Huntington Music and Arts Festival rolling along
HUNTINGTON — The week-long Huntington Music and Arts Festival kicked off Monday. And festival founder Ian Thornton and his band of artistic merrymakers have not stopped performing art and spreading joy throughout the city.
They hosted a square-dancing, fiddling and yarn-spinning party at Old Central City.
They threw an edgy art party at the museum, a honky-tonk roller skating party at Roll-A-Rama, and an epic night of locally made short films and comedy at Fourth Avenue Arts. Now, in its ninth year, the HMAF moves into the heart of the Labor Day weekend when they put on seven events over four days in downtown Huntington and Ritter Park.
Here’s a closer look at the remaining events as well as the main event on Saturday.
Friday, Aug. 31: HMAF Pre-party at Heritage Station
One of the hot spots for Huntington outdoor music is Party on the Patio at the historic Heritage Station (210 11th Street). This is a special Kentucky invasion HMAF edition. Head over to the bricks of this historic former train station to hear some sweet jams from Joslyn & The Sweet Compression, the Lexington, Ky.-based soul rockers who just played Rails and Ales. Also on the bill is Louisville’s hip acoustic pop unit, Bridge 19. Finalists for folk artists of the year on the Louisville, scene, Bridge 19 features the well-crafted songwriting and sweet harmonies of Amanda Lucas & Audrey Cecil with a backing band with unique instrumentation of accordion, drums and upright bass.
Saturday, Sept. 1: Main festival at Ritter Park Amphitheater
HMAF the main fest kicks off at noon in the Ritter Park Amphitheater with the ultimate music sampler of what is hot on the indie scene in Huntington and surrounding cities. Tickets are $17 advance or $20 at the door to see 25 musical acts. Kids 12 and under get in free to the fest which features the HMAF Bazaar has more than 30 arts and crafts along with locally made food and beer vendors.
Inspired by the original side-by-side stages at All Good, organizer Ian Thornton has kept HMAF flowing with non-stop music as acoustic artists do a short set while bands are changing out stage equipment. In all there are 25 different indie artists that represent a wide range of musical tastes.
“I think it’s important to stay as eclectic as possible,” said Thornton, who is forgoing Tyler Childers and The Foodstamps late August European tour to help wrangle the week-long HMAF. “Most people are like me and like more than one style of music and there’s a lot of different people out there doing a lot of different stuff rock and soul and blues, country and indie and I feel like good music is good music no matter how you slice it.”
While last year’s headliner was a rare country act — a breaking Childers, fresh off of releasing his Sturgill Simpson-produced debut album, “Purgatory,” Thornton decided to dial up the slamming power popped punk of Rozwell Kid, for this year’s closer.
Although it’s their first time closing the fest, Rozwell Kid, which is based out of Martins-burg, W.Va., played the fest in 2013, and have been a favorite at the after-party.
Thornton said he thinks the lineup is super solid throughout with Huntington’s regionally traveling unit, Ona, who’ve twice been featured on Mountain Stage, back after not being at HMAF last year.
For local Ona fans this will be one of the last chances to see them for a while as the band is spending the next two months touring across the U.S., first with the duo Caamp, and then dialing up a dozen dates with Tyler Childers.
Thornton said the band will also be announcing news in the next couple months about their new album, “Full Moon, Heavy Light,” getting picked up by an indie label and distributed nationally.
“They’ve been working on their record for a while and we have had it game planned for them and a lot of times like with Tyler you have to wait, and they have been wood shedding and preparing and now we have a couple things lined up with the supporting tours and we have good album news to come in the near future,” Thornton said. “They are ready to hit the road. The tour they are doing with Tyler they are really hitting some great rooms and some really great cities.”
Also, after a stand-out performance last year Qiet, which actually played the very first HMAF, is back by popular demand. Qiet has had an incredible year of unique success including getting to play with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. The band will also be making its first appearance since their lead singer Christopher Vincent and bassist James Maddox were in a car wreck.
“We’re excited that Ona and Qiet are back and John R (Miller) with his first band, and we’re super excited for people to hear a couple great Lexington bands Magnolia Boulevard and Johnny Conqueroo,” Thornton said. “Right out of the gates we’ve got good acts. Maggie is a brand new band from Gallipolis and we like to keep it fresh and fun and flow is important. They are newer to the scene and are quite good and is also helps that they have something they are promoting. So we have a lot of bands that are not necessarily just hot but that are out there working.”
In addition to the bands, HMAF is chock full of a who’s who in local arts, crafts and eateries, as locally owned restaurants as Backyard Pizza and the new Honey Bones, which is located by Marshall’s campus, will be vending along with some area food trucks such as Southside Sliders and Lil Creamer Shaved Ice.
“I think the point of the fest is to not only experience new music that you are not familiar with and to discover new music from our region but to also support these local businesses we have and to get out of the house and give people something to do that is a nice mix of art, music and culture,” Thornton said. “I also think when you are able to give artists a platform for what they do it is awesome and inspiring. Hopefully, we can provide that opportunity for them and get them excited about being out and sharing their talents in the community.”
Saturday, Sept. 1: After-party at the V Club
Hosted by The V Club, 741 6th Ave., the always epic HMAF after party is hosted by DJ Charlie Brown Superstar, who has played all nine year’s of the HMAF after party. Kicking off at 10 p.m., the evening features a real eclectic evening with Cincinnati’s jug band, the Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle. The heavy fuel of Huntington rockers, Scrounge-hound, the Gabe Smith-led group that brings hard hitting sounds along with some horn power, will also be heard. Just popped onto that bill is Huntington hip hop artist Shelem, who just released the first video and single “Fuego,” off of his upcoming CD, “The Jaunts.”
There is free entry into the after-party with an HMAF ticket.
Sunday, Sept. 2: HMAF Family Cookout at Ritter Park
The seven days of HMAF events close out with a laid-back HMAF Family Cookout at Ritter Park that will run from 3 to 7 p.m. with a trio of eclectic bands from Huntington. The well-polished Friendly Fire, a pop/rock band composed by Hank Berlin, James ‘JC’ Harless, Alex McCoy, and Colten Settle, have released a copy of singles this summer, “Vibe Killerz,” and “Stand By You.”
Big Rock and the Candyass Mountain Boys is a veteran string band from Huntington blending horn-blown blues, old-time, and funky folk.
The picnic is free but donations are being accepted for Branches Domestic Violence Shelter, a Huntington nonprofit that has been providing shelter, counseling, legal assistance and more to domestic violence victims since 1980.
“We’re adding in organizations like Branches to try to further help the community as much as we can ” Thornton said. “We put all the events together for the community and almost all of it is free. We’re trying to expose folks and get them to support local and regional bands as well as support locations that typically support live music like Party on the Patio and Pullman Square Summer Concert Series. We’re doing our best to show the emerging art and culture scene that we have and I think Huntington is a leader in that.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: 9th annual Huntington Music and Arts Festival featuring 25 diverse musical acts from Huntington and regional cities such as Charleston, Lexington, Louisville, Nashville, Cincinnati and beyond. There is also arts and crafts, food and beer vendors.
WHERE: Ritter Park Amphitheater
WHEN: Noon Saturday, Sept. 1.
HOW MUCH: $17 in advance and $20 at the gate, if not sold out. Admission is free for those 12 and under.
THE SCHEDULE: 12:30 p.m., Maggie; 12:55 p.m., Zach McGlone; 1:05 p.m., Flat Tracker; 1:30 p.m., Karis Blanton; 1:40 p.m., Ducain; 2:05 p.m., Aaron Boyd; 2:15 p.m., Magnolia Boulevard; 2:40 p.m., Jon Bassin; 2:50 p.m., Johnny Conqueroo; 3:15 3:25 p.m., Chloe Edmonstone; 3:25, Short & Company; 3:55 p.m., Patrick Stanley; 4:05 p.m., Dividends; 4:35 p.m., Chelsea Nolan; 4:45 p.m., John R Miller and The Engine Lights; 5:15 p.m. Josh Nolan; 5:25 p.m., Bendigo Fletcher; 5:55 p.m., John Clay 6:05 6:35 p.m, Qiet; 6:35 p.m., Casey Campbell; 6:45 p.m., William Matheny & The Strange Constellations; 7:25 p.m., Justin Wells; 7:45 p.m., Ona; 8:25 p.m., Arlo McKinley and 8:50 p.m. (70 minutes) Rozwell Kid.
ON THE WEB: Go online at https://www.facebook.com/HMAFestival to see the full lineup and to check out all of the daily events.
FOOD VENDORS: Backyard Pizza, Honey Bones, Southside Sliders and Lil Creamer Shaved Ice
BEER VENDORS: Miller Lite and Yuengling are fest sponsors. Local distributors Atomic and Spriggs will be bringing both national and some regional craft beer brands (tentatively, Country Boy Brewing and Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company).