Thunder On The Mountain

| June 5, 2013


Main Stage on the grounds, 3 stages total will be in use!

Main Stage on the grounds, 3 stages total will be in use! Charlie Jack, are you seeing those lights?

Photos and observations by Mary Jane Farmer


Sunday morning, when the music was all over, I got my media pass. I have to say that the guards, led by Sean, on my favorite stage were more than willing to let me move around and get up close for photos.

It was hard to leave the volunteer crew and leaders. Such great people, full of heart and soul!

For volunteer and other shots, click here:


The big day, the Toby Keith day. He and entourage arrived the night before in two buses and one 18-wheeler. The driver for Easton Corbin, who played Friday night, said that all other stars’ buses were being held in line until after Toby Keith arrived, since he had so much more equipment and required the most parking behind that stage. So, for a while, busses carrying Easton Corbin, Montgomery Gentry, and Luke Bryan stayed on the side of the road.

No volunteer work today. All done with that.

The first band I heard sounded familiar, but it wasn’t until later in the day that I placed them. The Trey Hawkins Band would make a good Texas country music band, except they are from Arkansas. Solid music, tight deliveries, originals with a few covers thrown in for crowd pleasers, and all-around nice guys. Sound like Texas music to you, too? Well, where I had run into them was at Billy Bob’s Texas last band contest. They had placed and come in to complete, and made a good showing then, too.

The Moonshine Bandits, who said they just signed with Average Joe Entertainment, also said this was their first-ever day time gig, and had been in the business for about 15 years. They get the award for weirdness. It started with a DJ butchering songs on stage, then the two rappers came out with hand-held mics. Rap and, like Shooter Jennings, much affection for tossing out that F-Bomb, in spite of there having been numerous children in the audience. I hope parents covered some eyes when the fat guy came out in his tighty whities and mooned the crowd. Got pix of it.

The two guys were good enough, just a strange, bizarre show.

Brandon Jenkins had a smaller crowd for his set, and the highlight, for this fan, was when he sang a new song he wrote from his Austin home to stopover at Smitty’s in Denison for a gig Friday night, then finished the song on the way to Arizona. He also explained a lot of the backgrounds to his lyrics, and that added dimension to this man of mystery.

Got back to the best stage in time to catch the Lance Carpenter Band, new to me, and very good. Lance was refreshing in his lyrics and delivery — hardly ever even held a guitar, he let his band members handle the instrumentation — and his attitude. Lance is an Ozark, Ark., native now working and signed in Nashville. Randy Rogers called Lance back out on stage to sing in his set later in the day.

Randy Rogers Band, well, what can one say about them, except that they are awesome, and that they will be at Smitty’s Friday night this week (June 14) along with Dustin Perkins Band and a couple of others. Brady Black was all over the stage with his fiddle, and the others in the band were never quite still either, except, of course, the drummer. He was active, just in one spot.

Josh Abbott Band and Stoney LaRue closed that stage down after Justine Moore and Toby Keith finished their sets. Great music, great representation of all that is good in music. ‘night yawl.

I didn’t mention, but one service that made it a little easier to get around to the stages was the Festi-Cab… numerous golf carts that made ground rounds to take one where one needed to go for a nominal fee. Also, I was helped extensively by the guys with Banjos To Beats (Dallas), who also had golf carts to use with the volunteers, and by Heather, who owns a massage therapy school and, with her students, was there giving free chair masssages — I got three! She, too, toted me around on her golf cart.

For Saturday pix, click here  (again, a lot of photos… I never know when to quit)


I’ll admit it, I’m getting tired of this volunteer work, the manual labor of it, hard on this ol’ skeleton of mine. But it’s still a major highlight of the event. I came here not knowing one single soul, and by mid-Friday, I was hearing “Hi, Mary Jane,” from people everywhere and getting hugs just like I do at home. So, I’m signing up again for the October Harvest Fest, also there on Mulberry Mountain, Ozark, Ark. ‘nuf said ’bout that.

Aaron Watson opened the day for me, although there were some others who played before him on each of the three stages… I was just busy selling ice as a volunteer, too far away to hear them. Aaron is a class act, and spent time after his set at the merch table, being photographed and signing items until everyone who approached him had had a moment or five with him.

One disappointment I had was missing Cody Canada & The Departted, and later caught some of Bleu Edmondson’s set on the third stage. But, when Reckless Kelly got up for its second set of the festival… they and Aaron Watson were two of the very few who played more than once… Cody Canada and Seth James came in and jammed about four songs with them. And that’s when I knew the truth of the matter….

This truth… there were major stars, Nashville stars, on the bill, on a major stage, with major backlighting and more musicians on stage with them, and jumbo trons on both sides, but the truth is — not a one of them was one iota better than our Texas and Red Dirt and songwriter/singer musicians. OK, some are as good, I’ll give them that, but NOT BETTER!

Casey Donahew and his band wowed the crowd… but they always do. Then everyone broke for Montgomery Gentry and Luke Bryan on the “major” stage… I went to the hippie van again and listened from afar… too much walking from one stage to the next for me.

A band from another area, Sunny Ledford, brought a huge following to his set in the Backwoods Stage, after having been interviewed on area television. His music could fit into the genre of raggae, if one needs s genre. Lots of reggae beat and rhythms combined with some rag influences.

Still didn’t make it to the ‘major’ stage, and Luke Bryan played Friday night. I’m just not a big fan of the “3-song limit” rule ‘major’ stars infringe on folks with “professional” cameras, but let any 10-year-old with a cell phone take photos all night long. There, I said it.

For Friday pix, click here:  


The music started today, and, I continued my volunteer work in catering. Today was a little easier, in that I was assigned to serve food instead of wash up the mess. More new people to learn their names, and each one was a lot of fun to work with. Work done, I realized I’d missed Whiskey Myers and left before Reckless Kelly hit the stage… exhausted.. But spent the time in between making up for that lost music. The Cadillac Three were so good… Aubry Harris at Two Frogs and Heritage Hall has bragged on these guys for more than a year, and Aubry, you were right!

The set of the day, at least for me and a few hundred others, was Roger Creager and his band. By themselves, they were great. Roger moving from guitar to horn to keyboard to harmonica and all the time singing songs he’s written.

The disappointment of the day, for me, was Shooter Jennings. The man could not sing without throwing the “F-Bomb”  into the lyrics about every 5th word. And, sorry Shooter and others who love that word, it’s not melodic! It says nothing, except that the user doesn’t know any more descriptive words to use instead.

Went to bed still without shower or bath… spit baths in the hippie van… day 3. Listened to Kevin Fowler and Backroad Anthem, playing on the “major” stage, at the van. Sound was that clear and strong!

For Thursday photos, click here:


Got up, after a weird night’s sleep in the hippie van. First too hot in there, then chilly, and slid off the egg carton bed a couple of times. OK, no problems. Checked in for my first volunteer assignment, which was in catering. Me and my new friend, Peggy, spent 6.5 hours there. Great crew to work with, all they do is go from one major festival to another across the country, setting up their kitchen and going to town with great meals.

I laughed when I thought how many times I’ve said, “Don’t they know who I think I am, anyway?” ,  as I bent over the dishwashing sinks for the first 5 hours, back breaking work, literally. Then spent the last 1.5 hours dicing potatoes, huge boxes of them. It was small compensation when Shane, the kitchen guru, said it might help to remember that the musicians would be eating some of those potatoes. Believe me, when I see the guys in Whiskey Myers tomorrow, I’m going to ask how they liked the potatoes. And I expect applause!

The nicest person I have met yet here is the volunteer staff coordinator, Amanda. (Also Peggy) She’s from Dallas, and still smiling even after having worked that previous festival to boot. She gave me a golf-cart tour of these huge grounds, all four stages. She said one might be used, but it isn’t on the schedule. Also got not one, but two chair massages from Candace, a student in massage academy in Arkansas. That felt really good that all that stooping and chopping!

The honey-wagon came and cleaned out those port-a-potties, and the volunteer crew made the grounds look like virgin territory. Great work by a good-natured, hard-working crew!

As a BTW, when I introduced myself as media to the folks at that check-in area, they said they had run out of media passes, but if someone didn’t come, I could have that pass. First time ever I’ve heard of running out of media passes, especially in an event in which so many hundreds of thousands of dollars had been poured and in which the media plays such a critical role. But, run out they did.

Settled in for the night. Note to self:  Always go to festivals where I get a golf cart of my own! More Thursday.

Wednesday photos, click here:


Arrived about 6:30 p., after a leisurely drive to the Ozark Mountain, specifically the Mulberry Mountain part of it. I’m a day earlier than most volunteers, but have a shift that begins early Wednesday morning, so figured this was the best way: arrive, get settled in, and show up Wednesday on time.

There was another festival on these grounds last weekend, and the residue left behind by that crowd was almost unbearable. The stench inside the port-a-potties was beyond belief, and the grounds were littered with stuff no innocent human should have to pick up. It didn’t even begin to pass the Kerrville Festivals comparison, which I use often with festivals. Got a little discouraged and ready to go back home.

For Tuesday photos, click here:  (Some of these are duplicated in the final group, shown after Sunday’s recap.)

Category: 2013

About the Author ()

In the music production business, including event production, booking, photography, reporting, and other such essentials, since 1980.

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