By: Kendra Portwood (@mmmKeedar )
Before I get started I would like to thank all of those that made it possible for us at Kentucky Music Preview to be part of this festival. As KYMP grows and we are able to meet so many musicians, record companies, and have growing relationships with venues I am truly honored. Music is a way of life for many of us, a way to communicate who we are, to grow, and for us to be able to take this love and share it with our listeners is like a dream. So once again, thank you for all you do!
The sun on my face and West Sixth’s Lemongrass American Wheat in my hand, Saturday was already shaping up to be wonderful. Tucked away on the campus of Somerset Community College is a beautiful, open venue with a weekend lineup that would prove to be diverse and exciting. The open field provided an excellent view of the stage from any point, art vendors, local wine (thank you Cedar Creek Vineyards), and an assortment of awesome food. I’ll have to admit to not knowing quite a few of artists on the lineup this year but when going to a festival this is something I look forward to. Yes, I could pay a substantial amount of money to see big name bands play the same music I’ve been hearing on the radio for six months, but being exposed to up and coming talent is a one of a kind experience. These artists bring with them passion, excitement, and fresh music to love and enjoy.
Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra was a completely new experience for me. Hailing from California, this was their first performance in the Bluegrass state. Old Soul is an appropriate name for this band with their heavy blues influence that takes a step back in time. O’Reilly brings his lyrics to life, reliving each word and feeling every strum. The repercussion of his words ricocheted across the field and each song brought with it heavy line from Berry’s upright bass.
I was hooked from the start and my desire to know more about who they are blossomed with the song “When the Water Runs Out”. O’Reilly’s voice is perfect for the cautionary messages hidden like gems in his music, accompanied by the cries of Lynch’s violin and Goff on the drums, I swayed in a hypnotic state and allowed my mind to be taken over. Almost too soon the set was over but I hope their next tour lands them in Kentucky!
From the moment I arrived one thing was on the front of my mind; Okay, technically two counting beer. The anticipation of Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band was almost too much to handle. Josh Ritter is an Americana and Folk artist that writes with a gracious conviction. Since the release of his album The Beast in its Tracks in 2013 Ritter has been a must see for me. His latest album, Sermon on the Rocks, seems like an uplifting departure from his previous work and was brought to life by his performance filled with unanticipated energy. From the moment he graced the stage he wore a smile that charmed even my sullen heart; from it poured a voice so serene it was almost a shame to sing along. The crowd pleaded for one more song, just one more, and I found myself pleading too. Without much of a fight, Ritter was back and ended the night with “Homecoming” and I had chills. The sun beginning to hide behind the trees and a cool night wind provided the perfect setting for a magical show.
M.M.F. wouldn’t be possible without the board of men and women that volunteer their time to make this the experience it is. This non-profit team is putting on this event for the recognition of their community, not of themselves. The dedication and hard work is apparent in every detail down to the schedule which is conveniently made into a fan. Plenty of parking was available (and free might I add) in the college’s paved lot, check-in was simple with enough staff to ensure no one is waiting in long lines and missing out on the entertainment, golf-cart rides were available to those that didn’t desire to walk the short distance from the gate to field (me), first aid was ready for anyone that may have needed it, and a nice large tent to relax under. All in all Master Musicians Festival has celebrated 23 years of successful festivities and has created for me a new summer tradition.