When it comes to autumn music festivals, there is no venue more naturally appealing in the High Country than Blue Bear Mountain Campground. There, located on 155 acres near both Boone and Todd, with teepees, hiking trails, awesome views and a main stage built in a natural amphitheater on the grounds, the Blue Bear Mountain Music Festival is set to take place this week from Sept. 5-7.
Headlining this impressive fall music festival in 2019 will be the legendary Acoustic Syndicate, now celebrating their 25th year as a band. The group, which was formed in Boone and at Appalachian State, has built up a worldwide reputation as an innovative roots-rocking outfit that blends bluegrass with many other genres.
Along with a great lineup of live music surrounded by green mountains and vistas, the festival will offer magnificent views of the High Country with tethered hot air balloon rides for a fee, weather permitting.
The Blue Bear Mountain Music Festival begins on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 5, with the Asheville-based funk and roots band Dr. Bacon, who will have the main stage to themselves for an extended jam.
Friday at Blue Bear Mountain Music Festival will feature live music on both the main stage and the Old Barn Stage. The lineup will include The Tan and Sober Gentlemen, a band known for kicking their Scottish and Irish-influenced hillbilly jams into high gear onstage, Cane Mill Road, who were recently nominated for multiple 2019 International Bluegrass Music Association awards, The Reckoning, Lost Ridge, Mel Jones and his Bag of Bones, Ross Sermons, Handlebar Betty and Roscoe Rose. All of this will culminate in a good ole fashioned Wide Open Acoustic Jam on the Old Barn Stage to end the evening.
Saturday finds the main stage at Blue Bear Mountain Music Festival opening at 1:30 p.m. with the music of Turpentine Shine followed by the acclaimed Tim Carter Band, Downtown Abby and The Echoes, funky southern rockers The Trongone Band and headliners Acoustic Syndicate.
Between acts on the main stage on Saturday will be another full bill of live music performed on the Old Barn Stage that will include Cane Mill Road returning for a second set, Lost Ridge and Mason Jar Confessions.
Blue Bear Mountain Music Festival promoter Kevin Quick is big on bringing new blood into the festival lineup, and this year’s best example of that is The Trongone Band. Based in Richmond, Va., the group has risen on the festival posters of late with acclaimed appearances at many high profile festivals.
Playing their own unique version of funky southern rock and soul, the group’s upcoming album will be produced by David Schools of Widespread Panic.
The members of the group include Andrew Trongone on guitar and vocals, Johnny Trongone on drums and vocals, Ben White (Wolfe) on keyboards and vocals and Chip Hale on bass and vocals.
The Trongone Brothers grew up in a house full of music, with a father who played the blues on the guitar.
“By the time I was in the third or fourth grade, I wanted a guitar just like my dad,” said Andrew Trongone. “After that, I grew up playing the guitar with my old man. He turned me on to Eric Clapton and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Allman Brothers Band.”
As for Johnny Trongone, it was the drums that fascinated him as a youngster.
“I figured that we didn’t need three guitar players, I guess,” said Johnny Trongone, laughing. “But no. I always wanted to play the drums, and I’ve been doing it since I was about 8 years old. My parents were actually pretty cool about buying me some drums. At first, I just got a snare drum and then I worked my way up until I talked them into getting me a full drum kit at Christmas or a birthday.”
The Trongone Band’s upcoming new album, due at the year’s end, was produced by David Schools of the band Widespread Panic. The new recording contains all original music written by Andrew Trongone and Wolfe White with all of the cuts given the full band treatment.
“Dave Schools is an old Richmond dude and he grew up here and went to high school here before moving to Athens, Ga., for college, and that is where Widespread Panic was formed,” said Andrew Trongone. “We knew some mutual music friends here in Richmond and met and stayed on each other’s radar and when we wanted to put out some new music we reached out to him, because he has been producing a lot of stuff lately. We thought it would be a good fit, and it absolutely was and we couldn’t be more stoked about it.”
The sound of the new Trongone Band’s album reflects where the band is at now as a live group. They are returning to the High Country and the Blue Bear Mountain Music Festival ready to get rowdy.
“We call our music simply rockin’ flippin’ roll,” said Andrew Trongone. “Our new album is very aggressive, sleazy and twangy rock and roll, and that is what we were going for.”
“Nowadays, we also describe out live shows as ‘to the wall’ rock and roll,” said Johnny Trongone. “We are loud and fun, we have a lot of hair, and we have a lot of energy, and we don’t have a lot of down time onstage.”