Words by: Sam Campbell – Photos by: Erika Banks & Jodi Mae
Naylor Winery, Stewartstown, PA October 27, 2012
What goes well with Naylor wines? On October 27th, ten food vendors, six craft merchants, fifteen bands and over 200 fun-lovers were paired with the wines and the beautiful winery grounds for My Rural Radio’s annual Fall Music Festival. A crisp and mostly sunny day contributed to the good vibes while fans, artists and vendors contributed to The Children’s Miracle Network. This charity is significant to Michael S. Males, owner of MyRuralRadio.com, and the event reflects the generous, hard-working spirit of all who donate their time, talents and performances to make it a success.
MRR broadcasts nearly 500 indie bands on their online streaming station and bands petition for a slot onstage for this event. Nearly every performer this year had already earned the distinction of being named an Artist of the Month. Two stages operated with alternating acts at opposite ends of the large pavilion/deck area. A third stage fronted the 100+ acre property and featured young musicians from the community with Rod Goelz serving as emcee.
RJ Moody took time off from his packed performance schedule with Hillbilly Thunder to play a set backed only by Erik Gotwalt on drums. The High Point Ramblers played some favorites for those still missing their former touring days. Harrisburg singer/songwriter Widad lifted the mood of all around. Something about the airiness of her phrasing, the solidity of her guitar playing and the depth of her songwriting just seemed to refocus the whole event on the idea that we’re all in this together.
Sarah Blacker, 2011 MRR Artist of the Year, rounded out her mini-tour of central PA with a lively, lovely set. It surprised no one that the winds died and sun shone just as Sarah took the stage, accompanied by Eran Shaysh on percussion and featuring Erik White on Telecaster. Typically, Sarah headlines events like this but today found her heading to Bethlehem for an evening gig at Godfrey Daniel’s. It was fitting that the best weather of the day embraced this trio who traveled from Boston to contribute to the day’s success. Sarah doubles as a music therapist and the crowd reenergized as the band soared through favorites like “Bad I Been” and “These Summer Nights.” Two new songs, “Shiver” and “Plugging Away,” were just the right therapy for the hurricane-warning blues.
MD-based troubadour and hillbilly hippie JD Sage brought The Dagnabbits to FMF IV. Was the wine starting to catch up to the crowd or was it the band’s four-wheeling rock that brought everyone to their feet? It’s hard to say but this band will put a dopey grin on your face!
Brittany Opperman, York’s latest sweetheart of the rodeo, played a dynamic set backed by American Jane, a version of Mike Males’ band American Hollar. This young lady has taken off in popularity lately on the heels of a huge, crowd-pleasing performance at this year’s York County Fair. Her original songs are country-crafted and genuine. Her rendition of “Jackson” with American Jane shook the whole winery!
As she left the stage (headed for a Nashville getaway), American Hollar and Guests turned it up a notch with Mike out in front. The energy they poured into their set belied the fact that Mike had been sick all week and working 20 hours a day to organize and pull off the event. Perhaps the perfect resonator play of Jeff Hostetter, the backline of Sean Fifer on drums and Chad Flaharty on bass, and the riffs of guest guitarists Denny Wedekind and Jeff Stike just made Mike forget how exhausted he must have been. The fun they had was contagious!
Three acts at FMF surprised a lot of people: Free Breakfast, The Bi g 78 and Kayla Kroh. The Big 78: this punk-folk band was much fun but how often they tour is just a guess. Free Breakfast: they play Mondays at First Capital Dispensing Company in York and have a bit of a Lumineers feel to them. They provide the perfect excuse to go out for a pint and some fun on a Monday! Kayla Kroh: this girl blew everyone’s mind! Her rich, fluid voice and guitar drew people from all over the winery to the patio stage. Her original songs were clever and her covers were well-chosen and well-performed. When she ended with Adele’s new song for the Bond film, “Skyfall,” people were shaking their heads in amazement. When she concluded with, “Thank you, I’m Kayla, I’m 14 and in middle school” people were shaking all over. Thank you, MyRuralRadio.com, for sharing and promoting young artists like Kayla. In five years, Kayla could be bigger than Adele!
Three acts they saved for after dark were no surprise: Darry Miller and The Veil, The Lone Wolf Project, and Dr. Slothclaw. If you think MRR only plays country artists, you have missed the boat. Dr. Slothclaw won the October Artist of the Month from MRR and pretty much slays anything in its path, jamband-wise. As the last act of the night, they pushed everyone over the edge with pyrotechnic riffs and a thunderous backline. Their sound is part Phish, part Rush, part Zappa, part symphonic, part schizophrenic and all rock. They call their sound “Freak Funk.” See them and you’ll get it. And get down to it!
Phillip Nathaniel Freeman, aka The Lone Wolf Project, played the patio stage under a nearly-full moon. Who knows what might have gone down if that sucker was full! What did happen was a rip-roaring rock-out. Nobody plays an acoustic as hard or sings as powerfully as Phil. You think he might come unhinged in songs like “The Bridge” or “Water Into Wine.” Then, he’s crooning and strumming beauties like “Down South” or “Old Words in New Chapters.” This last is the title cut from his first full-length album, now being played in all 50 states. And speaking of beauties, Harrisburg native Jenn Bocian joined the Project for the night on vocals and uke. You better catch The Lone Wolf Project soon unless you like paying stadium-show prices. Their new video for “The Bridge” will soon be classified as viral.
Darry Miller and The Veil earned Artist of the Year honors for 2012. These guys are pop-rock princes no more. The maturity of the songwriting and musicianship is admirable. The interplay onstage shows a worldliness and depth of experience that only comes with touring and honing your craft as a band. New songs like “Fog it Up” and “Testify” show that this band is playing for themselves now, making the music they want to make. They rocked Fall Music Fest Saturday night and were headed for the recording studio Sunday. 2013 will show Darry Miller and The Veil not resting on past accomplishments but rocking towards new horizons.
Go to www.MyRuralRadio.com to hear these and nearly 500 other indie artists. You deserve it.