Tagged: Michael Schembre

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...

ALBUM REVIEW: Red Oak Ruse’s Folk-Pop Debut is the New Favorite You’ve Been Craving

Red Oak Ruse‘s self-titled debut album officially releases Sept. 2, 2017, at the band’s release party at Chelsea’s Corner Cafe & Bar in Eureka Springs, the group’s home base. But it’s available now for streaming on their website as well as on Spotify [embedded below], and it is for sale already on CDBaby – and we think it’s a contender to be your new favorite Arkansas-made album. I can’t stop listening to it – and it’s rare for me to listen to a full album without skipping half the tracks, much listen to it in full and on repeat. Song after song, the Red Oak Ruse album – which was written, rehearsed, and recorded over the last year and a half at Caleb Lindsey’s Eureka Springs studio – provides surprising twists and turns in genre-hopping musical stylings, lyrical content, and instrumentation. The songwriting is some of the best we’ve heard come out of Arkansas in a long time: fantastic hooks in nearly every track; outstanding lead vocals and harmonies; subtle but compelling bass lines; playful-yet-powerful fiddling; authoritative but discreet drumming; high-speed, intricate,...

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...