Thursday, May 8, 2014

Show Preview: Drumstrong Rhythm & Arts Festival

Drumstrong Rhythm & Arts Festival takes place
in Charlotte, NC on May 16-18.
Now that I'm out in the Triangle, I very rarely make my way past this wonderful trifecta of musical cities. But every now and then there's an event that's just too exceptional to pass up, and next weekend Charlotte will be hosting a jam-packed festival that regional residents would be foolish to pass up. Drumstrong is a non-profit organization that has held a day-long drum-based event for the past few years, but 2014 marks the first full multi-day music festival for the organization and they truly knocked it out of the park for their first foray into the festival world.

Throughout the weekend of May 16, artists from across the state will be joined by a handful of highly revered national acts like Railroad Earth, Kopecky Family Band and The Felice Brothers for a weekend filled with eclectic tunes ranging from folk and electronic to post-punk and bluegrass. Drumstrong serves as an intersection of all things excellent about the North Carolina music scene, some of the state's most beloved artists from all genres will be convening on the small town of Weddington (just four miles south of Charlotte) to fill the Misty Meadows Farm with joyous vibes and incredible tunes.

Not only does Drumstrong bring together acts like Lost in the Trees, The Love Language, Chatham County Line and American Aquarium, but they do it all at an astoundingly low price and for an incredible cause. Tickets for the event run $50 in advance and $80 at the door, with all proceeds going towards funding for cancer organizations. This year's event combines the central themes and foundations of previous installments (like a 24-hour drum circle to get you in the festie mood) while bringing a unique twist to make things ridiculously exciting.

Unlike many modern festivals, Drumstrong doesn't feature overlapping schedules. Instead of hopping back and forth between stages and missing out on some of the weekend's finest moments, fans can post up in front of the stage and soak in the sounds of the dozen or so artists that will be performing each day. Each day follows a thematic structure, with Friday being billed as the North Carolina Music Celebration. Friday's acts include some of the most impressive up and coming acts in the state from a wide variety of genres. Many Charlotte based acts like Junior Astronomers, HRVRD and Pullman Strike will take the stage throughout the day while the evening comes to a close with the dancy rhapsodic electronic tunes of Dirty Drummer and Asheville's Marley Carroll. Friday serves as an excellent start to what's sure to be a phenomenal weekend filled with immensely talented artists.

Saturday's lineup is billed as the Main Event, and looking at the schedule gives you a solid guess as to why. Some of the festival's biggest names take the stage throughout the day, making for music marathon that festival goers can thankfully stay put for. Charlotte's Sinners & Saints will kick off the day with some catchy, simplistic folk and the rest of the day is filled with huge acts including Lost in the Trees, The Love Language, Futurebirds, Bombadil, American Aquarium, The Felice Brothers and even the jam-based sounds of Yo Momma's Big Fat Booty Band towards the end of the evening. For those looking to just peep into the festival for one day, Saturday is most definitely your day to do so. A Saturday pass costs $30 in advance and $45 at the door, an incredible deal for the massive acts you can see throughout the day.

Sunday is billed as the Family Folk 'n Fun Day, boasting a shorter lineup so that attendees can head out of the campgrounds shortly after sun-down, which is frankly one of my favorite parts of the festival. Each day is jam-packed but the music doesn't run into ungodly hours of the night, leaving you exhausted in the long-haul. The day kicks off at 11:00 and ends at 9:00 pm and throughout the day there's plenty of excitement for attendees both young and old. Games, bounce castles, arts and crafts and much more will be present for the kiddies to enjoy themselves while acts like Dom Flemmons (of Carolina Chocolate Drops), Overmountain Men, Elonzo and New Familiars will fill up the day's activities for the adults.

Overall the weekend looks to provide one of the most unique festival experiences in quite some time. While campers aren't allowed to bring their own coolers or food, the difference in pricing for attendance more than makes up for it. Drum circles will surely run late into the night, but those that don't wish to release their inner hippy for the weekend can get lodging at the myriad of hotels, motels and campgrounds in the area. You can head over to to purchase tickets, check out the full schedule or get more information on the festival. Be on the lookout for our interviews with The Felice Brothers and Marley Carroll early next week in advance of the festival!

Check out the festival's most recent Pony Danza Session with Sinners & Saints, a video series that provides a glimpse of the Misty Meadows Farm and introduces fans to some of the stellar talent on display next weekend:

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