Music Park: Sleepy Creek HarFest @ Sleepy Creek [Berkeley Springs, WV] — 10/5-10/7/18

Sleepy Creek Harfest

(Empire Strikes Brass and Danny Moore in a red mask lead a parade at Sleepy Creek HarFest 2018 on Oct. 5, 2018. Photos by Chester Simpson; Words by Michael Tucker)

When I look back at every festival I attend, there is a definitive moment where everything clicks, and I have an epiphany of sorts wherein I come to understand what that festival means to me.

My definitive moment at this year’s Harfest came late Saturday night during West King String Band’s excellent late-night bonfire jam. This three-piece bluegrass (among other genre dabbles) launched into a sublimely sideways cover of the Joe Walsh classic, “Life’s Been Good to Me So Far” as I looked up at all the happy people around me as the pleasant (and rain-free!) fall night wrapped itself around us. The orange radiance of the campfire tickled us like hot swirls in freshly made iced tea, and, for me, it all came together like a patchwork quilt.

How lucky are we to have a place full of people like this in our lives? How blessed are we to have live music like this in our lives? As I looked around smiling like a Cheshire cat at all the beauty surrounding me, I thought about how very blessed I am to play a small role at Sleepy Creek Presents’ festivals: you see, I’m a member of the hospitality crew. We feed the bands and staff and provide a comfortable VIP area for relaxation, conversation, and practice. I like to think of the job as happiness facilitation. While I’ve written several festival reviews from the perspective of a music lover, I’ve never written one from the unique vantage point of the guy who helps fuel the party. So, ready or not, here I go.

Right here along our beloved Potomac River, Sleepy Creek Presents throws some of the best events anywhere with line-ups built around bluegrass and Americana and a nice crowd of attendees comprised of all sorts of folks in a family-friendly environment. With straight- from-the heart- curator Danny Moore at the helm, the continual excellence at each and every Sleepy Creek event is the result of a team effort. It’s an honor for me to work side by side with my way- more- than -wonderful better half Tara and the glowing Sandee Taylor to help provide nourishment and comfort to the hard-working musicians who so often forego the comfort of their own homes and home-cooked meals to provide joy and entertainment to music fans. It’s also an honor to serve the hard-working crew who forego the same comforts (usually without all the applause).

In the true spirit of teamwork, it takes a village to provide the vittles we serve at Sleepy Creek. Our tradition is that we invite each staff person to contribute a dish, and we serve it up potluck style (along with some other food provided by the event): the result is a family reunion style, crockpot buffet that has that comfortable, down-home feel that fits Sleepy Creek like an old pair of Levi’s. While we miss out on watching some of the bands perform as we orchestrate the meals, fill riders, chill beer, and perform other tasks, we still hear the music backstage and wouldn’t trade the honor of lending a hand for anything.

Friday’s hospitality potluck included shredded chicken sandwiches two-ways, vegan chickpea coconut curry, and lots more. The musical menu was just as diverse featuring Uncle Jake & the 10 Wheel Gang, Muskrat Lightning, The Plate Scrapers, The Kind Thieves, Brokedown Hustlers, Strung Like a Horse, and Shelf Life String Band. Joking around with the very cool guys in Muskrat Lightning before and after their excellent set of rock-n-roll was a lot of fun. Don’t miss these rockin’ guys from Ocean City, MD. Another highlight was returning champions Strung Like a Horse’s revved up, super-fun set of roots music with punk-rock panache. In a surreal moment after Strung Like a Horse’s set (which included a Flaming Lips and a Pixies cover along with some new material), I relished watching a video on one of the band member’s phone of them covering the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s classic “Give It Away” after eating a very red hot chili pepper and struggling to keep it down. Tara and I enjoyed ourselves immensely even as we worked hard to provide more than just “Bread, Water, and Wine” for the bands and crew all day and evening.

Saturday’s crockpot buffet featured carnitas, sausage gravy, barbecue tofu, ham and bean soup and lots more yumminess. The musical tastiness included Mateo Monk, Kick & Banjo (featuring Pappy from Cabinet), Empire Strikes Brass, South Hill Banks, Pap & Po 9with JP & Pappy from Cabinet), Larry Keel Experience, an Incredible All-Star Jam, and West King String Band. “Wow!” is all I can say. Tara and I had so much fun taking care of these incredible musicians. I’m always blown away at how humble and appreciative these world-class talents are. From the friendly kindness of Cabinet’s very dapper and humble Pappy to the genuine gratitude of Empire Strikes Brass’ warm and generous Debrissa McKinney’s for our very own barbecue tofu, Tara and I were glowing with all the love and gratitude we received. In a very special moment, Tara and I were blessed with a hug and sincere thank you from Larry Keel after he brought the house down with his awesome talent (and a high-five from his manager to boot!) All in all, Saturday was spectacular.

I hope to see you in the spring for the next great event at Sleepy Creek. Please come join one of the best festival families anywhere right here on the banks of the Potomac. Life’s been good to us here!

Find more info at www.sleepycreekpresents.com.

OFFICIAL LINEUP
Larry Keel Experience
Pap & Po (feat. JP & Pappy from Cabinet)
Larry Keel & the Pappy Hour (All Star Jam w/Larry Keel & Pappy)
Kick & Banjo (feat. Pappy w/Nugget formerly of Hackensaw Boys)
Strung Like A Horse
Brokedown Hustlers
Empire Strikes Brass
South Hill Banks
The Kind Thieves
The Plate Scrapers
West King String Band
Uncle Jake & the 18 Wheel Gang
Shelf Life String Band
Muskrat Lightning
Mudcracker
Bats Dynamic String Band
Mateo Monk
Sleepy Creek Family Jam

Strung Like A Horse

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

Brokedown Hustlers with Javen, age 9, sitting in

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

Brokedown Hustlers with Danny Moore’s father dancing on stage

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

The Kind Thieves

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

The Plate Scrapers

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

Late night bonfire

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

Strung Like a Horse

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

Empire Strikes Bass

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

Pap and Po (featuring JP and Pappy from Cabinet) with Jared Pool sitting in

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

Larry Keel Experience

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

Larry Keel and the Pappy Hour (an all-star jam with Larry Keel and Pappy)

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

Revelers at night

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

Group photo after the HarFest Parade

Sleepy Creek Harfest

Sleepy Creek Harfest -10.5.18

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