Article & Photos by Tom Wickstrom
When it comes to a snugglefest the Rumpke Mountain Boys know how to do it right. Combine that with Halloween and you’ve got yourself one hell of a festival. Terrapin Hill Farm, just outside Harrodsburg, KY is a magical place to have a festival. I checked out the weather before heading out and I was concerned because the weather was calling for rain, snow & freezing temperatures. Driving through drizzling rain all the way there didn’t get my hopes up. As I pulled in the gate, the rain let up & I was able to get my camp set up as the rain held off briefly. I decided to take advantage of the lull in the rain and do some exploring of the area. Within minutes I encountered many friends from my festival family. They had set up the stage under the pavilion and wrapped it entirely with heavy curtains to keep the cold out. Two butane heaters kept things very comfortable inside.
The Bread & Butter Band out of Black Mountain, NC kicked things off with their bluegrass inspired style of music. The got everything off to a great start. One of my favorites, New Old Cavalry from Bloomington, IN really kicked it into high gear. I love the way they push the boundaries of bluegrass that creates a musical energy that overcomes everyone. Terrapin Flyer followed with a Grateful Dead inspired set of music. The Rumpke Mountain Boys then delivered a set of their “Trashgrass” style of music. They dressed up as Adam as Willie Nelson, JD as JJ Cale, Ben as Leon Russell and Jason as Leon Redbone. When it was each person’s turn in the rotation, each member performed a song by who they were dressed as. I was impressed by the number of new songs I hadn’t heard them play before. I’m impressed by how many songs that are in their catalog. When Rumpke was finished, it was time for the “Snuggle Jam”. Even though it was getting colder outside and snowing, the hot music in the pavilion made for a very comfortable evening. It was now time to go back to the tent, turn the heaters on, wrap myself in blankets & go to sleep.
When I awoke in the morning, it was cold because the heaters were out of fuel. Although cold, the sun was out & things seemed warmer than they actually were. At 11am it was time for the Chompdown, a community breakfast that everyone contributed to with either food or clean-up. There was enough food for everyone. We also got to enjoy 2 hours of Grateful Dead music hand picked by David Gans.
Free The Honey started the live music for the day. Out of Gunnison, CO they offered up some 3-part harmonies in what they refer to as “Honeygrass”. Restless Leg String Band was next. I see a lot of similarities between Rumpke Mountain Boys & them. They serve up an high energy bluegrass style of music & with the recent addition of Ishi Wooton(formerly of Bloodroots Barter) on fiddle, a new chapter has been written for them. I can’t wait to see where it takes them. David Gans followed with his acoustic Grateful Dead inspired music that mad you feel warm & good inside. The Captain Midnight Band out of Nashville was next. Decked out in Halloween costumes, they rocked out the festival crowd. Rumpke then played 2 more full sets of Trashgrass to the delight of the Snuggleween crowd. I ran back to the tent to get my heaters going and ended up the evening checking out the last remaining performer, Derick Howard of Columbus, IN closed out the evening. He reminds me a lot of Keller Williams with the way he performs & loops his songs, but I feel an energy from Derick that I don’t really get from solo Keller any more. Another long day. Now its time to crash.
Snuggleween was a great weekend! Although cold, the rain & snow weren’t as extensive as forecasted. The music was awesome and the many new & old friends I encountered made for an unbelieveable festival experience. Let’s do it again next year!