Written by B.A. Jones
Mountain Music Fest 2016, held in Minden, West Virginina is definitely one of my favorite festivals ever! There are two reasons why I’m a fanatic for this festival; the insanely impeccable line-up they ALWAYS have, and the venue is absolutely the most awesome I’ve ever been to! Charlie Hatcher, who books the bands, has great taste in music, as eclectic as mine. He runs the music production with his company, Alpha Music. From the best of bluegrass, to the funkiest funk, and deliriously delicious jam, he always picks the top acts. Ace Adventure Resort is a top notch location with amazing adventures in store.
On June 2-4 the festival enticed music and adventure lovers from far and wide, including most of my family. One of my younger sisters came with her husband, their 20 month old son, our Mom, and my husband. This is the second music festival our Mom has attended, and we love it when she comes with us! Mom also went to The Lost Paddle Lounge beside Wonderland Water Park Thursday evening and enjoyed The BIG Something set with all of us. She adored them. Their set was boisterous and very popular. Groove Fetish and The Hornitz also played under the new covered outdoor area at The Lost Paddle Lounge, making the Thursday night pre-party a huge success.
This festival truly has it all, and definitely has something for everyone. Ace Adventures Resort is 1,500 acres of beauty and exhilaration. Ace has upgraded their water park with new inflatables, widened the parking lots, and completely remodeled the Lost Paddle Lounge. It offers river rafting, rock climbing, the outdoor water park, paint ball course, disc golf course, zip lining, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking. There was even a mud run during the fest. They also offer day excursions with bands for a little extra cash. On Friday, my Mom and sister went on a zip lining trip with Trampled By Turtles! My Mom is 69, and we were so proud of her for doing this, as she is afraid of heights. They traversed 9 mountainside zip lines, and two suspended bridges. All while enjoying breath-taking views of the New River Gorge.
Like any other festival, we had thunderstorms throughout the entire weekend, but we were prepared and un-phased. The festival goers instead revelled, dancing in the mud with joy. The main stage, situated on top of the mountain, opened at 4 pm each day. On Friday night my Mom and Sister were too exhausted to listen to all the fabulous bluegrass music, so my husband and I enjoyed it even more for them. Friday’s main stage kicked off with Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, and they were enthusiastic and original. More of a hillbilly secret circus act than Americana to my ear, but they were contagious and fun.
The music only got more incredible as the night went on. There was a circus tent full of artists, and i enjoyed watching them create their art to such wonderful music. Friday there was a Painting With Everyday Objects workshop in the artist’s tent with artist Leslie Caneda. Cabinet , the beloved bluegrass band from P.A., got the crowd whipped up into a fervor, and had us splashing in the mud. They are among my top three favorite bluegrass bands, and I treasured every note. You can’t help but smile and appreciate the prowess of these gentlemen as they seemed to duel with each other musically during each song. Their energy is gritty and impassioned, and I harbor a great devotion to them as musicians and as a band. Their set was nothing short of phenomenal, and I was feeling truly blessed to be there, enjoying my height of Mountain Music Festival.
The Infamous Stringdusters played next, and the crowd got larger and more rowdy, soaking up their splendid arrangements and harmonies. Their familiar and comforting songs with a traditional sound intrigued and enticed the listeners to enthusiastically dance along. Their sound is as warm and pleasing as moonshine around a campfire. We thoroughly enjoyed their set, and the crowd was bursting with anticipation for the last band of the night.
The headliners, Trampled By Turtles, took the stage to excited screams of anticipation. The entire crowd sang almost every one of their songs right along with them, and you could tell they were beloved by all there. Their set was magical, and the gents were in absolutely flawless form. Their cohesiveness is intense, and their songs speak to your very soul. They exuded rapture, and infected the audience with delight. It was my first ever time seeing Trampled By Turtles, and I was beyond impressed and smitten by their beguiling sound.
Two more special daytime adventures with bands took place on Saturday. Rafting with Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band was at 11am, and the Big Fat Zip Trip started at 11:30am with Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band. I’ve never rafted, but hear it’s beyond exciting, and an adrenaline rush to experience! The Zip Trip was sold out, and I’m pretty sure neither got rained on. Many others enjoyed the beach party, went mountain biking, hiking, and disc golfing.
Saturday there was a free beach party at Wonderland Water Park, from 10am to 8pm. It kicked off with N.C.’s Groove Fetish, and they gained many new fans. There was so much to do, and shuttle buses ran every 15 minutes to carry people to activities and events. The vibe, lake fun, and live music continued all day Saturday. There was a blob competition at noon, and several workshops. Fat Cheek Kat, also from N.C., kept the funk going and mesmerized people who danced in the lake. There was an into slack-lining workshop at Wonderland Water Park, as well as an intro into poi spinning. Yum – Yum Beast, and Major & The Monbacks finished off the live music at the lake stage.
The festival grounds on top of the mountain opened up at four with a couple more workshops, and Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band started the nights music at 6. Bringing the energetic funk wherever they go, they have been a festival staple for 12 years. Their sets are always high-energy dance parties. Between their funky bass player, Al Al, and their gorgeous singer- Mama Funk, their enlivened sets keep your spirit soaring, and your soul smiling.
At 8pm it was time to put it in the dumpster, with Dumpstaphunk. With such famous members as Ivan Neville, Tony Hall, Nick Daniels lll, and Alvin Ford Jr., they are always a crowd pleaser. Dumpstaphunk is eager to entertain, and get down with gritty soulful blues, and a New Orleans jazz sound that they’ve mastered in their sleep! Their riffs are as dirty as feral dogs, and have the same bite. Vicious bass lines set the structure for their powerful blues, and transmissible funk. Their music seems to enlighten the sunset itself, and permeate the mountain top like honeysuckle blooms in June.
At 10pm, Galactic blasted off, and abducted the immense audience like funk aliens swooping down from the night sky in clouded UFO’s. They were the second band of the night that’s from New Orleans. Seems to me the funk chromosome runs rampant in such a musically and culturally rich city. Their charisma seeped into the fog itself, and cloaked the mountain in glamour. Joined by the ravishing Erica Falls on lead vocals, they were indomitable. The venue was full, I don’t think I’ve seen so many people there before. The crowd fed off their musical vitality, and zeal, and danced in kind. Galactic’s set was outrageously fun and pure funk fueled our adoration. I wished they would have played all night.
Last, but never the least, Lotus took the stage to roars of admiration. I had eagerly been awaiting this set, since I had never seen them live. My sister hooped her LED hoop the entire set, I danced, and my Mom toughed out the late hour to enjoy it with us. We also got a front row seat to fire-dancers during this set, and they went together amazingly. The kinetic energy produced by Lotus was palpable, and excreted exultation. The audience was frenzied by then, and I remember seeing streaks of glow bracelets forming rainbows into the mass. Their music was dynamic and the atmosphere was energizing. Their electro/jam/rock sound is infused with a powerful passion that is ever contagious, spreading to all who hear their jams. When their set finally came to an end, all our fervor dissipated, and we were satisfied. It was 3am, and we got our old Mother home to bed.
The sound and lighting all weekend was phenomenal, So a huge shout out to Voigt Enterprises for working diligently, and giving us such an astounding production. Thank You Ace Adventure for giving us an outlet for our emphatic addictions to astonishing music, and incredible adventure! You fill a niche that has long needed to be addressed and fulfilled, and in such a beautiful part of WV to boot! Big Thanks to Charlie Hatcher and Alpha Music, you know our musical infatuations, and satiate our appetite for paramount entertainment. You are my hero! Thank you to all of Ace’s staff, who are always happy and helpful, and thanks to the numerous volunteers who made this immense undertaking a rousing success. I hope to enjoy this festival for many, many years to come.
Every single band I saw blew me away, it’s like a contest between bands to out do the last! I have to say, my favorite of all this year was Lotus. I could feel my chi energy building joyousness and emanating from my aura, and the happiness was communicable. My Mom, my sister, and I went and took some silly pictures in the photo booth before we left the venue for the last time that weekend. We had excellent quality time as a family, and I was keen on sharing in adventurous activities with them! We all had an excellent time. I hope to make Mountain Music Fest WV a yearly family vacation. Rabbit’s Choice ***** 5 stars. The site, the people, the line -up, and the adventure are all flawless.