What's left when the show is over..

Festie Season Arrives!

Parkstomp 2013
March 22-24

Festie Season Arrives!

And for our first outing of the year, its' the one, the only ParkStomp.  Now in it's third year, ParkStomp is held in Medicine Park, OK, rightfully named one of the coolest small towns in America..

So pack yer stuff.   There's killer music to be had.

We'll be doing audio for the Friday Night and Saturday Night Music Hall portions of the event.

Seeya there..


Yonder Mountain Harvest Festival Preview

Yonder Mountain Harvest Festival 2012
Well, it's that time again..

And this years YMHF looks to be killer.

Harvest is always one of our favorite festivals of the year, and for good reason.  Crowd sizes are reasonable, the environment is beyond chill, and the lineup is excellent.

Mark's Don't Miss Sets For 2012:

Wednesday Night:

For those of you taking advantage of the Early Arrival bit, don't forget to check out Tyrannosaurus Chicken (8:45-10PM) and Dead Man Flats (10:30-11:45) at the Backwoods Stage, and for those looking for some electronic infused jams, check out Mouth (11:30-12:30AM) on the Roost Stage.


On the Main Stage we've got Mountain Sprout (3:30-4:15) followed by Dirtfoot (4:45-6:00PM).

If you haven't caught Don't Stop Please yet, you can check them out at The Roost Stage (5:00-6:00PM).

My late night pick for Thursday is Omaha NE's Blue Martian Tribe at the Roost Stage (12:30-1:30AM).  I did sound for these guys at Festie Fest earlier this year, and if you're into spacey Jams, these guys are the ticket.


My Friday Picks include:

Chompdown with Dirtfoot back in RV Reserved, come get some free breakfast and an early morning dose of Dirtfoot.  (9AMish)

Deadman Flats (12:30-130PM) Main Stage, followed by the ever so awesome Elephant Revival (2:00-3:15).

On from that is Grass Crack at the Roost Stage (3:30-4:30)

It's a bit of a tough call between Sam Bush at the Main Stage (5:30-7:00) or Moonalice (6:00-7:30PM). I love Sam Bush, but the John Molo / Barry Sless combination in Moonalice is hard to pass by as well. May have to flip a coin for this one.

Then back to the Main Stage for the Mickey Hart Band (7:30-9:30).

Then we have another tight call between Leftover Salmon at the Harvest Tent (12:30-2:00AM) or Split Lip Rayfield  at the backwoods stage (12:30-2:00AM).  Being as I get to catch Split Lip fairly frequently I think I'll have to nod to Leftover Salmon this go round.

And finally Cornmeal's Harvest Tent set (2:30-3:30AM) is a slam dunk no brainer.  Which takes us into:


Moonalice on the Main Stage (12:00-1:15PM) if I don't catch them on Friday, and if I do then Truckstop Honeymoon at the Backwoods stage (12:00-1:00PM).

Then back to the Main Stage for Cornmeal (1:45-3:00PM), cutting out a bit early to truck back to the Backwoodstage for Elephant Revival (3:00-4:15PM).

At this point I'll either grab early dinner or late lunch as the case may be or catch the tail end of Split Lip Rayfield's main stage set (3:30-5:00PM) or possibly White Ghost Shivers (4:45-6:00PM) on the Backwoods Stage.

Then we're back to the Main Stage for Leftover Salmon (7:30-9:00PM), and a bit of a break to refuel for the final push with Mountain Sprout (12:30-2:00AM) on the Backwoods stage.

And to close it out we'll head back to the Harvest Tent for Dirtfoot (2:30-3:30AM).

In between there's tons of stuff going on.  For the second year Harvest will be holding various flat picking, fiddling an banjo competitions,  If you wander around in RV reserved at the right time you just might catch a rare performance by Without Annette.  The Vibe Tribe folks will be hosting various workshops, and Lacey Yarbrough will be teaching a class on Hoop Construction on Saturday @ 12:00PM @ The Roost.

All in all, another epic Harvest fest awaits us.  Time to get packing..

Mockingbird @ The colony

Mockingbird positively tore it up last night. Sean Stewart and Mike Hopper sat in and it was killer! Fortunately, we multitracked it so stand by...

Festival Preview: Wakarusa

You Really, Really Want to Be Here


For those who've never been, Waka (and it's companion festival in October, The Mulberry Mountain Harvest Festival, or as it's been known in more recent years, The Yonder Mountain Harvest Festival) is a unique experience.

The Venue:
Unlike Bonnaroo and some of the other large festivals, which are held in essentially huge open fields in the middle of nowhere, Waka and Harvest are held on the top of a mountain in Arkansas.  And what a beautiful venue it is.  Lots of trees, hills and lush greenery abounds.

There's a couple small lakes on the property and an awesome waterfall a short hike away.  It's a fantastic location to hold a festie on.   Our first trip to "The Mountain" was for Harvest Fest, and it was a game changer.

Usually, when you pull into a festival at night the first thing you hear is seas of large generator's powering scads of pole lights in the camping areas.  Not at the mountain.  We pulled in, and it was dark, like really dark.  I remember asking a staffer where all the lights were, and he just smiled and told me if I got of my car for a second, it'd all make sense.  So I get out, and he says "look up"…

Wow.  I'd never seen so many stars in my life.  The site is first, up on a mountain, and second, quite a distance from any major city, and as a result, the night sky is ablaze with an insane amount of stars.  You can see the Milky Way with the bare eye, which for somebody who lives in the light and smog infested Dallas was something of a revelation.

Waka Midway at Night

The weather for the most part is really decent, considering the time of the year.  Yeah, it gets hot, but nothing like Bonnaroo where you can literally wring a stream of sweat out of your shirt just from the effort expended to get your tent set up.  And it gets a bit dusty (particularly in VIP camping and the areas around the Backwood stage), but again, nothing like Bonnaroo or Langerado where one can still cough up all kinds of nasty inhaled dust for weeks afterwards. 

Sometimes it rains, and one year it got particularly hairy the Wednesday night prior, but nothing like the deluge's that are common at Gathering of the Vibes, where you can be rudely awakened by a 5' wall of water that crashes up over the seawall into your tent at 4AM.

So in our book, Mulberry Mountain is probably one of the coolest places to hold a festie, right up there with Illinois' Nelson Ledge's Quarry Park.

Event Management:

There's a noticeably different feel to Waka (and Harvest) in terms of it's staffing and organization.  Pipeline (the folks behind the event) make a marked attempt to improve things every year.  They lean and adapt (which is more than I can say for several of the East Coast festivals where the same problems occurs year in and year out).  As the event has grown in size, like all festivals, they've had some learning curves.  Getting 20K+ people on and off a mountain top when the only way in and out are cutback laden 2 lane roads is a challenge no matter how one slices it.

And they've learned from this.  A few years ago the traffic snarl was pretty epic, and they've since moved to a 2 tier entry scheme where you get your wristbands at one location prior to getting to the venue, which makes for far shorter lines getting in.

There aren't any goon squads for security (anybody who was present at Vibes a few years ago can testify as to how well that doesn't work).  For the most part, it's extremely relaxed.  Everybody just gets along, and gets along well.

While you'll always get the occasional control issue laden work exchange security kid looking to get over on somebody, it's pretty rare at The Mountain.  There were some issues in the past where there had been a communication breakdown and some of the security folks were telling people they had to pour out their sealed water bottles prior to entering the venue (and this is just insane when it's hot out, it's begging to put folks into heat exhaustion), upon checking with the Waka staff that wasn't policy but rather some dumb kids taking it upon themselves to appear important or something.

I think to some extent the vibe at The Mountain is also a function of the attendee's as well though.

Most folks here are very thoughtful and courteous to each other (again, a marked contrast to some of the east coast festies), pick up after themselves, and look out for each other.

Dirtfoot's Scott Gerardy on Volunteer Trash Duty

One of my fondest memories from the first trip to Mulberry for Harvest a few years back was on Monday morning as we were packing up our site.  From across the field a couple guys come walking over pulling enormous trash bags and were just picking stuff up.  These weren't work exchange volunteers or even paid staff, but instead were none other than Scott Gerardy of Dirtfoot and a friend. Dirtfoot had played the previous day.  Only on the Mountain.

The Facilities:

I've been to a lot of festivals where the vendor food is pretty much the same stuff you see at state and county fairs.  Ok, but it wouldn't be my first choice, or maybe even the second.  No worries at Waka.  The vendor food is on the whole really good, reasonably priced, and in some cases, absolutely spectacular.  My personal fav is the guys with the stone oven pizza.  This stuff is absurdly good, and the guy with the Jerry Rolls does a band up job as well (check for the "Special Sauce").

There's showers available (for a modest fee), water available at several locations, and beer available for sale inside the stage areas as well.  The porta johns are clean and well maintained.   This is a stark contrast to some festies I've been to where after about the 3rd day too many people using way too much X has created an environment where you really wouldn't want to set foot in the can without a hazmat suit.

Similarly, its really nice to go to a festival and not have to attempt to sleep to the sounds of countless scores of nitrous tanks going off 24/7, or even worse, waking up to find that these asshats have set up shop right in your camp, and then crawling out of your tent to find an inches thick carpeting of spent balloons all over your campsite.  Thankfully, the Nitrous Mafia and all the crap that goes with it is a total non issue at Waka.  It simply doesn't exist.

There's some walking to be done, but nothing like the epic hikes back to your camp at a Langerado or Roo.  One can get from any stage to any other stage in a 5 minute or so walk, and if you camp at the main venue, the campsites aren't too much further than that.  We've never camped in the offsite campgrounds, but there are shuttles that will run you back and forth which work pretty well.  Additionally, if you're just too worn out and just don't want to make the walk at all, there's always Festie Cab,  Christopher Dee's outfit which will haul you and your party any place you need to go, and they're great folks to boot.

Mountain Sprout's Festival Opening Main Stage Set 2010

The Music:

Ultimately, this is what draws us to a festival in the first place.

Now, being a "sound guy" I'm a picky bastard about PA's for the most part.  I get positively ecstatic when I get a chance to hear a great set delivered over an Alcons line array.  So the rigs at Waka, while not bleeding edge state of the art are quite solid, the stage crews are extremely competent and for the most part the mixes are really good.

Now on to the lineups.  Waka, like most of the larger festivals these days, attempts to target multiple segments of the potential festival goer population.  However, unlike Roo, which has devolved into this huge list of "mega" acts simply to get as many people in the door as possible with no real sense of continuity to the lineup, Waka generally has an excellent but not overblown pool of stuff to choose from.  There's the Jammy stuff (Umphrey's, RRE, TLG, Keller and the like), a tip of the hat to the Dead crowd (Weir, Robinson and Greene (it'd be really cool to see Jackie do a set of his stuff), a pretty good sampling of the electronica genre, and quite a bit of Americana derived stuff (Emmiitt Nershi, Split Lip Rayfield, Travelin' McCoury's, Infamous Stringdusters).

For the first year at Waka, I tended to stick to the main two stages, mostly because I was already familiar with most of the bands playing those stages.

But perhaps the best thing about Waka (and this is even more so with Harvest) is the preponderance of smaller acts that are endemic to the region (Arkansas and Kansas).  And the region has a flavor unlike any other.  Bands like Split Lip, Dirtfoot, Mountain Sprout, The Ben Miller Band, Dumptruck Butterlips are names most likely unfamiliar to those who attend festies principally on either coast, but ones you really should add to your lexicon.

In our first trip to the Mountain several years ago, we'd never heard of any of these guys.  There was a point in the schedule where there were 3 bands I'd never heard.  I asked one of the kids working security if he was familiar with the bands to pick from, and his response (and this was echoed by the 4 other folks standing there) was "Sprout, a complete no brainer".  So we ventured back in the woods to the Backwoods stage to see what the deal was.

Boy were they right.  We were blown away.  Same thing with Ben Miller, Dirtfoot, hell, all of em in the genre.  There's a whole DIY feel to what these folks do that's unlike any thing else happening.  It's organic, it's honest, it's real, and the performances are superb.

At the time I hadn't discovered Winfield yet (despite The Greencards urging me to go for a good couple years at that point) so I was utterly clueless about just how musically potent this portion of the country is.

Ben Miller Band /w Tyrannosaurus Chicken's Epic 5 Hour Late Night Midway Set 2010

There's a particular magic that tends to happen on the Backwoods stage.  I've seen some really incredible sets there over the past few years.  Dan Tyminski sitting in the with Traveling McCoury's, Vince Herman sitting in with Elephant Revival, Dirtfoot's closing set from Harvest last year, the Ben Miller Band / Tyrannosaurus Chicken's epic 5 hour VERY early AM  jam on the Midway in 2010, Cornmeal's legendary 2AM set from at Harvest a couple years back, hell it just goes on and on and on.

So in short, if you haven't made a pilgrimage to "The Mountain" yet, you've done yourself a serious disservice.  You might wanna fix that.

Waka Lineup.

So there you have it.

Looks like Bob will be making his first trip to the mountain. Neat.

Waka Lineup Round 2 Additions

Primus. Neat, haven't seen em since Jay came back from Ratdog. Cool.

Umphrey's is a good safe call, particularly if they're doing a late night set.

Tea Leaf. Great call, really like Reed & Company..

Del McCoury and Emitt Nershi.. For some inexplicable reason, I like bands that still actually play instruments, and sing rather than push macro buttons on Ableton Live.

All in all, shaping up. Glad to see it won't be a complete Ableton Live sample replay session.


First Round Waka Lineup Announced..

Wherein we learn Bob comes in 2nd to Ableton Live.

Stay tuned for the 2nd round announcements.


Yonder Harvest Fest 2011 - Do NOT miss the Greencards

This is a first. In all the years I've been doing this, we've never promoted a specific show for a band. However, for those of you attending this year's Yonder Mountain Harvest Fest, this is the ONE set you do NOT want to miss.

I first met The Greencards at SxSW a few years ago. Unlike most of the bands I encounter, I actually met them before I got to see them perform. I picked up Viridian off iTMS and listened to it on the way down to the interview. It was excellent. However it didn't even begin to prepare me for their live show.

Comparisons to Union Station are inevitable, not so much in terms of the songwriting and style, but the sheer perfection of their live delivery. Tight doesn't even begin to describe it.
The chops are insanely ludicrous. Beyond bad ass is an almost miserable failure to do them justice.

Here's a band that's toured with Dylan and Willie, been nominated for not one, but two Grammy's. They have a fairly rabid following in what I tend to call the "golf clap bluegrass" set, yet few outside of that arena have ever heard of them. I find this odd, because they can tear it up with the best of em. Kym Warner (mando and a mess of other stringed widgets) is one of the best mando shredders I've ever heard. Carl Miner won the Winfield International Flatpicking championship some years back, and with good reason. He's so good it borders on ridiculous, and is one of the most consistently outstanding guitarists I've ever encountered. This guy just doesn't have a bad night. Ever. Beyond having devastating fiddle chops. Tyler Andal just drips talent. A while back he entered a flatpicking guitar contest at a festival on a whim (he doesn't even play guitar) and won. And then there's Carol Young. She's brilliant on any number of levels. Her voice will totally melt your face and leave you in a puddle on the ground.

Beyond their formidable musical prowess, they're just wonderful folks across the board. Some of my favorite memories of the last few years have been hanging out with them for post show picks in green rooms, hotel lobbies and living rooms.

They played the main stages at Winfield 7 years in a row, which is probably why most of you haven't seen them, because most of you don't even go into the venue any more. I get that, I only went in once this year and that was for Hot Club of Dogtown. Maybe they need to do a set on Stage 5 next year.

As far as the material goes? It's solid. Well written, clever, tight and polished harmonies, and all over the map from slick grooves with killer hooks to ballads that have an uncanny ability to cut right through to your soul. If you're familiar with the Podank's buddies Milk Drive (they hung out at Winfield last year playing the hell out of Coconut Rum with Thomas Trap) then you've heard Kym Warner's writing. He contributed a couple of his songs (I just love Stepping Stones) to Milk Drive's latest album.

That said, I'm always puzzled as to why most of the people I run into aren't familiar with them. Maybe they just haven't got in front of the right crowd yet.

So that's why I'm so incredibly thrilled that they're playing this year's Yonder Harvest Fest.

They're on the Backwood stage, Friday night, from 6:30-7:45. Most of my favorite bands in the last few years have been discoveries on the Backwoods stage at Yonder and Waka. If you haven't seen them live before, maybe it's time you add them to your personal Backwoods stage discovery list.


Live Show Photos - I know, I'm way behind on getting current stuff up for these folks.



Wakarusa 2011

Wakarusa 2011. For the 3rd year in a row, we've made the June trip to Mulberry Mountain for the annual heat survival test known as Wakarusa.

The Good

This year had a great line up, and despite the heat was an awesome time.

I always look forward to Wakarusa, and a big part of that is unlike many other larger festivals, Wakarusa always brings in a great selection of local and regional acts, many of which are every bit as good and often surpass the headliners.

Best new musical finds for 2011: Hoots and Hellmouth and Mountain Standard Time.

We tend to pretty much hang out on the Backwoods stage, and as a result don't catch many of the headliners on the larger stages. Of the bits we did catch, My Morning Jacket put on a killer set, Umphrey's McGee knocked out a great late night set, Grace Potter turned in a decent set, although the stage banter was a bit too contrived for me.

This was the first year we didn't check out any of the food vendors (much to be said for a refrigerator/freezer and stove in an RV) but everyone I talked to said it was all pretty good to really good.

The line getting in was FAR better this year than last year. They're figuring out how to get people on and off the mountain a bit more efficiently which is a very good thing. Last year was a bit of mess.

The Bad

For some inexplicable reason, the "beefed up" security wasn't firing on all cylinders. Various members of the security teams felt it necessary to force people to pour out their water (in 105 degree heat mind you) with the instructions that they'd be able to "refill" inside the venue. The problem was, there WASN'T any place to refill inside some of the venues. It didn't matter if your bottle was sealed or not, if it was liquid, you couldn't bring it in.

I got into a major confrontation with one of these kids who refused to let me bring in a sealed can of soda (being a diabetic in that heat means I have to have very fast acting carbs with me at all times in this sort of heat).

This was ridiculous, and in fact, dangerous. We contacted various members of the Waka staff in an attempt to get the situation rectified, but it still took the better part of almost 2 days before the control obsessed security staff got their collective cranial rectal inversions attended to.

It wasn't just the attendees who were being harassed about the water either. The security staff handling stage load in on the Backwoods stage was pulling the same maneuver on the bands and the stage crews as well, resulting in the above pic.

There were other minor glitches. The onsite RV dump service was markedly less than competent. I paid $40 to have them dump my tanks on the ground for me, as they couldn't figure out how to securely connect to my drain line, not once, but twice. Maybe the heat had gotten to them.

The Ugly.

Wakarusa for the most part has a very laid back crowd. This is one of the reasons it's one of my favorite festivals of the year. Yet, every year there has to be some group of idiots hell bent on spoiling the fun for everyone, and this year was no exception. A group of morons came in with quarter sticks of dynamite and were lighting them off in the porta johns. Over the course of the event, they blew up at least 7 by my count. This was incredibly stupid, and extremely dangerous. Fortunately no one got hurt.

Wakaing Wakarusa..

Various shots from each day..


Quixotic 06/02/11 - Wakarusa

Thursday Night, Wakarusa.

Prior to this, I'd never heard of the KC performance troup Quixotic. Billed in the Waka guide as an extravaganza, this "show" was part music, part Cirque du Soleii, part lightshow, part disco.

While interesting visually, the music component was fairly unremarkable, particularly the vocals and fiddle work, although that wasn't really the point. The gymnastics work was pretty cool, and the light stuff was as well.

The gallery is here: