Buckhorn BlueGrass Festival, billed as “Not Your Grandpa’s Bluegrass,” takes place August 30, 31, and September 1, 2019 at Pulaski County Shrine Park in Waynesville’s Buckhorn neighborhood. The family-friendly music festival lineup features 10 bands on 2 stages including Arkansauce and Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings.
Arkansauce is a genre-hopping, four-piece string band from Fayetteville, who bends the rules and blurs the lines between bluegrass, newgrass, folk, americana, country, blues, and funk. Although influenced by Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show, the foursome possesses a hard-driving sound that is uniquely theirs.
The band’s roots go back to 2011 when founding members Ethan Bush, Zac Archuleta, and Stephen Jolly began writing together after becoming acquainted through mutual connections in the close-knit Fayetteville music scene. After a couple of years building a repertoire of original music and releasing their first album (Hambone) as a trio, they were joined by Tom Andersen on the upright bass and Adams Collins on the five-string banjo. The road-tested chops Andersen and Collins brought to the table helped to cultivate the mature, well-rounded sound needed to accommodate their sophomore release “All Day Long.” Their third album, “If I Were You,” was released April 2017.
An Arkansauce show is riddled with improvisational guitar, banjo, and mandolin leads, paired with powerful harmonies and heart-felt songwriting, all held together by deep foot-stompin’ bass grooves. There’s an undeniably intimate connection between the band and their fans that’s contagious and leaves everyone in front of, and on the stage wanting more.
Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings
Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings is a Roots n Roll group from Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Lead vocalist and songwriter, Opal Agafia, entered the music scene in January of 2015. Shortly after playing in local joints with various musicians, Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings, developed into a full roots band. Together the group puts on a high energy show while focusing on soulful lyrics and instrumental combos. Spring 2016 saw the release their first album, “One Down, Forever To Go.” In 2018, Opal Agafia release her sophomore album, “Share What You Own.”
While still a college student, Opal Agafia began a songwriting collaboration with her mother, DeAnna Smith. Their songs reflect their deep roots on the Ozark Highlands, as well as their concerns for the current conditions and future of the region. They know their history, but they do not long for it so much as they explore how it influences the present and will influence the future. Their approach is both fresh and familiar.
Drawing from many genres, Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings blend 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. Their fan base is an interesting and eclectic blend of folks who seem to find something that speaks to all of them in their particular diversities. Opal Agafia & the Sweet Nothings’ sound is fearlessly haunted by those who came before them, and they seek to add their spirit to new generations of listeners who come after them.
Chucky Waggs & The Company of Raggs
Chucky Waggs is a multi-instrumentalist, singer/ songwriter based out of the hills of Eureka Springs, AR. Chucky Waggs plays a mix of guitar, banjo, harmonica, and kazoo, all while using his feet to stomp out the back beat on a thrown together drum kit. Drawing influences from early American roots music, as well as early punk and rock and roll, he’s often joined on stage by numerous accompanying musicians to add to the energy and dynamic of his original material, as well as some early American folk songs. The result ranges from intimate, often humorous, folk ballads, to all out rowdy stomp-alongs.
Chucky Waggs (Charles Adam Wagner) got his musical start playing in basement punk rock bands. Drawn in by the D.I.Y. approach to the performances, as well as the energy and simplicity behind the music, he eventually found an appreciation for early American blues, and jugband songs, as well as early country, folk and bluegrass for ,what he sees, as a similar energy and simple natured approach.
Chucky Waggs & The Company of Raggs by John Longmire via Facebook.
The Steamboat Bandits
The Steamboat Bandits are a high-octane bluegrass band from Kansas City. The group released their first album in 2015 and currently producing their next. They are now showcasing all their original material as well as many popular bluegrass standards and build their shows on improvisation to give each show its own unique character.
The Steamboat Bandits were formed at a local bluegrass festival in 2013, where campfire jams led to organization. The band consists of guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and upright bass.
All the members share a love for music, and each add an integral part to the sound that makes The Steamboat Bandits. The band truly loves performing and is dedicated to spreading the joy of live music.
Grassfed is a quick-picking string band. Pivoting on the foundation of bluegrass, Grassfed entwines tradition with an eclectic array of influences. Forged by songwriters and driven by instrumental conversation, the band brings a punching sound all its own.
Grassfed is among top bluegrass up and comers– releasing their debut album January 2017 and touring nationally. With a nonstop mind set, and ever growing fanbase– Grassfed shows no signs of slowing down.
Hailing from the Wichita Mountains of Southwest Oklahoma, Just Strangers writes songs about the highway and worn hearts, mornings bright and early and the late night derelicts, train songs, songs about whiskey and wild women, songs about abandon and holding, songs about small town folk and homespun heart driven city rambling, some 1970’s yellowed polaroid, having nothing and wanting it all, maybe a tavern or a truck stop, something about bus stations and bowling alleys and discovering a jukebox.
Adam Johnson Band & The Dirty Strings
Adam Johnson has been playing live music to audiences all over Texas for the last 10 years. At 25 years old, Johnson has already independently released two albums worth of original material, played on some of the state’s most legendary stages and with some it’s most revered players. But that’s only the beginning for him.
“The Adam Johnson Band” is currently in the works on a third album and what looks to be Johnson’s most prolific to date. Pulling from his deep blues and roots influences, fans will be taken on a journey to the smoky, dank clubs that the band has cuts it teeth on for years. At the same time, the “songwriter” influences that appeared on “Part-Time Romance” (Johnson’s sophomore release) are explored further than ever before. Revealing truly original compositions, lush with soulful textures, haunting harmonies and guitar that will transport the listener back in time… And forward into the future!
When not working on their labor of love, the Adam Johnson Band can be seen in its natural environment, in front of a crowd of happy music lovers 5 to 7 nights a week.
Adam Johnson Band & The Dirty Strings will perform at Buckhorn BlueGrass Festival near Waynesville, Missouri.
While in Pulaski County, Missouri for Buckhorn BlueGrass Festival check out Crocker’s Railroad Days celebration Saturday, August 31st!
FURTHER READING: Buckhorn Bluegrass Festival Guide to Waynesville’s Amusements, Attractions, & Sites of Significance