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Ninth annual HMAF a family reunion for local musicians

September 2, 2018

HUNTINGTON - The ninth annual Huntington Music and Arts Festival continued Saturday as 23 musical acts took the Ritter Park Amphitheater stage, providing nearly 10 hours of entertainment for Huntington music lovers.

Festival organizer Ian Thornton said after Sunday, his only plans are to lie down. He said he thought the week, which consisted of 12 events in seven days, went well and everything had good turnouts.

The festival has grown from a single-day event with pre- and after-parties into its current state - a weeklong gauntlet of visual arts, comedy, film, music and a slew of other activities.

“When we started, we weren’t sure what we were going to get to begin with, so the fact that it’s made it this far and this big I’m pretty happy about,” Thornton said.

William Matheny, who performed Saturday, said he thinks he’s played about five HMAFs. He said the festival is kind of like a family reunion for those closely tied with the Huntington music scene.

“Someone like Rozwell Kid who are doing like 150 shows a year, and Tyler Childers who’s touring all the time and isn’t here, and Ona on the road so much, and all these bands - it’s kind of a nice moment where your orbits all match up for one day and you can see everyone again,” Matheny said.

Matheny said being part of this particular music community has allowed him to see how his fellow musicians have grown up with the festival over the years.

“I feel like the first time Rozwell Kid played here, they were the first band of the day. Now they’re headlining,” Matheny said. “It’s fun to watch how that happens.”

Thornton said he hopes attendees walk away with a pride in their community once they see what their local artists and musicians can do.

“Every famous band started out as a local band somewhere,” Thornton said. “I think people throw away local bands sometimes. If you want to see good music, you got to get it at the ground level. So hopefully walk away and understand that their community is able to create. There’s a wealth of stuff here in our community and in Huntington, and there’s no sense in thinking there’s not.”

HMAF did not end when headliner Rozwell Kid left the stage, however. The festival moved to the V Club for the after-party featuring Charlie Brown Superstar, ScroungeHound, Shelem, and Buffalo Wabs and The Price Hill Hustle.

But the V Club was not the end, either. The festival will end after the HMAF Family Cookout that begins at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, at Ritter Park featuring Big Rock and the CandyAss Mountain Boys, Chocolate 4-Wheeler and Friendly Fire. Donations will be taken for Branches Domestic Violence Shelter.

Follow reporter Megan Osborne @megosborneHD.

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