Yonder Mountain String Band puts their name in front of the annual Harvest Festival on Mulberry Mountain, which means YMSB gets to play as often and as long as the band wants to, one suspects (with sets from 12:30-2:30 a.m. today, and from 7:30-9:50 p.m. Friday and 9:45 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Saturday).
Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien, two of the most prominent singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists in bluegrass and country music, will perform today as part of their tour to promote a Sept. 17 release, Memories & Moments, their first studio recording together since their 2000 recording Real Time. (Scott and O’Brien also released the live album We’re Usually a Lot Better Than This a year ago, featuring recordings from performances in 2005 and 2006).
The new album contains five songs by each artist, plus versions of classics by Hank Williams and George Jones, plus a cover of John Prine’s “Paradise,” about the dismantling of a Kentucky coal town of that name. Prine did a guest appearance on the song on vocal and guitar.
“That was a great honor, having John play with us,” O’Brien says. “We felt like we had won the lottery. John is like a national treasure. He told us about how when he wrote that song about how the Peabody Coal Co. had hauled away all the coal, the people in the town were mad at him for writing that song. But now thatall the coal is gone, they love the song.”
O’Brien and Scott collaborated on “Keep Your Dirty Lights On,” a song on their new album with a similar topic as Prine’s “Paradise.” The song was inspired by the current controversy in Appalachia of mountaintop removal by coal companies, which O’Brien concedes has no easy solution.
“There’s no easy fix on this,” he says, “and there’s aprice to pay, what with the law of supply and demand. But it’s hard to defeat the laws of nature.”
From small joints with no amplification available to festivals with crowds of 30,000 or so, O’Brien welcomes all of his musical challenges. A frequent performer at the famed Telluride Bluegrass Festival, O’Brien is eager to play at the relatively new Harvest Festival in the Arkansas Ozarks.
“There’s a great power in a great number of people,” he says, “being in the fresh air and outdoors. Bluegrass music especially sounds good outside, and it doesn’t even have to have a stage to sound good. I remember years ago playing a little festival in Otto, Arkansas, for instance.
“When Darrell and I play together, it’s a sound that recalls the duo sounds of the Everly Brothers, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and Woody Guthrie with Cisco Houston. Darrell is like a wonderful tree - solid, rooted like a maple or an oak.He plays mostly guitar and I’m on mandolin and fiddle.”
O’Brien, a native of West Virginia, is known for having performed in the band Hot Rize and with his sister Mollie as a duo. He has made 13 solo albums, including the Grammy Award-winning Fiddler’s Green in 2005. He recently toured as a member of Mark Knopfler’s band and a year ago, O’Brien got his family and his sister’s families together under the name Party of 7 to record Reincarnation: The Songs of Roger Miller.
Scott, who grew up in Kentucky, has moved between the worlds of country and rock ’n’ roll. He recently toured as a member of Robert Plant’s roots rock group, the Band of Joy. He has released eight albums and his songs have been recorded by the Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Travis Tritt, Guy Clark and Alan Jackson.
Four stages will be set up around the 650-acre venue, which includes cabins, houses, a lodge, camping and RV areas.
Other acts set to perform today include Mountain Sprout, Uncle Lucius, Samantha Crain and Weakness for Blondes.
Friday’s schedule includes sets by Dirtfoot, Star & Micey, Justin Townes Earle, Turnpike Troubadours, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Railroad Earth and Mountain Sprout.
Saturday’s schedule includes Hot Club of Cowtown, Mountain Sprout, Sarah Hughes Band, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, Railroad Earth, Ha Ha Tonka and Tyrannosaurus Chicken.
Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Festival
11 a.m.-after midnight today, Friday and Saturday, Mulberry Mountain, Arkansas 23 (also known as The Pig Trail), near Cass, north of Ozark
3:30-4:45 p.m. today, Main Stage: Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien
Tickets: $65 today, $65 Friday, $105 for two days, $160 for three days
Weekend, Pages 34 on 10/17/2013
Print Headline: Harvest Festival to include Memories & Moments