Devil's Backbone Brewing Company
Doing It Live at Festy Five
By Jim McWalters
Jamily Rail Riders
Roseland VA: This year marked the 5th anniversary of The Festy Experience in Nelson County VA, and no amount of grey skies and wet weather would dampen the spirits of festival goers. While a cloudy and rainy forecast may have kept some people away, the weather was never much of a factor until Sunday, where most of the shows were moved from the Main Stage, to the (covered) Southern Stage. As in years past, the festival isn’t just about great music (although there is plenty of it), but about the overall feel of the love and magic that makes Festy a one of a kind experience.
The Festy Experience begins with the location. Situated at the base of Wintergreen Mountain at the Devil’s Backbone Brewery, Festy provides an idyllic setting in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains less than an hour south of Charlottesville, VA. Unlike larger festivals, Festy affords attendees a real connection between the music and the community of Duster fans (Jamily). With a weekend full of campsite jams, workshops, and family friendly activities, the festival provides that feeling that you’re not just attending the festival, but that you are a part of the festival. With camping just a short walk from the stages, getting around the grounds and not missing any music is super easy. Combine that with all the great local food, beer, wine and familiar friends and you get the idea why Festy is so special.
Integral to the Festy experience, is the emphasis on sustainability and reducing the footprint impact once the festival is over. The Infamous Stringdusters and Festy’s partnership with Kleen Kanteen provides campers each with their own commemorative steel pint cup, as plastic cups and water bottles are not provided. The Festy emphasizes recycling and composting inviting food vendors who only use compostable packaging. Festy also works directly with the organization Leave No Trace to assist with sustainability efforts. In fact, for each Festy ticket sold, $1.00 goes directly to the organization.
The Infamous Stringdusters On The Southern Stage
A lot of the credit to the way the festival is run and organized can be directly attributed to The Infamous Stringdusters, the host of the festival. Each member contributes a lot of time and effort in making sure the Festival is a success for everyone. In addition, band members and could be found everywhere throughout the weekend; whether on stage, at one of their many workshops, or simply strolling around the grounds hanging out with the Jamily. In reality, the festival is more or less the chance for the Stringdusters to throw a party for their friends and family who come from all around the country. Those fortunate enough to arrive early got to see locals Chamomile and Whiskey and The Stringdusters’ kick things off Thursday night at the Southern Stage.
While the music of Festy is begins and ends with the Stringdusters and bluegrass, there were plenty of other musical genres to enjoy. Each artist that performs at the Festy is hand-picked by the Stringdusters or by members of Festy management, The Artist Farm, from either past collaborations or recommendations.
Keller Williams & Nathan Moore Portasessions
Local singer song-writer Nathan Moore started off the music on Friday at Festy’s Base Camp Stage. Nathan also performed emcee duties for the weekend and held the back stage porta sessions having several artists record a song in one of the portapotty's saying "the portapottys provide good accoustics for recording". The festival would hold many nice surprises with several acts that I had never seen before including, the Mexican folk music of the David Wax Museum, the soulful bluegrass and rock of the Boston Boys, or the smooth and mellow folk-jazz sound of Shannon Whitworth & Barrett Smith. Perhaps the biggest surprise of new acts for me was the amazingly talented Czech Republic bluegrass band Druha Trava. Their mix of Czech and traditional bluegrass, was a real treat with a set that included bluegrass remakes of “Wild Horses” and “Jumping Jack Flash”.
The Boston Boys
This year’s lineup also included some familiar faces such as the infectious 80’s bluegrass cover band Love Canon, the indie folk/rock of Richmond’s Wrinkle Neck Mules, as well as the return of Nicky and Tim Bluhm (The Gramblers and Mother Hips).
2011’s International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Entertainer of the Year, The Steep Canyon Rangers made a huge impression with their unique brand of alt-country and bluegrass featuring crafty songwriting and tight vocal harmonies. Another IBMA winner, Noam Pikelny teamed with Stuart Duncan and blew people away with their Saturday afternoon set that combined Pikelny’s dry humor and banjo picking with Stuart Duncan’s impeccable fiddle. The set included the beautiful “Milford’s Reel.” Carl Jones’ “Two Pictures” as well as a nice take on the Stanley Brothers classic “If I Lose.” Things concluded with Pikelny’s own crazy good instrumental “Manchicken.”
Noam Pikelny and Stuart Duncan
Anders Osborne followed Pikelny & Duncan on the Base Camp Stage with a powerhouse set of New Orleans rock and blues. Special guests Marc Broussard joined Osborne on “Lean on Me” while Nicky Bluhm helped out on the Sam Cooke classic “Bring it On Home To Me.” Osborne also featured songs of his recent disc Three Free Amigos. Many argue that Keller Williams’ current outfit More Than A Little may be his finest supporting cast yet. The funky rhythm’s and gospel backed vocals adds a fresh variation to songs Keller has covered over the years, including the interpretation of “Feel Like a Stranger” and the Talking Heads “Once in A Lifetime.” One of my favorite non-traditional bluegrass acts of the weekend was the raw, trance-funk grooves of the New Mastersounds featuring Eddie Roberts on guitar, Joe Tatton on the Hammond B3 organ, Pete Shand on funk bass and wild man Simon Allen on drums. New comers to Festy, The Shook Twins provided their own set of magic with a fine interpretation of “Scarlett Begonias” and a very cool cover of “Come Together” with the help of Nicky Bluhm. The band also covered Nathan Moore’s own song, “Rubber Ball” with Nathan “helping out” on clarinet with rubber ball in mouth.
Another Festy highlight is always the Sunday morning “Garrett Grass Gospel Hour.” This year was no exception with lots of special guests joining the stage. Nicky and Tim Bluhm along with Jeremy Garrett and Mother Hips guitarist Greg Loiacono, covered the Chieftains “Long Black Veil.” The Falco Brothers backed by Andy Hall, Chris Pandolfi, Benny Galloway and Travis Book were simply amazing on the Merl Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home.” Returning Festy artist Julie Lee, was joined on stage by the Shook Twins, Galloway, Book and Hall to perform the Hot Rize tune “You Don’t Have to Move That Mountain.” The Shook Twins then joined Chris, Travis and Jeremy on the John Hartford tune “Get No Better.” The Boston Boys delivered a fine rendition of Mahalia Jackson’s “Lord, Don’t Let Me Fail.” Topping it all off was Daniel Lawrence Walker and Jeremy Garrett (also later joined by Shook Twins and Nicky Bloom) with an incredible version of “Amazing Grace.”
Garret Grass Gospel Hour
Last but not certainly not least, we can’t leave out the 5 amazing performances throughout the weekend by hosts The Infamous Stringdusters. Most of their sets were littered with different special guest musicians from the weekend. Weekend surprises included a late night bon fire pick on Saturday, as well as a very special Sunday night Electric Dusters featuring members of the Stringdusters and an All-Star cast of musicians from the weekend.
The Infamous Stringduster w/ Keller Williams
We just can’t say enough about The Festy Experience. As Chris Pandolfi put it, “Words cannot describe the magic that was The Festy Experience.” Many thanks to all the wonderful people who made it happen and to all the wonderful Jamily we met at The Festy who made it an even better experience.
Be sure to put it on your calendar for next year as Festy Six is sure to be another incredible Experience.
Sunday Night Electric Dusters and Friends "Cripple Creek"
Video © Trevor Shaw
Check out our full photo galleries from each day at The Festy Experience by clicking the links below
Photos Jeffrey Socha & Jim Mcwalters
HOT RIZE RIDES AGAIN WITH NEW ALBUM AND FALL TOUR
Hot Rize has not toured more than a few select festival dates and concerts since 1990. That all changes in September as they embark on their first major tour in almost 25 years in support of their new studio album, reclaiming their unique position where tradition and innovation collide.
The tour will start in Colorado in late September, include stops at IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, and hit the Midwest and east coast along the way with key stops in New York, Philadelphia, and D.C.
“We’ve had fun over the years playing some of our favorite festivals as we’ve all continued our solo careers, but the last few years we’ve started feeling the tug to make new Hot Rize music. With the new album, we decided it was time to hit the road and try to reach some new heights, said Pete Wernick (aka Dr. Banjo). He added, “Even with the time away and all of our other ventures, we’re still like family, and adding Bryan Sutton on guitar brought a new energy to the band. We are very excited to share the new songs with fans.”
For more than three and a half decades, Hot Rize has been astounding the bluegrass world with a fresh, contemporary approach to traditional music. Their unique style; powerful original songs; tight-as-a-drum ensemble playing, and dynamic stage show made them an inevitable choice for the International Bluegrass Music Association's very first Entertainer of the Year award in 1990. Since then, the all-star band has kept their legend alive by performing at just a handful of top festivals (e.g., MerleFest, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Telluride, Bonnaroo, Rockygrass) and select venues.
Here’s the current itinerary for the fall with a few more dates to be added:
Wed, Sept 24 – Durango, CO – Ft. Lewis College
Thurs, Sept 25 – Aspen, CO – Wheeler Opera House
Fri, Sept 26 – Boulder, CO – Chautauqua
Sat, Sept 27 – Denver, CO – Cervantes
Sun, Sep 28 – Columbia, MO – Roots & Blues & BBQ Fest
Fri, Oct 3 – Raleigh – IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass Festival
Sun, Oct 5 – San Francisco, CA – Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
Fri, Oct 17 – Nashville, TN – War Memorial Auditorium (w Del McCoury Band)
Sat, Oct 18 – Wingate, NC – Batte Fine Arts Center (w Del McCoury Band)
Sun, Oct 19 – Duluth, GA – Red Clay Theatre (2 shows)
Wed, Nov 12 – New York, NY – City Winery
Thurs, Nov 13 – Philadelphia, PA – Keswick Theatre (w Del McCoury & David Grisman)
Fri, Nov 14 - Washington, DC – The Hamilton
Sat, Nov 15 – Baltimore, MD – Gordon Center
Mon, Nov 17 – The Ark – Ann Arbor, MI
Thurs, Nov 20 – Stoughton, WI – Stoughton Opera House
Fri, Nov 21 – Akron, OH – Kent Stage
Sat, Nov 22 – Middletown, OH – Finkelman Auditorium
Sun, Nov 23 – Chicago, IL – City Winery
Check out www.hotrize.com for details
KUNG FU AT THE 8X10 IN BALTIMORE, MD
Thursday, October 16th
Funk-fusion quintet Kung Fu is taking over The 8X10 on Thursday, October 16th. Their unique brand of mind-blowing ‘70s-style funk mixed with EDM ideology can be heard on regular rotation on SiriusXM’s JamOn and they just wrapped up a hugely successful Summer festival season. This fall in support of the newest album, Tsar Bomba, they’ll be playing clubs in the Northeast, Midwest and South, and festivals such as New Orleans’ famed MoMs Ball on Halloween night, Suwannee Hulaween, AURA and Jam Cruise.
AUDIO: Tsar Bomba http://bit.ly/1lBKWWG
VIDEO: "Do the Right Thing" http://bit.ly/LiuRQc
“Suddenly, you're bombarded with heavy-hitting guitar solos, cosmic keyboard endeavors, and blaringly triumphant saxophonery. It's funkin' groovy.” – Live for Live Music
"Vastly talented would be an understatement regarding this band and their musical abilities. Kung Fu’s music is fresh, downright nasty, creating an electrified atmosphere that leaves no one in their seats." – Upstate Live
Thursday, October 16th
10 East Cross Street, Baltimore, MD 21230
410.625.2000 | www.The8X10.com
8 PM | 18+ | $12 adv/$15 dos
Twitter + Instagram: @KungFuTunes
Bio: With a tight headlock on the nu-funk movement, Kung Fu is quickly popularizing their unique sonic contribution to the music scene. Blurring the lines between electro-jazz-fusion and ‘70s-style street fighter funk, Kung Fu merges early Headhunters and Weather Report mentality with contemporary electronic ideology like yin and yang. Although the ensemble cast enjoys a seasoned pedigree that reads like an all-star jam, Kung Fu has gained a rabid following that has led to sold out club shows around the US and sets at major music festivals. The powerhouse quintet's live show has been described as "lethal funk," "explosive," "jaw dropping," and "musically mesmerizing.” Kung Fu’s second album, Tsar Bomba, dropped in March 2014 and can be heard on regular rotation on SiriusXM Radio’s JamOn. Kung Fu features Tim Palmieri on guitar, Robert Somerville on tenor sax, Todd Stoops on keyboards, Christopher DeAngelis on bass guitar, and Adrian Tramontano on drums/percussion.
Watermelon Park Festival
Grassy Rhythms and Rinds at Watermelon Park
On August 10th 1960, one of the first bluegrass festivals was held right here at Watermelon Park. Dubbed “Bluegrass day,” the venue would go on to host the who’s who of bluegrass and folk that would include musical legends Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, The Statler Brothers, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, Loretta Lynn and George Jones. Since reviving the festival’s tradition 11 years ago, Shepard’s Ford Productions and Watermelon Park have established one of the finest bluegrass festivals this side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A little more than an hour from DC and situated along the banks of the Shenandoah River, the festival is a family-friendly gem. In addition to offering great music, the festival provides patrons an opportunity to cool off in the lazy river or take part in one of the many festival activities.
With the ever growing number of new festivals appearing around the area and across the country, it’s nice to attend a festival that is still small in size, but big in value. Simply put, Watermelon Park just has that home-town feel. With a variety of musical workshops, guitar-picking contests, yoga, craft and food vendors, watermelon boat races, tye-dyes, storytelling and watermelon carving, the festival has something for everyone young and old.
This year, local stars The Woodshedders, served as the un-official hosts of the festival with an outstanding line-up that featured jam-grass heroes and headliners, Leftover Salmon along with Sam Bush’s triumphant return to Watermelon Park for the first time since 1973 when he was with the New Grass Revival. In addition, top-notch local acts Keller and the Keels and Furnace Mountain provided one special weekend of music.
Reed George was on hand to give an inside look at this special event
September 30, 2014
Watermelon Park Fest, 2014
by Reed A. George, creativeobjective.com
So, what do you look for in a music festival? Do you want to:
- Dance at the front of the stage? Or dance all night long in the Dance Tent?
- Listen from the comfort of a blanket in the back of the crowd?
- Relax around the campfire?
- Listen and learn from the best musicians in a workshop environment?
- Compete in music contests for amazing custom instruments as prizes?
- Re-connect with family and friends?
- Give a little back to the environment?
- Enjoy an amazing natural scene, complete with a gorgeous river?
Watermelon Park Festival has it all. And, while it's growing larger over time, for now it maintains its small festival feel.
Every September, musicians and music lovers covering a broad range of genres converge on Berryville, Virginia for Watermelon Park Festival. This year, it was held September 25-27.
The lineup was simply unbelievable this year. You can click here to see the complete festival schedule.
I'll mention a few of the acts that were highlights for me: Keller Williams (in three forms: solo, Keller and the Keels, and More Than A Little), The Woodshedders, Sam Bush, Leftover Salmon. Quite a list, huh? And every act on the lineup was first rate.
Friday night was my first exposure to Keller Williams. Performing an unbelievable solo set, where he played various instruments and looped recordings of them, and singing along, this guy really knows the meaning of the term "independent artist."
Keller rolled right into the next set as part of Keller and the Keels, with Larry and Jenny Keel. Adding to that, they eventually invited Fiddlin' Dave Vandeventer and Danny Knicely on stage.
As soon as this set ended on the main stage at 10:30PM, the Dance Tent came alive with The Woodshedders. Dave Vandeventer is in this band as well. He hopped in a Gator and made it to the next set in no time, where he played until just after midnight.
Saturday brought all of the daytime Watermelon Park festivities. This included the ever-lively picking and band contests. This year's contestants were of a very high caliber. It also included a river cleanup, and the all-important kid's event, the Watermelon Boat Float.
One daytime highlight for me was the mandolin workshop, led by Sam Bush, Danny Knicely, and Drew Emmitt. These guys had a blast playing together on stage in the Dance Tent.
The crowd, a mix of musicians and just plain music lovers watched and listened intently, fully aware of the rare opportunity of hearing these three together on one stage, sharing stories as well as mandolin licks.
As the sun went down over the Shenandoah, everyone prepared for the evening's performances.
Again, I can't mention every great act here, even the list of highlights is longer than space permits. So, I have to pick a few. Let's start with Leftover Salmon, with new band member Bill Payne, formerly of Little Feat. The song that got to me the most was indeed Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken." Drew Emmitt really wailed on the electric guitar on this one. Lowell George would have been proud.
The Knicely Family played the side stage, reminding of us the local talents and roots of bluegrass music, right here in Virginia.
Saturday evening's planned performances ended up just like Friday's, in the Dance Tent. This time, Keller Williams and More Than A Little worked up the funk to a level I've never heard at Watermelon Park before. Personally, I love that this festival is so open to a wide range of music styles, and all were presented at a very high level of talent.
But, as always, what makes a great festival great is the crowd. Watermelon Park has one of the closest, friendliest, coolest audiences I have ever seen. As always, I'm already looking forward to next year!
Reed A. George
My Blog: DMC-365.blogspot.com
The Shindig Festival
Carroll Park (Pigtown) Baltimore MD
September 27th 2014
The Shindig Festival presented by 24-7 Entertainment drew thousands of music lovers to Pigtown’s Carroll Park on one of the most beautiful weather Saturdays of September with temps in the upper 70’s and abundant sunshine. There was also an abundance of local flavor with bands like Rebel Inc., Charm City Devils, and Clutch, as well as local beer from Natty Boh, and local food from Little Havana and Mothers Grille.
Shindig was equally balanced with bands from the Baltimore area as well as from across the country. I arrived a little late, but just in time to check out the last 20 minutes of LA. ska/funk masters Fishbone. I’d never seen them before and was pleasantly surprised how awesome they were, there was quite the crowd dancing and hooping to the punk funk.
Lucero also took me by surprise. With a lot of so-called head banging music on the schedule I thought everything would be just that. However; Lucero billed as alt country/rock was everything but country, they were straight up Rock~n~Roll in my opinion and I really dug it. Gritty guitar riffs accompanied by ass kickin bass and saxophone left the crowd not wanting it to end. In fact it ended a tiny bit early which at the time I thought was weird but later it became apparent that the day was on a tight schedule.
J Roddy Walston and The Business
I decided to skip Halestorm and save a good spot for J Roddy Walston and The Business, who I was told I must check out and the person who told me was absolutely right on. J Roddy rocked! From Richmond VA by way of Baltimore MD this heavy keyboard/organ rock quartet is definitely a band to be checked out. They’ll be playing here at Baltimore Soundstage on NYE to ring in 2015, Tickets go on sale this Friday 10/3.
Clutch of local Germantown and national fame came out swingin on the Babe Stage at their 2nd year at The Shindig Festival. Kicking it off with a rowdy “Earth Rocker”. The fist pumps were flyin and beards in the crowd were in full affect. Clutch provided an enjoyable full on rock show closing it out with fan favorite “Electric Worry”
Gogol Bordello wow! I mean this band is hard to even categorize but what I can tell you is that you do not want to miss them if they come back to town. There’s a reason why they’re selling out shows all over the world. This Ukrainian 8 piece Gypsy Punk band provided a super energetic set filled with accordion, speed fiddle and the bands front man riling up the juiced up crowd. They finished off their set with a fitting “Start Wearing Purple” as an ode to the city of Baltimore and it’s beloved Ravens.
I missed Rise Against so I could grab some food, but I noticed a large crowd of folks was slowly building and anxiously waiting at the other end for Jane’s Addicition. The legendary Los Angelos quartet came out with fire and fury celebrating the 25th anniversary of their hit album Nothing’s Shocking playing it in it’s entirety. They were loud on point and sounded to be at the top of their game as they blazed through the album from start to finish. In between songs front man Perry Farrell had his usual rants including one on the Redskins name controversy (which was a kind of funny moment considering we were in Baltimore) After Mountain Song Perry invited long time friend Angelo Moore (Saxophone) and Jay Armant (Trombone) of Fishbone to the stage to be the horn section for a rockin fun “Idiots Rule”. Perry let us in on the fact that Angelo sat in as the sax player for the original studio version of the song 25 years ago, so it was a rare treat to Jane’s fans for sure. The band broke down to an acoustic setting to perform the smash hit “Jane Says” which is always a fun sing along song for the crowd. They closed it out the album in full Jane’s fashion with “Pigs In Zen” with scantily clad women swinging from chains and hooks inserted into their backs. After finishing the album Perry told the crowd he had just stole the suit he was wearing and the band broke out into another hit song Been Caught Stealing before closing out the show and festival with fans moshing and crowd surfing to “Just Because” and “Stop”. I’ve seen a ton of Jane’s shows and this was by far one of the best.
Shindig looked to be a big success with large crowds all day and amazing music, people looked to be having a great time during every set. I know we had a blast and we can’t wait to be a part of next years Shindig. Thanks to Shindig and 24-7 for having us out.