Transplanted Maine recording artist Sarah Hockridge, along with bassist Daniel Coffin, make up local acoustic rock act Ophir Drive.
    Actually, that’s not quite right. According to Hockridge — who works at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum — she performs “rockoustic,” a mixture of rock and acoustic with just a little bit of her own unique style. {mosimage}
    And while the 24-year-old native of Maine has music that’s much more than simply the sum of its acoustic rock parts, she is also much more than just a singer/songwriter who plays the local coffee house scene, performing original songs mixed with covers: She is a classically trained opera singer who excels on the piano and earned her chops in New York’s music clubs, including the legendary CBGBs, the birthing ground for such iconic bands as Blondie, the Talking Heads and the Ramones.
    However, she’s a long, long way from the Big Apple and its big, diverse music scene.
    “Fayetteville’s definitely different from New York,” said Hockridge. “But the people who have come to my shows have been very, very supportive. The tough thing is finding venues that are open to original music.”
Indeed, Fayetteville’s clubs — long known as bastions of heavy rock and cover bands — can be a tough nut to crack for a female act playing original songs on an acoustic guitar. Hockridge has resorted to performing in intimate settings that suit her style, especially coffee houses such as The Java Bean and The Coffee Scene, though her influences include bands not known as standard bearers of sensitivity.
    “My favorite bands and musicians include Led Zeppelin, Ben Harper, Pink Floyd, Shakira and Sarah McLachlan,” said Hockridge. “I like a pretty eclectic mix of music, though it’s hard to hear those influences in my music.”
    And that’s not to say Hockridge’s music is the stare-at-the-floor-while-you-cry-into-your-beer type of stuff; she says as the word spreads about her shows she’s seeing more of our local hard-as-tacks soldiers at her shows tapping their feet and cheering her rhythmic brand of rockoustic.
    And she’s not strictly acoustic; the self-taught guitarist owns a Gibson ES-175 — an ax used by past and present jazz greats, as well as rockers such as Steve Howe of Yes.
    And like all things worthwhile, finding her dream guitar came at quite a cost.
    “I was in a vintage guitar shop in New York and walked up some stairs and there it was,” said Hockridge. “It was like angels were singing and halos were everywhere and I knew it was mine. It cost so much that I had to eat Ramen noodles for three months afterwards.”
    While Hockridge hasn’t yet shifted her gastric gears from noodles to caviar, she has found critical success with her work. Her song “Write Me Off” made it into Billboard Magazine’s year-end top 10 list, while her newest CD, Harmonic Half Life, is taking off and is available for purchase at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum gift shop.
    As for her long-term goals, Hockridge harbors bigger hopes for the future.
    “I would like to eventually perform for the USO,” said Hockridge. “One of my dreams is to surprise my husband by showing up at place he’s stationed and play. That would be awesome.
    “Of course, ultimately, it would be nice to not have to work and be able to write songs all day,” added Hockridge.
    If you want to catch Hockridge before she begins climbing the charts or boarding a jet for faraway locales such as Iraq and Afghanistan, she is playing a free show at The Coffee Scene on Saturday, Aug. 23, at 9 p.m.
    In addition to original music, she performs such covers as Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah,” and 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up.”
    “I play about a 60/40 mix of originals to covers,: said Hockridge. “And if I make just one person at a live show feel something, then I’ve done my job.”
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