Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Show Review: Music on the Mountaintop 2012

Photos by : Emily Ritter
Music on the Mountaintop was a wonderful and unique festival experience that didn't quite live up to the expectations I'd had, but at none of the festival's fault.  Leaving for Music on the Mountaintop after my radio shift meant that I'd already be missing River Whyless on Friday, but all was well as long as I'd gotten to see Dr. Dog.  Well a 13 mile back-up on I-40 prevented that from happening, but I did stop off in Boone for Friday night to catch a Possum Jenkins set at Boone Saloon that served as the perfect precursor for the day to come, filled with beautiful weather, excellent music and a fantastic scenery to boot.  I arrived around 1:00 on Saturday afternoon following an incredible breakfast at Melanie's in Boone ready to film a River Whyless session.  However, we put the session off for later in the day in lieu of the upcoming Naked Gods set.

Naked Gods stuck out stylistically on Saturday's bill, they were by far the most boisterous band of the day with a set filled with attention grabbing hooks, pounding rhythms and a frenetic display of raw energy from the band members.  The band debuted a new song, "written in the style of Guided By Voices" for an upcoming compilation, and another new Naked Gods song as well.  While the band stuck out on the bill, they stuck out on the stage as well.  They captivated the crowd of bluegrass loving festival goers and put on one of the day's best sets.

Walking around the festival grounds and searching for a place to shoot our River Whyless session gave me the chance to really immerse myself in the scenery, and I've got to say that Music on the Mountaintop has one of the most fantastic set-ups I've seen at a festival.  A shuttle bus that runs straight to a grocery store, campgrounds conveniently placed near beautiful streams, hot showers, and most importantly a gorgeous horizon of endless mountains, what's not to love about it?

Dirty Dozen Brass Band warmed up the crowd for the festival's headliners of Raildroad Earth, but quite frankly they damn near stole the show.  They had a stage presence that can only be acquired through the decades of touring that this band has gone through.  The horns were crisp and shot through the mountain air as the warm day began to cool down, allowing for everyone to relax on a blanket, or rage out to one of the finest jazz-funk groups of our time.  The sun went down and the LED hoops came up and out, marking the turn of the night towards Railroad Earth.

As the festival's headliner took the stage could hear rustles of everyone's excitement as I made my way to the photo pit, I could hear folks sharing their stories of the 6th and 7th times they'd seen Railroad Earth.  Railroad Earth was a band that I went into this festival blind to, and quite frankly they lived up to their expectations.  They put on a  robust light show, with some entrancing displays even projected onto the trees behind the stage, and a musical clinic on each of their instruments.  While I had to leave to head back to Raleigh early on Sunday, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Music on the Mountaintop that I attended.  The festival has an incredible sense of community, and it's clear that as the festival grows older this can only blossom into something more and more beautiful.  Do yourself a favor and start making your way out to Foscoe for this wonderful experience, you surely won't regret it.

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