|Photo by: Hannah Cook|
The Nelsonville Music Festival seems to epitomize Southern Ohio's music scene. The annual multi-day festival has grown exponentially with each passing year, both in length and in the caliber of acts. This year, festival organizers decided to hold a "kickoff show" on Thursday night, as a preview of the kinds of acts to come for the rest of the weekend. The porch stage and the No-Fi cabin were the setting for these Ohio acts, and ACRN's Katie Pinter was there to catch it.
7:00 - Angela Perley & The Howling Moons
As I tried to take in the scene of people clustered across the lawn and vendors lining the sides, all I really noticed was a woman in her turquoise cowboy boots and matching hat belting out a song on the Porch Stage. As the lead singer of Angela Perley & The Howling Moons, she certainly seemed to be getting the crowd energized with the quick paced, driving tempo that got everyone bopping along to, in particularly a toddler near the stage who wandered about bouncing and flopping around with the rhythm.
At the time, I couldn't seem to figure out exactly what music type the group fit into because they had a strong country folk sound for the vocals, but the guitar had more of a rock and bluegrass vibe. Collectively, the band was a mix of many elements that, as I later discovered the new genre, encapsulated Americana music perfectly.
8:30 - Nathan Moore
It did not take me too long, because a little after 8:30 p.m., I headed to the No-Fi Cabin, a tiny old school house tucked into the back of the festival that serves a venue for a rotating set of acoustic acts for the night. Nathan Moore, guitarist and singer for Sport Fishing USA, had just begun his solo set, and I quickly fell into the magic of the intimate venue. With the whole room basked in purple and blue lights, Moore softly sang to the folk songs he was strumming and keenly held the attention of everyone situated on the few wooden benches inside, as well as a handful of people on the porches outside.
At one moment between songs, Moore mentioned that he liked being able to actually talk to the crowd since they were so close, unlike coffee shops where you're a bit more distant. After saying this, he also introduced a song he said to have just written and dove into a simple and sweet piece with lyrics about colors, emotions, and relationships.
9:00 - Southeast Engine
Just in time, I stepped into the crowd at the Porch Stage to hear the announcer mention that Southeast Engine was named in Paste as one of the "Ten Ohio Bands You Should Listen to Now," as the guys on stage stage modestly looked on with shy smiles. The band started off with enough harmonica and twangy guitar in their indie folk rock to please any Bob Dylan fan. About three quarters of the way through their set, though, the microphones suddenly gave out just as they finished a '60s rock-inspired number.
While the crew went to fix the equipment, lead singer Adam Remnant asked the audience to move up to the edge of the stage so that he and his brother Jesse could sing unplugged while everyone waited. The talent of both brothers was undeniable: Adam's steady and powerful voice carried across the crowd as Jesse layered his tenor lightly on top. They then invited the audience into the gospel number at the end with a singalong. Altogether, our voices created a beautiful mess of harmonies, and you could really feel the rich emotions in the air.
After one more song, the classic closer "Where Are You Now," the boys' set ended and it seemed like everywhere you turned in the departing crowd, people were blurting out "awesome" or "amazing," all failing to capture in one word the awestruck enjoyment written across their faces.
And I was right with them saying that my little taste of Nelsonville was, indeed, simply awesome.
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