Harvest Music Festival, Mulberry Mountain, Ozark, AR- 10/17-19
As day two of the festival arrived the vibe of the festival had truly achieved the down-home feeling. Everyone was ready for a full day of music, and it began with a set from Elephant Revival in the Harvest Tent. In the neighboring field a kids area was full of smiling children running around, working on crafts, dressed up in costumes, and hearing the music. Harvest Fest offered not only good tunes, but a good time for families and young people as well.
Yonder Mountain then kicked off the main stage, delivering quite the setlist. They opened with the much-loved “Peace of Mind” only to end the song at the very end of the set (putting a whole new meaning to jam packed!). There was a funky “Boatman’s Dance,” a glorious cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Here Comes Sunshine” and Talking Heads’ “Girlfriend is Better.”
Another much-awaited headliner, Tedeschi Truck Band followed on the main stage. Susan Tedeschi’s astounding voice in combination with her humble, but impressive guitar soloing really offered up an amazing musical experience. Her husband, Derek Trucks, played the perfect role as Tedeschi’s musical counterpart and lead guitarist. Susan beautifully delivered the slow and soulful “Midnight in Harlem” and “Bound for Glory.” A segment that offered “Angel from Montgomery” > “Sugaree” > “Angel from Montgomery” did the originals justice and then some.
Railroad Earth helped end the night in the Harvest Tent. RRE had quite the setup with an acoustic guitarist, mandolinist, banjo player, drums, fiddle, and electric bass. It was a great combination of folk and rock instruments and sound. The versatility and talent of band members became evident during their set as well.
The last big performance was a late night set from Greensky Bluegrass. They played much later than scheduled, pointing towards an epic get down. Greensky has come such a long way over the past year, really polishing and heightening their sound.
The Harvest moon set, the sun rose, and day three was upon us. It was an exciting day for workshops, the first of which being How We Write Music Together with Adam Ajala and Dave Johnston of Yonder Mountain. This was an intimate gathering in the roost tent in which listeners were treated to a chat about the creative process of songwriting.
The following workshop, Not Nearly is Good As Sinatra proved to be quite entertaining as well. Ben Kauffman of YMSB played the piano and sang his favorite Sinatra songs as Dave followed on banjo.
“I wanted this to be like a morning cup of coffee, because this is what I do in my house…play Sinatra tunes,” Kauffman said.
Music for the day started off with Elephant Revival on the main stage. It was an absolutely uplifting, spirit-energizing set. As the ‘folk-rock, celtic jazzy’ tunes welcomed the sunshine, Harvesters joyfully danced. The set closed with high energy group percussion, clapping, and chanting. It was like a morning cup of coffee for the soul.
As the day pushed on the feeling of ‘man, it’s the last day already?’ sunk in. An evening set from Beats Antiques switched up the musical vibe of the fest. Blending elements of Middle Eastern dance, it was a visually stimulating production.
Next on the main stage Railroad Earth took it away for their second and final set. The night had fallen, and it was a cold one on Mulberry Mountain. Each way you looked Harvesters were bundled up. A grandiose colorful, lit-up caterpillar as well as an octopus wandered through the crowd.
Railroad’s set proved to be beautiful and enchanting. The band played some old songs for the big fans in the crow, including a cheerful rendition of “The Happy Song.” The multitude of instruments on stage was truly impressive. A man who had won the mandolin pickin’ contest was invited to the stage to play a song with RRE. The Harvest family cheered him on.
At last it was time for the final set of Yonder Mountain String Band. The opener was nothing but fire: “Ten” > “Riverside” > “Ten.” It was a juicy sandwich and “Riverside” delivered a dark and powerful jam to get everyone moving right away. Lighter tunes then followed with “Straight Line.” the groovy “Pockets,” and a charming “Dreams.” Railroad Earth’s fiddle player Tim Carbone and Andy Goessling on guitar/sax were welcomed to the stage for a high powered ”Raleigh & Spencer” which led into the sing-along “Two Hits and the Joint Turned Brown.”
As if to make up for last year Yonder returned to the stage for a second set. A fast grass “If There’s Still Ramblin’ in the Rambler” captured the crowd. A cover of The Beatles’ “Only A Northern Song” filled the jam. Yonder then took the audience on a little journey with a calming “River” and “Finally Saw the Light.”
Out on the mountain it was quite the cold night. In between songs Adam said, “If you listen real close our instruments are making a sound…they say, ‘Why Adam? So coooold’”.
Ben replied, “Only one solution for that Adam, fast songs!”
So to close out the set Yonder dished up a five song long jam sequence with “On the Run” > “Left Me in a Hole” > “Shake Me Up” > “Fingerprint” > “On the Run.”
They encored with Jimmy Cliff’s “The Harder They Come” as Harvesters sang along, letting loose all the joy of a long musical weekend. A fast bluegrass number, “Redbird” closed out the main stage.
For the late nighters there was still a killer set awaiting in the Harvest Tent with Everyone Orchestra in which Matt Butler was joined by Jeff Austin of YMSB, moe.’s Al Schnier, Tim Carbone and Andy Goessling of Railroad Earth, Dango, Bridget, and Bonnie of Elephant Revival, Mike Dillion and Carly Meyers of Mike Dillon Band, and guitarist Isayah Warford.
Another year, another Harvest in the books. It had been a wild grassy weekend full of good music and good times. There’s something special about Yonder Mountain on Mulberry Mountain that keeps all the Harvesters coming back for more.