Summer is here, and that means music festival season is in full swing all over the country.
The same is true here in Arkansas, and despite the fact that behemoth Wakarusa is on hiatus this year, there are still plenty of chances to get out and see some music and camp out underneath the stars coming up in some of the most idyllic areas of the Natural State.
What: Homegrown Music Festival
Who: The Wood Brothers, Leftover Salmon, Town Mountain, and more
When: July 21-23, 2016
Where: Byrd’s Adventure Center
Cost: $90-$125 / Purchase online
One of those, actually, is happening next month on the Mulberry River.
The first ever Homegrown Music Festival is set for July 21-23 at Byrd’s Adventure Center, featuring headliners Leftover Salmon, The Wood Brothers, and several others.
Also on the bill, and no less significant to several bluegrass fans we’ve talked to around town recently are North Carolina bluegrass band, Town Mountain.
The band, formed in the fertile musical mountain town of Ashville, has been making waves in the festival scene for several years now. They just released their fifth studio album, Southern Crescent, back in April of this year to favorable reviews for their unpolished, rough-around-the-edges approach to bluegrass. In a time where bands seem to float between genres, Town Mountain has a more straightforward approach that critics and fans alike have found refreshing.
Devon Leger, of Ed Helms’ The Bluegrass Situation said it best.
“They play bluegrass. Period,” he wrote in a review of their 2013 release, Leave The Bottle. “They play it hard, they play it fast, and they play it like their fingers are bleeding and their picks are breaking.”
The band will be performing at 7 p.m. on Saturday night, July 23 at Homegrown Festival. Tickets are $125 for the full event, or $90 for a two-day pass, on sale now at homegrownfestival-ar.com.
We got in touch with mandolin player Phil Barker from the band, and he was nice enough to answer some questions for us.
What have you been listening to lately?
Lately I’ve been listening to some older Ronnie McCoury records. He’s my favorite mandolin player. I hear something new every time I listen to him. Such an inspiration. As far as newer stuff I like the Cactus Blossoms new record.
How did you guys get into bluegrass music? Did you grow up with it, or was it something that you got into as you got older?
We all got into it as we got older. We all had bands like Old & In the Way, Leftover Salmon, and David Grisman as our gateway to the original stuff
What are some other bands you guys have played in?
Our current bass player Adam Chaffins has played in a few other bands like The Deadly Gentleman. I played in a group called Steel String Theory for a while, but for the most part this is our first serious band endeavor.
Have any of you ever played Arkansas before? What are your impressions of the place?
We played at Yonder Mountain String Band’s harvest fest a few years ago. That’s been our only Arkansas experience and it was great. Really nice campground.
The Homegrown Music Festival you guys are playing here in Arkansas happens to be in a really gorgeous area of our state. Do you guys enjoy playing these outdoor/camping type festivals, or do you prefer playing cities/bars?
We like both types of environments. Festival crowds tend to be cutting loose a little more, but the club dates can be more intimate and you usually get to play longer. So they both have their advantages
Have you seen the lineup for the Homegrown Music Festival? Anyone you guys are excited to see / perform with?
Leftover Salmon and the Wood Brothers are great. Like I said earlier, Leftover is a big influence for me so being in the same line up with them is pretty cool. And The Wood Brothers are one of my favorite current bands. Chris and Oliver Wood are some of the best songwriters working today.
Looks like your tour is pretty much taking you coast-to-coast this summer. What are some of your favorite cities to visit on tour?
We like all kinds of towns. Anything coastal usually has a laid back vibe which is cool, but every city has its thing. Some favorites off the top of my head: Portland, Seattle, San Fran, Denver, Ozark, Nashville, Asheville, Charleston
What do you guys like doing when you’re not playing music?
I enjoy doing some graphic design, working on my house, fishing, writing
What’s next for you guys? Any recording plans?
Always have new tunes happening so yeah it’d be great to be back in the studio within the year but no specific plans yet. We’re still enjoying Southern Crescent at this point.