Yonder Harvest Fest, Oct. 16-19

| October 28, 2013
On Mulberry Mountain

On Mulberry Mountain

Cold and rain couldn’t put a damper on the Yonder Mountain Harvest Festival, held on Mulberry Mountain in late October. This festival, several years old now, is primarily acoustic, and that includes bluesgrass, folk, hillbilly, country, and about two dozens types of alternative or nameless other genres.  Four stages, with music alternately beginning on one of them every 15 minutes.  Surrounding them were countless vendor booths offering just about anything a camper might need from deodorant to decoupage to designer/hippie clothes. And surrounding all that were numerous, multiple, many many campers.

As it was at Thunder On The Mountain, the volunteer crew epitomized the heart of the festival. They worked hard, and then they played hard.

This festival brought  — I don’t know for sure, but — up to four dozen bands into Arkansas, most playing once, and a few performing twice while there. And they traveled from all across the U.S. to get there.

Of the new ones — well, not new, but new to me — bands that made a personal impact here was one called the California Honeydrops. This pop/jazz/blues band is about 6 years old, and got their inspiration from the American music that founder Lech Wierzynski listened to as a child in his native Poland. Once in America, he played in Washington, D.C., then set out to California where he developed a reputation as a primo trumpet player, singer, and guitarist. One by one, he added others to work beside him until, by the time they hit Harvest Fest, they were 5-strong: Lech taking the lead vocals, and others in the band playing keyboards, accordion, bass, washboard, drums, and saxophone.

Uncle Lucius never disappoints.  Austin rock dipped in R&B and accented with genuine yet understated showmanship and topped off with rememberable songs unique to their unique style.  They played the backwoods stage with only about 40 people in front of them, but they made 40 news fans that day. One of those was already a fan, Travis Stearns (drummer with the Dirty River Boys) ambled over to listen to his buds after the Dirty River Boys finished their set.

A hillbilly band that struck out because of their completely unusual band makeup was Mountain Sprout, straight out of Arkansas. This band gives pomp to what some might think of when “hillbilly music” is brought up. A fiddle, a dog-house bass, guitar, banjo, and more, and when they got the strings all working together, it didn’t come out quiet bluegrass, or quite folky, or quite country. Rather, it was a downhome mix of all that, brought to the stage by what looked like moonshiners, with their Hee-Haw beards. First-class, all-the-way, no-holds-barred music machine!

If there was a disappointment, it was Greensky Bluegrass, and not because of the music they brought. This group rocked out most of their bluegrass songs, and many of those songs were originals.  This Michigan band got a daylight spot on the main stage, with a sound system and fans to be envied. Banjo, dog-house bass, dobro, and guitar. However, unlike other bluegrass bands, they were freer with the curse words on stage, and threw out the F-bomb, after which several older people and several adults with young children, picked up their lawn chairs and left the audience.

I won’t let one dirty worm spoil my memory of the festival — there were so many others that swept  that set into the corner. And when October comes around again, and June before that with its Thunder On The Mountain on the same great grounds,  my hippie van will be returning to Ozark, Ark. The festival dates and line-ups will be posted in the live music calendar and festival calendar here in Scene In Town when they become available.

The cold and rain did dampen my enthusiasm, however, and I returned home two days early. Darn it! Thought I was tougher than that.— Mary Jane

A bunch of other photos, including volunteers, click here

California Honeydrops photos, click here

Swampbirds photos, click here

Dirty River Boys photos, click here

Mountain Sprout photos, click here

Uncle Lucius photos, click here

Greensky Bluegrass photos, click here





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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