Out of Harrison, Arkansas, National Park Radio has become a modern-folk sensation. Remarkably, Stefan Szabo—the band’s bedrock—didn’t begin writing music until his late 20s. NPR’s music feels timeless and leaves no doubt that it comes from the Ozark Mountains. We connected with Szabo as he and the band exited the Grand Tetons on the way to Missoula, Montana, in July 2018.
CR: What’s your favorite river to float? Sub-question: Kayak, Canoe, or Raft?
Szabo: Buffalo National River. I live 10 minutes away. We have these pretty nice inflatable kayaks and we can pack them easily to take on the road with us.
CR: Better party, a hootenanny or a hoe-down?
Szabo: They’re both pretty good, probably a hootenanny.
CR: What was your musical ‘aha’ moment?
Szabo: I was getting up there in age and I had always wanted to do music. Figured if I was going to try it, I’d better try it [then], before I turned 30. We already had kids, had a family; did it a little bit backward, skipped the adventurous part of our lives. The kids were getting older too and that probably played a factor.
CR: Do you actively maintain the beard? Conditioner? Combs? Other products?
Szabo: [I use] pretty much nothing. I was it like I do my hair, and I style it like I do my hair; a little bit of product to keep it from being fuzzy. I never trim it, though I probably need to soon. It’s been since last September (2017) when any hair has been cut from my beard.
CR: If you could share a bill with any band in history, which would it be , and what venue would you play?
Szabo: The Avett Brothers. Red Rocks. I think we could open for them there in the next couple of years.