The only music festival boasting amazing adventure excursions and epic music, hand in hand with gorgeous camping alongside our kindred enthusiasts. From river rafting to ziplining paintball, disc golfing, or traversing Ace Adventure Resort's 1,500 acres by mountain bike, this music festival has it all. Not to mention The Lost Paddle bar next to their restaurant, adjacent the lake, full of Summer fun! Zipline, slides, inflatable equipment, blob, or just lounge on the beach and take a swim, Ace is a wondrous oasis for music and a quest for exploration. A celebration of organic music and zest for life.
Thursday May 31, all the bands played at The Lost Paddle Lounge, next to the lake. Bennett Wales & The Relief kicked off the party with bravado. From Va. Beach, VA. this bluesy Americana/ Rock band held up the energy for all to plug into. Charged with emboldened bass lines, and accentuated by vocalist Bennett Wales, their Americana sound was as comfortable as a worn pair of blue jeans. Their arrangements were as sweet as honey, yet strong as a shot of tequila. As they wooed the crowd, their fervor was reciprocated with joy and adulation. Everyone was dancing and having a great time, just the music to start out such an outlandishly epical festival.
Psychedelic Jam band The Kind Thieves from Beckley WV continued the occasion with amazingly funky jams. With 8 multi-talented members, this band feeds your musical soul and makes you dance. From sultry vocals and fiddle, to blues fueled dobro, and eclectic banjo, The Kind Thieves were stealing hearts and smiles from the masses. They had worked attendees up, and they were still wanting more.
Aqueous, a popular groove rock band from Buffalo NY was last of the night, playing from midnight to 2am. Their sound is a danceable mix of keys versus precise guitar annunciation, fluent and clean. They had the outdoor stage /deck area swaying as everyone danced in unison. Mind bending vocals were accompanied by strong percussions and steady bass, and we relished in the moment getting lost in their heady sound. Their music took us on an inter dimensional journey, and we were awed by their energy and perfection.
The first three bands on Friday all played the Tito's Vodka Strange Stage in the tent camping area atop the mountain. The day started with Flat Tracker from 9am- 10:30am. From 11am- 12:30 Union Sound Treaty, a bluegrass/country band got everyone ready for the day. Finally from 1- 2:30pm Dr. Slothclaw enriched the grandeur with their amazing freak funk jams. Uplifting those in attendance, creating joyful clouds of soothing comfort.
The Kind Thieves again entertained us, opening the day at 4pm on the main stage. The enlivened environment was contagious, and a festive mood was enjoyed by all. Sultry sounds drifted on the air, overflowing, descending down the mountain across the acres. At 5pm Paul Johnson/ Corey McQuede kicked off the first of two sets lakeside @ The Lost Paddle Lounge/ Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company stage. Paul Johnson's gritty vocals embraced the crowd like a favorite uncle, and made them just as happy for the musical visit. From 6pm - 7:30pm Broccoli Samurai raged the mountaintop main stage in glorious fashion. One of my favorite electronic funk bands hailing from Cleveland OH, their jamtronica has serenaded my soul for about 6 years now. Eager samurais clustered in as close as they could, practicing their dance moves and kung fu kicks. Their set was like "Jamtronic Church" and we were feeling rapturous, rejoicing in their hypnotic hymns.
From 7:30 - 9pm Manor & Friends played the last set on the Lake Stage, sharing their soulful jam for the universe to enjoy. From Morgantown WV, they were surrounded by an adoring hometeam crowd of ruckus admirers. At 8pm on the Main Stage came a set many were awaiting, Perpetual Groove. A long loved band I have followed since 2003, this was my first time seeing them since they got back together after hiatus. Their progressive jams were as immaculate as I remember, and I enveloped myself in their symphony of splendor. They played perfection into each note, and everyone danced in infatuation. Originally from Athens GA, Perpetual Groove gave life to Groove Rock with their insatiable jams and improvisational compositions. From Brock Butler's enigmatic voice and guitar riffs, to Adam Perry's powerful bass lines, they had not lost their cohesiveness. Albert Suttle on drums had only aged like fine wine, and was more impeccable than ever, keeping the P Groove lifeforce pumping. And Matthew McDonald on keys & vocals was effervescent and boisterous.
The crowd had swelled in eager anticipation of Umphrey's McGee, who took over the main stage at 9:30 pm - 12:45 am with two sets. The evening had been raining intermittently, and there was a fog clinging to the top of the mountain. They started their first set with Bathing Digits > Mad Love and the masses were entranced and dancing. Higgins The Fussy Dutchman was discombobulated, and the notes hung thickly in the air like humidity. It was one of those UM shows I could not grasp, and another festival-goer put it into words for me. "I need to be on ten hits to understand or appreciate the music they are playing tonight". And that is the way Umphrey's McGee can be. You can never know what sound will emit from their musical souls on any given night. They played Syncopated Strangers, and the sound was thick, and viscous. The notes reverberated between the sticky molecules of fog like a pinball rebounding inside of a glass case. People danced like zombies, as they finished their first set off with Seasons > Phil's Farm, and the spellbound multitude emitted an uprising of cheers. Some people looked bewildered, as if they didn't understand what had just happened, while others were smiling so hard it looked as if their faces would crack.
After a set break Umphrey's McGee nonchalantly strolled back onstage and began to rip open the Universe with Bad Friday > Utopian Fir. The ambiance turned fervent as they exploded with Maybe Someday > Miami Virtue > Conduit, and the mob had mud flying every direction from zealous moshing. The mood had turned rowdy, and the fans wanted more maniacal music. They finished off set two with Remind Me, and left the stage. Uproarious cries canopied the mountaintop, clamoring for an encore. UM came out and consecrated the hallowed mountain with The Wailers : Trenchtown Rock, and created a rift in our dimension with gratified energy released by every person in attendance.
Last band on the Friday night stage was one we were all elated to experience, from Burlington NC, BIG Something. The assemblage of ecclesiastic revelers went wild as Big Something took the stage, feverish for their funky eargasmic songs. They opened with (Ominous Drop D), and the energy level reached into the surrounding multiverse. They reciprocated our animated spirit with Wake Up > Blue Dream which beguiled with its salacious spell. They hunted our passion down with Megalodon, bringing the enthusiasm around us all like a biosphere filled with funk gas. They elaborated Simple Vision > Nomad > a golden Club Step which had everyone jumping. The surface of the masses looked as turbulent as the surface of the ocean amid a shark feeding frenzy, and we were starving for more. They then stunned and pleased everyone in attendance by playing Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust" in flawless form. Then gave us all a flashback with Pinky's Ride. Big Something pulled at our heartstrings with a song off their new album (Other Side), called Plug, and it had us astounded and sentimental. They continued to astonish us with Redbone's Come & Get Your Love. And we ravenously consumed each note with delight and devotion. Big Something has accumulated a huge following of impassioned fans over the years, and they have played MMFWV every single year. Building a firm fan base on this beautiful WV mountain, and keeping devoted admirers coming back each year to glorify this phenomenal music festival. BS went directly into fan favorite, Love Generator, and the entire mountaintop resonated each word of the song with a vigorous chorus of benevolent voices. UFO's Are Real enlightened everyone, and Big Something left the stage to screams and whistles of appreciation. After a few minutes of cheering, BS came back and gave us a two song encore. They romanced us all with the Paula Abdul classic "Straight Up", and we fell in love with Big Something all over again. They closed the night out around 2:30 am with a vintage BS prototype, Flood. We were as engorged with musical satisfaction and adoration as a tick with blood, and were just as exhausted after our feeding. Mountain Music Festival strives to satiate the music lovers palate each year, and in 5 years I have never been left hungry.
At 2:30 am on the Strange Stage The MFB from Huntington, WV gifted the masses with their glorious Funk / Jam. The mountain became an outdoor cathedral, and we the congregation @ Funk Church.The MFB graced us with danceable, soulful rhythms that carressed our souls with magical melodies. Rain began in earnest and most wandered back to their camps, to fall asleep listening to The MFB until around 4:20 am.
The Strange Stage came alive again at 9 am Saturday morning with Matt Mullins & The Bringdowns. From Beckley, WV. They play a lively brand of Alternative Country, and woke the mountain with rich flavorful songs as strong as morning coffee. 49 Winchester played the Strange Stage from 11 am to 12:30 pm, and introduced us to their grassroots folk rock music. Indie Rock band The Parachute Brigade from Beckley WV finished the day sets on the Strange Stage from 1pm to @:30 pm. Many people were having wars on the paintball course, and enjoying river rafting and zipline excursions. The day was warm, and only slightly cloudy.
Saturday the lake party is included with every ticket and throngs of people were there enjoying all the lake has to offer, as well as the incredible live music. Voodoo Circuit started the music Saturday on the Lake Stage at 10 am. An elctro / synth / funk band from Morgantown, WV, they entertained all the lake partiers until 11:30 am. The Lake Stage music kept the swimmers stimulated all day and into the night. From noon to 1:30 pm Short & Company kept the party lively with their Southern Rock. From 2 - 3:30 pm Travers Brothership from Asheville NC got everyone dancing and in a jovial mood. Sharing such genuine songs as Jaded, Hit By Hit, and Brighter.
The Lake Stage was filled to capacity, the restaurant was full, and the lake was swarming with swimmers. The music continued with Black Garlic from 4 pm - 5:30 and they dazzled with their instrumental jazz fusion. Last of the night on the Lake Stage was Electric Orange Peel. All the way from Columbus OH, they stimulated all with their progressive jams.
Meanwhile, on top of the mountain, people shopped at the mainstage venue, and played Frisbee. The artists tent was popular, and the artists are always fun to watch work. The Main Stage got going at 4 pm with Litz. Their funky and charismatic jams enlivened the crowd into happy dancing. From 6 - 7:30 pm The Fritz got everyone rowdy with their soulful funk, and the assemblage continued to multiply. The atmosphere was gaining in intensity, and the mood was one of anticipation.
From 8 - 9:30 The Pimps Of Joytime took over, and the world revolved around their joyous Soul. Kim Dawson on vocals is just extraordinary, and their funky sound had enlivened the air itself. The venue filled to capacity, and everyone was having a great time. Big Something took over for their second night of debauchery, and kicked off their set with Waves > Julia Brown. The choir sang along with In The Middle > Passenger, and the climate had surged to near anarchy. The entire venue sang Moonshine with endearment and love, then BS wailed Nirvana's Lithium much to our elation - with special guest Brendan Bayliss from Umphreys on lead vocals.
Big Something went into a rousing Smoke Signal > Tumbleweed > Song For Us that pulled our heartstrings.They destroyed Wildfire > Volcano and finished their set with the always beautiful Amanda Lynn. The mountain roared its appreciation and approval, and everyone had an outstanding time. Big Something has continually grown their roots deep into our hearts and souls year by year, and it wouldn't't be MMFWV without their huge presence to entice us back to this wonderful event each year.
The Last band on the main stage for the festival came on at 11:30 pm and played two sets until 2:30 am. Umphreys McGee immediately went into a fantastical musical tirade of perfection with Triangle Tear > Atmosfarag, and it was explosive. Their music was definitely speaking to my heart this night, and I still am in awe of how different their music can sound from one night to the next. They expressed excellence in Plunger, Soul Food I > Bright Lights Big City > Educated Guess. The crowd was frenzied and the atmosphere was palpable. They played a prolific Piranhas > Bright Lights Big City, and took a set break.
The aura was one of crazed allegiance as Umphreys McGee came out for their last set. They played a gregarious Flamethrower > Room To Breathe & we were inebriated in their intricate musical stratagem. They birthed a new Universe with Looks, Night Nurse > Pay The Snucka > Padget's Profile. They intoxicated us with Hangover > Andy's Last Beer, The Floor. They left the stage to uproarious screams of delight and dedication. They came back out and graced us with Daffodils. The rapture they left us with lasted for days, and we were as high as the space station orbiting planet Mountain Music festival.
Opposite Box closed out the festival with the late night set at The Strange Stage from 2:45 am - 4:20 am. Their progressive experimental rock had the very soil celebrating the rapturous grooves. They kept the late night gang swirling in drunken dance until the wee hours of the morning.
Each year, Mountain Music festival becomes bigger, better, and more fun. The debauchery more lascivious, and the music more sensational. Most people have so much fun on an extracurricular adventure (like me) they return for the excursion each year. Until you actually attend, you will never know the addiction that is MMFWV.. The Lake, the activities, the delicious music from phenomenal bands. It all comes together to make MMFWV a genuine and innovative experience that will leave it's brand on your spirit.
Mountain Music Festival is a wonderful place where you can forget about work, your troubles, and everyday worries that plague us all. It's a place to rejoice in the delights of life. A gorgeous slice of Heaven right here on Earth, and I shall endeavor to attend every year. Huge thanks to Ace Adventure Resort, all their employees, and the volunteers that help put this festival on each year. Until next year, we have raucous memories to share with all.
- B. A. Jones
- photos by Tim Hobert and Matt Way