Appy Uprising attracts crowd

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bob Delong is a busy man.

Before he begins to take a breather, the promoter/producer for the "Appalachian Uprising" music festival eases up to the rear of the stage, pulls over an orange cooler and fishes out a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

"I feel like I've got so many tasks going on in my head, you know, I want to grab a cold drink while we're stopping," Delong said. "It's work, it's like this big ball and you've got to keep it from going off track."

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As he attempted to keep the Scottown festival rolling at the Eden Valley Farm this weekend, Delong has had to manage more than 20 solo artists and groups, a fleet of recreational vehicles and an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 festival goers.

Though he was showing a few signs of exhaustion on Saturday night as the festival wound down, it was clear he was still energized by the crowds and the continuous music.

"This is what I love doing, man," Delong said. "This is my passion, this is my heart. I look at an empty field and I see a festival, it's weird. I don't know if it's a good thing or not. Š I think it is."

On the other side of the stage, there were a few thousand that would probably agree.

What's most striking about the "Appalachian Uprising" crowd is that they seem so united while all seeming so different.

The crowd was packed with the Grateful Dead and Phish T-shirts that seem to be legally required at any festival, but they were all "phlanked," if you will, by shirts giving love to Bruce Springsteen or Jimmy Buffet. The unorthodox genre of "newgrass" seemed to unite fans from across the musical spectrum.

Much like their attire, the crowd was a grab bag of ages and attitudes. It was a crowd in which it wasn't unusual at all to see an elderly man tapping his foot to the beat as a red-headed toddler wearing a fedora spun wildly to the same rhythm.

While some may have come to enjoy that sense of community, some had been drawn to the festival simply to relax with a little music.

Denise Gregory had only a short drive between her Lucasville home and the festival. She'd been there everyday for this, her second "Appalachian Uprising."

She was on the fringes of the crowd, forgoing the mass of grooving twenty-somethings for the comfort of her lawn chair and a cold iced tea.

"It's been great, the weather has cooperated, that's probably been the best part, besides taking a day off from work," Gregory said. "It's a nice thing for Scottown, to bring all these people in and let them know where Scottown is."

She'd enjoyed all the acts, but was really looking forward to bluegrass stars The Sam Bush Band, set to take the stage later that day.

Others had already seen their favorite band, but had no intentions of leaving before the music stopped. Maybe they were just big newgrass fans, but to see the smiles and hugs exchanged it wasn't a stretch to believe they just didn't want to let their new family go.