The following ran on The Huffington Post originally here:
The Steel Wheels is hosting its fourth Red Wing Roots Music Festival on July 8-10 at Natural Chimneys Regional Park near Staunton, Virginia. And a quick glance at this year’s lineup reveals the fourth iteration of this fledgling event might just be the charm.
Along with The Steel Wheels, scheduled to perform are Dawes, Shovels & Rope, Steep Canyon Rangers, The Lone Bellow, Aoife O’Donovan, Chris Smither, The Dustbowl Revival, Amy Helm, Mountain Heart, The Black Lillies, The Hollering Pines, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens, Sierra Hull, Good Lovelies, Tony Furtado, The Woodshedders, Bumper Jacksons, Driftwood, Dom Flemons, Mipso, Jon Stickley Trio, J.P. Harris, Nora Jane Struthers, Anna & Elizabeth, The Hot Seats, The Walking Roots Band, Shenandoah Alley, Sarah Lynna and The Misfit Toys, Gallatin Canyon and more, according to organizers.
My husband and I attended Red Wing Roots for the first time last summer and thoroughly enjoyed this intimate festival at the foot of the natural towering limestone rock formations that give the park its name. The music — which for the most part rotates on two stages that can be enjoyed from the local craft beer garden — was an excellent mix of old favorites with soon-to-be new ones. The food offerings, which included local favorites such as Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint, were spot on. And the facilities, the result of being in a campground, include actual toilets, not usually found at most outdoor music festivals in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Add the stunning surrounding Shenandoah Valley and all of its outdoor activities and the eclectic coffee houses, bars and restaurants in nearby Harrisonburg and you’ve got the recipe for the perfect summer music festival weekend.
This year the three-day festival features four stages and 40 bands in Mt. Solon. Red Wing provides the whole music festival experience with a variety of food, craft vendors, kids activities, camping, swimming, organized bike rides and hiking adventures, and more. Added bonus: Kids 12 and younger are free and teenagers 13-17 can get a three-day pass for only $39!
But don’t take my word for it, go check it out for yourself. And while you’re there, make sure you catch these five acts:
1. Jarekus Singleton — I had the chance to catch his unique version of Mississippi blues, funk, rock at <a href=”http://roosterwalk.com/” target=”_hplink”>Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival </a>over Memorial Day and you should too.
2.<a href=”http://yarnmusic.net/” target=”_hplink”> Yarn</a> — If you haven’t heard, Yarn has a new album out, “This is the Year,” and I think it’s the band’s best one yet. I had the god fortune to hear the new album performed live at RW 8 as well.
3. <a href=”http://www.frontcountryband.com/” target=”_hplink”>Front Country</a> — I discovered this California-based bluegrass group at the <a href=”https://ibma.org/” target=”_hplink”>International Bluegrass Music Association Festival </a>in Raleigh last fall and couldn’t stop listening. The band also has a new EP out called “Mixtape.”
4. <a href=”http://www.mergerecords.com/hiss-golden-messenger” target=”_hplink”>Hiss Golden Messenger </a>– I was blown away the first time I heard this Durham-based country rock ensemble perform at Bailey Park in downtown Winston-Salem as part of <a href=”http://phuzzphest.com/” target=”_hplink”>PhuzzPhest</a> 2015.
5. <a href=”http://www.thejudychops.com/” target=”_hplink”>The Judy Chops</a> — By far my husband’s favorite find at Red Wing Roots 2015, if we weren’t heading to Portland, Oregon, this weekend for a conference, we would be back at Red Wing if for no other reason than to hear this local group play its original mountain swing live again.