Americana Roots: Arkansauce

Credit: Phil Clarkin

Americana Roots highlights the freshest and most original Americana and bluegrass from across the pond in the US.  It covers everything from brand-new, just out of the box bands, to cult favourites, to established acts who have yet to reach the UK’s shores.  Hailing from Arkansas is Arkansauce who lives in the sweet-spot between the traditional world of bluegrass and the more adventurous progressive side of it, where they craft thoughtful lyrical and musical excursions into the heart of old-timey music.

Name: Arkansauce.

For Fans Of: Billy Strings, Newgrass Revival, Leftover Salmon.

Hometown: Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA.

Band Members: Tom Andersen (bass), Zac Archuleta (guitar), Ethan Bush (mandolin), Adam Collins (banjo)

Website: https://arkansaucemusic.com/

Discography:  ‘All Day Long’ (2015), ‘Hambone’ (2016), ‘If I Were You’ (2017), ‘Maybe Someday’ (2019)

Background: Built upon the childhood friendship of guitarist Zac Archuleta and mandolinist Ethan Bush who grew up down the street from each other in Lamar, Arkansas is Arkansauce.  The band was begun when the two reconnected in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2010 after drifting apart for a few years.  Bush says, “Our musical tastes remained cosmically aligned through this time and had begun to land in the folk, Americana, and string music veins.”  The pair began to write and pick their way through a few fun originals and eventually wound up on stage at a small dive called The Stolen Glass in Fayetteville.

Archuleta and Bush were aware of their future bandmates, bassist Tom Andersen and banjo-picker Adams Collins, who were also part of the tight-knit Fayetteville music scene.  The four would officially come together at a small music festival in Oklahoma when they took the stage for their first performance together.  Shortly after they performed together at Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Music Festival and found a home in the burgeoning jamgrass movement.  Bush says, “It was clear we had stumbled upon a much sought after chemistry amongst our ranks that would guarantee the inspiration, drive, and creativity needed to reserve our brotherhood a place in the world of progressive string music.”

For Akansauce their take on bluegrass which is forward-thinking yet still adhering to a traditional model is powered by their creative and technically challenging arrangements.  “Our roots are firmly set in genuine and heartfelt songwriting projected through a lens of progressive bluegrass and string music,” says Bush.  “The fact is music played with this type of instrumentation and songwriting based on life experience is simply timeless.  It seems pure, untainted by the powerful suits in the mainstream music industry and therefore far less likely to fall victim to the time-stamped fad-fests we hear in pop music every year.  All of this makes us less worried about our place in it because the clock doesn’t feel like it’s ticking for us. We know from close interaction with our fans that they find that our music has a unique quality of seeming like it’s been written for them and whatever they’ve got going on in their lives.  Music like that will always have a place.”

Within the highly improvisational and inventive jamgrass scene Arkansauce has looked to some of the stalwarts for guidance, including Leftover Salmon, Railroad Earth, and Yonder Mountain String Band.  Their advice has allowed Arkansauce’s music to continually develop and mature. “Our music is ever-evolving to say the least,” explains Bush.  “We’re all very motivated to hone our individual skills and create a textured atmosphere of collaboration and unity in our live performances.  We always remain dedicated to serving the songs and presenting relatable lyrics to help navigate our fans through their lives because that’s what it does for us.  For us, making music is a constant grind while never grinding us down or burning us out.”

For Arkansauce they are also continually looking to evolve and improve their live show which is such a defining part of their identity.  In addition to their ever growing music, the band recognizes that the lights, sound, and production are just as important to the overall experience.  “We’ve got an awesome new sound engineer that travels with us and we’ve been having a blast developing a  more consistent, high-quality audio experience,” explains Bush.  “We’ve also been experimenting with more and more integrated lighting options and we can’t wait to turn this thing into a machine that can make any stage in the world shake and shudder.  We’re gonna find out if there’s a roof on this thing so we can blow it off.”

What They Do Live:

About Tim Newby 55 Articles
Author of books, writer of words, enjoyer of good times. Often found barefoot at a festival somewhere. Author of 'Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin' Sound & Its Legacy' (2015), 'Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! (2019) Follow him on twitter @Tim_Newby9 .

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