Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gearing up for the Mountain Music Festival

With fantastic, comfortable temperatures and the welcoming sights of flowers popping up in gardens and scattered along the roadside and over the hills, there is no more beautiful time to visit the Arcadia Valley and Black River Recreation Area than in spring.

The abundant rainfall makes Mina Sauk Falls a sight to behold and there is no better time to float the Black River; the swifter waters and the lack of other people on the river makes it a fun, peaceful journey that should definitely be experienced.

For the last 3 years, the spring has brought with it the annual Arcadia Valley Mountain Music Festival, one of the most fun events that takes place in the Valley. This year, the addition of a second music festival in the fall adds another weekend of family fun and frivolity to entertain residents and guests, plus, it will take place the same weekend as the 83rd Annual Arcadia Valley Fall Festival which features the longest-running parade in the state and always brings back home those who have moved out of the Valley.

This year’s Spring Mountain Music Festival will take place May 15-17, 2009 and the lineup boasts bands that have never-before played at the Festival, plus some old favorites. I personally am excited to see the return of Valerie Smith and the Liberty Pike Band, who I sadly missed at last year’s festival. I interviewed the very friendly Valerie Smith for a feature story in The Mountain Echo last spring, and have listened to a cd, but have never seen them play in person.

With spectacular vocals and instruments that include the fiddle, mandolin, clawhammer, banjo and guitar, Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike play some rockin’ bluegrass and I am determined to see them this year as I am told they put on quite a show.

I am also excited about a band that is new to the festival, but who I have heard play several times at Bearcat Getaway, Big Smith. The six band members play rowdy and enthusiastic acoustic music inspired by their native Ozark home and always keep the crowd tapping their toes and singing along. I have loved them since the first time I heard them and I am so excited that they are joining the Mountain Musical Festival lineup.

Bobby Powell, who also sits on the music festival committee, plays the most convincing Willie Nelson I have ever seen or heard. He is great, and everyone loves Willie’s music, plus he’ll be backed up by The Country Gold Band, and Minnie Pearl, played by Anna-Marie Beard, will keep the audience laughing at her antics.

There are several acts that I have yet to see or hear, but I am looking forward to learning more about them and keeping you updated. These bands include:

The Punch Band, a family band with members ranging from age 7 and up, has won band of the year with the SPBGMA organizations several times in recent years. Two of the young cousins in the band are from nearby Fredericktown, and I am looking forward to seeing and hearing this great family band play.

Professor Farquar and the Great American Medicine Show recreates one of the 19th Century’s most popular diversions; featuring traditional tunes and amazing magic, this show offers the audience the chance to participate and all-but guarantees to keep you laughing.

The Barely Here Band is also Missouri-based, and are known for their well-crafted harmony and awesome instrumental breaks. This bluegrass band is said to bring extreme showmanship and top-notch vocals in a light-hearted and enjoyable family-style stage show.

The Barry Jones Family is a gospel group with years of musical experience. Originally from the nearby town of Graniteville, Barry has years of experience in working television and radio and works as the group leader and spokesman despite his visual handicap.

Finally, Pik’n Lik’n came together in 2001 when a few rock-n-rollers wanted to play some bluegrass (Pik'n), and the bluegrassers wanted to trade guitar licks (Lik'n). Through the years, they’ve grown and changed, playing everything from bluegrass, newgrass, classic rock, rockabilly, blues and even a bit of country, they stay busy playing in a huge array of venues. They should be a great fit at the AVMMF.

I am planning on learning more about the bands I haven’t heard and letting you know what I think. Stay tuned for future posts to keep updated. Visit the AVMMF website at to learn more. In addition to the great acts, there will be a lot of family fun at the AVMMF including events like: a Tractor Parade, Vendors, Crafters, a Hay Bailing Exhibition, a Two Man Saw Competition, Quilting, Spinning, Vintage Photos, Log Hewing, Storytelling, Buggy Rides and even a Miniature Train Ride for the kids!

Hope to see you there!!