Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Music Festival 2014

Oct. 16-18, 2014, Ozark, AZ

Article & Photos by Tom Wickstrom

Pipeline Productions has been doing the Harvest Music Festival for 9 years now and Yonder Mountain String Band has hosted it the last 5 years. This was my first trip to Mulberry Mountain for their festival & I couldn’t have asked for better weather. The drive took about 13 hours from Columbus, Ohio and it was well worth it. We arrived late Wednesday afternoon, set up camp and were able to catch a couple of bands before calling it an evening to rest up for a rapid fire line-up of awesome bands starting on Thursday. Yonder Mountain with the addition of Jacob Joliff & Allie Kral played 4 sets including a late night Harvest Tent set and a laid back afternoon set on the Roost Stage. In addition to the Harvest Tent & Roost Stage, there was also the Main Stage & a Backwoods Stage.

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Thursday started out with a press conference with Samantha Fish, Donna The Buffalo & Yonder. I also interviewed Gary Louris of The Jayhawks and Ryan Young from Trampled By Turtles. Bands that performed stand out sets were Donna The Buffalo, The Oh Hellos, The Jayhawks, Willie Watson, Trampled By Turtles & Yonder. Steepwater Band was the biggest surprise of the night. Out of Chicago, they rocked the Harvest Tent with old school rock and roll and really tore the place up!

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On Friday I had the privilege of interviewing Elephant Revival and also another press conference with multiple bands including Split Lip Rayfield & Dirtfoot. Split Lip Rayfield is a band I’ve been following for years but this was my first time seeing them live. They did not disappoint. I then headed to the Harvest Tent for The Shook Twins, who are lead by Katelyn  & Laurie Shook. Based out of Portland, Oregon they offer a sound that is a blend of many different styles. Other bands that I saw perform awesome sets were The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Railroad Earth & Tea Leaf Green. Yonder Mountain played another full set with Jerry Douglas sitting in on Dobro for the evening. Another band that really impressed me were The Magic Beans. Out of Nederland, Colorado they provided 2 distinct sounds-one Bluegrassy and the other more Jammy. Friday also included an hour of Ben Kaufmann from Yonder doing Monty Python songs & skits including all the silly accents. What a treat!

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Saturday started with music at noon with Jon Wayne & The Pain on the Backwoods Stage. I tried to catch a little bit of as many bands performing as possible. New artists I really enjoyed were Honey Island Swamp Band, Paper Bird, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Ha Ha Tonka, That 1 Guy & Dirtfoot. Dirtfoot was the one new band that really impressed me. Out of Shreveport, Louisiana they put out a high octane performance that melted my late night face. Yonder once again tore it up with Jerry Douglas as well as Railroad Earth, Elephant Revival, The Devil Makes Three & The Everyone Orchestra. With Matt butler as the conductor, The Everyone Orchestra included musicians from all the different bands that played that day as well as Anders Beck of Greensky Bluegrass. What a great way to close out the night and the festival.

What a great festival weekend! I hear rain has always figured heavily in this festival but that was not the case this weekend. With temperatures highs in the 70’s and the lows in the fifties, the weather was perfect. I also had the opportunity to catch a lot of bands that don’t travel to Columbus, Ohio very often or not at all. I love discovering new music & bands. I also met a lot of new friends & hope to make it back again next year. Harvest Music Festival was a wonderful experience. Yonder Mountain String Band has attached themselves to another great festival. We need a similar festival in the Ohio Valley Region. What about it Yonder?