Music Back on the Mountain

-by Antoinette Grajeda

One of the perks of this job is being able to cover music festivals and luckily, there are several scheduled throughout the year within driving distance. The most recent was Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival, which took place last weekend at Mulberry Mountain near Ozark. Last year's Harvest Festival was my first experience with a music festival and my friends will tell you I did not go willingly. I had no idea what to expect and my experience with camping was limited (to put it kindly). However, I went and despite a rainstorm and the muddy aftermath, I had a good time. Within the past year, I've attended a handful of other festivals including Wakarusa, Center of the Universe Festival, LouFest, and of course, Fayetteville Roots Festival.

Something I've enjoyed about these events is concertgoers' positive attitudes. Festivals have a variety of layers, which allows people to get different things out of the experience. I enjoy live music, so for me, it doesn't matter if I'm catching a set by an up-and-coming band I've never heard of or finally hearing a musician I've followed since high school sing live for the first time – either way, I'm entertained. There's also this awesome sense of camaraderie that comes from traveling with friends, especially when you're forced to survive the elements. I've been blessed with a great group of friends who've shared in my music festival activities during the past year and that makes it worth it. In those moments when a torrential downpour cancels music onstage and you're relegated to your tent for an entire afternoon, entertaining company is key.

If you're thinking about attending your first festival, you should do it. At least give it a try and see if you have a good time. If I can offer advice as a novice music festival attendee, it would be this: bring good friends, a chair, and rain gear because no matter what the forecast says, it's probably going to rain.

Highlights from this weekend's Harvest Festival included Kasey Musgraves, a young country singer whose use of clever lyrics won me over, and Elephant Revival who I wanted to catch after missing part of their set earlier this year. They did not disappoint and the crowd showed ample appreciation at the end of their Saturday afternoon set on the Main Stage. The Backwoods Stage on Mulberry Mountain tends to produce some of the best kept secrets (in my opinion) because it's a little off the beaten path and often features lesser-known acts. Sometimes these musicians are on their way to bigger things (The Lumineers, for example, played this stage at Wakarusa in 2012). My favorite performer on this stage this year was Cas Haley, who had a powerful, soulful voice and an infectious level of energy. I only caught part of his set, but it was definitely worth the trip.

To see some of the sights from this weekend, click here
(Special thanks to Brian Rickard and Rhonda Dillard for their contributions to the album).

Kevin Kinder is the music reporter for NWA Newspapers and you can also visit his blog for a more detailed account of the concerts on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Hope to see you on the mountain next year!