Smokey & the Mirror perform May 17-18 during Artosphere Chapel series in Springdale, Bella Vista

Smokey & the Mirror perform May 17-18 during Artosphere Chapel series in Springdale, Bella Vista

Two pillars of the Northwest Arkansas music scene will perform in two Northwest Arkansas architectural marvels during the Artosphere Chapel Music Series this month.

“It’s very much a listening environment. Those chapels are beautiful. It’s a fun show because it’s intimate,” says Bryan Hembree, one half of Smokey & the Mirror, who return to the festival this year for the Chapel Series.

“One of my favorite parts about it is the glass chapels,” his wife Bernice Hembree adds. In the past, Smokey & the Mirror played at the Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel in Bella Vista, both as their duo and with a previous project, Three Penny Acre, with luthier/musician Bayard Blain.

“It was pretty awesome for the audience to be in nature, but in this beautiful architectural space,” Bernice says. “It’s really beautiful.” Fusing their layered, roots-based sound that pulls from country, rock ‘n’ roll and blues, the duo’s music pairs nicely with an evening spent immersed in nature on May 18.

New to them this year will be a performance at the Chapel Ruins at Sassafras Springs Vineyard and Winery on May 17.

The pair have toured nationally/internationally over the past decade with artists such as The Wood Brothers, I’m With Her, Elephant Revival, John Fullbright and more.

The Hembrees have spent more than a decade not only sharing their music in the region but supporting local music through their efforts with Fayetteville Roots, the nonprofit behind the Fayetteville Roots Festival.

The Fayetteville Roots Festival is still “taking a nap” according to Bernice, but the Hembrees have launched Folk School of Fayetteville at the historic Walker-Stone House at 207 W. Center St. in downtown Fayetteville.

“We moved in starting in March, early March. And we’ve been pouring a lot of love and attention into that space. And it’s been really fun. We’re so excited about the next couple of years,” Bernice beams.

“We’re taking it nice and slow. There’s no rush for us to begin programming. So it’s been really good for us to have the time in that space to feel out what each room is going to be best for and how we can program it best,” she adds.

So far the space is being used as a teaching spot for private lessons as well as jam sessions and workshops. Starting on May 8 there is an Irish Jam session hosted by Bob Holland from 6-8 p.m.; a songwriter open mic hosted by Jack Williams (original songs only) from 6-9 p.m. May 9; an Old Time Jam from 6-9 p.m. May 16; a folk jam hosted by the Hembrees from 6-9 p.m. May 25; and then an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 27.

It should be noted that these are teaching and learning opportunities for musicians, not performances.

“It’s development for our local artists to have a chance to play with other musicians. It’s an educational opportunity for them to take classes. We’ll have many classes that’ll start up this summer and workshops. It’s for small groups of people right now — the most we can fit in is about 30 for a jam — so it’s not geared toward an audience,” Bernice explains.

“We’re doing a lot of things that we’ve been doing for quite some time, you know, workshops, jams, all of the things that we did over the last 13 years,” adds Bryan. “It’s a continuation of that work that we’ve done from the very beginning.”



Chapel Music Series:

Smokey & The Mirror

WHEN & WHERE — 6:30 p.m. May 17 at the Chapel Ruins at Sassafras Springs Vineyard and Winery, 6461 E. Guy Terry Road in Springdale & 6:30 p.m. May 18 at the Mildred B. Memorial Chapel at 504 Memorial Drive, Bella Vista

COST — $15


Categories: Music