If you’re a regular reader of the Flyer, then you’ve probably heard at least a little about the growing legend of Opal Fly’s regular Thursday appearance at the Smoke and Barrel.
Recently moving to Fayetteville via Eureka Springs, via New Orleans, via a place called Zeron, Opal’s smooth voice, and and old-school sound have been creating quite a buzz around town.
The Thursday performances at Smoke and Barrel have become a hot topic of conversation as well thanks to Opal’s incredible voice, and the wide range of great musicians who have joined her on stage over the course of the last month or so. That, and the fire dancers. Those help too.
You can check out some of Opal’s music here, but the best way to take in the full experience is to check her out at the Smoke and Barrel on Thursday.
We got in touch with Opal for an interview to try to find out a little bit more about what’s behind the musician who everyone in town is talking about.
Fayetteville Flyer: What have you been listening to lately?
Opal Fly: I have been listening to a lot lately. I spent many years focused on one genre when I moved to New Orleans. So many songs to learn… and then I went through a period of quiet…easier to compose for me but now I am swimming in sound. I love the carrier wave. I want to be drawn to sound/music with loving intent to raise my spiritual consciousness. I used to separate my different interests. I played jazz/blues/r&b on the street and chanted mantras at home but then I met Foxfire Magik. I went on thy Faery prankster tour and everything merged into one. Now I believe you can bring “Love of Oneness” anywhere – maybe especially a bar or honky-tonk.
Yesterday I listened to New Orleans Jazz Vipers (friends and fellow players. The guitar/bassist on my cd was the first bassist for the Vipers), Horace Silver, Sun Ra, DJ Chebi, Sabbah and I actually gave a massage to Blind Boy Fuller, but that was another day and for today…
FF: So, where are you from?
OF: Zeron (pronounced with a hard I sound like siren). I am living in Fayetteville. This is my first year. Eureka Springs is my lover.
FF: We’ve heard you have a lot of musicians that come down to Arkansas to play with you from all over the country. Who are some of these players?
OF: I’ve got a list of people I WANT to play with. DEFINATELY. Hello Michael Franti. What are you doing Herbie Hancock? My favorite cats that I’ve had the privilege to groove with have been Three Quarter Kind (MyTea Kind). Talk about a lock down rhythm and James songwriting kicks me into special feeling. Spinning fire with Foxfire whilst Three Quartet Kind jam with Joe Mack is sweet heaven which is why I am anxiously awaiting Mulberry Mountain Harvest Fest.
It’s been awhile but Jeremy Lyons and the Deltibilly Boys came down, Troubadours of Divine Bliss, Warren Byrom and the Swells, Pokey Lafarge I hope returns, Greg Bucking has taken the time to learn some of my tunes and I am indebted, Nate Stevens, Joe Credit (coming to the Smoke and Barrel).
Have you heard Darlene…have you heard Darlene with Still on the Hill? Beautiful. Have you heard Darlene with Luna Tart? I hope that happens again there are so many beautiful people in this area playing music like Claudia Burston. I want to hear her every day, Shout Lulu, Three Penny Acre, the Pope County Bootleggers, Cletus Got Shot, 1oz Jig, love Jeff Kearney’s funk, fun tunes, Garret Jones, Ron Sumner, Matt Smith (listen to his originals in MSG Note Explosion), Tiffany Christopher swoons me. So many friends I can’t name them. Pearl Brick, the Ariel’s, the Hoggscalders, the Skinny Gypsies have been a huge influence…punk rock Irish pirate with a twist of old style, and all the drummers I have met. Morty and Tyler and Sidney have helped me out a lot., diggeridooist Sylver. High, high on the list is Hot Butter. What a cat and of course bringing Foxfire to the area to smooth it all together
FF: Your myspace page implies that you kind of split time between Eureka Springs and Fayetteville. Who are some Eureka Springs musicians that we should check out?
OF: I mentioned a lot above but there are even more players there that I don’t get to jump around with but would like to…Akwaaba, Mtn Sprout, Lyle Pinkett, Rachel Fields, Deerwoman, Maureen Sullivan, Jerry Jones, anything happening at FireOmEarthStudios, Renaga’s chimes and have you seen John Rankin tapdance?
FF: You have an extremely unique quality to your voice that we can’t quite put our finger on. What were some of your biggest influences musically growing up?
OF: Carrie Chapman Catt, Margaret Sanger, Ina Ray Hutton, Bobbie Grice everyone who chants Gandhi, Krishna das, Phagavan Das, Abida Parveen, Yogi Bhajan, Sri Swami Satchidananda, Memphis Minnie, lil Johnson, Lonnie Johnson, Cesara Evoria, Dean Martin, Tom Waits, Loretta Lynn, Louis Armstrong, “Washboard Lissa”, Maria Callas, Doris Day, Ma Rainey, Carole Sloane, Olu Dara, Sonny Rollins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Sun Ra, Harry Allen, Sidney Bechet, the wind.
FF: Looks like your scheduled to play Wakarusa this year. Are there any bands that have been announced so far that you are excited about?
OF: I am excited to have Wakarusa in our backyard. I want for all of us in the area to welcome the festivalteers…especially our friends in blue…..anywhere you see a thy faEry prankster sign – join us. And go ahead and ask off for work for the Mulberry Mtn Harvest Fest!
FF: There are pictures of you online playing the guitar, the ukelale, and the sax. How many instruments do you play, anyway?
OF: Whatever instruments you are giving away… We have a marching band with low funds looking for another bass drum and glockenspiel…Oh oh and please give up your baritone saxophone to me…thank-you.
FF: Do you have any recorded material available for purchase? Any recording projects in the works?
OF: I probably still have a few Swatters cd’s recorded with Gates Magoo, Melissa Carper, Chris Bradley, and Jan Bell, then there is the Belladonna Promenade recorded with Clay Windham in Amsterdam, new is the massage/make-out/zone down cd with Sylver on dig, Foxfire on drums and me on saxophones and gong, soon there will be a Live at the Smoke and Barrel cd and in the future a cd with originals recorded here in Fayetteville
FF: How do you perceive the music scene in Fayetteville?
OF: This scene is Hot. On fire. Cooking. Full of musicians who want to play together.
FF: What do you hope to accomplish with your music?
OF: To feel liberated, to help me and others to love this journey, to help others shake it out and get loose. To play what I feel in my heart and release resistence.