‘Ozark Mountain Soul’

‘Ozark Mountain Soul’

Singer/songwriter rocks

own style of ‘roots ‘n’ roll’

Opal Agafia says she “came out of the musical closet” two years ago.

The metaphor makes sense when she explains that she “always loved music, always loved singing” growing up in tiny Dover, Ark., but went to Arkansas Tech University in Russellville to study business.

“Throughout college, I practiced songwriting on the side in little scribbled notebooks,” she says, often collaborating with her mother, DeAnna Smith. During her senior year, she got her first guitar “and started putting chords to my songs.”

She graduated in May 2015, moved to Eureka Springs in June, and before she knew it, Agafia — her middle name honoring a great-grandmother — was playing with a variety of musicians all over the area. Now, Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings is a “full five-piece band [with] fiddle, mandolin, guitar, Telecaster guitar, dobro and electric bass.” She describes the music as her own genre, “Ozark Mountain soul” and “roots ‘n’ roll,” adding that the band delivers “a unique live experience driven by soulful vocals, songwriting and tasteful blends of rippin’ instrumentals,” blending “the best elements of soul, gospel, blues, jazz, country, swing and traditional mountain music into a sound that captures the past and boldly looks forward to what is coming next.”

“Our songs reflect our deep roots in the Ozark Highlands, as well as our concerns for the current conditions and future of the region,” Agafia says in a band bio. “We know our history, but we do not long for it so much as we explore how it influences the present and will influence the future.”

The band’s first album, “One Down, Forever to Go,” was released in 2016, and a new single, “Them Bones,” came out this week. Just back from tour, The Sweet Nothings have gigs Friday at the Strawberry Jam Fest at Bald Knob, Crystal Bridges Museum on Saturday, the Fayetteville Public Library on Sunday, the Highberry Music Festival on June 29 and Chelsea’s in Eureka Springs on July 29 before a Colorado tour in August.

As she has since her debut, Agafia says, she’s “just going for it.” And she couldn’t be happier.

— Becca Martin-Brown



Opal Agafia

& The Sweet Nothings

WHEN & WHERE — 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Crystal Bridges Museum as part of Chihuly Saturday Nights & 2 p.m. Sunday at Fayetteville Public Library as part of the Mountain Street Stage summer series

COST — $15 at Crystal Bridges; free at the library

INFO — crystralbridges.org or faylib.org

BONUS — Can’t miss another opportunity to watch Opal perform? Strawberry Jam, Take II: Knobstock edition, a music and arts festival, is today through Sunday in Bald Knob. Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings will close out Friday’s stage with a midnight performance. facebook.com/StrawberryJam2017.

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