Music on the Mountaintop
Music returns to the mountaintop this August.
It's just a slightly different mountaintop.
After nearly a year of searching, the fourth annual Music on the Mountaintop festival has landed a new location: Grandfather Campground in Foscoe.
It's a spot that founder and organizer Jimmy Hunt can't praise enough, especially when headliners like Railroad Earth, Sol Driven Train, Sam Bush and Acoustic Syndicate hit the stage.
With a viewing area Hunt said could fit between 7,000 and 10,000, "we want to make sure it's the best experience possible."
Compared to the festival's former site, the High Country Fairgrounds in Boone, "the set up is just as big, just more spread out," Hunt said. "Expect bigger stages, expect bigger bands, expect bigger sounds, expect bigger lights. This is the year I had in mind to make it the biggest and the best."
The move was prompted by what Hunt called conflicting visions for the festival. "We shared a different vision than the fairgrounds'," he said. "Music on the Mountaintop needed to go in another direction, and we're very happy to move forward now."
Hunt's vision involves copious, comfortable camping. Though the camping spots are fewer and satellite parking is a must (with a more than capable shuttle service, he added), the accommodations more than make up for the number, he said.
"We have about 500 to 600 tent spots and about 400 car (camping) spots, so people might want to carpool," he said. "But every site's so cool. About 75 percent of the spots are under shade, all in these little nooks, creating a really cool flow."
Add to that trash facilities, potable water and bathhouses, complete with running water, "and it's just so much more accommodating," Hunt said. "We had options, but none were as accommodating as Grandfather Campground."
And those who buy two-day camping tickets will be treated to an extra night, should they arrive the night before.
"We'll allow those ticketholders to come in Thursday, just so they can set up and be there ... and we're going to do some special shows on Thursday night," Hunt said. "We're going to try our best not to announce those bands till later in the summer, but really, it's about keeping people there who are traveling a long ways, giving them an extra day to get in."
But those arriving Friday and Saturday are still in for a treat. "The level of entertainment on Friday is equal to that on Saturday," Hunt said.
Apart from the headliners, the current lineup also features Greensky Bluegrass, Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, The Mantras, Do it to Julia, Naked Gods, The Lazybirds, The New Familiars, The Native Sway, Bafoodus, Uncle Mountain, Secret B-Sides and No BS! Brass Band, with performances taking place on two stages.
"I'd bring back every single band we've had if possible, from the Steep Canyon Rangers to Toubab Krewe to Sam Bush," Hunt said. "It's just tought for us to keep it fresh, but at the same time, you look at Telluride or MerleFest, and I think it's a cool aspect to have somewhat of a similar lineup every year, because you create a core group.
"And if it's good music, like Sam Bush, the Booty Band and Acoustic ... those three represent what the Boone scene is. Sam crosses the line from traditional to Newgrass, Acoustic Syndicate is everything Americana, and the Booty Band represents the funk freak side of Boone."
The music doesn't stop there, however. Like last year, Music on the Mountaintop presents the Ascent Series, featuring individual concerts in downtown Boone the night before the festival.
Last year, concert-goers voted on their favorite band of the series, the winner of which would earn a spot at the 2011 festival. That winner was Swift Science, now slated to perform at this year's festival. "And the winner this year will play next year," Hunt said.
Like festivals past, Music on the Mountaintop will bring back its environmentally centered "Green Village," featuring nonprofit organizations, likeminded vendors, workshops and exhibits. Plus, a portion of the festival's proceeds benefit two area nonprofits: Appalachian Voices and Mountain Alliance.
Tickets go on sale Thursday at http://www.musiconthemountaintop.com, making the festival's new site official, and bringing to close an exhaustive search.
"We're just really happy to move forward, just so happy to have a fanbase that's been so loyal and patient," Hunt said. "We feel bad to have left them in limbo for so long, but after seeing 25 sites, we're comfortable saying this is the best one we've ever seen."