By John Balch
Ever since retiring from being an art teacher at Nashville Elementary School, local musician Mike Eudy has been itching to put a band together, get onstage and play his original songs.
That will become a reality for Eudy on Saturday, Feb. 26 when Brother Eudy’s Wayfaring Strangers take the stage at the Ouachita Little Theatre in Mena. The gig is set for 7:30 p.m. with a $10 admission and the promise of two full sets featuring nothing but Eudy’s original tunes.
The theatre is located at 610 Mena Street in Mena with a capacity of less than 200. Tickets for the all ages show will be available at the door and can also be purchased through the theatre’s website.
Eudy, a De Queen native now residing in Nashville, couldn’t be more pleased with the band he has assembled in the middle of a pandemic. The group includes fellow “De Queen boys” David Pickens on drums and David Settlemier on bass, both now residents of Little Rock, and Shanda McDonald of Shanwnee, Okla., who also played fiddle and sang back-up vocals with Eudy on his second album of originals called “Brother Eudy & The Heathens: Arkansas Traveler.” Eudy’s first album, “Eudy & The Heathens: Hillbilly in Hollywood,” was recorded in Los Angeles, Cali., and featured hot-shot session players. For Arkansas Traveller, Eudy even worked with Mark Jones, son of Grandpa Jones of Hee Haw fame on banjo.
The Wayfaring Strangers have had a couple of in-person practices but most of the work has been done virtually. They are planning more in-person practice between now and Feb. 26 but either way Eudy said he is confident band members will up for the task when they step onto the Mena stage.
“This is my All-Star band – all my first choices all said ‘yes.’ They will be more than ready.”
Eudy has done the band thing before. His first was the rock band STEELE, which was made up of De Queen classmates and he played rhythm guitar. He went on to found and front Eudy and The Heathens (which eventually just became The Heathens) during a stint in Athens, Ga., where he moved to pursue a music career and taught emotionally disturbed and behavioral disordered children.
Eudy was also a member of The Front Porch Pickers old-time radio show with the late Billy Herrell of Billy’s House of Guitars.
The set list at Mena will include a retrospective of all of Eudy’s original music, ranging from rock, folk Americana, rockabilly, country and bluegrass.
As with most of his tunes, Eudy’s southwest Arkansas heritage is prominently reflected in the lyrics.
“It can’t help but be that way,” Eudy said. “It’s who I am and where I’m from.”
In addition to ties with Howard and Sevier counties, Eudy also has a profound love for some property in the Ouachita Mountains between Black Fork and Black Springs that has been in his family since the 1870s. It was there he regrouped and wrote songs after returning from Georgia.
Eudy also spent six years portraying Howard the Ghost at the Shepherd of the Hills production in Branson, Mo., and once spent time “singing and playing” his way through Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia. He said he plans to return to Los Angeles in 2023 to record his third album with producer Chad Watson in Swansound Studios and work with the same session players who worked on the first album.
“Get ready for a high-energy show with top-notch musicianship,” Eudy advised those making plans to head to Mena on Feb. 26. “If you are familiar with my materials, we have made sure to include all the fan favorites.”