Photos by Matthew Arnold; see more here.
The best thing about fall festivals is camping. Come September and October, the heat subsides just enough to let bleary-eyed music lovers sleep past 9 a.m. and Mother Nature graces crowds with a cloud or two during the day. In the case of Mulberry Mountain Harvest Festival 2012, a severe thunderstorm or two. But that could hardly kill the spirit of the fest, as leaves from the Ozark National Forest fell by the hundreds in brilliant shades of red and yellow.
The smaller cousin of Wakarusa music festival, Mulberry Mountain has a personality all its own. From the choice of musical performers to the vibe amongst the campgrounds, everything is much more relaxed. Swarms of children run around giggling as their parents sit next to an open campfire, security remembers your face upon every entry into the main festival grounds, and the bands are constantly welcoming fellow musicians in stage to jam.
Aside from the fact that Harvest Festival is the perfect size in terms of attendance, it the musicianship seen here is of higher caliber than many festivals. Check out some of the best moments of the weekend below.
The heartfelt tunes of Nederland, Colorado’s Elephant Revival are enough to make anyone weak at the knees, and they did so during the band’s second set of Mulberry Harvest Fest. People packed into the Backwoods Stage like sardines to see that performance, the very last of the band’s summer tour. Undoubtedly, each member left a piece of their soul on that stage. They went in waves, rocking out hard before transitioning into an acapella ballad that had every hair standing on the back of your neck. Elephant Revival redefined true musicianship when they invited Yonder Mountain String Band‘s fiddle and bass player up on stage for an impromptu jam session so skillful and incredible, jaws were left on the floor by the end.
One of our own Dallas natives made a lasting impression on festivarians after a joyous reggae set Saturday afternoon. Cas Haley shone a bright light in the Harvest Tent sonically breaking the clouds outside by way of danceable beats and upbeat melodies. Haley’s four-year-old son was up on stage left the whole time playing various percussion instruments lent to him by percussionist David Willingham. Believe it or not, the kid could a keep a beat. Plus he was super cute and entertaining.
Yonder Mountain String Band’s 1,500th show
Saturday, for the most part, had been great weather — not too hot with a nice breeze albeit super muddy. However, as the 15-year bluegrass kings took to the stage, things turned ominous. About 20 minutes into the set came the warning, one all too familiar from this year’s Wakarusa: “Take shelter in your vehicles. A bad storm is coming.” The rains came and the wind blew and the show was ultimately canceled. That is until …
… two hours later anxious festivarians emerged from their cars to asses the damaged as tents and canopies laid dilapidated in the field. A faint guitar strum hummed in the distance, its origin concealed by fog. Wookiefoot illuminated the Harvest Tent and kept the party going. It was a sanity saver for many, as the thought of leaving the festival because it was canceled seemed, well, unimaginable. Not rain, not mud, not even a ruined tent could keep folks from having a good time.