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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” harnesses the creative insights gathered during the first few weeks of pandemic quarantine, setting a pulsing, contemplative feel until it reaches a breaking point mid-song and everything turns around into a delightful trip as they celebrate getting back on tour. “First Night of the Tour” recalls the “rules of the road,” a fun reminder that “Everybody knows that you don’t unload the very first night of the tour.”
Other songs include an ambitious and stimulating “Coldiron,” the Hartford-esque “How Time Flies,” and the hard drivin’ “My Home in Arkansas.” “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.
“Bim Batta,” with its 80s electro/hip-hop flair, 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.” “The Funky Gorilla” leans into Stanton Moore’s New Orleans funk approach and a delightful “Air Bender” completes the album with its undulating banjo transporting the listener on 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.
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 Tour Dates
3/3 – Cedar Cultural Center – Minneapolis, MN
3/4 – Appleton Beer Factory – Appleton, WI
3/8 – High Noon Saloon – Madison, WI
3/9 – Golden Dagger – Chicago, IL
3/10 – Granada Theatre – Mount Vernon, IL
3/22 – Hop Springs Beer Park – Murfreesboro, TN
3/23 – Barley’s – Knoxville, TN
3/24 – Charleston Pour House – Charleston, SC
3/28 – The Camel – Richmond, VA
3/29 – The Southern – Charlottesville, VA
3/31 – Best Booth Bash – Ridgeway, IA
4/2 – Parkway Brewing – Salem, VA
4/13 – Belly Up – Solana Beach, CA*
4/14 – Crescent Ballroom – Phoenix, AZ*
4/15 – 191 Toole – Tucson, AZ*
4/16 – Yucca North – Flagstaff, AZ*
4/21 – Beer City Music Hall – Oklahoma City, OK
4/22 – Backwoods Music Festival – Ozark, AR
4/27 – 123 Pleasant St. – Morgantown, WV
4/28 – Some Kind of Jam – Kempton, PA
4/29 – Private Wedding – Roanoke, VA
4/30 – House Show – Lynchburg, VA
5/6 – Record Bar – Kansas City, MO
5/12 – Sustain Art & Music Festival – French Lick, IN
5/19 – FreshGrass – Bentonville, AR
5/25 – The Lariat – Buena Vista, CO
5/26 – Cervantes Other Side – Denver, CO
5/28 – McAwesome Fest – Castle Rock, CO
6/2 – Dixie Center for the Arts – Ruston, LA
6/15 – Ozark Mountain Soul Fest – Eureka Springs, AR
6/17 – Survivor’s Ball – Lonedell, MO
6/23 – Argentina Vibes – North Little Rock, AR
7/14 – ABQ Biopark Zoo – Albuquerque, NM
8/5 – Keystone Bluegrass & Beer – Keystone, CO
8/6 – Rhythm on the Rio – Del Norte, CO
8/11-12 – Lovegrass Music Festival – Wilson Lake, KS
* w/ The Brothers Comatose