Back in 2010, local musician Ian Thornton had an idea to bring back those rocking Ritter Park Amphitheater days when folks could go see a handful of the best bands in the city for just a few dollars.
That vision of the Huntington Music and Arts Festival, now in its seventh year, continues to aim true with Thornton reeling in 23 of the best, young indie musical acts around the region up to the Amphitheater, and with an ever-growing holistic vision of shining a light on the area's burgeoning number of artisans, crafters, visual artists, filmmakers, and locally crafted food, brews and merch.
Expanded last year to include five days of events, HMAF 2016 is set to roll 10 diverse and eclectic events all over the city from Old Central City and The Wild Ramp to West Edge Factory, Pullman Square, Heritage Station, Ritter Park and some of the city's top music venues from the V Club to the cozy Jake's 21.
HMAF culminates on Saturday, Sept. 3 with a day-long event at the Ritter Park Amphitheater that will feature 12 hours of continuous music complimented by a new HMAF Bazaar that will feature up to 40 vendors with locally crafted food, arts, crafts and merch. There will also be a craft beer tent, a full day of KidsArt activities organized by the Huntington Museum of Art, and more.
Emcees West Virginia Public Radio's Joni Deutsch (host of "A Change of Tune" and assistant producer of "Mountain Stage") and local actor, comedian and music Eric Wilson will bring on the 13 bands - including eight bands new to HMAF - and the 10 acoustic acts doing short sets during the band change-overs.
Filmed by Brainwrap Productions, HMAF will feature headliners Tyler Childers and The Foodstamps along with the band Ona, two locally based units who've both notched up appearances on Mountain Stage this year, and are now traveling a wide regional circle that includes an August gig together in New York City.
Other bands include: The Carpenter Ants (soul-gospel rock and roll out of Charleston), Of The Dell (throwback original rock from Huntington), The Jenkins Twins (Americana out of Irvine, Ky.) Nick Dittmeier & the Sawdusters (blistering country rockers out of Louisville, Ky.), Knockin' Spirits (rowdy Americana string band out of Ironton), Beggars' Clan (Funk 'n' reggae rock out of Charleston), Low Seam (country rock unit of Southern WV all-stars out of Fayetteville), Matt Mullins (formerly of The Boat Men) and The Bringdowns (soulful indie rock out of Beckley), and The Settlement (funk 'n' dance rock out of Huntington), William Matheny & The Strange Constellations (sharply-penned indie rock out of Morgantown and Huntington), The Horse Traders (hand-crafted Americana/Country out of Huntington),
The acoustic acts are: My Brother The Bear (Cincinnati), David Copley (Huntington), Tim Lancaster (Huntington/Harpers Ferry), Jeremy Short (Morehead, Ky.), Corey Shields (Parkersburg), John Clay (Louisville), Jeremy Daniel Roberts (Huntington), Tim Browning (Barboursville), and the most well-known Todd Burge (out of Parkersburg). Burge has appeared on Mountain Stage enough that he has a "Live From Mountain Stage" CD, and is on tour this summer with Mountain Stage host Larry Groce and his wife Sandra, who have out a new recording.
Advance tickets will be $17, and are set to go on sale Aug. 1 at Black Sheep Burrito and Brews, at the V Club, as well as online at (www.hmafestival.com). Tickets will be $20 at the gate with the craft beer tent a separate ticket. The ticket gets folks into all of the HMAF events, except for the final three-course dinner above Black Sheep Burrito and Brews with the Travelin' Appalachians Revue of writers and musicians put together by Tyler Grady and Howard Parsons.
Thornton, who this past year started Whizzbang BAM Booking Artists Management (http://whizzbangbam.com/) said he's stoked to be able to finally announce the schedule of events for HMAF, which he hopes to permanently move to Labor Day weekend.
For Thornton it has been a wild summer as he's booking a handful of bands such as Ona, Tyler Childers, Of The Dell, and several more, as well as stepping in to oversee the West Virginia Flood Relief Concert at the V Club, which raised more than $13,000 for flood victims in the state, and which earned Thornton, the WSAZ Hometown Hero Award.
"There's been a lot of good curveballs thrown at me this summer, but curveballs all the same," said Thornton said. "It has been hard to manage. I always tell myself I am going to start earlier on this thing but as I get busier and busier with my own things it is on me before I know it. This year, we decided too, as if I wasn't doing enough already, 10 events in seven days."
Thornton, who started out seven years ago with 15 bands and just a handful of vendors, said his idea has been to grow HMAF a little each year with each year a better and more holistic reflection of the art of all stripes being hand-made around the city, as well as the places that support the arts year around.
"The thing I always strive to do is add a little bit at a time,"" Thornton said. "We try to add a couple things every year and eventually you get to year 10 and it will be a whole slew of stuff. Last year we grew it with the West Edge events on Tuesday and Wednesday and that was the first time we had went away from just Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Last year we went to five days. We figured we might as well go to seven. I was trying to think of things that would be more inclusive to help folks find something that speaks to them, so we were looking for some other avenues. We essentially kept all of the events from last year and added the Monday and Sunday. Also, one of the things about HMAF is trying to showcase all of the different awesome locations we do have that do cater to music, or that support the arts."
Here's a look at the week-long of Huntington Music and Arts Festival events and how you can get involved as either a volunteer or a vendor. Please send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include which event(s) you’d like to be a part of as well as a description of our booth and link to website and/or Facebook page. Your submission will be reviewed and answered on a first come first serve basis. Final date for submissions will be Friday, Aug. 5.
HMAF Appalachia: Takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29 in Old Central City (Antiques Capital of West Virginia). Set up behind The Wild Ramp, located at 555 14th St. West, HMAF Appalachia is a new event that will focus on the arts and crafts that make WV the special place that we call home.
"My idea is like a mini Vandalia," Thornton said. "We asking for vendors who share in the Appalachian traditions that are special to our area. This can be anything from woodworking to glass, and visual art to jewelry. Let’s showcase what makes our home special."
There will be about two dozen vendors with the vendors fee $25.
Setting the Mountain State vibe will be The Modock Rounders, a well-traveled West Virginia old-time unit made up of Jesse Pearson, Cody Jordan & Kim Johnson. They'll be playing tunes off of their just-released new CD, "Home Music."
HMAF Art on the Edge: Takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30 at West Edge Factory.
Back after a successful first year run, HMAF Art on the Edge is teaming up with Huntington Culture Storm (Zac White and fellow H-town artists), to put on an eclectic display of contemporary art at the funky and industrial brick and beam space of West Edge Factory (the old Corbin factory in Westmoreland).
Last year, there were more than 250 art works from 25 different artists. Thornton said he's stoked to again utilize the massive West Edge space where Huntington Culture Storm and HMAF teamed up for a successful Pop Visions exhibit back in June as well.
This year, however, we will be adding vending spots to the mix. This event is open to all craft artisans as well as visual and creative art forms. Cost is $25 and only 18 spots are available.
Thornton said he loves teaming up with West Edge, run by Coalfield Development, because of all the great things that Coalfield is doing in reinventing Appalachia.
"What Deacon (Stone), Brandon (Dennison) and Coalfield is doing is really amazing stuff on so many fronts like solar panel training," Thornton said. "One of their missions from the get go was to cater to the art and the arts. It has worked well to go hand in hand with them. They have 20,000 square feet in that front room, and it being a blank canvas let's us make it what we want to. It is so big and industrial and empty we can kind of do whatever we want with it."
Setting the vibe at Art on the Edge will be DJ Feminasty (Jess Hurst), who DJs regularly at The V Club, at 505 and other venues around the region.
HMAF Film Night: Set to run 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, will be a WV film night with HMAF working with ARTS at the ARTS Renaissance Center, 900 8th St. Thornton is still working with ARTS and Michael Murdock to put together a 72-film challenge. Those short films would be followed by a showcase of shorts by such area production teams as Brainwrap Productions (which has shot videos for such acts as Ona and Carpenter Ants) and then the area premiere of "West Virginia My Home. Musicians and the Mountain State Experience," which features interviews with many well loved West Virginians; Bill Withers, Little Jimmy Dickens, Brad Paisley, Charlie McCoy, George Crumb, and Billy Cox who talk about what it means to them to be from the Mountain State.
That film made its debut earlier this year at FestivALL Charleston. Thornton said details on that night are still being worked out.
HMAF Pre-Party at Heritage Station: Set to run 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1at the Shops @ Heritage Station. HMAF is returning to Heritage Station, 11th Street, where HMAF will be shutting 11th Street down from the alley to Veterans Memorial Boulvard letting vendors set up on the street.
That pre-party will have room for 15 vendors at $25.
The main act will be veteran WV singer/songwriter Jeff Ellis with his band 40 Days that features local guitar hero Bud Carroll. Ellis has just released his latest record, "Modern Life Blues."
HMAF Late-Night: Set to run 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 1 at Jake's, 1436 Fourth Ave., Huntington, will feature sets by two almost cult-classic WV club bands, B-Rude and The Dinosaur Burps, WV-slathered hip hop, and Deadbeats and Barkers, the killer genre-blurring trio of James Barker, Craig Burletic and Rod Elkins (who now all back Tyler Childers as The Food Stamps. Thornton said Deadbeats, which is now defunct, will be getting back together for a couple shows at Jake's and then in September for Kickin' It On the Creek near Kentucky's Red River Gorge.
"Primarily because of J.J. (Waters at Jake's) is why we are doing that one," Thornton said. "He's trying to bring music to more spaces in town. I figured we could use HMAF as a small vessel to publicize that and to let people know about them and that they are bringing in some good stuff."
HMAF Pre-Party at Pullman Square: Set to run 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, at Pullman Square. There will only be 10 vendor spots.
Another reoccurring event from last year, HMAF will be taking over Pullman Square for an evening! If you’re familiar with the Pullman Square Summer Concert Series, then you’ll have an idea of the setup. Open to any/all vendors.
Headlining will be the regionally traveling Cincinnati-based Americana string band, Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustle, along with Warm Daze of Winter, which is a new duo featuring J.D. Thomas, of Knockin' Spirits.
"I couldn't get the Wabs on the fest, they are playing down in the Gorge thatSaturday so this worked out," Thornton said.
HMAF Open Mic: Set to run after the Pullman Square event will be an HMAF Open Mic at The Lantern, 817 Fourth Ave., Huntington. There is no cover. Come out and throw darts, play pool, chill on one of the city's coolest hidden patios and hear some tunes from some of the bands and artists playing HMAF at one of the popular late-night watering holes for area musicians.
HMAF Bazaar: Set to run 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, during HMAF will be the Huntington Music & Arts Festival that will be set up with about 35 to 40 vendors in the Ritter Park Amphitheater parking lot.
This year, Thornton is clearing the upper parking lot for vendors only with a free Bazaar with food trucks to let area folks come check out the wares of an eclectic mix of area artists, artisans and crafters. Cost is $50 to vend at the bazaar.
"Each year we strive to grow HMAF to a bigger and better event, and this year is no different so we’ve decided to shut down the parking lot from cars and instead dedicate the entire space to vendors," Thornton said. "We look to turn the lot into the HMAF Bazaar and be an event unto itself, which will be completely free to the public and not just festival attendees. These spaces are open to pretty much any/all vendors. We’re very excited to grow and showcase all of the wonderful talents that our community and surrounding communities have."
Thornton said they will have more shuttles to get folks to the amphitheater for the event.
"I would like to think we have helped give people an avenue to showcase their talents," Thornton said. "I think there's a lot of people who have these talents and who make stuff for their own pleasure but when events like this or the Art Crawl or Culture Storm, it gives artists a place to sell stuff and to realize the demand. Ultimately it brings more people out of their cubbyholes and safe places and want to start showcasing. I think it is that snowball effect. You see someone doing it and you realize you can do it and it gives you that little push. The level of it has really been stepped up."
HMAF After Party: Set to run 11 to 2 or so Saturday, Sept. 3 (after the HMAF) will be a raucous after-party at The V Club, 741 6th Ave., with three WV rock acts including nationally traveling WV Eastern Panhandle-birthed indie rock unit, Rozwell Kid, who are heading to Australia after HMAF to tour. Also on the bill is three-piece Charleston indie punk unit Noise, and rarely heard but always loved, Huntington rock unit, Sweatband featuring Ona's Max Nolte on drums with Nate Rogers on guitar and vocals, Tim Jamison on guitar and Nick Adkins on bass.
"I didn't want the last three bands to be the same again so with Tyler and Ona, we decided to move Rozwell to the after party to give them more time and they are such a party band," Thornton said. "They are killing it right now and getting a ton of great tours. It will be a great way to end the night."
HMAF Travelin' Appalachians Revue: Set to run above Black Sheep Burrito and Brews, 1555 Third Ave., Huntington. Travelin' Appalachians Revue is a traveling tour of writers and musicians put together by Tyler Grady and Howard Parsons, out of Morgantown. They did a week-long tour leading up to FestivALL earlier this summer. Some highlights will be some Huntington area writers including Marie Manilla. Go online athttps://www.facebook.com/travelinappalachiansrevue/?fref=ts to read more about Travelin' Appalachian Revue.
Check back in the Herald-Dispatch for more info on HMAF, and go online atwww.hmafestival.com and www.facebook.com/hmafestival