Huntington Music and Arts Festival to light up Ritter Park Amphitheater
HUNTINGTON -- All's quiet on the Ritter Park Amphitheater front. After Huntington Outdoor Theatre closed up shop in July, the amphitheater gently sleeps.
That is until 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. That's when the fourth annual Huntington Music and Arts Festival will rock 'n' roll and run wild with sounds all day and night from a diverse lineup of 22 indie bands and the sights of visual art of all stripes from 25 artists.
Tickets, which are $15 advance, will go on sale Monday, Aug. 26 at Black Sheep Burrito and Brews, the V Club and from any band performing. Tickets will be $20 day of the show. Kids under 12 get in free.
Huntington Music and Arts Festival founder and organizer Ian Thornton, announced the lineup for the festival that will feature a wide swatch of regional bands such as veteran acts The Carpenter Ants and The Greens, along with such edgy, contemporary acts as the rock-rap collaboration of The Yetti and The Dinosaur Burps called the Yetti Burps.
Detroit-based rockers, The Muggs, who last rolled through the region at the Big Bend Blues Bash in Pomeroy, Ohio in late July will headline the fourth annual fest.
Other bands on the HMAF include such indie rock units as: Phantom Six, Rozwell Kid, Farnsworth, The Dead Leaves, the Gillum brother-built eclectic jazz unit, Gillumesh, Coyotes in Boxes, and top shelf Kentucky songwriter Tyler Childers and The Highwall.
There will also be a slew of acoustic acts between band sets including Bradley Jenkins, Jay Hill (who used to back Jesco White), horror-folk writer and ace guitarist Grim Charles, the old-time string band, Modock Rounders, Aaron Brown, Colten Settle, Sean Richardson, Emily Kinner and Abbie Kimball.
Thornton, who manages the music-rich venue Black Sheep Burrito and Brews, and who plays in the indie rock unit AC30, said it was a tough decision to not book any of the many bands (Qiet, Deadbeats and Barkers, Fletcher's Grove, Sasha Colette, Sly Roosevelt and others) who had played the first three years.
This year's fest features 14 new acts who have never played HMAF.
"It was a tough call, and I don't think we will lose support, " Thornton said. "We are a small scene but we are not that small and we are tight knit. People care about each other. I love our scene, for the most part everyone is in it for each other and goes out and supports each other's band, and it's not genre specific either."
Thornton said this year more than ever, there has been great community support as some 23 sponsors are now on board, and HAMF 2013 will include an even greater emphasis on visual art with art director Jimbo Valentine and friends bringing their art spin to the entire space from the trees and fences to the stage.
"We just want it to be more visual so that when you walk into the venue you walk into a whole new space," Thornton said.
In addition to food and beverage vendors, there will also be an interactive art corner for kids who get in free to the family-friendly fest (under 12).
One of the new exhibits at HMAF this year will be a visit by the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame mobile museum. Donated by Little Jimmie Dickens, and 28-foot trailer features sounds of famous West Virginia including Bill Withers ("Some Kind of Wonderful"), Maceo Pinkard (the Harlem Globetrotters theme song "Sweet Georgia Brown") and Kanawha County native Kathy Mattea's autographed album and gown worn to the White House.
Thornton said HMAF, which will also include several nights of bar shows, including the after party at the V Club, is trying to showcase a wide range of bands so that families and people of all ages can come out and hear bands that grind out after midnight bar gigs.
Thornton said a great testament to the vitality of the scene is that fellow West Virginia musician Daniel Johnson, of the metal act Let The Guilty Hang, is having his annual West Virginia Independent Music Festival the weekend before (Sept. 21) at Chief Logan State Park, also shining a light on indie music but with a heavier edge with such heavy rock bands as Malicious Intent, John Lancaster, Linework, Nation, Dead Face Down and Undersocial.
"We have some rock bands but I do like to display a different side of West Virginia," Thornton said. "It's kind of neat to have two indie West Virginia musicians doing two festivals back to back and that's how it was last year. There's literally hardly no crossover, I think the Dead Leaves are the only act playing both of them."
This year, the festival will also be giving back to the arts in the community.
Working with Latta's and Route 60 Music, HMAF Give Back will give a $250 gift certificate to two local elementary schools for visual art and music programs.
"This is something I have been wanting to do from the beginning," Thornton said. "I have always loved the Save The Music Foundation kind of thing, and it's always a drag when you read about music or arts being cut back in schools first. This year we are at a point that I think we can give back a little bit. Five hundred dollars might not be much money but that's a lot off the back of a teacher who might be spending their own dough for paint or supplies. And so this something I want to take further."
HMAF, which has full food and beer concessions, will also be pouring back 10 percent of the visual art and merchandise sales, as well as the funds from the recycling from the event to beef up next year's HMAF Give Back program.
"Hopefully, next year we might be able to give back $800 or more," Thornton said. "I think that shows that we are here, and that we are not just here to make a dollar. We are made out of Huntington. It's pretty much Huntington coming together to make this event. It is through patrons that we are able to make it happen. It's all about showing some gratitude. I wish it could be even more, but it's baby steps. I have chosen to grow it slow. I'm not trying to cash in on a big ticket, I am just trying to grow something awesome and something for here."
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