FLYER Q&A: Raif Box talks about Anvil Fest, a new local music showcase

Raif Box of Holy Anvil Recording Co. (Courtesy photo)

We last spoke with Raif Box of Holy Anvil Recording Co. as he was partnering with KUAF for The Anvil Sessions – a series that documents local and regional musicians.

Now, Box has partnered with Cache Studios for a two-day festival set for this weekend at Cache Studios in Bentonville.

There are too many reasons why you should go, but for starters, it’s free (donations are accepted), it’s all ages, it’s a great way to connect, and it has a seriously stacked lineup.

This Friday (Aug. 18) you can see Ashtyn Barbaree, Jess Harp, The Big Sad, Sad Palomino, and John Charles. And on Saturday (Aug. 19) you can see The Phlegms, TV Preacher, Fight Dream, Bellwether Sirens, and Protohive.

Doors open at 6 p.m. both nights, and Cache Studios is located at 1004 SE 5th St. in Bentonville.

If you’re new to Northwest Arkansas, this is an easy way to get to know the local music scene. If you’re able to donate at the shows, all proceed will support The Anvil Sessions.

A preview of the bands is available at The Anvil Sessions’ YouTube channel, and more info is at the event invite page.

I talked with Raif about Anvil Fest, his new band Chrono Wizard, and Northwest Arkansas and here it goes.

Hi Raif. You have a lot going on lately – most notably Anvil Fest. How did that come about?

Yeah I’ve been busy! A lot of exciting things are happening lately. I first hatched the idea before I ever started The Anvil Sessions, and at that point it was meant to be a normal show at Smoke & Barrel or George’s. Something small that I would set up for bands that came to record with me. That was a couple years ago and since then a lot of things have changed. Once I started the Anvil Sessions, and especially once I partnered with KUAF, my goals shifted a bit. I now have the opportunity to organize something much bigger and hopefully more impactful to our local community here. The goal of the Anvil Sessions was always to provide a free resource to artists and help our community grow. Now I’m working towards similar goals with Anvil Fest: It’s free, it’s all ages, it shows off some of Northwest Arkansas’ most talented artists, it provides a place for aspiring creatives to connect with local organizations and businesses that can help them thrive, and it can serve as a fundraiser to help grow The Anvil Sessions and future Anvil Fests.

The lineup for Anvil Fest is killer. How long did you spend curating that? Was it always intended as a two-day event or were there just too many great bands to keep it at a single day?

I’m so proud of the lineup! I actually think it only took a couple days to get confirmations from most of the artists. Everyone was so willing to be a part of it and I seriously can’t thank them enough. Once things started rolling I was certain that I wanted 10 artists on the bill, and I thought that two days would be better suited for that.

You’re working with Cache Studios on this – How have they helped with the process?

Cache has been absolutely amazing – they’ve helped fund the idea and of course are hosting it at Cache Studios in Bentonville. I can’t wait for more people to start hosting events there because it really is a nice space for things like this.

Besides bands – Anvil Fest will have vendors as well. Who will be there and what will they be presenting?

So many incredible people, businesses, and organizations have sponsored Anvil Fest. Cousins Music, On The Map, Live Music Bentonville, FPTV, Eluminous Graphics, Metal Life, Bxmbi, Gar Hole Records, CACHE, KUAF, Arkansas House Records, Video by Nick Futch, and Heavy Hits have all been kind enough to sponsor. Many of them will be at Anvil Fest to connect with everybody, and I know some of them have things to sell as well.

TJ with Mad Alchemy will be performing a liquid light show and Nick Futch will be filming parts of the event, too.

Do you have plans to keep Anvil Fest going, or start booking shows apart from the festival?

My hope is that Anvil Fest will be able to become an annual event. This largely depends on how things go this time around, but I’m feeling confident.

What’s happening with Anvil Sessions? Is there anything coming soon you can discuss?

Right now, I’m trying to film as many sessions as I can. The waiting list is huge, and I’m trying my best to make my way through it. I’m really excited to start welcoming regional artists onto the show as well – there are some Little Rock bands coming in for sessions soon that I’m thrilled about.

Your band Chrono Wizard has been playing some shows – how’s that going? How do you have time for writing and playing? I think I need your time management secrets.

Chrono Wizard just recently started playing live and it’s honestly just fun to be playing again. We’re lining up some really cool shows for the next couple months, and we’re working on recording an EP. I think we all had some riffs built up at first, and now we’re locked in with each other well enough that we can just get in the room together and jam it out to see what happens next. As far as time management – I unfortunately don’t have any secrets, sorry! I try to stay organized, I keep a calendar, but this is all new territory for me. I’m learning and just trying to do the best I can.

What’s your favorite part of NWA at the moment? And what do we need more of?

Lately Beth and I have been into roller skating, so I’d have to say Starlight Skatium and Roller City (Springdale) is my favorite part of NWA currently. Those places rule! I haven’t gotten very good yet, so my hip hurts. I’ve also been hard pressed to find many shops with Italian sodas aside from Arsaga’s, so NWA could probably use some more of those.

How do you deal with Summers in Fayetteville? Are you a hot weather person?

I don’t handle the heat very well, but I try to get out as much as I can. I feel like every time summer rolls around I tell myself I like winter better, and then when winter comes around I say I prefer summer. They both kind of suck.

What are your plans for the Fall and Winter?

Some of my good friends are getting married in September! Beth and I will be making the trip to Colorado for that and we’re very excited. I think we might get a cat soon and name them Dale, we’ve been watching a lot of King of the Hill. Hopefully more roller skating, Anvil Sessions, Chrono Wizard shows, and good times with friends.