Thursday, September 30, 2010

Huntington Music & Arts Festival in the HD

Festival spotlights local music

American Minor reunites to headline the inaugural Huntington Music and Arts Festival starting at noon Saturday at the Ritter Park Amphitheater.
September 29, 2010 @ 07:00 PM


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON -- Remember those hazy hey-days when rock 'n' roll acts piled by the dozen into Ritter Park Amphitheater?

And when tickets weren't $69.75, and you could pop down a $10 bill to see more than a dozen acts?

Well, come back to the future friends on Saturday, Oct. 2, as the hills hugging the Ritter Park Amphitheater are alive with the eclectic sounds of live music for the first Huntington Music and Arts Festival.

Gates open at noon. Music starts shortly after 1 p.m.

Tickets are $10 advance or $12 at the gate. Kids 10 and under get in free.

The event is alcohol-free. Wristbands are being sold for re-entry during the nearly eight-hour-long festival.

Advance tickets are on sale at Shamrock's Pub, 2050 3rd Ave., or at Happy Camper, 1323 4th Ave., Huntington.

Put together by local musician Ian Thornton, who has booked the music for two years at his brother Shane's Shamrock's Pub across from Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards Stadium, the fest is stuffed with 15 regional bands of all flavors taking to the stage.

Not to miss is a one-night-only reunion of the seminal Southern rock act American Minor, the Bud Carroll-guitar-greased band that was signed to Jive Records (label home to Britney Spears and R. Kelly) and spent a summer playing Bonnaroo as well as opening dates for Tom Petty and The Allman Brothers, before breaking up.

Acoustic acts such as Sasha Colette, Adam Bieniek, Jess Graham and Alex Altizer are tucked between such acts as the Gypsy-jazzed street band, Qiet, regionally-traveling jam-band, Fletcher's Grove, rowdy Eastern Panhandle-based national rockers, The Demon Beat, New Songs Recordings artist Jeff Ellis and Minor, which hasn't been seen out live for nearly five years.

Thornton, who played bass in the pop-rock unit The Love Coats and several other local bands, said the festival idea was birthed because he and others in the scene, felt like more people need to see the high-quality and diverse music being made in Huntington.

While national and regional music stream constantly into Shamrock's and the V Club, Thornton said in a college town many bands don't go on until 11:30 p.m. or midnight.

"We really thought about it and it is so limited to see a good club show," Thornton said. "To see a headliner it might be 1:30 a.m., and there are just so many good bands. It's a bummer to see such good bands playing to a light crowd so we thought maybe it's time to tap into other audiences. There's a lot of music lovers out there whether they are high school kids or families."

Not unlike a Thursday night Pullman Square, this festival atmosphere will be primed with food vendors, including the main vendor, Buddy's All American Bar-B-Que, as well as Happy Camper, The Phone Store, and eight to 10 local visual artists showing off their works.

The fest will have a merchandise booth set up for all the bands, where local fans can get the sometimes hard to find CDs.

Rob Roy, of Family Conspiracy, the Beck-ish rocked-up hip-hop unit that has played at Shamrock's for the past two years, will be shooting a DVD of the festival.

Unlike the Pullman Square concert series, which is often booked with older-skewing acts, this fest is filled entirely with college-age kids in some of West Virginia's best live acts that range from Americana and pure folk to rock 'n' roll of all stripes.

"All of the acts are from West Virginia or the area, and it's not just rock but folk and country and experimental, there really is no style borders," Thornton said. "It's really a chance for people to come out and see what amazing bands our state has to offer."

Thornton said the scene has really gotten deeper and wider with younger bands in the past few years.

"Huntington's always really been such a heavy town, and when the Lovecoats were playing we were one of the only bands playing pop indie rock and so we didn't play with hardly anybody, we learned a three-hour set and would bring Richie Tipton on," Thornton said. "For the past few years being on the other side of it, there is just a lot of stuff springing up and most of them are Marshall kids, and there's just a growing trend of diverse music here in Huntington and it's like crazy, cool stuff like Bad Employee's and Andy (Rivas) and John (McComas) using guitar and turntables and a projector. I think in that aspect Huntington has grown incredibly. I can match bands up when I get out of town bands. There's a lot of different stuff to grab from so it's a lot easier to get shows when there's diversity in town."

Local guitar hero Bud Carroll, who had moved American Minor's home-base to Champaign, Ill., agrees.

Carroll, who'd been playing in clubs around here since he was 15, has been back for the past five years fully submerged in the scene playing guitar with dozens of bands, producing and recording in his Huntington studio, and honing his Southern Souls unit up to razor-sharp national level where they've played Mountain Stage and started to travel all over the region.

"I'm finding out about new stuff all the time, and having a studio people are reaching out to me that I would have never heard of otherwise," Carroll said. " We're playing a lot on Fridays and Saturdays and so I might not be able to see everything happening but I think the scene is really good, especially some of the standouts like Sasha (Colette) and Jeff (Ellis), and not I'm not just saying that, even if I wasn't doing anything with them I would still be out checking them out."

Add to that list some of his favorites like Pillow Talk (former members of Ladybird), the Librarians out of Morgantown, the Reptals, out of Huntington, Fletcher's Grove (out of Huntington and Morgantown) and Carroll said he thinks the scene is getting really strong like it was back in 2000-2001 when Calamity Cafe was fired up and Complete Strangers were prowling and Bobaflex was breaking.

Carroll said seeing so much energy for creating original songs has kept him fueled.

"Anytime somebody is playing I like to go out and check out what they are doing," Carroll said. "It's important for me to know just for myself and for remaining creative to go out and see what somebody else is doing. That gives you a whole new perspective on what you are doing and it helps you get really excited about what you are doing when you see somebody else and so many other great bands."

Carroll, who just played the Loud and Local stage at X-Fest, said the Huntington Music and Arts Festival seemed like the perfect time to do a reunion of American Minor, a band that started up playing places like Calamity Cafe, before honing its game to national tours that hit mega festivals like Sturgis (the world's largest biker rodeo), and playing with bands such as the Drive-By Truckers.

"When Ian decided to put this on we talked about a headliner and a couple of the guys are still local so we talked about it and we didn't want to veer away from the West Virginia thing so we thought it was the perfect opportunity," Carroll said to get the band back together. "Before American Minor we were all playing a lot of all-ages rock and punk shows, so this kind of show made a lot of sense."

Carroll, the bass player, Dwight Young, "Bruno," one of the head chefs at Huntington Prime, and Josh Knox, the drummer, have been working up the songs while Minor's other members, Josh Gragg, the other guitarist, and vocalist Rob McCutcheon are coming in from Pittsburgh and New York to play the show.

"You forget how special those times were and not that it was anything pivotal in the great scheme of things, but in our lives, it was pivotal and you realize how much it meant," Carroll said. "Within the span of the time we were together, we were together constantly and went through the best of times and the worst of times, and that comes through in the music. There's a tightness that is ingrained. I hadn't played anything for about half a decade and it comes right back because we played so many shows and practiced so much. My mind hasn't even calculated it yet and my hand just goes to the right place."

Carroll said for the fest they only wish that could have put even more bands on the bill, but hopes that the all-ages fest will inspire the next generation of musicians who may be seeing some of these bands for the first time.

"We've always had places like Common Grounds and Night Owls for people to get their starts and we truly need that," Carroll said. "Hopefully this is another link in that chain of tradition. This is something that 10 years from now, maybe some younger kids who are there will be doing something similar and maybe they'll see some bands that inspired them to go on and do something."

If you go: Huntington Music and Arts Festival
WHAT: The first Huntington Music and Arts Festival

WHERE: Ritter Park Amphitheater, located in the hills of Ritter Park above the tennis courts.

WHEN: Gates open at noon and music starts shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2

HOW MUCH: $10 advance at Shamrock's Pub, 2050 3rd Ave., and Happy Camper, 1323 4th Ave., Huntington. Tickets are $12 day of show. Free for children ages 10 and under.

ON THE WEB: Go online at to listen to the bands playing the festival.

THE SCHEDULE: 1:10 p.m. Deadbeats and Barkers; 1:50 p.m. Family Conspiracy; *Alex Altizer; 2:30 p.m. Sly Roosevelt; *Adam Bieniek; 3:10 p.m. Universes; *Jess Graham; 3:50 p.m. Pillow Talk; *Richie Tipton; 4:30 p.m. Qiet; *Sasha Colette; 5:10 p.m. Fletcher's Grove; 5:50 p.m. The Demon Beat; 5:45 p.m. Jeff Ellis; 7:45 p.m. American Minor. *Acoustic in between sets.

WHAT ELSE: A variety of local art booths as well as soda and food vendors including: Buddy's All-American Bar-B-Que

THE AFTER PARTY: Shamrock's Pub, 2050 3rd Ave., is hosting the official after-party with Bud Carroll and the Southern Souls, Sasha Colette & the Magnolias, and Attack Flamingo.

LOCAL FEST ON DECK: Local jam-band Genuine Junk Band is hosting its fourth annual Junk Jam Fest in Cannonsburg, Ky., on Nov. 5-6. Acts include: Genuine Junk Band, Mark Smith, Tyler Kesling, Aaron Lewis, Sasha Colette, Deadbeats and Barkers, Eazy, Zack Kouns, The Judy Chops, The Neverly Brothers and The G-TONES. Go online at for more info.