Tradition meets evolution at the 74th Eureka Springs Festival – The Free Weekly


JOCELYN MURPHY
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By its simplest definition, “folk music” is just music for people. It’s music that tells the story of people’s lives, says Nancy Paddock, organizer of the Ozark Folk Festival.

“It’s the music that begins in the living room and the front yard,” she muses, noting that genre, if that is still the most applicable word, “now has a fuller voice than it does.” probably never had it. It’s not as regional as it used to be, but I think it touches more on a common theme across the spectrum of folk music.

The 74th Incarnation of the Ozark Folk Festival, which runs November 11-14 at Eureka Springs, reflects this diversity with a lineup of both established and up-and-coming artists, local musicians steeped in Ozark culture and national names. influenced by other parts of the country and music that encompasses country, bluegrass, jazz, pop and even hip-hop and MCs.

“The festival started with the idea of ​​preserving traditional Ozark music and dance,” Paddock shares. “They were trying to preserve what happened 30 years ago. Now we watch [back]it’s the 1970s. So if we try to preserve traditions, we have more than decades of music to preserve, which greatly expands the spectrum of folk music.

“‘Folk’ is a word that means different things to different people, which works for us because it allows us to be broad and inclusive,” adds Dan “Danjo” Whitener, banjo player / lead singer. of the Gangstagrass festival. “This means that each of us can add our own folk music to the mix, and that’s fine. None of this is wrong.

The iconic Barefoot Ball of the Ozark Folk Festival was started by a Californian couple who won a two-week stay at the Basin Park Hotel in 1948, provided they remained barefoot throughout the stay. As they were good athletes for the challenge, a ball was thrown in their honor and it has been a tradition ever since. A shoe rack will be available for accompanying persons who wish to participate. (Courtesy photo / Eureka Springs Historical Museum)

“It can be hard to define,” adds his bandmate Rench (producer / guitarist / singer / beatmaker / creator), “but there is a way that music can come from the patronage of those with resources and serve the people. preferences of an elite, or come from the urge of people without resources to share and create together. What is music played by people for people, born out of this desire to sing and play together? I guess many kinds of music have come out of this, and that’s why “folk” can be a very broad term. At the end of the day, I just know I love people, so when they do things with the heart, it’s great.

“It’s organic, and it comes from the heart,” sounds MC / singer Dolio the Sleuth. “We can do it live, on command, in any space we’re in, and we don’t need anything but ourselves and certain people to experience it. “

Gangstagrass is an Emmy-nominated multiracial five-piece that explores the common ground of bluegrass, American roots music, and hip-hop as folk music – blending the rural and urban musical traditions of America.

“Where to start?” Danjo begins by considering the overlap between the bluegrass and hip-hop communities. “The structure of the music itself, the improvisation with exchanged pauses; the lyrical content of folk storytelling; the cultural and class similarity of performers and listeners; the relative young age of the two genders in the 20th century. Even the way genres were created, thanks to modern synthesis augmented with cutting edge technology.

“You can see both types of music as essentially a folk tradition, born out of common struggles and methods of making music together without resources,” Rench adds. He cites the history of the exploitation of the Appalachian region and the exploitation of the city labor markets that concentrated poverty in places like the Bronx in the 1970s, as unique examples with many things in common.

“The way people create and bond, build trust in their communities, share vocabularies and stories of struggle and rebellion – you’ll find it underneath it all,” Rench continues. “Music expresses these things because it was born in each case from the way people with no resources could come together and create shared music and improvise a musical conversation from the tools at their disposal.”

(Courtesy photo / Mélodie Yvonne) One More Thing With Gangstagrass: On the impact of regional musical heritage: Dolio: Being from the Gulf Coast, I definitely had a very different set of influences than, say, an MC from the northeast, from the west coast. , or even Atlanta, to be honest. Before the advent of the internet and media conglomerates consolidating huge swathes of the radio and television markets, I could travel from city to city and soak up the essence of a city or town. from what was on the radio, or in bars, clubs, and parties around the city blocks. I have the impression that this variety of regional flavors still exists in the underground scenes, but not so much in the general public. It’s really crazy that now I can hear people born and raised in Brooklyn sounding like they’re coming straight from the bayou. I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising, given that a lot of us migrate anyway. Rench: I hope we can continue to benefit from both – the wonderful dynamics of dialect, outlook and style of a region producing a new sound or subgenre, but also the possibility of it entering into a global exchange. where people around the world can be influenced by and participate in its evolution. It has lasted throughout the history of music. I’m not from the Appalachians, but the musical culture of the Appalachians has had a huge influence on me, which goes into my music in combination with other styles I’m more native to. Music is a natural cross-pollinator of culture. R-SON the Voice of Reason (MC / freestyler): I grew up in East Coast Boom Bap hip-hop, and it really shaped my style. Having different hip-hop styles is part of what makes the culture wider and more interesting, and it also challenges artists to develop their skills and work in other styles. Danjo: I think the whole idea of ​​regionalism can be overstated; when you look at how music was transmitted orally across America and the world before the invention of recorded music, you see that everyone was still learning other people’s songs. But the way I think of progressive music, you always have to start wherever you are, whatever you know, and then try to go in one direction – any direction – with it. BE Farrow (violin / singer): When I started playing bass as a kid, the people who opened the instrument to me were Bootsy Collins and New Orleans bassist Bill Johnson. The first funk bassline I learned was “Rubber Band Man”, and it showed me just how much funky groove can improve chops. Bill Johnson’s heyday was in the 1920s and it was difficult at the time to find out anything about him except that he was important around NOLA and then left music to create a shipping company – which blew me away. At the time, I didn’t think there was any other path for musicians than to be musicians, and her story opened my mind to other ways of making a career. MORE INFO – gangastagrass.com

Gangstagrass headlining show takes place on November 13 at The Aud, but the music will be playing all weekend at The Aud, Main Stage, Basin Park Bandshell and Basin Park Hotel for the legendary Barefoot Ball. “A selection of some of the best local musicians in the area” will be highlighted with free performances at the park, sharing Paddock, and each day will start with two local singers / songwriters as another way to spotlight local artists . Most of the national artists who perform in the evening are faces that Eureka Springs and Northwest Arkansas will remember from previous visits.

Although the area and Eureka Springs itself continue to change, Paddock says that between the Eureka Springs Historical Museum and events like the folk festival supporting local artists, “we are preserving the music that still thrives in our mountains. , our rivers and streams “.

“For decades it was a city that celebrated its heritage,” she says of the origins of the festival. “But today, it is a city that presents its heritage. So it went from something that is a city festival to something that is a city presenting a festival.

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Faq

74th Annual Ozark Folk Festival

WHEN – November 11-14

O – Multiple sites in downtown Eureka Springs

COT – Performance varies; some free

INFO – 253-7333, facebook.com/OriginalOzarkFolkFestival

FYI – Proof of full covid-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours will be required for some shows; temperatures will be checked at the door for some performances; masks will be compulsory inside. Visit the website for complete information.

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for your information

Ozark Folk Festival

Calendar

November 11th

7 p.m. – Todd Snider, with opener Chucky Waggs, and Bear and Sofia, at The Aud. $ 40.

9:00 p.m. – Barefoot ball, with Arkansauce, at the Basin Park Hotel. $ 15.

12 november

6 p.m. – Hedges

8 p.m. – Jonathan Byrd and the Pickup Cowboys, with Melissa Carper and the Blue Hankies at 7 p.m., all at The Aud. Through donations of cash or non-perishable food to the local food bank and People Helping People.

November 13

8 p.m. – Still on the Hill, with Mighty Fine Time, at 7 p.m., on the main stage. $ 10.

7 p.m. – Gangstagrass, opening The Creek Rocks, at The Aud. $ 29.

14 november

7 p.m. – Sam Baker, with Tim Lorsh, on the main stage. $ 20.

Basin Springs Park

Sixteen local musicians and singer-songwriters will perform at the Bandshell from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. November 12 to 13 and from noon to 4 p.m. on November 14.


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