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Hillbilly band Mountain Sprout in Hot Water

By JACK W. HILL SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

This article was published October 6, 2011 at 3:18 a.m.

— The Arkansas city that boasts its own special water has a new festival named in honor of it: the Hot Water Hills Music & Arts Festival, to be held Friday and Saturday in Hot Springs.

The event will include music, an art fair and activities designed with children in mind, such as a great pumpkin race, pie-eating contests, egg-tossing, drum circles and a hay-bale climbing pyramid.

It’s the creation of the same folks who several years ago started the Valley of the Vapors Festival, which takes place in March, and occasional concerts at their home base, the Low Key Arts Center, just off Park Avenue in Hot Springs. There will be food, drinks, beer and wine for sale.

The art show will open at 3 p.m. Friday, to kick off the proceedings, followed by a performance from the folk music class at the Arkansas School of Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts at 3:30 p.m. The rest of the Friday schedule is Kait Berreckman at 4:30 p.m., The Grand Marquis at 5 p.m., Monty Russell at 6:30 p.m., Big Smith at 7 p.m., Amy Jo Savannah at 8:30 p.m. and Ben Nichols at 9 p.m. (Nichols, a Little Rock native, is the lead singer of the Memphisbased band Lucero.)

On Saturday the art show will again open the schedule at 11 a.m., followed by music by Claire Turkal at 11:30 a.m., Andrew Anderson at 12:30 and 1 p.m., Kacie Waters at 2:30 p.m., Kait Berreckman at 3:30 p.m., Amanda Avery at 4:30 p.m., The Grand Marquis at 5 p.m., Adam Faucett at 6:30 p.m., The Extraordinaires at 7 p.m., Ben Robbins at 8:30 p.m. and Mountain Sprout at 9 p.m. A belly-dancing performance will also be held Saturday night, and on both days, there will be an artisans’ walk near the fountain in Hill Wheatley Park.

MOUNTAIN MEN

Mountain Sprout, the festival’s final band Saturday night, is a hillbilly-oriented group based in Eureka Springs. Members are Blayne Thiebaud on fiddle, Grayson VanSickle on banjo, Adam Waggs on guitar and Daniel Redmond on stand-up bass.

“We decided to make Eureka Springs our home about seven years ago,” Thiebaud says. “The bass player is from here, but I’m from Odessa, Texas, and the banjo player is from New Orleans and the guitarist is from Carbondale, Ill. Eureka is a good central location and it’s a beautiful place.

“At first the fans would come to us, but the supply and demand became more than we could deal with, so we go out on tour now, but not the 250 shows a year we were once up to.”

One of the reasons for cutting back on touring, he adds, was the banjo player’s pre-kindergarten child.

“I’m going to meet him after he takes his kid to school so we can cut some firewood,” says Thiebaud, who lives in a school bus 500 feet outside the city limits. “I’ve been in the bus for five or six years. Everybody else lives in houses.”

Mountain Sprout launched its recording career in 2005 with a CD, Pornobilly, and followed two years later with One More for the Ditch. In 2008 the band released Fambilly Hour, a collection of cover tunes requested by fans, and in 2009, Into the Sun dawned on fans, followed in 2010 by Habits to Feed and the about-to-be-released Best o’ the Beans.

Except for Fambilly Hour, the band’s albums have contained only original compositions by band members, Thiebaud says.

Mountain Sprout will also perform at Stickyz Chicken Shack in Little Rock on Friday night and at the Harvest Music Festival in the hills north of Ozark on Oct. 13-16.

Hot Water Hills

Music & Arts

Festival

3-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, Hill Wheatley Plaza, Central Avenue and Spring Street, Hot Springs

Admission: $5 admission per day; free for children 10 and younger

(501) 282-9056

www.hotwaterhills.com

Weekend, Pages 40 on 10/06/2011

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