If ever there was an appetite for an outdoor music festival in the region, the time is surely now, and you could feel that in the thick, muggy air all day and night this past Saturday at the Hot August Music Festival held at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Maryland.
Featuring a head-turning lineup of musicians performing throughout the day and into the evening, the event drew several thousand people who filled the Baltimore County-operated park and many of whom took a seat or popped up a shade shelter on the main hill that was once used for skiing.
World-class musicians took turns on stage creating a wide range of sounds as families and groups of friends mingled among the variety of vendors and food trucks lining the interior of the park, and eventually the crowds at the two stages stretched deep, back toward the wood line.
Stealing the show in the afternoon on Aug. 28, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram more than impressed a large crowd gathered at the main stage, positioned perfectly at the base of the retired ski slope. The Mississippi-born Ingram showed off the mind-boggling, deeply gripping blues style embodied by only the very best who’ve come before him and inspired him, such as B.B. King and even Jimi Hendrix. He even came out into the crowd and was surrounded by fans, even groped, as he tore notes out of his well-worn red Fender Telecaster.
Watch fan footage of Kingfish performing at the Hot August Music Festival on YouTube:
Other acts in the afternoon drawing solid crowds included Ally Venable, another blues guitarist who is making a name for herself, and local Tom Petty cover band, Petty Coat Junction.
The evening hours gave way to another wave of nationally recognized musicians, as Dumpstaphunk performed on the main stage. Featuring members of the famous Neville family and a host of other talented performers, Dumpstaphunk’s set saw the main stage crowd swell to what felt like capacity, and that congregation stayed put as local favorite Cris Jacobs (Cris Jacobs Band, Smooth Kentucky, The Bridge) made an appearance on stage to help deliver a couple of high-energy tunes, including a cover of “Baby Don’t You Do It,” originally written by Marvin Gaye.
Watch fan footage of Dumpstaphunk performing at the Hot August Music Festival with local musician Cris Jacobs on YouTube:
Another one of the event’s most rewarding visits, Austin-based Shakey Graves delivered a hauntingly beautiful hour and a half of music as the sun went down. Performing stark, emotional versions of his now-classics like “Roll The Bones,” “Bully’s Lament” and “Word of Mouth,” Alejandro Rose-Garcia almost seemed to shrug off the gravity of his own melodies and lyrics as the audience was more enthralled throughout the set.
This was demonstrated by a man whom, apparently long under the influence of alcohol, convinced the Americana star to trade his cowboy hat for a pair of noise-canceling headphones being worn by his newborn baby—“his first concert EVER!” the man blurted until he got exactly what he wanted.
“Doesn’t he need these???” Alejandro cracked as he donned the headphones and preceded to played the remainder of the set wearing them.
About that time, at the stage on the opposite side of the park, Andy Frasco & The UN were celebrating a recent album deal by serving their spellbindingly entertaining mix of antics and music to a wild, downright squirrelly crowd.
Guzzling Irish whisky from the bottle, simultaneously keeping a responsibly cautious eye on a toddler dancing on the corner of the stage, Frasco proved himself to be not only diverse as the ombudsman of a dynamic band, but also — behind all the cuss words and booze bubbles—endearing and warm hearted.
His talented band rattled through originals and covers to ignite the audience, later in the set inviting Alex “Gator Beats” Petropulos from Baltimore’s beloved Pigeons Playing Ping Pong for another one of the day’s noteworthy guest appearance.
Closing out the night, Greensky Bluegrass, showed why and how they’ve become a staple on the bluegrass scene —a potent, refined machine that gives its own touch to classic bluegrass sounds through improvisation and building out fastidious, epic jams that take listeners on full-blown conquests of traditional sounds.
Led by mandolist Paul Hoffman, the band formed in Kalamazoo, Michigan, blasted a nearly two-hour-long set to a packed crowd and sent their sounds, as well as their light show, up the hill and into the Baltimore County night air as devotees of the group screamed for more.
Reimagined versions of John Hartford’s “Steam Powered Aereo Plane” and Pink Floyd’s “Time>Breathe Reprise,” along with an assortment of fresh originals, including “Windshield,” made this set one of the most enjoyed of the night — especially for anyone who’d been there from start to finish to take in a smorgasbord of live music gifted to the area at a time some might argue its absolutely crucial for both fans and artists alike.
Here are photos of various musicians performing at the Hot August Music Festival on Aug. 28, 2021. All images are copyright and courtesy of Casey Vock.
Andy Frasco & The UN
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
Ally Venable Band