Hillberry Harvest Orchestra Set for Festival’s Opening Night
EUREKA SPRINGS — The music at Hillberry: The Harvest Moon Festival, taking place October 12-15, just got even more colossal.
Arkansounds’ Editor Kristal “K*Star” Kuykendall has organized an “official” late-night jam session, called the Hillberry Harvest Orchestra, featuring 15-plus gifted regional roots musicians on the opening night of Hillberry, Thursday, October 12. The Hillberry Harvest Orchestra will begin immediately after the end of the final Thursday night Hillberry act, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, which is set to perform from 10:30 pm to 12:30 am.
The Orchestra will be held in the big white tent where all of Hillberry’s Thursday acts will be performing; it will include a rotating cast of musicians based in the Ozarks region who have a background in bluegrass and roots music. Those musicians are participating by invitation from Kuykendall and Hillberry Harvest Orchestra co-hosts Michael Schembre (Red Oak Ruse, Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings) and Allen Swearingen (Foleys Van). All members of official Hillberry Festival performing acts also are invited to participate.
Schembre and his band Red Oak Ruse will serve as the “backing band” for the Orchestra jam. After a few originals from Red Oak Ruse’s killer new album, Swearingen and his mandolin will join them on stage, and the rotating Orchestra jam will begin! The set list will consist largely of traditional bluegrass and roots-music covers, plus some bluegrass versions of crowd-favorite jamband tunes (think “Shakedown Street” and the like).
Fans are invited to play along on acoustic instruments from the front row, but no hand drums will be allowed during the Orchestra jam. Take note: The Orchestra co-hosts reserve the right to call onto the stage any fans playing along from the audience who are killing it! After the official Orchestra jam ends (it is expected to last two to three hours), the jam session will “unplug” and continue around the bonfire, where everyone is invited to join in.
Hillberry Festival’s lineup features two nights of Railroad Earth (the hosting band) as well as sets by acclaimed national acts such as Greensky Bluegrass, Fruition, Infamous Stringdusters, and Yonder Mountain String Band, among others. Other major acts on the schedule include Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Old Salt Union, and Dirtfoot. Hillberry Festival performances begin mid-afternoon Thursday through Sunday and run until the wee hours each night.
The Farm is located in the beautiful Ozark Mountains just a few miles from historic Eureka Springs. For more information on each act, the stage schedule, and details on tickets, check out our story “Hillberry Festival Unveils Stage Schedule.”
Though the list of participating musicians in the Hillberry Harvest Orchestra is still being finalized, the following are confirmed participants in the official Orchestra lineup:
- Michael Schembre, guitar, fiddle, and vocals (currently of Red Oak Ruse, Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings, Me and Him; formerly of Mountain Sprout, Mary & the Giant, The Kay Brothers, and others)
- Justin Thomas Easter, guitar, bass, and vocals (currently of Red Oak Ruse, Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings; formerly of Ice Cold Fatty, Beastbomb, and others)
- Jonathan Hagood, bass, guitar, and vocals (currently of Red Oak Ruse; formerly of Mary & the Giant, Made In Waves, 4 Skeevy Dudes, and Dead Bed Bad)
- Chris Loeffler, drums (currently of Red Oak Ruse, Made In Waves, 4 Skeevy Dudes, Dead Bed Bad)
- Allen Swearingen, mandolin and vocals (Foleys Van)
- Tom Andersen, bass and vocals (Arkansauce, John Henry & Friends)
- Opal Agafia, guitar and vocals (currently of Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings, Me and Him)
- Ron Landis, mandolin, steel guitar, banjo, dobro, and vocals (currently of Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings, Sprungbilly; regular guest performer with Handmade Moments, Chucky Waggs, Outlaw Hippies, Mudhawk, Vince Herman’s Leftover Salmon; formerly of The Doe Brothers, The Hogscalders, Magic Mule)
- Anna Moss, guitar, sax, ukelele, and vocals (Handmade Moments, formerly of Don’t Stop Please)
- Joel Ludford, guitar, bass, and vocals (Handmade Moments, formerly of Don’t Stop Please)
- Chris Crovella, banjo and vocals (The Squarshers, Foleys Van)
- John Henry Holtus, guitar and vocals (The Squarshers, John Henry & Friends, The Go Fast YouTube series, formerly of Foleys Van)
- Daniel Redmond, bass and vocals (formerly of Mountain Sprout, Ice Cold Fatty, Black Jesus, Hogscalders, Sonny Gray’s Jazz Band, and others)
- Patti Steel, clarinet, spoons, mandolin, washboard, and vocals (formerly of The Trashcan Bandits; regular performer with Randall Shreve, Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings, Foleys Van, Squarshers, Dirtfoot, and many others)
- Adam Johnston, guitar and vocals (Adam Johnston Band, Prince Ivan, Kadela)
- Jake Owens, guitar and vocals (The Ozark Travelers, Garden District Grand Revival)