Written by Abigail Amor
Photos by Adam Payne
The days leading up to Groovin’ with the Groove 2 were filled with continuous rain and stories of hurricanes all across the east coast. As the date crept closer there seemed to be no hope for a sunny weekend. Friday morning, I peeked out my window to see yet another dreary day. As I continued to pack and grab all my rain gear to head out to Philippi, West Virginia, and with every mile I drove closer to the venue, the sun seemed to creep another inch away. By the first band, it was beautiful weather. Even the weather wanted this weekend to be perfect. I don’t think this article will do this festival justice in terms of just how perfect, magical, and personable this festival was. I was chasing the dragon of my love for festivals with this being the last one of the year for me, already yearning for next year’s season.
My camp is set and the sun is shining with nothing but blue skies. My drink is made, so I head down to the stage. The sounds of Moonshine Crossing fill the air. I can hear the rowdy voice of Bob Zilla getting the party started. What a high energy band to start the weekend! Tonight is the highlight of my favorite hometown bands – many of which I haven’t seen for awhile! 18 Strings – a new favorite whom I actually just saw a few weeks ago – was also recently featured in the October issue of The Jamwich, so check them out. They are a fun bluegrass band based out of Morgantown.
Fun and high energy was the name of the game this weekend. Mix in a little dirt and you get the Brokedown Hustlers. Add some class and that’ll make up Weary Space Wanderer. Brokedown Hustlers are whiskey-drinking, smack-talking, and story-telling type of guys. Things slowed down a bit for Pappy and JP from Cabinet, bringing in some sweet picking and storytelling to the table. As the sun began to set over the rolling hills, with the oranges and yellows shining through the clouds, you knew the night was slowly creeping in. Band after band was awesome and the bounce from side stage to main stage was perfect – only mere moments from one band to another. Even though it was only a 5-minute walk to get back to the campsite, I didn’t want to miss a single second because all of the music was so good: Jon Stickley Trio, The Greens, Fletchers, The Company Stores, Shady Grove, and ending with The Kind Thieves. You tell me where you would have taken a break with that lineup! It was certainly highlighting all of the deep roots West Virginia favorites right there. I always say that West Virginia has at least one thing going for it: its looks – but after a night like that, it’s apparent we’ve got some serious talent in our state as well!
Oh, the night went late and the next morning came fast… I didn’t catch the first two bands, though I could hear them pretty good from my campsite. The lead singer for Tanagra had some pipes- she was definitely my alarm clock saying “It’s time to get yourself together and start your day, girl!” I will be searching for them again to catch a proper show. I made it down to the stage by the third band – Hillbilly Carnival – bringing their fun antics, funny banter, and great stage presence. They haven’t played for a while, so I was super-pumped to have the chance to see them again.
The biggest surprise of Saturday: That One Guy is a magician?! He did his own little tweener set using cards to do magic tricks! It was amazing alternative entertainment, and it drew quite a crowd. Great for kids, adults, and maybe a few spunions or two. I haven’t seen Rasta Rafiki in full swing for years, but they’ve still got it! After so much energy being expended from Friday night, it was perfect for the middle of the day, spreading the positive message and raising everyone’s vibration. They are the best reggae band in West Virginia by far! Thanks for revitalizing the crowd!
You could see the shift of energy change. Oh MAN, the second set of Fletcher’s Grove – it was fire! The first night they killed it, but I think the second night was just off the charts. They have progressed so far over the years and it is great seeing them having such a fun time on stage. Their original bass player, Taylor, joined in for a few songs. My hopes were high that Taylor and John would play together, but John stepped off and let Taylor be in the spotlight. This is the type of playfulness I’m trying to portray: it was a jam for the musician and the crowd alike. So many friends old and new and smiling faces; in short, a makeshift community was built in two days. Ask Andy Frasco: he was loving us! He definitely wins for the band I didn’t know and am now in love with. He had so much energy! I may be loving on all these WV bands but Frasco… Frasco ended with “Killing in the Name Of,” was balancing things on his head, and got out into the crowd getting everyone to do the Horah. Not only did he impress me, but we all impressed him. He was in awe at how awesome, welcoming, and giving West Virginians are. Andy, please come back!
This was one of those weekends when you’re hurt, you’re tired, your body needs more water and less booze, you definitely should have stretched but you don’t feel drained – you are instead left feeling rejuvenated, like a whole new layer of love has been wrapped around you. Leaving brought a tear to my eye because of how great the Groovin’ experience was. All you really want is to repeat it forever! Even watching all the comments and posts on Facebook, I know I wasn’t alone about how I felt when I left. It was truly good for the soul – not just because the music was phenomenal, but the crowd was loving and caring and it really felt like a family reunion. Never a stranger though I maybe strange – never alone but I may be a loner… I will be pray for many, many more Groovin’ with the Groves!