Ancient Tones – New Sounds Festival is making its debut Sept. 25-27 in Union Grove, North Carolina, with a stellar lineup of Americana, Celtic, bluegrass and old-time mountain music artists including The Horse Flies, Scythian, Yarn, Mountain Heart, Blu Bop, The Fighting Jamesons, Big Fat Gap, Hard Cider, Whiskey of the Damned, Brynmor, The GoodFellers, The Brown Liquor Pickers and Mason Via and Friends.
“I want to put a focus on the the common musical thread that runs through the roots of each of those genres,” says Robert Gabb, festival founder, organizer and musician. “All of these bands were purposely chosen. The premise is tracing the lineage between all this music; tracing the footsteps of the first Celtic settlers which translated into old-time mountain music and then bluegrass and then Americana.”
The culmination of what Gabb, who originally hails from Wales, describes as a cultural heritage festival will come Saturday night when his Irish band heads up a mashup of musicians. “We want to get people out of their seats and dancing.”
lt be held at the VanHoy Farms Campground, the home of the renowned Union Grove Fiddlers Convention, which in its heyday attracted more than 60,000 attendees to the 12,000-seat coliseum. The music is set to begin Friday evening and will finish with the aforementioned Grand Stage Blow Out Jam at midnight on Saturday. In the spirit of the festival’s motto, “Stirrin’ Up What Took Centuries to Mash Up,” the all-star jam will feature Brynmor hosting various musicians culled from many of the bands that performed over the weekend. Gabb also encourages attendees to bring instruments for casual jamming at their campsites.
Other artists on the bill include Take Two, Seven Handle Circus, The Josh Daniel / Mark Schimick Project, The Prairie Belt Boys, The Morning After, Jamestown Pipes and Drums.
The family friendly festival will also present various world food vendors and an arts and crafts marketplace. This year alcohol is BYOB, but Gabb is hoping to attract a North Carolina craft brewery to sponsor the festival’s libations next year.
“With your help and support we can make this an annual event,” Gabb says.
The artists are enthused about the inaugural festival, but don’t take my word for it. Take theirs.
Award-winning Mountain Heart is described as a band that combines elements of rock, country, jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass and jam band into a high-energy sound. Singer-songwriter frontman Josh Shilling, who served as artist-in-residence at Rooster Walk 7 in May, writes on Facebook, “Mountain Heart is excited and honored to bring our new show along with a ton of new music to the Ancient Tones – New Sounds Festival! This trail blazing North Carolina festival is a brand-new event based around roots music and the artists and music lovers that support it. We couldn’t be happier to be part of it’s first year and to work with Robert and the entire top notch team involved! Expect some surprises and epic collaborations!
Yarn, an alt-country rock band from New York City and another Rooster Walk favorite, also writes on Facebook, “We love the festival’s unique and quality line up. It’s an honor to be included among these artists and bands. And it’s all about the music. We love that.”
Merlefest favorite Scythian, is a Celtic/Celtic rock band. Alex Fedoryka (Violin/Mandolin/Harmonica/Bass/Vocals) writes, “As a band from Washington, D.C., we’ve come to feel like North Carolina has become our home state. Merlefest took us in seven years ago and those great North Carolina folks taught us to believe in the old time good time music we played. We’re thrilled to be a part of the Ancient Tones and New Sounds festival lineup, with their great spread of that old roots music we love, from Celtic to Appalachian, all delivered with the stamp of great musicians in the here and now. This fest has the makings of being a great festival in the heart of the best string band state in the country. North Carolina, we’re coming home and we hope y’all can join us!”
Fans of Seven Handle Circus, which mixes bluegrass with punk rock to create a modern style of rock, won’t want to miss what’s being touted as the band’s last performance. “We are excited about this festival because right there in the title, it hits the nail on the head with what we are trying to do with our music: take beautiful classic sounds and make new music with them,” says Shawn Spencer, guitar/vocals/songwriter. “We are excited to be a part of a community where everyone is into that idea, from fans to fellow performers.”
Described as a blend of Americana roots with indie rock, The Horse Flies add in a Facebook message, “When we first heard the name of this festival, ‘Ancient Tones – New Sounds,’ we thought it sounded like us! We began as an almost-traditional acoustic Appalachian stringband. In fact, several of us used to attend a fiddler’s festival on the very same site this festival is to be held. And we still have fiddle, banjo and banjo uke in the band. But over the years we’ve allowed ourselves to evolve … to create our own original songs … to add percussion, Moog, organ, electric bass to the band … to use effect pedals on the traditional instruments. You can hear the traditional root in the music … the danceable rhythm is still at the heart … but it’s become its own experimental, trance-y, psychedelic thing.”
This also ran on the Huffington Post Entertainment Blog here.
If You Go
The festival is located at VanHoy Farms Family Campground in Union Grove, North Carolina, just off I-77, Exit 65.
According to the website, Van Hoy Farms Family Campground offers over 100 rolling peaceful acres of land with full camping facilities and amenities. Sites are grassy with shady trees nearby. Go for a hike or wade through the stream. A nearby Amish village offers breads, candies and fresh produce.
Noon to midnight Friday, noon to 2 a.m. Saturday, open jam Sunday.Two-day pass: $90 through Sept. 20, $120 at gate; ages 14 to 16 – $50 through Sept. 20, $60 at gate; younger get in free with paid adult.
Single day tickets are $40 on Friday and $60 on Saturday.
Weekend passes include car camping (tents). RV camping booked through VanHoy Farms Family Campground.
Opening ceremony 5.30pm with The Jamestown Pipes & Drums.
Friday Main Stage Friday Dance Stage
6-7pm Big Fat Gap 6.30-7.30pm Hard Cider
7.30-8.30pm Brynmor 8-9pm Josh Daniel & Mark Schimick Project
9-10pm Blu Bop 9.30-11pm The GoodFellers
10.30pm-12am Yarn 11.30pm-12.30am Whiskey of the Damned 12.30am-2am Scythian 1am Late Night Jam with The prairie Belt Boys
Saturday Main Stage Saturday Dance Stage
12pm-1pm Hard Cider 12.30-1.30pm Mason Via & Friends
1.30-2.30pm Whiskey of the Damned 2-3.30pm Blues Pharmacy
3-4.30pm Seven Handle Circus 4-5.30pm Take Two
5-6pm The Morning After 6-7.30pm Brown Liquor Pickers
6.30-8pm The Fighting Jamesons 8-9pm Mason Via & Friends
8.30-10pm Mountain Heart 9.30-10.30pm Morning After
10.30-12am The Horse Flies 11-12am Blu Bop
12,30-1.30am The Mashup with Brynmor & Friends Closed for the Mashup on the Main Stage.
1.30am Late Night Jam with Josh & Mark Project