It wouldn’t be a music festival in West Virginia if didn’t start with a flash flood warning buzzing on everyone’s iPhone.
Weather forecasts before last weekend’s Mountain Music Festival were daunting — the probability of rain was sufficient to warrant jackets, towels, and a change of clothes for even a day trip.
With some drizzly, sporadic exceptions, the weather held. The emergency alert proved overzealous.
Singer-songwriter and Kentucky native Tyler Childers headlined the festival, hosted at the ACE Adventure Resort in Oak Hill. The concert stop brought him home to Appalachia, a muse to any number of his songs (see “Charleston Girl” or “Nose to the Grindstone”).
Since the release of his debut album, “Purgatory,” in 2017, Childers has toured far and wide and scored rave reviews in Rolling Stone and NPR.
Just two years ago, Childers told the Gazette-Mail he’d always wanted to travel, but didn’t realize music would be involved. His current tour takes him as far West as Bend, Oregon, east to Greenfield, Massachusetts, and overseas to the U.K., the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere.
“If you’re meant to go there, your music will take you,” he told the Gazette-Mail in 2017. “Now it’s actually working. That’s so cool.”
The stop here was one on a leg of appearances promoting his upcoming album, “Country Squire,” scheduled for release Aug. 2. He ran through a spread of hits like “Whitehouse Road,” (which made an appearance itself on an episode of CNN’s “Parts Unknown” that explored McDowell County) and deeper cuts like “Follow You to Virgie.”
Preceding him on stage, Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound played a set that crossed somewhere between blues, country and jam-band.
The Wooks played after Childers on Friday, though your reporter grew tired and left for the long drive home.
The festival itself spanned from Thursday to Saturday, sporting a smorgasbord of folk, Americana and jam bands.
Chris Colin, special events coordinator for ACE, told The Huntington Herald-Dispatch last week that the festival sold more than 2,000 advance passes, making this year’s event the biggest to date.
Some in attendance wore catsuits. Some swung hula hoops. Besides the more low-hanging-fruit hippie comparisons, there’s a certain Dazed and Confused (the movie, not the song) feel to a big party on top of a mountain.
Per request of feature writer and quasi-assignment editor, I took photos of the event. Also true to form, they are terrible.
Non-musical highlights include beer prices as low as $5 (domestics), not to mention 12-packs “to go” for $20. Upon journalistic inquiry, it was discovered that the “to go” beers are only for sale after the bands wrap up.
The water park looked fun from a distance, but the Gazette-Mail was not able to independently confirm.