ARKANSAUCE independently releasing 5th album, “OK To Wonder”
Arkansauce Independently Releasing 5th Album, OK to Wonder, April 21, 2023
FAYETTEVILLE, AR — Arkansauce is excited to independently release their 5th album, OK to Wonder, on April 21.
The melodies of the Ozark Mountains’ rolling hills and raging rivers can be heard in this progressive string quartet’s distinct blend of newgrass.
Arkansauce is Tom Andersen on bass, guitarist Zac Archuleta, Ethan Bush on mandolin, and Adams Collins on banjo. Their music features improvisational string leads matched with complex melodies, intriguing rhythms, and deep thumping bass grooves. Each member sings lead and harmony parts as well as contributes to the lyrics, which offer authentic, intelligent songwriting with hard-hitting hooks.
OK to Wonder is filled with songs of revelry, wonder, insight, and whimsy—inspired not only from their home state of Arkansas, but also throughout their travels. “We are a band that spends most of our time in the back of a van hurtling toward long nights, good times, and a destiny unknown,” says Ethan. “Our inspiration is gathered by events unfolding in our own adventures in real time. These days, the desire to create, inspire, and redefine within our scene seems to be the main driving force behind our music. From a young age we were huge fans of live music and were introduced to a lot of great music by our families.”
Music Mecca’s Spencer Nachman calls them a “fiery, finger-picking string band… What is apparent at any Arkansauce show is their positivity and desire to uplift the audience’s spirit, no matter the circumstance.” Americana UK’s Tim Newby writes, “Their take on bluegrass, which is forward-thinking yet still adhering to a traditional model, is powered by their creative and technically challenging arrangements.”
OK to Wonder‘s 11 tracks were recorded in Fayetteville at Crisp Recording Studio with engineer Darren Crisp, James Tuttle [Leftover Salmon, The String Cheese Incident, Hot Rize, Michael Franti, Cary Morin] on the mix, and Brad Sarno [Son Volt, Jay Farrar] for the mastering.
Beginning with the upbeat “Up on the Shelf,” which Ethan describes as, “a rowdy song about a wild night out and gradually became a much more in depth picture of the ups and downs of a relationship; I aimed to maintain the spirit of the original concept, while trying to depict the stress that partnerships may bring through an honest and unique lens.”
“Big City Chicken” is the first of four instrumentals on the album, and it celebrates getting back on the road after the first year of the pandemic. Ethan says, “It was written while watching my chickens peck around my backyard during those first few weeks of quarantine. Performing on the road later felt as if I was finally weaponizing the creativity birthed in that time and space.”
“First Night of the Tour” sings the result of the band learning the “rules of the road” through trial and error on their first few tours. Ethan recalls, “One notable night in Stillwater many years ago the crowd sent round after round of whiskey shots to the stage. It was the first night of the tour and we were too excited to turn them down. The next morning the first rule of the road was born (along with some exceptional hangovers) and was eventually immortalized in song… ‘Everybody knows that you don’t get drunk the very first night on the road.’”
The stimulating “Coldiron” was inspired by a close friend of the band who uprooted himself at an early age to move to a remote, old family property where he didn’t know a soul and ambitiously forged a bountiful and fulfilling life.
“Bim Batta” is the first of three instrumentals on the album composed by Adams, who says, “At some point, I became obsessively interested in how a four-piece bluegrass group might emulate various styles of drum grooves and rhythms.” “Bim Batta” is influenced by 80s electro and hip hop, while “The Funky Gorilla” is influenced by Stanton Moore’s New Orleans funk approach.
“I’ll Be Yours” gives encouragement to the underdogs of the world while the empathetic and anthemic “Early Bird” shines and welcomes you to join in. Zac says, “Written during the heat of the pandemic after my father-in-law, a truck driver whose CB handle was ‘Early Bird,’ passed away from covid. Everything seemed so dark that I wanted to write a song about light and hope with a lot of harmonies and uplifting melodies. My dad actually passed away a few months after, and it ended up being a song for myself in a way.”
A song of reflection and reminiscing, the title lyrics can be heard in the Hartford-esque “How Time Flies.” My oh my how time flies… Is this the way I wanted things to be… I simply cannot decide… Who in the hell is behind those eyes… I guess it’s okay to wonder until the day I die… Hold on to what you got for now and let time take care of the rest.” The song is meant to help us find some peace in the space between trying to chase down our dreams and deciding to alter our path.
“My Home in Arkansas” displays the band’s fast pickin’. Andersen says, “This song came to me after a Bill Monroe bender. It’s a straight-forward bluegrass song about the road and the yearnings for home—with a few twists and turns on the arrangement, as any road worth traveling would have.”
A delightful instrumental, “Air Bender,” completes the album with its undulating banjo leading the listener into a magical country western jaunt.
Previous albums include All Day Long (2015), Hambone (2016), If I Were You (2017), and Maybe Someday (2019). The band has extensive roots in their home state of Arkansas (winning the 2021 Arkansas Best Bluegrass Artist of the Year in the Arkansas Country Music Awards) as well as out in the wider bluegrass, Americana, and festival music scenes.
The band was founded in 2011 after Zac and Ethan, who had grown up across the street from one another in Johnson County, Arkansas, moved to Fayetteville. Tom and Adams were slowly introduced to them through the tight-knit Fayetteville music community. During a fateful gig at a Riverstomp Music Festival in 2014, the band was down a couple of members, and Adams and Tom filled in on the fly—magic was made on the stage that night, and the lineup was forever changed.
Having played shows from California to Connecticut over the last several years in addition to two tours in Europe, the band is no stranger to the road. They supported Yonder Mountain String Band for a leg of their summer tour in 2019, played mainstage spots on festivals with bands (including but not limited to) Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Del McCoury Band, Billy Strings, Leftover Salmon, Tauk, The Wood Brothers, and shared the stage with the legendary Sam Bush as a guest.
Arkansauce has a hearty tour schedule lining up for the year with later Winter shows throughout the Midwest and South Central. As Spring hits, they stop in Tennessee for a couple of shows, followed by a pop off show in Charleston, SC March 24. In early April they pick back up and head into California and Arizona for a handful of shows with Brothers Comatose. They will celebrate release week with a show at Beer City Music Hall in Oklahoma City and a performance at Backwoods Music Festival before heading East towards WV, PA, and VA to round off the month. Late Spring holds shows in Colorado, Louisiana, and further shows in the Midwest and they’ll be at a handful of festivals throughout the year.
For more information, a full list of tour dates, and news from the road please visit www.arkansaucemusic.com, www.facebook.com/Arkansauce.
OK to Wonder Track Listing
1. Up on the Shelf 4:25 (Bush)
2. Big City Chicken 6:31 (Bush)
3. First Night of the Tour 3:29 (Bush)
4. Coldiron 5:42 (Bush)
5. Bim Batta 4:44 (Collins)
6. I’ll Be Yours 4:32 (Bush)
7. Early Bird 4:58 (Archuleta)
8. The Funky Gorilla 5:09 (Collins)
9. How Time Flies 4:48 (Bush)
10. My Home in Arkansas 4:11 (Andersen)
11. Air Bender 4:58 (Collins)
Ethan Bush – Mandolin, Vox on 1,3,4,6,7,9,10
Adams Collins – Banjo, Vox on 1,3,4,6,8,10, Piano on 7
Zac Archuleta – Guitar, Vox on 1,7,9
Tom Andersen – Bass, Vox on 1,3,4,6,7,9,10
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