Willy Fest Review
July 3-4, 2015
Hannon’s Camp America
College Corner, OH
Review by Matt Wickstrom
Photos by Tom Wickstrom
Hosted by hippy-metal juggernauts Glostik Willy, the first annual Willy Fest got off to a soggy start at Hannon’s Camp America just outside of Oxford, OH. A strong and persistent rain shower moved into the area early Friday afternoon, lasting until the early evening. Due to the weather, festival-goers were forced to take shelter as they waited for music to get started on the two main stages.
Once the skies cleared, Cincinnati’s Rumpke Mountain Boys took the stage and threw down some of their infamous trashgrass. The echoes of Rumpke’s masterfully crafted tunes radiated through the intimate festival grounds at Camp America, reaching it’s peak as the quartet broke into a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Keep on Moving’.
Following Rumpke was Indiana’s own Derick Howard. Howard left me speechless as he performed on the main stage, drawing many similarities to Keller Williams, using an audio sampler just like William’s to record and loop together himself performing on several different instruments. Howard calls himself a one man jam band, and rightfully so. Watching Howard on stage switch between instruments flawlessly left me feeling awestruck. I’ve never been very musically proficient myself, so to see someone master not one instrument, but three, on stage at the same almost effortlessly was something I’ll never forget.
After Howard, festival hosts Glostik Willy took the stage, and immediately proceeded in melting the collective faces off of the raucous crowd gathered in the mosh-pit in front of the stage.
After Glostik Willy closed down main stage festivities for day one of the inaugural Willy Fest, After Funk, Smilin’ Joe, and Blue Moon Soup kept the music going all night long and into the morning a couple hundred feet away in the barn stage.
After a rainy first day at Willy Fest, day two couldn’t have started any better. As the sun rose and began bouncing off of the dewy grass, the ballads of Blue Moon Soup could still be heard from the barn stage. The bluegrass quartet from Yellow Springs, OH, who are known for their marathon late night festival sets, outdid themselves this time. I can’t imagine a better sound filling my ears as I woke up to prepare for another day of amazing music.
After grabbing some breakfast and taking a stroll around the festival grounds it was almost time for music to start up again. Another Cincinnati band, Eyeris Wide, took the stage first on Saturday. Following them was Baby Hands, who took the stage right as the festival’s two guests of honor, Randy and Lahey from TV show ‘Trailer Park Boys’ showed up. Randy and Lahey hosted a cheeseburger picnic and meet and greet with fans before hosting an hour long comedy routine later in the day.
As day turned to night, Glostik Willy teamed up with central-Ohio rock group ekoostik hookah’s Steve Sweney and Dave Katz to form Ekoostik Willy, one of the most rocking, in your face bands I’ve ever seen perform. The impromptu supergroup played two separate sets during the night, each filled with jaw-dropping riffs and solos by Sweney, Glostik Willy’s Ralf Mowf, and company.
Following Ekoostik Willy was Elementree Livity Project, a fun band that feature a joyful blend of reggae, rock, and jam. The band, preaching peace and love to all, closed out music on the second stage on night two, sending patrons off to the barn stage with good vibes in anticipation of one final set from Glostik Willy to close the festival out.
First year festivals are always tough to prepare and plan for. Everyone with Glostik Willy, the festival promoters, and everyone else involved did a fantastic job dealing with the curveballs mother nature threw at them throughout the weekend. The first Willy Fest was a blast, with so many bands and artists performing with very diverse influences and sounds. I made many new friends throughout the weekend, and can’t wait to head back to the second annual Willy Fest in 2016!