The first thing I noticed about Rooster Walk was how involved the community was in the event. It seemed that everyone from the local furniture store to the Electric company wanted to be a part of it. The second thing I learned was why. After the untimely passing of two young men involved in live music in the area a memorial fundraiser was started by friends. From that a scholarship, The Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship, was set up for a student from the area to receive $1000 towards school. Since then, thanks to community involvement, the scholarship has grown to $4000 just showing how many good people have rallied behind Rooster Walk.
Upon arrival to the camp grounds I was greeted by staff offering me a ride across the festival to VIP camping to find my friends which was nice because my knee was bothering me after the four hour drive down from Shepherdstown. We got as far as the beer garden stage before I abandoned the golf cart and headed for the taps. New Belgium had a few different styles of beer on tap ranging from light session ales to a rich, dark black ale and all in between to appease.
While I was sampling the beers I spotted Ross from Kings of Belmont and made my way over to sit with him his wife Jen, Aaron and Slim two other members of the band. Lizzy Ross was starting her set and although it was an afternoon set I could tell she wanted to rock out harder than she was. “Elephant Hearts” put me under a spell and Lizzy’s live loops made it sound like there were a have a dozen of her singing on stage. A little bit of magic was made when Dr Z sat in with Lizzy for a wonderful rendition of “Maria Maria” that left the crowd spellbound.
From there it was a quick walk over to the main stage to listen to some rockin bluegrass from Steep Canyon Rangers. If you haven’t seen this band, with or without Steve Martin, you’re missing out on something special. Each of Steep Canyons members is proficient with theirs and sometimes others instruments and every show they are able to highlight individual talents without hesitation.
The big acts are great and I understand that is the main draw but I always seem to gravitate to the smaller stages so I made my rounds to the lake stage for a taste of the in your face rock from Stop Light Observations then completed the rounds back at New Belgium’s beer garden stage to get funky with Empire Strikes Brass. Based out of Asheville this brass band had us feeling as if we were dancing down Bourbon Street in the French Quarter.
As the sun disappeared the troop from Fire My Spirit lit up the night performing to the music of Yonder Mountain String Band. This was my first time seeing them without the facial expressions of Jeff Austin leading the way on mandolin but I was not let down at all as Jacob Jolliff played his part like a veteran member of the band. The recent addition of Allie Kral on violin was electrifying and sent shivers down my spine as she sang along.
After all the fire spinning and live art culture that was happening at the main stage it was time to change gears a bit and get a little rowdy with Kings Of Belmont. Hailing from Charlottesville VA, KOB has been one of my favorite bands since first seeing them at MTPJ1. Their willingness to play a midnight set at noon shows they can be spontaneous as well as diverse. Or it shows they don’t really know how to use a clock. Either way Kings Of Belmont are what rock n roll wishes it was. The unmistakable silhouette of bassist Ross Van Brocklins beard commands attention as he keeps the pace steady for Max to deliver crisp vocals or Aaron to drop some rhymes as newcomer to the band Slim works the drum kit with ferocity!
Tonight’s set was no exception with rock to hip hop, to the Game Of Thrones intro played like you’ve never heard before. My favorite set by far with guest appearances by Lizzy Ross and others to stretch into the morning hours. Finally to close out the night I joined the silent disco hosted by my man Slim from KOB. My first silent disco was amazing, I can only imagine what passers by might have thought as dozens of us boogied and swayed to what seemed to be just the wind in the trees. At one moment I had to step aside and see for my self and I was amazed at how beautiful it all was tucked into the tall trees with lazers and led lights swirling all around.
As the sun came up I put myself down for a nap, I knew I had to head back north in a couple of hours but not before gathering up the crew to snap some group pics for their press packet. I have to say I was super impressed with Rooster Walk and stoked I had chosen it instead of Delfest this year. If your looking for a family friendly environment of camping, arts and music Rooster Walk is not to be missed!