The best $5 festival in America: a little gratuitous promotion for my adopted home
Mostly, squabbles here aside, it feels like I’ve retired from the music industry. Except that I occasionally have time to produce a radio show, which I guess will start airing regularly after the next pledge drive block in March, and so for the two readers here who are not related to me, I’ll mention that when it happens.
And then there’s the other thing. First thing I moved to eastern Kentucky six years ago I got roped into the committee which puts on a one- two- and sometimes three-day festival one block off Main Street. We renamed it three years back to broaden the scope. Funding ebbs and flows with the economy, with local politics, with all of the things we call life.
With Kyla’s kind indulgence, I posted about last year’s event, and since we’ve sent out press for this year, I’ll take a moment to share.
Our little festival is (re)named after a local geological landmark, coincidentally the name of a fine local string band. It’s the Clack Mountain Festival. It happens here in Morehead, Kentucky, on the edge of the Appalachian mountains, down the road from Olive Hill, where Tom T. Hall grew up shooting rabbits, and Sandy Hook, where Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs and Larry Cordle all grew up picking. And it happens for $5, all in, on June 4-5.
The headliners, for the ND community, anyhow, will be Ben Sollee (fine new album on Sub Pop, nice Kentucky fellow, talented cello player, gifted singer) and Jill Andrews, late of the everybodyfields. Happens Jill’s dad is the president of Morehead State University, so she’s easy to talk into playing our stage. And Kevin Gordon is coming up from Nashville, lured in part by the presence of first-rate folk art sale on Saturday morning, Minnie Adkins’ long-running Day in the Country, relocated to town when it got to be too much for her to run on her spread.
And then there’s the bluegrass. Years past, we’ve had Ralph Stanley headline. We’re spreading the love a bit more this year, offering up some of the region’s finest, including that self-same Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard, Dave Evans & RiverBend, and the Tommy Webb Band. Plus some up-and-comers called Hazel Holler, and another batch who play as Coaltown Dixie. Two student groups from the Center for Traditional Music will kick things off Saturday morning.
Plus former DJ Sasha Collette, from up Olive Hill Way.
And the jokers in the deck, our closing act. You know the Steeldrivers, right? Far as I know they’re still extant. But their phenomenal lead singer, Chris Stapleton, he’s got another band going, whole different thing, same great voice. Called the Jompson Brothers. And I can’t wait to see ’em live, based on what my tinny tiny computer speakers blast out.
The Clack Mountain Festival is presented by Morehead Tomorrow, a nonprofit civic group devoted to revitalizing downtown Morehead. Principal sponsors include the Morehead Tourism Commission, Morehead State Public Radio, the Kentucky Folk Art Center and the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music.
Morehead, Kentucky, is a short hour east of Lexington and two hours east of Louisville on I-64. It’s an hour west of Huntington, West Virginia, and two hours south of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Stop on by, if you can be in the neighborhood. Just don’t ask me about Gram Parsons, OK?