HUNTINGTON — Like a colorful, smile-inducing, people-powered Chinese dragon snaking its way through the city, the ninth annual Huntington Music and Arts Festival is on its way.
Starting Monday, Aug. 27, at The Wild Ramp, it doesn't stop spreading the joy of making art, comedy, film and music with friends until Sunday, Sept. 2, when it pulls into its final stop, a Ritter Park picnic.
HMAF was started by Marshall graduate and local musician Ian Thornton, founder of Whizzbang BAM Booking and Management, 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. But like a fun-sized, hyper-regional SXSW Fest, HMAF has grown from a one-day event to a weeklong celebration packed with locally made art, film, comedy and music.
The regular festival runs from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 and 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. HMAF will feature 25 diverse musical acts from Huntington and regional cities such as Charleston, Lexington, Louisville, Nashville, Cincinnati and beyond.
All other HMAF events are free and open to the public.
Thornton, who talked by phone while at Lollapalooza a couple weeks ago, said that they are trying to add new things every year to include more people in the region's creative community. New this year is a sock hop/roller skating party with live original music as well as a Sunday family cookout to benefit Branches Domestic Violence Shelter.
"Something we have strived to be from the beginning is a very inclusive festival," Thornton said. "We started out to support original music during a daytime event. Every year we have tried to grow a little bit and add new events. It's primarily music events but we want to showcase events like Art on the Edge and the comedy and film festival. Each year we try to do a little more to make it a micro SXSW." Thornton said HMAF couldn't happen without a number of groups such as the Honky Tonk Heroes, Zac White and Huntington Culture Storm, the Localization movement, as well as fellow organizers such as Keebie Gilkerson and Alexis Faye.
"With groups like Honky Tonk Heroes and Huntington's comics and the art and filmmaker's scene, I think the community itself is growing and becoming more supporting of itself and that has come about in the past five or six years," Thornton said. "That first couple of years I was trying to retain as much control as possible but we had to grow with the demand. You see people like Zac White doing his Heck Yeah Fest and his Culture Storm shows and that's nice to see. Sometimes people just need the means to express themselves and run with it."
Here's a closer look at the daily schedule for the ninth annual Huntington Music and Arts Festival:
Monday, Aug. 27:
Think of it as a mini Vandalia Gathering, or Appalachian sampler, at The Wild Ramp, located at 555 14th St., West Huntington.
This is the third year for HMAF Appalachia and it's quickly proven to be at the heart of the local artisans and food producers movement as it houses goods from about 160 local food producers and artisans. Taking place from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27, HMAF Appalachia, old-time dance from 6 to 8 p.m. by HOT DAM (Huntington Old Time Dance and Music.) A new group that has formed to spread the love of old-time dance and music. Tunes will be by Stony Point String Band of Huntington with Caller Abby Huggins.
Also performing will be Huntington-based multi-instrumentalist Tim Lancaster, who has just released his new Max Nolte engineered album, "Stones, Rivers & Trains." The history-laced old-time album is now up and available for streaming and purchase on iTunes, Apple Music, & Spotify. Go online at https://www.facebook.com/timlancastersongs/ to find out more about Lancaster. More info about the dance found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/444709222696211/
HMAF Art on the Edge
Takes place at the Huntington Museum of Art, 2033 McCoy Road, Huntington, from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28. Park on the side, as the event is behind the museum in the Walter Gropius Studio Buildings. An area is available where visitors can help make art to be displayed at the main festival to take place in Ritter Park's Amphitheater.
"We are going to have these boards to let the public paint on. Then, we'll be painting HMAF on them. Those will be hung up on the way up the hill to the amphitheater so that people coming to the concert will see the things they helped create," said one of the Art on the Edge coordinators Zac White. "That's a really good way to get people involved in both events and to make them feel like they are a bigger part of what we are doing." Music being spun by one of Huntington's top DJs, Jess Hurst (DJ Feminasty). Check out some of Feminasty's work including a new tune, "Holler," at https://www.facebook.com/FEMINASTY/
Tuesday, Aug. 28:
HMAF Sock Hop
Head over to Roll-A-Rama, 137 7th Ave., for HMAF's first sock hop that runs from 9 p.m. to midnight. There's a $5 cover for this event which includes skate rental. Coolers are welcome. Music will be by the one-and-only cult sensation, Laid Back Country Picker.
Tucked in between gigs at the Supermoon Festival and the infamous Easyrider Rodeo, LBCP rolls into the rink in his Magoffin County Cadillac ready to testify to the Kentucky-fried goodness. Take your listen to his new 9-song album.
Find out more about LBCP, who played the Ryman Auditorium earlier this year (thanks to fellow Lawrence County Kentuckian, Tyler Childers), at https://www.facebook.com/laidbackcountrypicker/
Wednesday, Aug. 29:
72-Hour Film Challenge
A mind-blowing and diverse night of local DIY film at Fourth Avenue Arts (formerly the Camelot Theater) 1030 Fourth Ave., Huntington. The 72-Hour Film Challenge runs from 6 to 8 p.m. Organized by Marshall University film professor Ian Nolte, this is the third annual film challenge. Nolte along with Josh McComas will be hosting the event as the screening will be judged by special guest Walter Squire, director of Film Studies at Marshall University.
A record number of 23 teams have signed up to make films, Nolte said. On Thursday, Aug. 23, every registered team got a random two-word prompt consisting of a verb and a noun. Their challenge is to make a five minute short film in any genre that someway relates to those words. The film must be turned in on Sunday, Aug. 26.
Some of the teams signed up include Nate Cesco and Coseri (known for such works as "The River Dolphin,"), Michael Valentine and Brainwrap (who made the recent Cledus T. Judd music video, a top 10 CMT video), David Smith (a multiple winner in years past), and Jon Izzo and Hot Fusion, whose short won the "weirdest film," at this year's FestivALL film sprint.
Wednesday, Aug. 29:
There's live comedy every Wednesday night in Huntington thanks to the Huntington Comedy Night. While Huntington's stable of fresh comics can normally be found at Black Sheep Burritos and Brew or The Press Club, for HMAF they roll over to Fourth Avenue Arts (formerly the Camelot Theater) 1030 Fourth Ave., Huntington, to put a night-cap onto the film challenge which runs 6 to 8 p.m. in that same space.
HMAF Comedy Night runs 9 to 11 p.m. and features On Tour Records recording artist, Brent Terhune.
Local comedians on the bill include some of H-town's most fresh and veteran comics, Ian Nolte, Alex Runyon, Nathan Thomas, Cody Lambert, Adam Culver, Seth Taylor, Ryan Clagg, Emily Murray, Nick Griffith, Angie Davis and Charleston comic, Andy Frampton.
It is a free show but donations welcome to help support local comedians. This is the second year for comedy at HMAF.
Nolte said folks will love this year's headliner, Indianapolis, Indiana-based comedian, Brent Terhune.
"He's one of the hardest working comics in the midwest and is constantly booked at comedy clubs all over the country," said Nolte, who helped organize the show. "He's a regular guest on the Bob and Tom show, which is one of the nation's largest comedy radio shows. He is headlining for a week at Go Bananas (one of the nation's best stand up clubs) in Cincinnati right before heading to town for HMAF."
Thursday, Aug. 30:
Pre-Party at Pullman Square
Thursday night free Pullman Square Summer Concert Series banks toward the blue-collar blues as regionally-traveling singer/songwriters Tony Harrah and Sean Whiting roll in with their bands from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30.
Charleston-area-based Harrah and his band The Fly-Over States, featuring ace guitarist and steel player, Travis Egnor, fire up Harrah's reservoir of blues-tinged, Americana tunes. In 2017, Harrah toured nearly a dozen states on a tour with fellow bluesmen Chris Sutton and Charlie Barath. Whiting, a former coal truck driver out of Johnson County, Ky., cooks up that Chris Stapleton-esque recipe of country, soul and blues with a hot and ready band, The Handsome Bastards.
Thursday, Aug 30:
HMAF We Care, Ewe Care
After the Pullman Square concert, head over to the new Black Sheep Burritos and Brew, 279 9th St. for the after-party. Called "HMAF We Care, Ewe Care" the concert runs 10 p.m. to midnight with opener: Of The Dell, Cody and Corey Hatton's magnificent retro-rock machine, and headliner, Beckley's jam unit, The Kind Thieves that blends up tasty jams with traditional string band instruments such as banjo and fiddle relished with keys and horns. Go online at https://www.facebook.com/OfTheDellBand/?ref=br_rs and https://www.facebook.com/kindthievesofficial/ to hear the two bands. Note that donations are being taken to help local teachers with school supplies.
Friday, Aug. 31: HMAF
Pre-Party at Heritage Station
One of the hotspots for Huntington outdoor music, is Party on the Patio at the historic Heritage Station (210 11th Street). This is a special Kentucky invasion HMAF edition. Head over to the bricks of this historic former train station to hear some sweet jams from Joslyn & The Sweet Compression, the Lexington, Ky.-based soul rockers who just put a hurting on the stage at Rails and Ales. Also on the bill is Louisville's hip acoustic pop unit, Bridge 19. Finalists for folk artists of the year on the Louisville, scene, Bridge 19 features the well-crafted songwriting and sweet harmonies of Amanda Lucas & Audrey Cecil with a backing band with unique instrumentation of accordion, drums and upright bass.
Saturday, Sept. 1:
Hosted by The V Club, 741 6th Ave., the always epic HMAF after party is hosted by DJ Charlie Brown Superstar, who has played all nine year's of the HMAF after party. Kicking off at 10 p.m., the evening features a real eclectic evening with Cincinnati's jug band, the Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle. The heavy fuel of Huntington rockers, Scroungehound, the Gabe Smith-led group that brings hard hitting sounds along with some horn power, will also be heard. Just popped onto that bill is Huntington hip hop artist Shelem, who just released the first video and single "Fuego," off of his upcoming CD, "The Jaunts."
There is free entry into the after-party with an HMAF ticket.
Sunday, Sept. 2: HMAF
The seven days of HMAF events close out with a laid-back HMAF Family Cookout at Ritter Park that will run from 3 to 7 p.m. with a trio of eclectic bands from Huntington. The well-polished Friendly Fire, a pop/rock band composed by Hank Berlin, James 'JC' Harless, Alex McCoy, and Colten Settle, have released a copy of singles this summer, "Vibe Killerz," and "Stand By You."
Big Rock and the Candyass Mountain Boys is a veteran string band from Huntington blending horn-blown blues, old-time, and funky folk.
The picnic is free but donations are being accepted for Branches Domestic Violence Shelter, a Huntington nonprofit that has been providing shelter, counseling, legal assistance and more to domestic violence victims since 1980.
"We're adding in organizations like Branches to try to further help the community as much as we can," Thornton said. "We put all the events together for the community and almost all of it is free.We're trying to expose folks and get them to support local and regional bands as well as support locations that typically support live music like Party on the Patio and Pullman Square Summer Concert Series. We're doing our best to show the emerging art and culture scene that we have and I think Huntington is a leader in that."
Check back in the Herald-Dispatch for more info on HMAF, and go online atwww.hmafestival.com and www.facebook.com/hmafestival