Thursday, October 20, 2011

Big times Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Music Festival

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 10:06 AM

Split Lip Rayfield at The Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Music Festival image

The hills were alive with the sound of banjos.

The Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Music Festival turned pastoral Mulberry Mountain into a non-stop string-pickin’ newgrass jam Oct. 13-16. Think of it as a smaller, tamer version of its cousin, Wakarusa, which occupies the same Ozark hillside space in the middle of summer. Not that Yonder Mountain is either small or tame.

The Yonder Mountain festival is 60-plus national touring artists playing 100 or so sets on four stages over four days. Mulberry Mountain is a 650-acre lodging and event resort on Highway 23 (The Pig Trail) about five miles north of Turner Bend. On most days Mulberry Mountain is a huge open field with a couple of buildings near the entry and a permanent covered stage at the far end of the property. In mid-October, though, it transforms into a community of about 7,000 music lovers listening and dancing to high-energy acoustic tunes and sleeping — when they sleep at all — in tents and RVs.

Guests are young and not-so-young, although I’d estimate the median age at about 24. The dreadlocked, pierced and tattooed demographic dominates, but then there were numerous empty nesters re-visiting their youth and even young families with children.

Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival 2011
Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival 2011 Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival 2011 Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival 2011 Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival 2011 Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival 2011 Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival 2011 Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival 2011 Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival 2011

Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival 2011

Photos from the festival on Mulberry Mountain.

By David Lewis

Click to View 15 slides

Bluegrass is a good starting point to describe the music, but you don’t hear many Flatt & Scruggs cover tunes. Festival director Brett Mosiman calls it “Americana, jam grass, mountain grass.” Think banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck, the headliner Saturday night. From there, the list goes on and on, including the namesake of the festival, the Yonder Mountain String Band out of Colorado. Other crowd favorites: Split Lip Rayfield, Railroad Earth, James McMurtry, Cory Smith, The Travelin’ McCourys and Todd Snider.

Most bands’ instrumentation is basic bluegrass: banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar and stand-up bass. In the case of Split Lip Rayfield, the bass is a single-stringed 1970 Ford Mercury gas tank with a fretless neck bolted on. And how Jeff Eaton thumps so many notes out of that contraption so fast is one of many musical wonders to behold at this festival.

“The vibe is a little different from Wakarusa,” said Mosiman. “More laid back. This has a Telluride [Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Colorado] or Winfield [Walnut Valley Festival, Kansas] feel.”

This was the sixth year for the festival, the second under the current name. Before that it went by “Mulberry Mountain Harvest Music Festival.” The line-up and the crowd have grown each year, up by 25 percent this year, Mosiman said. About 70 percent of the guests are from Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, another 20 percent or so are from Texas and Louisiana, and the rest from just about anywhere, including a dedicated pack of fans from Colorado that follow the Yonder Mountain String Band concert to concert around the country.

It’s no wonder the Harvest Festival is growing in popularity as word gets out. Just being outdoors anywhere in the Ozarks in October is a proposition irresistible to many. Add great music and a big party in an open field, and they will come. The production company, Pipeline Productions of Lawrence, Kansas, runs a tight ship. High-quality PA systems fill the open air with plentiful decibels, campers have space to kick back and relax, vendors supply a steady diet of tasty morsels and hippie fashions and accessories, and staff and volunteers stay on top of it all.

Price for four days, including camping space, is $175, with discounts available for early purchase. Get on their mailing list at for news of plans for 2012.

Tags: , , , , ,


Speaking of...


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Wynton Marsalis plays concert for Clark Terry at Pine Bluff hospital

    Wynton Marsalis visited Pine Bluff yesterday to pay a visit to the 93-year-old jazz legend Clark Terry, currently in the hospital (and accepting donations for his medical care). Terry, born in St. Louis and mentored by Louis Armstrong, played in bands with icons like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Quincy Jones, and was a stated influence on trumpeters like Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie (who considered Terry the greatest jazz trumpeter in the world).
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • Geena Davis to start film festival in Bentonville

    Actress Geena Davis announced today that she's launching a new film festival to be held in Bentonville (and called the Bentonville Film Festival) and sponsored by her own organization, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, as well as corporate partners Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, AMC Theaters and ARC Entertainment. The festival, set to be held May 5-9, will begin accepting submissions on Jan. 15 and will focus on films highlighting women and minorities in cast and crew.
    • Jan 6, 2015
  • 'Wrestling with Death' the next great insane Arkansas reality TV show

    TV network WGN America has announced the premiere of a new reality TV series set in Arkansas slated to appear in 2015. The show, brought to us by the same production team behind the absurd, now-classic "Clash of the Ozarks," will be titled "Wrestling with Death,"
    • Nov 11, 2014

Most Shared

  • Defense for Suhl asks judge to dismiss bribery indictment, citing Supreme Court decision in McDonnell case

    Attorneys for the businessman argue that his cash payments to a former deputy director of DHS, Steven Jones, did not constitute corruption. They say prosecutors cannot prove the money was given in exchange for any particular "official act" from Jones.
  • Nursing home bribery case details suspect judicial fund-raising

    Plaintiffs' lawyers made their case today to continue to trial with the civil suit over then-Judge Mike Maggio's reduction of a $5.2 million jury verdict in a nursing home negligence case to $1 million, a reduction he said he made in return for campaign contributions from the nursing home's owner.
  • Arkansas Heirloom Tomatoes at Edwards Food Giant for the Fourth of July weekend

    We are receiving 200-pounds of large heirloom tomatoes Friday morning from Times publisher and farmer Alan Leveritt. We have dark, brick red Carbons, Goldies (large, high acid golden tomatoes) and Annis Noire, a delicious French heirloom that is green with red marbling when ripe.
  • When America was great

    Donald Trump is right. There was a time when America was great and it didn't pussyfoot around to avoid offending people who thought they were victimized by discrimination. It was, let's see, the period after World War II, when everyone prospered and America was kicking butts, at home and abroad, and Arkansas's leaders were at the center of it.
  • Resistance grows nationally to freeway expansions

    The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has issued a news release about freeway expansion with relevance in Little Rock. It's about wasting money to widen freeways that only create more congestion. Sound familiar?



© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation