Homegrown Music Festival

July 21-23, 2016

Ozark, AR

by Adam Parker

Re-posted with permission from Germinating Seed.

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Located right on the Mulberry River at Byrd’s Adventure Center, the first-ever Homegrown Music Festival took place this past weekend in the Ozark >Mountains and was a huge success. Attendance was good but the thing that made this environmentally sustainable festival a real success was the lack of footprint it left behind.

Upon arriving, festival-goers were greeted with smiles, beautiful scenery, and a sustainable camping pack. The pack included a reusable bamboo-made multi-utensil to eat with, a steel pint cup, and a token for you to give food vendors for your plate that you got back when you returned your plate to one of the dish-washing stations. Think of all of the one-use plastic on beers and meals that was saved implementing this simple idea. Hopefully the positive results from Homegrown can help start a new standard in the festival industry.  Another way the festival fought waste was having several volunteer recycle bikes. Anyone at any time could use one of the bicycles to cruise around the site picking up recyclables. All weekend long I overheard campers, volunteers, and staff marvel at how clean everything was.

With one main stage and an easy-going schedule, fans could make it to each and every set of music without the usual annoying overlaps. Centrally located in the main stage area was a Kid’s dance stage, all of the official vendors, and local beer companies, Fossil Cove and Ozark Beer Co., were on hand to keep everyone’s cool new cups full.

On to the music…

Grazzhopper started things off and set the tone for the festival followed by Hog Magundy, and Big Still River chased out day one’s daylight. Next up were campsite pranksters, The Squarshers, with their groove-heavy style of bluegrass that turned out to be one of my favorite sets of the festival. Following them was Grandpa’s Cough Medicine which featured some very impressive flatpicking that fit perfectly with the banjo over their menacing tales of murder and mayhem. Closing out day one was psychedelic banjo-looper, Tall Tall Trees, using his banjo, a laser gun toy, and a loop pedal to make complex trance-type songs that one could mistake for DJ’ed electronic music if they weren’t looking at the stage.

With an earlier start and more bands packed in, day two saw acts like Jamie Lou and the Hullabaloo, The Crumbs, Outlaw Hippies, and The Lowest Pair before the sun started to go down for the evening hours. Next up was Taarka who were some of the busiest musicians of the weekend playing not only their main stage set but also in the smaller Picking Tent as well as playing those lucky enough to camp near them to sleep multiple nights with hauntingly beautiful tunes. Earphunk was next with their fast-paced, funk-infused progressive rock standing out as the most distinguishable band of the mostly bluegrass festival.

Festival headliners, Leftover Salmon, lived up to the hype and threw down an outstanding set with their unique blend of bluegrass, Cajun, rock, and humor. The crowd was treated to the band’s first attempt at Jimi Hendrix’s “The Wind Cries Mary” with Drew Emmitt singing and dramatic time changes between the chorus and verses. After that was a song that Vince Herman must have wrote just for us because it was chalked full of direct references to the festival and Ozark Mountain location. After Vince got scared of the “strangest cicada ever” (the pyschedlic keyboard sounds), he, Drew Emmitt, and Andy Thorn left the stage to the rhythm section + keys for about seven minutes where they took the jam through multiple genres ending up on a Vulfpeck-esque funk when the other instruments returned and eventually directed the song back to it’s original form over 17 minutes after starting.The music was absolutely perfect for the festival’s atmosphere.

In what had to be one of the toughest lineup spots of their career, Arkansauce stepped up to the plate to follow Leftover Salmon and did not disappoint at all delivering a high-energy set with their classic dirty bluegrass style.

Day three started with Doug Dicharry’s one man band, Dance, Monkey, Dance, featuring him playing, well, pretty much everything; guitar, trumpet, trombone, harmonica, kazoo, and more tying it all together with a kick drum and loop pedal. Some of his set featured Patti Steel on clarinet for appropriate covers like “House of the Rising Sun” and “St. James Infirmary Blues”. Upstate Rubdown, Forlorn Strangers, Henhouse Prowlers, and Town Mountain lead the way to the final two sets of the festival.

HGMFThe Wood Brothers were amazing at pulling off softer more emotional tunes while keeping the crowd engaged with their sincerity and great musicianship. The trio mainly played with guitars, stand-up bass, and a percussionist that switched between drumming on a kit and acoustic guitar that Oliver Wood jokingly called a “shitar”. After a heartfelt encore that included their hit, “Luckiest Man”, it was time for the final main stage act of the weekend.

Once again tasked with finishing the night and following musical giants, Arkansauce upped the ante by featuring guests Jeff Gray on trumpet and Doug Dicharry on trombone and electric washboard. This phenomenal set featured an eclectic mix of songs culminating in a cover of everyone’s favorite drunk sing-along, “Escape (the Pina Colada song)”. This set even included a surprise marriage proposal. Check out some of the jamming courtesy of the band.

The music on the schedule may have been over but there was still plenty to be found walking around the campsites and the Picking Tent until the early hours of the morning.

The first-time festival was a complete success. A good time was had by all and the beautiful area of land used knew no different afterwards. To go with the incredible sustainability of the fest were so many other impressive things like the amount of art seen in sculptures, fire-spinning, and rock-stacking, the community feeling, the family-friendly vibe, and, of course, the amazing scenery of the Mulberry River and Ozark National Forest. More with Homegrown Music Festival than any other festival I’ve been to, I return to the real world wanting to be a better person because of all of the positivity, beauty, and talent that I was surrounded by.

See all of our pictures from Homegrown Music Festival here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskE7dVTc

Some of our favorite quotes from the festival:

  • “Daddy, what’s a party pooper?”
  • (overheard on day 3)”Do you by chance have deodorant? I forgot mine at home.”
  • “I’d like to get a little more cicada in my monitor, please.” – Oliver Wood, Wood Brothers
  • “I’m just high, picking up trash”
  • (around 5am)”And I said, ‘Back the f@$k up. BACK the F@$K up. BACK THE F@$K UP!”

by Adam Parker

Re-posted with permission from Germinating Seed.

To Submit a review or story for consideration hit us at [email protected]

Check out the Live Music News and Review.com Facebook page for updates and announcements.