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Huntington Music and Arts Festival Brings 21 bands, 25 artists to Ritter Park Saturday
Gates open at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, for the fourth annual Huntington Music and Arts Festival that will fill the amphitheater with a steady flow of live music from an eclectic mix of 21 indie musical artists and the sights of visual art of all stripes from 25 artists.
Toss in an interactive kids art area, the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame mobile museum, drink and food vendors, strolling magic, seven vendors (including Brand Yourself’s on-the-spot T-shirt making booth), and visual art tapestries that color-wrap everything from the fence and trees to the stage, and you have the new, art-covered Music and Arts Festival.
Tickets are $15 advance, at Black Sheep Burrito and Brews, the V Club and from any band performing. Tickets will be $20 day of the show. Kids under 12 get in free. And the HMAF ticket also gains the ticket-holder free entrance into HMAF indie concerts Thursday through Saturday in Huntington. (See the website for full listings of the pre-parties and after party concert).
Huntington Music and Arts Festival founder and organizer Ian Thornton, said the lineup reflects the diversity of the area scene featuring a wide swath of regional bands — veterans such as The Carpenter Ants and The Greens, along with such edgy, contemporary acts as the rock-rap collaboration of New River Gorge-grooved jam band, The Yetti performing with Charleston’s hip hop unit, The Dinosaur Burps called the Yetti Burps.
Detroit-based rockers, The Muggs will headline the fourth annual fest. Other bands on the HMAF include such indie rock units from around the region including: Morgantown’s Phantom Six, Shepherdstown’s Rozwell Kid, Charleston’s Farnsworth, Nashville’s The Dead Leaves, Ashland’s Gillum brother-built eclectic jazz unit, Gillumesh, Nashville’s Coyotes in Boxes, and top shelf Kentucky songwriter Tyler Childers.
There will also be a slew of acoustic acts between band sets including Bradley Jenkins, Jay Hill (who used to back Jesco White), horror-folk writer and ace guitarist Grim Charles, the old-time string band, Modock Rounders, Aaron Brown, Colten Settle, Sean Richardson, Emily Kinner and Abbie Kimball.
New this year, the festival will be giving back to the arts in the community.
Working with Latta’s and Route 60 Music, HMAF Give Back will give a $250 gift certificate to two local elementary schools for visual art and music programs.
"Through two different missions we are attempting do our part to help ensure that young children in the Huntington area continue to receive music and art education and to contribute to Communities In Schools, a national dropout prevention program, saidThornton.
“This year we started the “HMAF Give Back Program." Partnering with Latta’s & Route 60 Music we are donating a total of $500 to the Music/Art programs of two local elementary schools. Spring Hill Elementary will receive $250 in Art supplies while Altizer Elementary will receive $250 in Music supplies,” Thornton said.
"We also hope to grow these amounts for next year through a few different resources. 10 percent of all festival and band merchandise as well as 10 percent of all art sold at the fest will be donated to next year’s fund. We will also be going green and recycling all used cans, with bins provided by Adkins Recycling, with the raised funds also contributing to the new program. We hope to double our contribution for next year."
Thornton said they are also contributing 5 percent of gate proceeds to the Huntingtonchapter of Communities In Schools.
"They are a nationwide network of passionate professionals working in public schools to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life."
HMAF, which has full food and beer concessions, will fuel next year’s HMAF Give Back program by pouring back 10 percent of the visual art and merchandise sales, as well as the funds from the recycling from the event.
"Hopefully, next year we might be able to give back $800 or more," Thornton said. "I think that shows that we are here, and that we are not just here to make a dollar. We are made out of Huntington. It's pretty much Huntington coming together to make this event. It is through patrons that we are able to make it happen. It's all about showing some gratitude. I wish it could be even more, but it's baby steps. I have chosen to grow it slow. I'm not trying to cash in on a big ticket; I am just trying to grow something awesome and something for here."
Thornton, who plays in the indie rock unit AC30, said this year more than ever, there has been great community support as some 23 sponsors are now on board, and HMAF 2013 will include an even greater emphasis on visual art with art director Jimbo Valentine and friends bringing their art spin to the entire space from the trees and fences to the stage.
“We are bringing in 14 brand new acts so 14 of the 21 bands have never played the festival before,” Thornton said. “Also, getting Jimbo Valentine on board as the art director has helped solidify the art side of it because he is so in tune with the indie art shows ... we have over 25 visual artists and a whole array of everything from textiles and painting to prints, pottery and crafts. There’s really no specific genre so just like the music, it is a kaleidoscope of art and music this year.”
Thornton, a regionally traveling musician with AC30 and avid festival goer, said he wants to create a special place, a one-day creative and fun-filled getaway of music, art, friends and food, in the outdoors right here in the city.
“We’re really expanding the art around the festival so when you are walking into the gates you are in a new place,” Thornton said. “You are not just at Ritter Park to see bands but we’ll have big long tapestries wrapping trees, and on the stage and along the fences. We’re making that step forward this year to really make art happen. We want this to be an event in every sense of the word.”
New this year is an interactive area, the Little Artists of HMAF area, with nine different art stations from upcycling and cartoon lettering to bubbles and candy art. There will also a costume-filled photo booth (with costumes and accessories from Magic Makers) where folks can get their funky and fun pics taken then upload them through Instagram.
Another one of the new exhibits at HMAF this year will be a visit by the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame mobile museum. Donated by Little Jimmie Dickens, and 28-foot trailer features sounds of famous West Virginia including Bill Withers ("Some Kind of Wonderful"), Maceo Pinkard (the Harlem Globetrotters theme song "Sweet Georgia Brown") and Kanawha County native Kathy Mattea’s autographed album and gown worn to the White House.
"Hopefully, next year we might be able to give back $800 or more," Thornton said. "I think that shows that we are here, and that we are not just here to make a dollar. We are made out of Huntington. It's pretty much Huntington coming together to make this event. It is through patrons that we are able to make it happen. It's all about showing some gratitude. I wish it could be even more, but it's baby steps. I have chosen to grow it slow. I'm not trying to cash in on a big ticket, I am just trying to grow something awesome and something for here."