Launching an outdoor festival is no casual task. Sure, hire a cool band and invite a couple dozen friends and you’ve got the makings of a good time; but try renting a park for three days, booking 40 bands, setting up four stages, and then expecting positive results – that’s a tall order for sure.


Oh, throw in a pre-festival downpour and two more days of rain showers. Anyone would be willing to forgive a less than stellar inaugural event.


But the Red Wing Roots Festival was nothing short of stellar in it’s first annual fest held at the Natural Chimney’s park in Mt. Solon, Virginia this past July 12 – 14. The gang at Black Bear Productions and host band Steel Wheels came out of the gate with what gave all appearances of a seasoned event. Comments ranged from “I can’t believe this is their first year,” to “this is the best festival I’ve ever been to.”

Unofficial estimates pegged the crowd at near 3,000, and there were license tags in the parking lot from Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, and North Carolina, just to name a few.


Fans collected to soak in (not literally) some of their favorite roots acts like Yarn, Del McCoury, Larry Keel, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Tim O’Brien, Claire Lynch Band, Sam Bush, and a rare reunion performance by Canada’s The Duhks. Of course there were others, and the weekend was topped off by several killer sets from host’s and rising stars The Steel Wheels, (recent winners of the Independent Music Awards).

The adjacent campground offered patrons an authentic, all around experience complete with the anticipated late night jams. The staff and volunteers made sure the fest experience was all that was promised and then some.


The amount of rain for Thursday evening was measured at four inches – which could have easily ruined the event.


Yet, grounds crew had the mud slicks under control before the gate even opened. Had they been offering tickets for next years festival, I imagine pre-sales would have been brisk. You would do yourself well to keep an eye on for the 2014 installment – it could be a sellout.


Posted by Greg Tutwiler, publisher/editor-in-chief
Americana Rhythm Music Magazine