HMAF Week Schedule of Events
By: Dave Lavender of The Herald Dispatch
HUNTINGTON - Like a colorful, smile-inducing, people-powered Chinese dragon snaking its way through the city, the eighth annual Huntington Music and Arts Festival starts Monday, Aug. 28, at The Wild Ramp and doesn't stop spreading the joy of making art and music and sharing food and good times with friends until Sunday, Sept. 3, when it pulls into its final stop, Bahnhof WVrsthaus and Biergarten.
Here's a look at Huntington Music and Arts Festival's daily schedule as it moves around the city. Read The Herald-Dispatch daily for coverage of the events, and check out more information on how you can volunteer or vend at some of the events by going online at hmafestival.com and https://www.facebook.com/HMAFestival.
Started by Marshall graduate and local musician Ian Thornton as a one-day rock festival at Ritter Park Amphitheater to give folks of all ages a chance to hear locally based, regionally traveling indie music acts without having to go to a bar, HMAF has grown from a one-day event to a weeklong celebration of a rainbow of locally made art and music.
The regular festival that runs from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, costs $17 in advance and $20 at the gate, if not sold out. Admission is free for those 12 and under. The HMAF Bazaar outside of the main festival gates at Ritter Park Amphitheater is also free.
All other HMAF events are free and open to the public.
"Every year we try to outdo ourselves and grow the festival," said Thornton, whose Huntington-based Whizzbang BAM (Booking and Management) has helped launch two locally based, nationally touring acts: Tyler Childers and William Matheny. "There are a million different ways to express yourself artistically, and hopefully by the end of this I can tell myself that we covered as many as possible. Kind of the wonderful thing has been that as it has grown, there has been more and more involvement from the community and I have to depend on a lot of other folks. Early on, and this was not to be pretentious, but I just put a lot of weight on myself when I started it because my name was on it and I wanted it to be done correctly, but now it has grown to where I don't have the time and am not able to do a lot of it myself, so I am able to lean on some of Huntington's best to facilitate these events and grow it."
Monday, Aug. 28:
Think of it as a mini Vandalia Gathering, or Appalachian sampler, at The Wild Ramp, located at 555 14th St., West Huntington.
Thornton said they tried this evening last year and had a great time with local music flowing out back of the market, which is at the heart of the local artisans and food producers movement as it houses goods from 158 producers and artisans.
Taking place from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28, HMAF Appalachian will feature a variety of Appalachian vendors as well as some old-time music from legendary old-time banjoist Tim Bing, who is the reigning Old-Time Banjo champion for the Vandalia Gathering. That is the 15th time Bing has won that award.
As a member of the internationally acclaimed Bing Brothers, Tim Bing and his brother-built band have performed their hard-driving brand of string band music from Canada to Florida, from Spain to England, and from Australia to Ireland and Scotland.
Thornton said it's great to kick off the event in Huntington's history-rich Old Central City district that is now teeming with standby antique stores and restaurants, like Central City Cafe, and new businesses, like Folk Life and others.
"Old Central City is an amazing part of Huntington, so to have an event there in that part of town is necessary for HMAF," Thornton said. "Chasten (Toler, The Wild Ramp manager) is really great to work with, and The Wild Ramp is a great business. You might not immediately think of them when you think of local art or music, but they are really making an imprint on our community."
Tuesday, Aug. 29: HMAF
Art on the Edge
Art on the Edge takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Huntington Museum of Art, 2033 McCoy Road, Huntington, out back in the Gropius Studios.
Curated by HMAF art directors Jimbo Valentine, Chris Lusher and Zac White's Huntington Culture Storm, Art on the Edge will feature a range of contemporary artwork by artists from around the region.
There will be art on display as well as art for sale. While folks browse, enjoy the DJ stylings of Jess Hurst, DJ Feminasty.
While the Huntington Museum of Art has been bringing its KidsArt station to the regular HMAF for the past few years, Thornton said they are stoked to further that relationship by bringing Art on the Edge to the nationally acclaimed art gallery that sits on about 50 acres.
"They've been around for a long time, and the museum is a prestigious institution. They have a great facility, and it is just a great place to be," Thornton said. "It is an honor to get to team up with them in a deeper capacity. I think it adds a legitimacy to HMAF, and so I think it is a partnership that we would love to see keep going. We have the same goals, and that is to promote art and culture in Huntington."
Thornton said they chose Tuesday since the museum is open late (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and is free (thanks to a Macy's sponsorship). Art lovers should be sure to take time to wander the museum, which has four new exhibits up.
Wednesday, Aug. 30:
72-hour film screenings
Held upstairs at Black Sheep Burrito and Brews, 1555 3rd Ave. (across Hal Greer Boulevard from Smith Hall), the screening of these short, YouTube-length, locally made films begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
This is the second year for the contest. Filmmaking teams received a random prompt and were tasked with completing a seven-minute short video in 72 hours, due at noon Sunday, Aug. 27.
Festival-sponsored prizes will be distributed by special guest judge Walter Squire, the director of film studies at Marshall.
This year, 16 filmmaking teams are creating films this weekend.
Last year, a crowd of more than 100 came to the old Huntington High School to watch a night of film from 14 teams.
"The film challenge last year was way larger than any of us expected, and I think it is becoming one of the most solid events," Thornton said.
Wednesday, Aug. 30: Comedy
Held upstairs at Black Sheep Burrito and Brews, a night of local comedians will start after the film screening (about 8:30 p.m.).
Performing will be a crew of veteran locally based comics, some of whom perform regionally.
Local comics performing also include: Angie Davis, Nate Cesco, Alex Runyon, Ian Nolte, Nathan Thomas, Rebecca Fitzgerald, Christopher Shanklin, Cody Lambert and Emily Murray.
Topping off the night will be Third Man Records recording artist Billy Wayne Davis, who has opened for Sturgill Simpson's "Living the Dream" tour, appeared on NBC's "Last Comic Standing," "WTF with Marc Maron," hosted a Morgan Spurlock-produced feature-length documentary for CMT and was named a 2015 Fresh Face of Comedy by the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal.
This is Davis' second trip to Huntington, as he performed at the V Club last October.
"This may be the sleeper show for HMAF because if people aren't paying attention, what has happened here in how comedy has grown over the past three or so years is amazing," Thornton said. "You see it at the Black Sheep and now at other places in the city - a scene that they have cultivated, and have done so by taking it upon themselves to work and do it. I think it is going to be jam-packed, and it should be - it's a real nice lineup of performers."
Thursday, Aug. 31: pre-party
at Heritage Station
Located at the courtyard at Heritage Station, 210 11th St., downtown Huntington, a pre-party is planned from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday with a double shot of fresh, Huntington indie rock from The Dead Frets and Ducain.
"I love working with the park board, and what they have is the perfect setting for a show there with their Party on the Patios and all of their summer events. It is kind of fun to let HMAF take over for a night," Thornton said. "We will have some food and drinks and vendors, so it is a cool way to kick into more of the late-night stuff with this. It's outside, it's family friendly and it doesn't go too late if you need to get the young ones home."
Thursday, Aug. 31:
HMAF Late Night
Located at The Peddler, 835 3rd Ave., Huntington, HMAF Late Night will start at 10 p.m. Thursday, with a double shot of live rock from indie alternative rockers Cumberland and original pop rockers Basie.
Thornton said it is cool to be able to pop something into Drew Hetzer's burger and bar/arcade, The Peddler, which has just started to book music thanks to Peddler employee Brandon Mooney (formerly of The Horsetraders).
"Drew has been a part of the main festival for a few years now, and with Mooney booking there it is great to see other venues are out there cultivating the music scene," Thornton said.
Friday, Sept. 1: pre-party
at Pullman Square
Held at Pullman Square, normally known for its Thursday night concerts, the pre-party reels in one of the hottest acts out of Charleston, The Company Stores, as well as Lexington-area singer/songwriters Chelsea and Josh Nolan for a concert that runs 7 to 10 p.m. Friday.
Fronted by Casey Litz, The Company Stores' folk fusion and horn-punctuated hill hop have won over crowds from Mountain Stage and festivals such as Deep Roots Mountain Revival, Camp Barefoot and Blue Plum Festival, to venues all over the East Coast.
"The Company Stores are a really big pull in Charleston and have played everything from Live on the Levee to Mountain Stage, and they are a great band," Thornton said. "We hadn't involved them yet in HMAF, so this was a perfect time to do that. Opening is Josh Nolan, who is one of my favorite things about Lexington. He is a great singer/songwriter with a really heavy, like Bruce Springsteen vibe, and so I am hoping that we can kind of use HMAF to expose people to artists like him."
Friday, Sept. 1: Honky Tonk Heroes Open Mic at The Lantern
Cranking up at 10 p.m. (following the Pullman Square event), The Lantern, 817 4th Ave., will be hosting a Honky Tonk Heroes Open Mic session hosted by Bryan Minks and the Kentucky Sons.
A longtime supporter of HMAF, Dirk Harrison's downtown watering hole (with its hidden back patio) will be hosting a night of honky tonking open mic music hosted by the popular Facebook-organized music appreciation group, The Honky Tonk Heroes, a group founded by Andy Nickles, JJ Waters and Jeremy "Wood" Roberts several years ago.
Thornton said this is a great chance to shine a light on the heroes and on some of the songwriters he couldn't squeeze onto the Saturday festival bill.
"Unfortunately, I can't book everybody I like or every songwriter, so I wanted to offer something like this that is a fun way to be involved with HMAF," Thornton said. "This is the third year we've done the open mic, and it made sense for the Heroes to run it. JJ, Wood and Andy and those guys have been a nice part of the Huntington scene and WeBAM and HMAF, and it is the perfect event for them to take over and to host and keep it rolling."
Saturday, Sept. 2: Huntington Music and Arts Festival
Held at the Ritter Park Amphitheater, the main HMAF takes places from noon to 10 p.m. with a constant flow of 25 musical acts, with 13 full bands and short acoustic sets in between.
The HMAF lineup includes: Tyler Childers, William Matheny, Buffalo Wabs and The Price Hill Hustle, Qiet, Of The Dell, The Wooks, Wayne Graham, Short and Company, John R. Miller, Hello June, The Dividends, Chocolate 4-Wheeler, Tim Browning and the Widowmakers.
Acoustic sets are by Brad Goodall, Tim Lancaster, Justin Payne, Sean Whiting, Andrew Hibbard, Mike Wheeler, Senora May, Jacey Fuller, Tony Harrah Music, Holly and the Guy, Geno Seale and James Horan.
This is the only ticketed HMAF event, with tickets on sale for $17 in advance at hmafestival.com. Tickets will be $20 at the gate if the venue is not sold out.
Emceed by local actor and comedian Eric Wilson and Joni Deutsch, of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, HMAF features bands from all over West Virginia and Kentucky, including Lexington, Cincinnati and beyond.
"The big things this year are Tyler having his national release and headlining, and we are also bringing in some great acts like The Wooks and Wayne Graham from Lexington, which is going to be really cool," Thornton said. "We are bringing in some fresh faces and some repeat offenders.We have Qiet coming back for the first time in four or five years and Buffalo Wabs are coming back, and so I am really excited about the lineup."
In addition to the music, there will be a full array of food vendors. The Huntington Museum of Art will be back providing Kids Art Corner activities, and HMAF Bazaar is an arts and crafts village organized by Zac White and the Huntington Culture Storm. The artisan bazaar will be in the parking lot and will be free and open to the public.
"We try to keep it cheap and affordable, and all the events are free except for the festival itself," Thornton said. "We try to keep it family friendly, too, so we are not excluding anybody, so come out and have a good time and give it a chance."
Saturday, Sept. 2: After Party
Located at the region's most eclectic live music venue, The V Club, 741 6th Ave., the After Party kicks off at 10:30 p.m. and will be highlighted by a reunion set by the cult-classic Southern rock band Night Train. Led by well-known regionally traveling guitarist Dave "Chico" Prince, Night Train is an Appalachian-juiced, three-piece unit that toured England in 2003 and sings tongue-in-cheek about a slurry of mountain dangers, from snake handlers and moonshine to teenage brides.
Also on the bill is the alt-country rockers Flat Tracker and DJ supreme Charlie Brown Superstar who has played every HMAF After Party.
Sunday, Sept. 3: #WhyListen: First Listen Music Party
Hosted at the brand new, German-Appalachian gastropub Bahnhof WVrsthaus and Biergarten, 745 7th Ave., Huntington, the #WhyListen: First Listen Music Party takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Join West Virginia Public Broadcasting and NPR Generation Listen (and Huntington Music and Arts Festival 8) for the event that includes listening to new music from West Virginia and beyond and rate them with cards designed by Brand Yourself, taking home some music swag and getting to talk tunes with a panel that includes Mountain Stage Radio Show's Larry Groce, A Change of Tune's Joni Deutsch, Bud Carroll and Sar Rudy from the Morgantown band Hello June's Sar Rudy.
The event is free and open to the public (and all ages), but space is limited. RSVPs are requested on this Facebook event.
"Larry and Joni have been huge supporters of West Virginia music, and the #WhyListen parties are a great way to hear new music and to interact with them," Thornton said. "It's also great to bring the new Bahnhof into the mix, so this is the perfect way to send off HMAF. I know I will be dead tired by then, but it will be so good I won't care."