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Ozarks roots band Opal Agafia to open for Billy Bob Thornton and Boxmasters Sunday at Oasis 2 in WP


Opal Agafia, a musical artist with deep Ozarks roots and a diverse Ozarks roots-music sound, will kick off a concert Sunday, followed by headlining act Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters, at Oasis 2 Bar & Grill in West Plains.

The show will take place at Oasis 2’s new location, having recently moved from Court Square to 5024 U.S. 160, about a mile and a half southwest of the city limits.

Based in Eureka Springs, Ark., Opal Agafia and her band embody the sound of the Ozark Mountains: a little soul, a little country, a little rock-and-roll, a little rhythm-and-blues, a little bit traditional mountain music. And, of course, a lot of twang and sass; Agafia’s “musical hero” is, after all, Dolly Parton.

Agafia began calling her sound “Ozark Mountain soul” not long after she first performed publicly in 2015 and someone asked her to describe it. The broad influence of genres evident in her music, combined with the life-in-a-small-mountain-town storytelling of Agafia’s lyrics, brought her to the new self-prescribed genre label, Agafia says.

Agafia grew up in the Ozarks community of Dover, north of Russellville, Ark. near Lake Dardanelle. While still a college student, she began a songwriting collaboration with her mother, DeAnna Smith, who is an accomplished writer in other realms. Their songs reflect their deep roots in the Ozark Highlands, as well as their concerns about the current conditions and future of the region. Their approach to songwriting and tackling tough topics has been called “both fresh and familiar.”

Since her first time on stage in 2015, Agafia and her band — which includes up to a half-dozen players on electric guitar, bass, drums, fiddle, lap steel, acoustic guitar, and sometimes a horn or two — have released three full albums and grown their touring footprint to cover most of the United States. 

Growth has come in unexpected places as well: Following blockbuster attendance and raucous, enthusiastic crowds at the Opal Agafia sets at several consecutive Hillberry Music Festivals, and sold-out shows at the historic George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Agafia put her own multi-day camping music festival together in early 2022, and named it Ozark Mountain Soul. 

In an industry with persistent shortage of female performers — only about 20% of music festival performers are women, according to the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative — Agafia built a music festival based on her vision of inclusion, equality and a shared love for all things Ozarks. 

Ozark Mountain Soul just wrapped up its second annual event a couple weeks ago; it featured headliners The Steeldrivers and Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon, among many acts from every corner of the Ozark Mountains region. Planning is under way already for next year’s event, she says.

Following Opal Agafia’s set Sunday night, Billy Bob Thornton and The Boxmasters will headline. Formed in 2007 by the Academy Award-winning actor and Grammy-winning recording engineer J.D. Andrew, The Boxmasters’ diverse catalog of music reveals their high esteem for the Beatles, Byrds and Beach Boys, as well as Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Big Star.

Sunday’s concert begins at 9 p.m. and doors open at 6 p.m. It is open to ages 18 and older. Tickets are $30 in advance online or $35 at the door.

Find more information and buy tickets at the Oasis 2 website, Oasis2WestPlains.com. Updates can also be found on Facebook at “Oasis 2 Bar & Gril.”

Kristal "Kstar" Kuykendall is a former newspaper editor who now writes for fun about music and operates a marketing and communications consultancy serving rural markets. She can be contacted by email at kstar@arkansounds.com.