyed Carhartt-style jumpsuit. On Friday, Jan. 5, he headlines what is certain to be one of the best Little Rock blues shows of the year at Stickyz Rock ‘N’ Roll Chicken Shack. Tickets are $10; doors open at 7 pm, music starts at 8, ages 18 and up. Originally from Boise, Idaho, Németh moved to Oakland, California, in 2004. There, Németh paid his dues, becoming an important member of the Bay Area blues scene. He spent considerable time playing in Anson Funderburgh’s backing band, and after signing with Blind Pig Records, he put out several records. Németh has called Memphis home since 2013, where he has been creating his best work yet. Enlisting producer and musician Scott Bomar, Németh’s Memphis Grease (2014) debuted at No. 4 on Billboard Blues Chart and earned him 2 Blues Music Awards for Best Soul Blues Male Artist in 2014 and Best...

Blockbuster trio Point of Grace discusses new Christmas album, plans for new record in 2018

Grammy-nominated contemporary Christian trio Point of Grace – whose founding members started the group 25 years ago after singing together at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas – has released a new Christmas album in a partnership with LifeWay Worship and will soon begin work on a second. Sing Noël, Point of Grace’s first album with LifeWay, features 10 new arrangements of beloved carols and Christmas favorites, including “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” “Mary, Did You Know?” and “What Child Is This?” “It has been several years since we have recorded a Christmas project, and this one is really special,” Point of Grace’s Shelley Breen says. “It has a central focus on the carols of Christmas.” In January the group will begin recording a second album with LifeWay featuring a collection of best-loved hymns and worship songs. Point of Grace has won 3 Grammy nominations, most recently for Directions Home (Songs We Love, Songs You Know) in 2015. The group has won multiple Dove Awards and sold more than 8 million recordings in their 25-year history. Breen says she feels the new Christmas album captures...

Arkansauce Closing Out Big Year With Halloween Concert, NYE Show; Poised to Dig In Next Year

This year has been, in many ways, a turning point for Fayetteville-based progressive bluegrass quartet Arkansauce, which is Adams Collins on banjo, Ethan Bush on mandolin, Tom Andersen on bass, and Zac Archuleta on guitar. They share vocals and songwriting duties. From an outside perspective, Arkansauce has enjoyed a big year: the April release of its third album, If I Were You, which enjoyed great reviews from publications like GratefulWeb and others that are jamgrass-heavy; the band continued expanding its fan base with new tour stops in New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri, Mississippi, and Kansas; they played twice on the Main Stage at Fayetteville’s Bikes, Blues & BBQ in September (and once in between at Bikes, Bluegrass & BBQ in Eureka Springs); they played a sold-out show at George’s Majestic Lounge for Fayetteville Roots Fest; and they were one of 11 bands selected from across the country to compete in June’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition. They are also slated to headline at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville on New Year’s Eve. (The Mighty Pines, another Telluride competition alum, and The Toos...

Drexel & The Spirit Puts a Great Spin on a Kickstarter Campaign

New bands in New York City with Kickstarter campaigns to fund the recording of their debut album are a dime a dozen. But there’s one in particular that is quite different – and particularly of note for Central Arkansas residents and fans of the long-lived Little Rock rock band Go Fast. Go Fast alum Drexel Baker, a guitarist, drummer, and vocalist and graduate of Sylvan Hills High School in the Little Rock suburb of Sherwood, has taken the Kickstarter campaign to a whole new level – a new level of creativity, of interactivity with fans, and just plain fun. His new band is called Drexel & The Spirit; it is Baker on guitar and vocals, Nancy Nicholson on bass, Brain Bauhs on guitar, and Luke Martinek on drums. While trying to raise the initial minimum goal of $5,000, Baker started a little living room project from his home in New York City, where he and wife Michelle live with their two children. He began, with 26 days left in the Kickstarter campaign a couple weeks ago, going through the alphabet,...

Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings Thursday night at Highberry. Photo by Phil Clarkin Photography.

Opal Agafia & the Sweet Nothings Making Waves With New Roots-Soul Sounds, Great Songwriting

One of Arkansas’ newest female voices to command the attention of music fans is also one of the state’s most dynamic, unique, and stunning female voices we’ve heard in years. Opal Agafia, a native of the Russellville/Dover area, has been singing in public for a mere two years. But she sounds as though she’s trained her entire 24 years for her new role as a gifted and powerful singer, prolific songwriter and capable frontman of Opal Agafia & the Sweet Nothings, based in Eureka Springs. Opal Agafia & the Sweet Nothings headline several big upcoming events, including a three-band show Thursday, Aug. 31, at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville (tickets are $7, show starts at 8 pm, ages 18+, openers are Foleys Van and Red Oak Ruse) and the official Hillberry pre-party, Bikes, Bluegrass & BBQ Sept. 22-24 at The Farm near Eureka Springs. The band also performs a late-night set at Hillberry The Harvest Moon Festival, Oct. 12-15, also at The Farm. Agafia, who grew up singing with her mom and calls herself a “lifelong serious shower singer,” is...

Eureka Springs’ Red Oak Ruse Melds Many Influences, Experiences to Create a Fresh Ozarks Folk-Pop Sound

The members of Red Oak Ruse – the newest progressive folk act to come out of Northwest Arkansas – are not new to playing music full-time; in fact, each has a widely varied and extensive background in music and has toured regionally with a number of bands based in Arkansas, Missouri, and Georgia. But as a new group, they’re already breaking barriers when it comes to genres and traditional music styles, blending the sounds of modern and classic folk-rock, pop, and bluegrass for a sound that could be described as a mixture of The Avett Brothers, The Eagles and Third Eye Blind. We’re gonna call it Ozarks folk-pop; they laughingly dubbed it “Ozarkana” in a recent interview. Red Oak Ruse is comprised of Michael Schembre on fiddle, acoustic guitar, and vocals; Justin Thomas Easter on lead guitar and vocals; Jonathan Hagood on bass and vocals; and Chris Loeffler on drums. All but Loeffler are transplanted Eureka Springs residents and full-time band members; Loeffler still lives in Missouri – Jefferson City to be precise – but don’t be surprised if Schembre...

Q&A with Eureka Springs’ Red Oak Ruse

Kristal Kuykendall (Arkansounds’ editor) recently sat down with the members of Eureka Springs-based Red Oak Ruse to talk about their new group, their varied musical backgrounds, their debut album and the official release party scheduled for Sept. 2, 2017, at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe & Bar in Eureka Springs. Admission is $5, ages 21+, music starts around 9 pm. Red Oak Ruse also will open (along with Foleys Van) for Opal Agafia & the Sweet Nothings on Thursday, Aug. 31 at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville ($7, tickets on sale now, 9 pm, ages 18+), and they will perform Friday, Sept. 1, at Black Apple Crossing in Springdale (no cover, 8 pm). Check out our in-depth interview/feature on Red Oak Ruse here and our full album review here. MICHAEL SCHEMBRE [Fiddle, guitar, vocals] What is the album you’ve played the most in your lifetime? Animals by Pink Floyd. Most moving live music experience ever? I was actually playing a show at The Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri. One of my last shows with Mary and the Giant, and it just kind of hit...

BLOG: Why The Wood Brothers Are Right About Singing [Plus: Oliver Wood on Fayetteville!]

If you get too worried, what you ought to do is sing… Let’s talk about music. Let’s talk about why we’re here. Why we are doing what we do on this website. Why you are here reading. I mean, MUSIC. But… why? For me, it’s personal. Very personal. Those of you who have known me for a long time know that live music – especially bluegrass and old gospel tunes – transports me to a place of comfort, peace, and safety that no longer exists for me on this planet. Not since my mom died – slowly, over two years of great pain and suffering from brain cancer, all of which I witnessed – when I was 13. If you get worried, what you ought to do is sing… Before the cancer came, I had the best childhood ever. My mom was a rock star of moms. THE rock star among all the moms. And my dad, a gifted musician, was constantly taking us to his gigs, mostly bluegrass, with any number of bands, playing at festivals and events all...

LR Hip-Hop Ambassador Big Piph Releases ‘Final’ Album, Embarks on New Global Work

Little Rock hip-hop artist Big Piph released his fifth and what he says is his final studio album, “Celebrate,” on Thursday, July 20. Piph, the acclaimed central Arkansas emcee, ambassador, and prolific hip-hop standout, said in an interview with ShindigMusic! this week that he’d had no desire to release new material, but ideas for “Celebrate,” which features two excellent singles “Celebrate” and “Anarchy,” kept coming to him, so he decided to follow through with one final record. “I wasn’t planning on making this,” he said. “I wasn’t in that mindset, and I had no goal to do it. I was thinking (his fourth album ‘I Am Not Them: The Legacy Project’) might be it, that might be my last one and just not say anything (laughs). But I started writing, started making some new stuff and decided to do it.” About Big Piph’s new album and his positive messages From a musical standpoint, “Celebrate” is a more straightforward hip-hop record – with layered sounds and lyrical themes – which is a departure from the live-in-studio music that accompanied 2016’s “I...

Psychedelic jam-rockers Dopapod Bringing The Heat to Highberry

Psychedelic jam-rockers Dopapod Bringing The Heat to Highberry

Fans of Disco Biscuits, The Werks, moe., and Trey Anastasio will love Highberry headlining act Dopapod, a four-man psychedelic jam band that shreds every lick on each of its four instruments. The intense dance-rock act from Boston will perform from 12:30-2 am Saturday night at Highberry Music Festival, June 29-July 2 at The Farm near Eureka Springs. The ever-expanding band, which enjoyed its Jamcruise debut earlier this year, is set to headline at several major festivals the rest of the summer: High Sierra Music Festival (alongside STS9, Ween, and Trey Anastasio Band); The Werk Out; ARISE (alongside Atmosphere, Tipper, Ani DiFranco); and The Peach Music Festival (with Widespread Panic, My Morning Jacket, and Gov’t Mule). Previously, Dopapod appeared at numerous festival nationwide including Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Summer Camp, Electric Forest, Camp Bisco, and Gathering Of the Vibes. Dopapod’s jam-pop fan hit “Trapper Keeper” is in regular rotation on Sirius XM’s Jam On station, and the group has earned praise from taste-making critics with the likes of Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, Jambase, Relix, and The Boston Herald – all the while tending to their ever-expanding community...

Highberry headliner Dark Star Orchestra: ‘More experience at Dead songs than the Dead’

Highberry headliner Dark Star Orchestra: ‘More experience at Dead songs than the Dead’

Ever wish you could have experienced the Grateful Dead in concert? Well, short of resurrecting deceased rock stars or time-traveling, you can come as close as humanly possible, at Highberry Music Festival June 29-July 2, when Dark Star Orchestra headlines, from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday. The Dead tribute band – widely hailed by critics as “the best Dead touring band in the country” – is marking its 20th year in 2017, and, as GratefulWeb notes, DSO has more experience playing the Dead than, well, the Dead, racking up more than 2,600 performances of Dead set lists from days gone by. At its concerts, the seven-member DSO usually bases their own show on a set list from the Grateful Dead’s 30 years of extensive touring, occasionally mixing things up with an extra song or two thrown in (also typically from the Dead catalog). “Led by Bob Weir doppelganger Rob Eaton, the members of Dark Star Orchestra hardly go through the motions but submerge themselves in the music, with vocalist Lisa Mackey channeling Donna Jean Godchaux with her primitive howling,” writes Jason Blevins in a 2013 Denver Post...

Psychedelic-Jazz Rockers Perpetual Groove Bringing Eclectic Covers & Inspiring Originals to Highberry

Psychedelic-Jazz Rockers Perpetual Groove Bringing Eclectic Covers & Inspiring Originals to Highberry

Since coming off a 2-year hiatus about two years ago, Perpetual Groove has “been putting together some of the strongest and most inspiring shows of the band’s 16-year career,” writes LiveForLiveMusic.com. PGroove, as fans affectionaly call them, is one of several outstanding headliners and critical darlings set to headline Highberry Music Festival June 29-July2 at The Farm near Eureka Springs. PGroove performs 9:50-11:20 pm Friday, June 30, at the festival’s eighth annual event. The Athens, Georgia-based quartet’s music has evolved into a genre-bending, highly original sound with a foundation made of jazz-rock, funk, neo-psychedelia, R&B, trance electronica, progressive rock, and anthemic arena rock. Their large catalog of original music offers something for everyone, but the band is also known among the festival scene for its eclectic range of covers, from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” The Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” and NIN’s “Closer,” to Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and Rage Against The Machine’s “Bulls On Parade.” The addition of an intense, intelligent light show creates an atmosphere unlike any other, assuring fans they’ll get a highly polished yet different show each night....

Highberry Brings Funk Forefathers The Funky Meters to NWA

Highberry Brings Funk Forefathers The Funky Meters to NWA

Wanna know who originated the sound of funk? Who it is that funk monsters such as Parliament Funkadelic, James Brown, Sly Stone and countless others look to for groove guidance? It’s the Funky Meters, the modern incarnation of The Meters, which dates back to the late 1960s and was founded in New Orleans. You can see The Funky Meters live by attending Highberry Festival outside of Eureka Springs, June 29 – July 2, at The Farm. The Funky Meters was formed by several key Meters’ members during an informal jam at the 1989 New Orelans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In 1994, keyboardist Art Neville and infamous bassist George Porter Jr. were joined by guitarist Brian Stoltz and drummer Russell Batiste and officially christened The Funky Meters. Since then, the lineup has changed slightly: founders Porter and Neville remain on bass and keyboard (and vocals), Stoltz is back with the group on lead guitar, and the drums are now manned by Terrence Houston. According to Brian Knight of The Vermont Review, “In a sense, the Meters defined the basic characteristics of the groove. While...