Harvest Music Festival, Mulberry Mountain, Ozark, AR- 10/17-19
Another year, another Harvest. Up in the Ozark Mountains, Yonder Mountain String Band’s annual Harvest Music Festival took place on October 17-19, offering a large helping of Yonder and complementary acts.
Last year’s Harvest ended on a doozy with the final Yonder set getting shut down on account of a severe storm just a few songs into the show. Fortunately, this year weather was nothing but blue skies and sunny days.
Driving up the long, curvy road leading to the mountain the leaves had begun their transition into autumn beauty. Some orange, yellow, and crimson colors graced the grounds of Mulberry.
As folks were setting up their campsites all around, a man jogged by on the track circling the grounds, and by golly it was Dave Johnston of Yonder Mountain. Dave mentioned he runs the track and listens to the bands, but to see the banjo player running in action was quite the sight. Doesn’t get much more ‘down home’ than that.
The first full festival night, Thursday included some great acts like Darrell Scott & Tim O’Brien. Even from afar the tone of John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” could be heard from across the grounds.
An early evening set from Greensky Bluegrass followed on the main stage to lay the evening’s foundation for a dancing crowd of bluegrass lovers.
Hot Buttered Rum with superstar fiddle player Allie Kral was up next in the Harvest Tent. Kral previously appeared with Cornmeal, who rocked a Harvest late night the previous year. Hot Buttered Rum is known to hit the fast grass notes, and this set was no exception.
The standout sets of the evening were Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang, and Yonder. It was a pleasant treat to have Les on the grounds, as it was a bit of a change-up to the traditional bluegrass many of the other festival acts. Plus, for the Primus/Claypool fans the Duo de Twang offered a slightly more exhaustive display of Claypool’s incredible bass creativity.
Duo de Twang was part musical performance, part comedy act as Claypool’s frequent, and highly amusing interjections had the crowd laughing. Near the conclusion of his set Claypool welcomed the members of Yonder to the stage, closing out a set to remember with the Claypool Mountain String Band.
Yonder then closed out the evening in the Harvest Tent, lending to a much more intimate (and warmer) experience for their first set of the fest.
A cover of the Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations,” and Jeff Austin original, “What the Night Brings” gave a preview of the majestic weekend to come. A “Traffic Jam” sandwich to close out the set was as high energy as ever. Plus, it provided a sure sigh of relief to all the Yonder heads in the crowd who knew that “Traffic Jam” was the song leading up to the storm the previous year, and the generator blow out in Northwest String Summit this summer. The crowd would not be ‘Traffic Jammed’ this time around.
Anders Beck of Greensky Bluegrass played more than half the show on the dobro with Yonder, adding a killer dynamic to the already bangin’ rock and bluegrass Yonder sound. There were already so many great musical collaborations and guests on just the first night.