Eureka Spring’s Music Scene Brings It Home
By Caleb Hennington
Nestled in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs is a popular tourist destination for many visiting Northwest Arkansas. Known for its Victorian-style buildings and natural beauty from the surrounding mountains and wildlife, Eureka Springs has even been dubbed “The Little Switzerland of America.”
But although Eureka is known for its beautiful scenery, it might be less known for its nightlife and live music.
Eureka boasts a wide array of bars and live music venues, some of which have been a part of the city for a number of years.
Chelsea’s Corner Café & Bar, located at 10 Mountain St. in Eureka Springs, has been in Eureka Springs for more than 20 years. They have live music seven days a week and book both local talent and national touring bands.
“I definitely think good music adds to the draw at Chelsea’s. We have a great stage for the performers, we’re constantly working on the sound system to get the best sound and we have a great dance floor,” said Gina Gallina, booking agent for Chelsea’s.
“I try to book a rotating mix of blues, western swing, bluegrass, rockabilly, reggae, cowpunk, and outlaw country. We have had The Gourds, Wayne the Train Hancock, Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies, Scott H. Biram, Lil’ Slim, Jimmy Thackery, and Patrick Sweany,” Gallina said.
Chelsea also books local bands, such as Mountain Sprout, Fossils of Ancient Robots and Honky Suckle.
Every Monday night local band Springbilly performs, and on Wednesday nights there is a Drink & Draw, an event where artists and non-artists can paint, drink and listen to live music.
Gallina also mentioned that in the near future Chelsea’s will be a non-smoking venue. She believes that converting the venue to non-smoking will draw more people to Chelsea’s.
“We very much look forward to this positive change in hopes to welcome all people.”
Another popular place to listen to live music is the pirate-themed pub, The Squid and Whale, located at the intersection of 10 Center St. and 37 Spring St.
The Squid and Whale claims on its website to be “one of Northwest Arkansas’ top music venues,” and features live music throughout the week.
“We’re known in Eureka for our food and the music. We bring in bands from all over the world,” said Joyce Carlson, co-owner of The Squid and Whale. “We don’t play local bands as much as we do people from different states, but we have every kind of music played here.”
Tony Vazquez, co-owner of The Squid and Whale, books the bands that play at his pub.
“I look for original bands and original music. Occasionally we have cover bands, but that’s not who we usually book to play here,” Vazquez said. “We have a really good feel and a good vibe. We’re a pirate bar, located in a cave and we have a good assortment of food and music.”
Eureka Springs also has its annual Eureka Springs Blues Weekend every summer, and this summer the festival will be held June 13-16. The Blues Weekend will take place in The Auditorium, Basin Springs Park, The Basin Park Hotel’s Barefoot Ballroom, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, and other venues around Eureka Springs.
Blues Music Award (BMA) winners Victor Wainwright & The Wildroots, The Nighthawks, and The Cedric Burnside Project will be giving performances, as well as other award winning blues artists such as Leah & The Mojo Doctors, Ed Knight, and The Chicago Blues Revue.
Proceeds from the festival will go to the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, which is a non-profit organization that provides refuge for tigers, lions, cougars and other “big cats” who have been abandoned, abused, and neglected, as well as other animals.
More information on the Blues Weekend can be found at www.eurekaspringsblues.com.
Eureka Springs may not be Nashville just yet, but the music scene is definitely worth checking out!
Handmade Goods Of Eureka Springs Not Forgotten
By Tanya Giraldo
Eureka Springs has been known as the best destination to find local art and handmade products in NWA.
Handmade products have been on the rise with websites such as Etsy, EBay and even Facebook that have been used to promote products.
While it seems that handmade products will continue to be created by artists and crafters, Marsha Havens, proprietress of Eureka Thyme, believes that selling handmade items have been on the decline.
“I currently represent 106 people and wish I had a place 10 times as large,” Havens said. “I can’t stress enough how much talent there is in Eureka Springs and the surrounding area.”
According to Havens, there are around 250 to 400 artists around the Eureka Springs area and the shops that sell the art and creations are very few.
“Most of the owners sell what they make themselves,” Havens said. “Almost every place here carries at least one thing that is handmade.”
Haven believes that people aren’t buying handmade goods because of the economy.
“People want cheap trinkets. They have this Wal-Mart mentality and don’t want to purchase anything that seems expensive,” Haven said. “Some of the people that walk into my store think it’s a museum and they look around but they don’t buy.”
However, Patrick Lujan, owner of Out on Main, said that there has actually been a notable increase in his sales of handmade products within the last year.
“My opinion is that people have done a good job to distinguish Eureka Springs as an art destination,” Lujan said. “People are now looking for things that are unique, one of a kind.”
Lujan has been running Out on Main for three years and represents 15 artists in his store.
“The store is getting more people and our products are truly handmade,” Lujan said.
“Yes you can make it, but will you?” Haven said. “To have something handmade by a person, with love, and to feel it, there is grace from that.”
A great majority of people who come to Eureka Springs aren’t aware of the amount of artists in the area, Haven said.
“It’s hard being an artist,” Haven said. “My hope is for everyone to follow their dream and to keep making handmade items. There is shift in world thinking and not much is made in the U.S.”
Haven said there are hardships that come from carrying handmade items. Even shop owners like her suffer when the handmade items they carry in their store aren’t being purchased, but they continue to support local artists and stick to local products.
“I have no limits here in my gallery,” Haven said. “My only criterion is that it be made with love. That love is palpable when you walk through our doors.”
While the purchase of handmade goods has varied throughout the stores in Eureka Springs, artists and crafters will continue to create and people will continue to appreciate, even if they don’t open their wallet.
As a local and tourism leader in the area, Gina Drennon of the Eureka Springs Visitor’s Center has been making a list of must-see places in Eureka Springs. She says — and most agree — there’s something for everyone. Here’s just a small part of the list to get you started for summer. For more information about Eureka Springs and what it has to offer, visit www.eurekasprings.org.
- Shopping all over town
- Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge
- Ozark Mountain Ziplines
- Ghost Tours
- Ride the Trolley
- Canoeing/Kayak rentals
- Moped Rentals
- Horseback Riding
- Carriage Rides
- Blue Spring Heritage Center
- Quigley Castle
- ES&NA Railway
- Beaver Lake & Table Rock Lakes:
- Marinas with rentals
- Swimming area
- White river float
- Lake Leatherwood
- Hiking trails
- Fishing, canoeing, boating, paddleboats
- Swimming, picnic, and playground
- Van Tour/Tram Tour
- Eureka Springs Historical Museum
- Onyx Cave
- Music Shows
- Intrigue Theater
- Great Passion Play
- Pig Trail Kart & Golf
- Belle of the Ozarks – eagle watch cruises
- Culinary Class