This year's Spring Fling was held near Elizabethton, TN on a little ol' place called Hob Knob Farm. Driving to Hob Knob Farm was no easy task. Writing down directions from the internet before I left, I thought to myself, "This looks pretty easy." (Not!) It just so happens that lines in the directions were swapped, the farm road had no sign and the Spring Fling sign was facing the opposite direction. Whew! So needless to say it took roughly 2 more hours to arrive than it should have. I did get to see some amazing landscape in my little scenic route to the festival. Hob Knob Farm is cushioned right up against Cherokee National Forest, so the drive in was full of eye candy to those who love the outdoors. The road wrapped itself around the vast Lake Watauga which shimmered on the left side surrounded by the brightest lush green mountains. Once I finally got there, the deal was you had to park near the entrance and tote all of your belongings to a spot further in. At that point, I deemed Spring Fling an all-night party instead of a festival so I decided not to setup camp and leave everything in my car knowing I was going to burn the midnight oil and see the sun rise over the mountain tops. Getting there a wee late I had to hurry down for the first band of the day. The Discordian Society started off the party at 4:20 Saturday afternoon. The Discordian Society from Asheville, NC can throw down some funk with their dynamic note progressions and high energy rhythms. This eclectic group seamlessly progresses from low to high. Front and center was Paul Juhl who you could tell was getting into the set by his facial expressions and the sounds coming from his sax. To the left of him was Davz "not here" Annarelli ripping up the funky bass lines. In the back was Max Melner who was laying it down on keys and entertaining the crowd with his big hair antics, shredding on Max's right was Alfonso Graceffo, who was giving the band the full spectrum of sounds on guitar and Scott Tenor keeping the beat on drums.
The one stage that held the music was a nice looking small but functional barn with different restaurant signs hanging from the wall which read Tupelo World Cafe, Coyote Kitchen and Moon Shine Cafe; it seemed as if the owner might have owned one of these places if not all. What was really nice was the fifty foot overhang that covered the dance floor just in case of rain. The dance floor was littered with saw dust and mulch; I overheard one girl in the crowd say she felt like a gerbil with so many wood shavings around. On the front right a sign read "Beware of Jabberwocky" which is a song by The Mantras who would be playing the head lining spot later that night.
As the next act was about to come on a nice storm was brewing and the sky opened up bringing everyone closer together under the covered barn. The band Funkuponya from Raleigh, NC took the stage and reigned in the funk. Sounding like a true New Orleans's funk band they seemed to give the crowd an ear full. After Funkuponya the rain subsided and I was able to go exploring. The land was a little hilly with a beautiful stream adjacent to the property which added to the ambiance of Spring Fling. The next band I was able to catch was The Vertigo Jazz Project from Asheville, NC. Jazzy swinging soulful music is best described when talking about these guys. Since 2008 they have taken Asheville by storm, with music so alive and captivating, I almost danced out of my shoes. The headlining act The Mantras from Greensboro, NC graced the stage next and from the first note almost blew the roof right off the barn. The set list for them seemed to be well thought out (Improv > Nightlife > Miguel's Travels > Funk Jam > Earl Grey > The Prelude > Jabberwocky > Rocky Peace Blues > Abacus > Pigs >Abacus > Ska-Face >Abacus.> Tangled up in Blue > Eckard Falls) the best was the end of the set which blew my mind, Abacus into Pigs back into Abacus was just down right sick followed by a sweet encore of Tangled up in Blue and Eckard Falls this set was the for sure the highlight of the day. The late night brought out Sci-Fi from Wilmington, NC and Silver Machine from Asheville who ended up playing till somewhere in the lines of like 7am. Sci-Fi brought the heat with their trance like jazz making everyone dance till the wee hours of the morning. Following Sci-Fi was Silver Machine who brings a very unique instrument to the mix a Theremin which is a retro-futuristic electronic instrument from the 1920's. Their sound is very spacey and out there without the help of laptops. The sun was coming up with still one more band to play. Yesterday's Gravy had to be bumped until later because the one generator for the stage had to take a break.
Being one hell of a party where no one sleeps I was looking forward to getting some shut eye. Spring Fling brought out some NC superstars and I really look forward to see what next year holds. I believe this was something like Spring Fling 8 so the promoters, Telepathic Production have been doing something right that's for sure. I will see you next year for this all night RAGER!
- Brad Winecoff