It sounded like a great idea: a music festival at a winery. Featuring 19 bands for $15, it was a bargain and all proceeds would benefit The Children’s Miracle Network. Fall Music Festival 3 turned out to be beyond great and a bargain at any price. Clear your October 2012 calendar in preparation for Fall Music Festival 4, hosted again by MyRuralRadio.com!
My Rural Radio Fall Music Fest is a family affair. Owners Michael Males and Trampas Ferree are relatives with a common love for music, community and good times. MRR.com was born when they tired of hearing the same old songs on commercial radio and seeing the same old cover bands at local clubs. As part-time touring musicians and fans of York’s bustling open-mic scene, they knew that the plethora of local talent was making great music and being marginalized. My Rural Radio.com plays original, unsigned, independent musicians in every genre. You would be grievously mistaken if you think MRR is for country or folk artists alone and this year’s festival proved it.
The festival opened with the national anthem, sung by SWHS student Morgan La Fave. Morgan performed admirably on stage 3 later, but she cleared stage 1 to make room for The Infidels. Yes, The Infidels, a punk rock band with metal tendencies was the opening act at My Rural Radio’s festival! Other acts included pop, funk and rock bands. What the show did not include was boring, typical songs played by people with all the trappings of a musician but not the soul.
Every performer continues to stand out in our minds even days after the show. The Infidels made it a party immediately. Mark DeRose and The Way Home was a big, strong rock band with enough keyboards and Americana vibe to bring the whole crowd together in the large pavilion of stage 1: a family picnic! Jessica Smucker stirred the fire from stage 2 with her soulful, thoughtful blues. Megan and The Wheelmen brought everyone back to table at stage 1. It was a moveable feast for the ears, served family-style, and everyone got extra helpings. It struck us that no bands had to play over each other and no one had to choose which stage to run to.
Everyone seemed to be there to meet, greet and celebrate each other. Stewartstown native and girl-gone-global Dana Alexandra was the perfect choice for a mid-fest peak. Her songs are alternately sweet, demure, sultry, saucy. She is a singer-songwriter country-rocker with pop tendencies and a rock and roll band if you believe in labeling everything. If you believe that music moves you or it doesn’t, that it is genuine or shallow, it’s time to tune into My Rural Radio.com. Why let some recording industry or radio corporation decide what you get to hear? Dana’s music makes a compelling case for letting the music speak, not the marketing. And she was one of 19 dynamic, talented acts on Saturday that you may have never heard before. It’s time.
Suzi Brown received MRR’s Artist of the Month Award that night and shone like a star. She will be a star if your definition of star might include artists like Ani DiFranco, Trace Bundy or Michael Hedges. We doubt Suzi is swayed by other peoples’ opinions but we know her story-telling and percussive finger-tapping guitar style swayed us.
Groove Jones: funktastic party band! No drum machines, samples or loafing allowed here! Everyone from age 4-64 was on their feet. They were the biggest band on stage (nine pieces!) and reminded everyone that it was a party, a celebration, an event of funktacular proportions!
Phil Freeman’s Lone Wolf Project took a big bite out of us. Phil claims to have been bitten by a werewolf in 2006. We think it’s the same one who bit Johnny Cash, Morrissey and Mojo Nixon. It is monstrous how well and how wildly this guy can sing and play. And you have no idea what might be next: a ballad or baying. You really have to hear him to believe it.
If you’re thinking, “No fair! Bait and switch” with a word like “rural” in the title, fear not. FMF3 did feature some amazing blues, roots, country Americana performers. Waitin’ On a Train and The High Point Ramblers are as good as any bluegrass or folk band you are likely to see anywhere, anytime. American Hollar has a lush Americana sound, complete with local legend Jeff Hostetter on resonator-dobro, but they also get fired up and play some raucous country blues. They were deservedly the headliners and final act of the day. That also meant that they got to bring back to stage some of the day’s standout performers for some all-star jamming.
Sarah Blacker is a star. Never heard of her? Listen once and you will never forget her. She received the MyRuralRadio Artist of the Year Award that night and played an achingly beautiful set. She writes poignant songs that speak simply and honestly and wow, can she strum a guitar. Accompanied by Shaysh on cojon and at times joined by Jeff Hostetter on resonator, her set was part concert, part carpet-ride. American Hollar called upon her at the end, as well as other performers and even their own children.
The whole day was about community: about giving back and paying it forward. We got a lot more than our $15 worth and if you check out these artists and MyRuralRadio.com, so will you. Check out video’s of live performances from FMFIII on Gig Spots YouTube Channel HERE
Words by: Sam Campbell
Photos by: Rich McKie