Cold Weather, Hot Licks: OzMoMu brings outdoor festival vibe indoors

Cold Weather, Hot Licks: OzMoMu brings outdoor festival vibe indoors
MONICA HOOPER
mhooper@nwadg.com

Editor’s Note: Since this story was written, Ghost of Paul Revere has canceled due to covid concerns within the band. Taking their 10 p.m. time slot Jan. 22 will be the Ozark Mountain Allstar Jam hosted by Sprungbilly and including elite musicians from Sprungbilly, Red Oak Ruse, Racheal Ammons & Opal Agafia and the Sweet Nothings, among them Alex Hawf, Michael Hopper, Sebastian Bordeaux and Elijah Brinson.

Lauded as winter’s only outdoor festival held indoors, the Ozark Mountain Music Festival will return Jan. 20-23 to the Basin Park Hotel in Eureka Springs. Now in its eighth year, the festival celebrates Americana roots music, bluegrass, folk and more.

“The premise of the festival is that things are much quieter here in Eureka Springs in the winter, and we love the outdoor music festival vibe, so we created a similar music festival and brought it inside for the winter,” says Gina Rambo, publicist for the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa Basin Park Hotel.

Last year’s festivities were canceled due to covid, but now they are back in full swing with safety protocols in place.

“We will be requiring proof of vaccination or a negative covid test at check-in. Festivalgoers will be able to stop by the welcome table at any point each day to go through their health check,” says Mary Howze, activities director for the host hotel. “We will also ask the staff to continue to wear masks.” More information on those protocols is available online.

Covid precautions won’t damper the fun though. In addition to a “jam”-packed music schedule, there are DIY souvenir events, whiskey and craft beer tastings, hatchet throwing, a clothing swap, ice skating and even a yoga session followed by mimosas to keep the party going between sets.

Those staying at the Basin for the festival will have a chance to participate by wearing costumes that correspond to each night’s theme: Toupee Thursday, Fictional Friday and Sequin Saturday.

“We encourage a hotel door decorating contest for a chance to win a ticket back to the festival,” says Howze, “And of course, we encourage all festivalgoers to spend time exploring Eureka Springs itself. Shopping, eating, in-town hiking, and more.

“This year we are adding a listening room in our Cave area on the lobby level. The listening room will feature artists that have more than music to share, they have stories to go with it. The location is unique, and the setting is very intimate. We will encourage festivalgoers to participate in a quieter fashion in this area. We pulled the concept from the famous International Folk Festival that is held in Kansas City. It is a space that allows the artist a space to communicate with the crowd,” Howze adds.

Headlining the festival this year is Ghost of Paul Revere. The group includes Max Davis on vocals and banjo, Sean McCarthy on vocals and bass and Griffin Sherry on vocals and guitar. According to the band’s website, they were described by the Boston Globe as a “Maine-grown, foot-stompin’ holler-folk quartet [that creates] the type of music for which festivals are made.”

This year’s lineup also includes Reverend Hylton, Chucky Waggs & The Company of Raggs, Country Jesus, The Lucky Pickers, Grace Stormont, Jenna & Martin, Atrium, Me and Him, Chicken Wire Empire, The Hillbenders, Opal Agafia featuring DeAnna Smith, John Depew, Good Morning Bedlam Duo, The Gravel Yard Bluegrass Band, Hosty Duo, The Hooten Hallers, Circus No. 9 and The Cate Brothers.

What’s Up! chatted with three of the bands:

Chucky Waggs & The Company of Raggs

Chucky Waggs & The Company of Raggs are scheduled to take the stage at 8 p.m. Jan. 20 on the first night of OzMoMu.

Q. Can you tell me a little bit about how your current group came together and who everyone is? I understand that you were with Mountain Sprout formerly and have been active in the Eureka Springs music scene for many years.

A. While playing backup and touring in other bands, I started writing and recording original songs; performing multiple instruments and vocal parts in the studio in order to add fully realized “full band” arrangements to original solo material. I then started recruiting whatever musicians were available at any given time for live performances of these arrangements. I called it Chucky Waggs & The Company of Raggs after a nickname I had growing up, based on my birth name Charles Wagner and the idea that the band was essentially a rotating pile of leftover “used” musicians from other bands.

The current and most consistent incarnation of the live band features Kyle Young on harmonica, Chris Crovella on banjo, Patti Steel on clarinet and Sebastien Bordeaux on upright bass.

Q. I read that one of your favorite songwriters is Shane MacGowan from The Pogues; how do you see his songwriting influence in your own music? How do you fuse punk rock with old-timey and bluegrass sounds?

A. The most direct influence of either punk rock, folk music, jugband, bluegrass, etc., with the type of music I like to write and play is the simple approach based more on lighthearted, yet sincere, forms of performance and storytelling, [and] based around simple, straight-forward melodies and chord structures and built around the lyrics. This allows the instruments to breathe around the song and jump forward in the space between on top of a simple structure, which focuses more on the energy than intricacies. It also makes it easy to play in any setting with any instrument — keeping it simple and straight forward — with a clear beginning, middle and end without a lot of filler or deviation. Just a few chords, whatever instruments we have available at the time and a story in between.

Q. What are your hopes for 2022 if (fingers crossed) we get past this pandemic?

A. On top of a handful of festivals like the Ozark Mountain Music Festival, Stars and Sauce, Stomp the Mountain and Pickin’ on Picnic, hopefully 2022 will get us back on the road again. I hope to start doing some more studio work on some newer songs, which may end up on another album eventually.

Q. Can you direct our readers to more information about your band and where they can hear some more of your music if they don’t get enough?

A. Our music can be found on all major streaming platforms, chuckywaggs.com, bandcamp.com, facebook.com/Chucky-Waggs-The-Company-of-Raggs and Instagram @Chucky_waggs.

Opal Agafia

Opal Agafia, featuring her mom and songwriting partner DeAnna Smith, will perform on at noon on Saturday at OzMoMu.

Q. Opal, I have heard your name quite a bit since moving to this area, how long have you been involved in the Northwest Arkansas music scene?

A. I moved to Eureka Springs in the summer of 2015 and began playing locally. A year or two after that, I started touring out of state as well.

Q. Over the summer you did a Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn tribute show at Prairie Street Live. What did you learn from that experience and can the audience expect some of those hits at OzMoMu?

A. Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn have always been heroes of mine. They are some of the very best songwriters to date. Diving into their music and practicing for the show gave me an opportunity to absorb their songs in a way that I hadn’t done before. Each song has so much meaning and power, especially the ones I chose for the tribute. Some of Dolly’s songs challenged me vocally, which I loved. This tribute definitely helped me broaden my vocal range and county roots. Also organizing my first one-day music festival allowed me to learn a lot about the production side of the industry.

Q. I’m so excited that this is an mother and daughter show! Can you tell me a little about how music has been part of your relationship? Can you tell us a little about the songs that you’ve written together or how you think that your family relationship (being a mother and daughter) shows up in your music?

A. Through our songs, we are able to convey and connect our experiences — both experiences we’ve had together and apart. We are so familiar with one another, and it allows us to express ourselves freely with an understanding of where the other is coming from. It’s family.

My mom is mostly a lyricist. Often she will send me completed lyrics or (poems) and I will add the music to them. Our song, “Strangers in the Backyard,” is one that she sent to me as a gift. It is her song to me.

It took me a few years before I was able to sing it amongst others, because it was personal to me. The songs are real, and in many ways only the two of us can know the meaning behind them. I just do my best to share and sing the song with others. I want to let them build their own relationship with the songs.

Q. Can I have a little background information on DeAnna?

A. My mom and I started writing together when I was about 17. She always had a natural ability in poetry, so when I told her I was starting to write songs, she became very interested. In her lifetime, she has studied and received degrees in both history and political science with an emphasis on the struggle for civil rights in America. Her lyrical themes often include such topics along with her own personal experiences in life. She has worked as a waitress, teacher, personal care assistant and hair dresser. She previously has published a number of poems and short stories, but found her voice in writing songs.

Find more information about Opal Agafia on https://opalagafia.com.

Country Jesus

Country Jesus will close out the Jan. 20 night slot at OzMoMu. Michael Brinson, guitairst and singer, speaks here for the band.

Q. Country Jesus is quite a band name! Can you tell our readers a little about how that moniker came about and who is in your current lineup?

A. I play in country bands as my day job, and I used to play with a guy that would call me Jesus (because of my hair and beard). A good woman that sang with us said one day, “you’re not Jesus, you’re country Jesus.” After some other people heard it, it just kind of stuck. The band consists of my oldest son Elijah Brinson on bass guitar, and two of my greatest friends, Don Martin on drums, and Rick Endel on keys — all of whom are phenomenal musicians.

Q. What are your hopes for 2022 if (fingers crossed) we get past this pandemic?

A. I hope in 2022 we all get to play more live music. There’s nothing like it, the interaction of people in a room together. I am just as inspired by the dancing people as I am by anything else. It’s a collective experience. The people that come to events like Ozark Mountain Music Festival, and events at The Farm are the greatest crowds of people to play for. They go with you as far out as you can get.

Q. Can you direct our readers to more information about your band and where they can hear some more of your music if they don’t get enough?

A. We’re just getting this started really. People have been very kind and responsive to the shows, but we haven’t had a chance to get a whole lot out there. We have a Facebook page and some live stuff out on YouTube. I’m also the sound company for this event, BrinSon’s Sound, and for a lot of the events we’ve played. So we stay pretty busy with music year round. But this is the music that comes from my heart and soul, and I hope that people that come to listen and interact will find another piece of the beauty inside themselves that they lost, and maybe lose some of the negative perceptions of themselves.

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FAQ

Ozark Mountain Music Festival

WHEN — Jan. 20-23

WHERE — Basin Park Hotel, 12 Spring St. in Eureka Springs

COST — $70 for all-access passes

INFO — www.ozarkmountainmusicfestival.com

Categories: In The News