Front Porch Festival Fest Preview

September 4-6, Spirithaven Farm- Stewart Virginia

By Ashleigh S. Hackett

For all of you out there who love anything live music or Appalachia-related & have a feel that old familiar melancholy about full blast summer festival season coming to an end, Front Porch Festival might be an event to add to the calendar to kick off your Labor Day weekend & keep the spirit soaring to plunge into autumn with the same tenacity. located on Spirithaven Farm in Stewart Virginia, Front Porch began as a family and friends-driven operation where an idea grew into an awesome reality that folks from near and far can come to enjoy. Spirit Haven Farm is located on a 130 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Stuart, Virginia. a family-run working farm of the Eutsler family. Described as an ntimate outdoor setting where the” distinction between artist and audience is blurred”, local, regional and national musicians showcase their talent on three stages with no overlapping sets so that you never have to miss a beat or riff echoing through those gorgeous green hills.

Who’s headlining?

To name a few: Simplified- “Starting out as two musicians with a dream from mellow Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to one of the industry’s top emerging rock bands, makes Simplified a true tour de force. Nothing simple about that”. The laid-back acoustic island rock band comes to Front porch with a big splash.

The AJ Ghent Band- Soulful yet modern Mississippi Delta Blues with influences of gospel, AJ Ghent involves the spirit “of those who came before him”, with his futuristic and spontaneous innovations with the Delta-sound native lap steel guitar. In Atlanta, where Ghent cultivated his musical style and niche, was mentored by Bruce Hampton, the eclectic singer/guitarist who has mentored many musicians including Derek Trucks and Widespread Panic.

Big Daddy Love- Originally high school friends from the rural mountains of Sparta, North Carolina, the band had its breakthrough in winning the prestigious “Under the Radar” contest for best new band in 2010, at the large Virginia Festival Floydfest in Floyd VA. Their sound is described as “fresh and energizing with high-energy performances and striking vocals” it is a five-piece band of a natural blend of rock, roots and grass that they call ‘Appalachian Rock”; “riffs and soaring Allman-esque slide guitar on the one hand, and 5-string Scruggs / Fleck style banjo on the other– like a typical Southern rock line-up, just replacing the second guitar with the banjo– punctuate and emphasize what Moss delivers.” Lead vocalist and acoustic guitar accompaniment of their principal songwriter, Scott Moss, command the listener’s attention and unfold harmonies that arise in response.

Many other bands will make appearance at Front Porch with some fierce and grass-roots style showcasing of the Appalachian area. One of my personal favorites would be the awesome funky energy of RIchmond-based DJ Williams Project, a band with soulful lead guitar and founder, DJ Williams (Also of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe among many others) with strong elements of R&B/Hip Hop. DJ has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with John Legend, Dave Matthews Band, John Oates, Warren Haynes, Ivan Neville, Big Daddy Kane, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Soulive, Levon Helm, Slightly Stoopid, Robert Randolph, Slick Rick, and many many more. Don’t miss this!

Awesomely and lastly, you don’t want to miss Megan Jean & The KFB- Also getting their break at Floydfest, one of the Southeast’s major grassroots folk and bluegrass festival and winning the prestigious “Under The Radar Contest” in July of 2012, (Which I had the pleasure of personally witnessing! ) This band “loves to perform, and is fueled by sheer guts and know how”- It’s straight Voodoo musical thunder. Megan on washboard and her husband on banjo have “never sounded so fresh, so new, so musical”.

What’s unique about Front Porch might you ask?

Something I personally find very cool is when a music festival not only creates an experience of inspiration and creativity to flourish for its patrons but also find the will to donate to causes that matter by simple acts of kindness. Proceeds from the festival are donated to the Patrick County Food Bank, Caring Hearts Free Clinic and the Patrick County Skate Park. “We think it’s imperative to give back to the community and Front Porch Fest is our way of making a difference in our little area of the planet.”

The festival is produced by a group of family, friends and funsters inspired by the idea that life is enriched by art, with music at its soul. Local, regional and national musicians showcase their talent on three stages with no overlapping sets so that you never have to miss a beat. Front Porch Fest is a family friendly event, so bring the kids! They can groove to the tunes while doing arts & crafts in the Children’s Area. There is an Awareness Village, which provides information on different causes that are important to the area. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to camp! There is both field and woods camping on site, with food and merchandise vendors to help make your weekend more enjoyable. The farm being a “working” farm also has several species of uncommon animals are raised; St. Croix sheep, Myotonic or “Tennessee Fainting” goats, blue-egg-laying Americana chickens. Can’t hurt right?! Where? A family-owned festival in an intimate setting at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, The Eustler family can’t help but share this land and the energy emanates with like-minded folks. They sometimes offer workshops and retreats that emphasize Arts and Music. Their main yearly event is Darbukastani Independence Days, a four-day festival based around Central Asian music and dance, drawing people from many different corners of the world. They also host smaller local events featuring Bluegrass, Folk and Celtic music and dance.

All General Information, including directions, gate hours, camping, parking, volunteer info, will call, pets, safety info, what to bring, performance recordings, weather, Media/Press passes, FAQ’s and more can be found at: Summer coming to an end can feel like a huge bummer but it’s all an illusion because the music never stops if you’re in the right place! See you guys on down yonder on the porch Labor Day weekend for some stunning natural beauty of Appalachia , unforgettable musical talent and memory making!