Huntington Music and Arts Fest set to rock Tri-State Saturday

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 23, 2012

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Once the site of regular rock shows back in the 1960s and ‘70s, Ritter Park Amphitheater will be the heart of the scene again Saturday as Huntington Music and Arts Festival will roll 24 musical acts non-stop.

Music starts at 11:30 a.m. and doesn’t stop until 9:30 p.m.

Organizer and local musician, Ian Thornton said the third annual music fest has grown from 15 acts and about 300 people in attendance in the first year to two dozen acts and more than 600 people attending last year.

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Thornton said this year they hope to fill the 1,000-seat capacity Ritter Park Amphitheater as they have 24 regional acts performing from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Bands performing include: The Demon Beat, Bill Fox, The Carpenter Ants, The Heptanes, John Lancaster, Fletcher’s Grove, Rozwell Kid, AC30, Qiet, Sly Roosevelt, Sasha Colette and the Magnolias, Blue Ring, and Coyotes in Boxes.

There’s also a second acoustic songwriter stage including such acts as Richie Tipton, Mark Smith, Grim Charles, Adam Benz, ModockRounders and others.

Tickets are $15 advance or $20 at the door. Advance tickets are on sale now at the V Club and Black Sheep Burrito and Brews. The concert is free for children 12 and under for the all ages concert that will have a full slate of food vendors including Black Sheep Burrito and Brews as well as beer vendors and soft drinks by Pepsi.

People may bring water into the festival but no outside alcohol. There will also be an expanded artist/festival merchandise area with as many as a dozen local artists as well as several vendors including a large area near the stage with merch and music from all of the bands.

Sitting up on the hill at the super-sized All Good Music Festival and Camp Out a few years ago in Masontown, W.Va., made Thornton daydream about reviving the rock ‘n’ roll roots of Ritter Park as a venue for a new homegrown indie rock fest site.

At the HMAF, diverse acts pinball back and forth on stage for a non-stop day of music that flows with all original recipe, Mountain-State-made music ranging from rock of all stripes to pop, Americana and old-time.

Main acts play just 25 minute sets while acoustic acts bang out a 10-minute-or-so set of songs.

All band hands are on deck to make that happen.

Each band plays “roadie” on stage for two bands in front of them on the bill. While they are doing the change-out for the bands, a slate of singer/songwriters will take turns at the edge of the stage including Mark Smith, horror folkie Grim Charles, retro pop rocker, Jordan Andrew Jefferson, reggae-influenced acoustic rocker, Adam Benz, the punk acoustic of The Disappearing Man, the young string band, ModockRounders, as well as Asheville, N.C., native Americana artist, Richie Tipton.

“The idea came from All Good,” Thornton said. “I had been to Bonnaroo a lot of times and it’s a lot of moving, a lot of set changes and at All Good you sit up on the hill and you watch the bands here, and when they’re done you turn your head and watch the bands there on that stage. We are only given so many hours, so we might as well fill it with as much music as we can.”

Thornton, whose electric indie rock band, AC-30 will be playing the fest, said the festival really showcases what he feels is the great thing about the Huntington scene right now — its diversity and its camaraderie.

“I think one of the best parts about this town is the eclectic scene,” Thornton said. “We obviously have a great metal scene but as a whole these indie rock bands feel like we are in a fight together and we back each other and support each others shows.”

Thornton said they’re also up to a dozen visual artists as well, and he hopes to grow the fest to become an annual tourist draw to Huntington.

“It’s growing on all fronts and hopefully it will just keep growing,” Thornton said. “There are a lot of big festivals like Cincinnati’s Midpoint Music Festival that started out as a small grassroots festival and has grown so much that last year it brought in 26,000 people.”

In addition to the stacked and packed music fest, HMAF also presents some sidedish club shows as well.

The pre-parties kick off on Thursday, Sept. 27 as Brett Fuller’s This Ain’t No Disco show at the V Club, 741 6th Ave., presents Sweatband, Meet Me in the Matinee and Farnsworth, which just dropped its first CD. The night is topped with DJ sets from DJ Franklin Furnace. Cover is $5 or free entry with the purchase of an HMAF ticket. Show is 18 and up.

On Friday, Sept. 28, the HMAF pre-party moves over to Black Sheep Burrito and Brews, 1555 3rd Ave., with the eight-piece horn-fueled jugband, Big Rock and the Candyass Mountain Boys with special guest Tyler Childers. There is no cover charge.

The HMAF After Party kicks off at 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29 at The V Club, 741 6th Ave., with a double-shot of rock from The Phantom Six and Sangoma topped off with Charleston hip hop vets, Dinosaur Burps. Cover is $5 or free entry with an HMAF wristband.