The performance schedule for this October’s Hillberry: The Harvest Moon Festival, on The Farm near Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is now online! Organizers Deadhead Productions and hosting band Railroad Earth are thrilled to announce the details of one of the country’s best bluegrass and progressive bluegrass festival lineups, which features two nights of Railroad Earth as well as sets by acts such as Greensky Bluegrass, Fruition, Infamous Stringdusters, and Yonder Mountain String Band, among others.
Other major acts on the schedule include Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Old Salt Union, and Dirtfoot. Hillberry takes place Oct. 12-15, 2017, with Main Stage performances beginning mid-afternoon Thursday through Sunday and running until the wee hours each night.
The Farm is located in the beautiful Ozark Mountains just a few miles from historic Eureka Springs. The venue boasts beautiful 360-degree panoramic views from its perch atop 160 acres that back up to Mark Twain National Forest. Beaver Lake, Table Rock Lake, and the White River are all within 5 miles of the venue. These areas offer popular spots for floating, hiking, swimming, and picnicking.
But without ever leaving the property, Hillberry festivalgoers can enjoy mountain bike trails, plus permanent and temporary art installations, artists, workshops, yoga, arts and crafts, and all sorts of children’s activities scheduled every day from morning till night.
Tickets for Hillberry are still available but are well on their way to selling out. They start at $60 for a Sunday-only pass and increase incrementally to $180 for a full-event pass, which includes camping by your vehicle. Ticket information is here.
Kicking off the live music on Thursday, Oct. 12, will be Eureka Springs-based folk quartet and songwriting powerhouse Sad Daddy, at 6 p.m. Mountain Sprout, the inarguable experts on punk-billy, hard-partying bluegrass, will perform next, beginning at 8:15.
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, the nationally soaring Minnesota-based quintet known for an explosive prog-grass sound, will close out Thursday night, playing from 10:30 pm to 12:30 am. Since earning third place at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival’s Band Competition in 2012, HHG has steadily gained national exposure an enormous fan base, sharing the stage with the likes of Trampled By Turtles, The Travelin’ McCourys, Railroad Earth, Merle Haggard, The Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Marty Stuart, and many more.
Kicking off the music Friday will be The Squarshers at 4:25 pm. The Squarshers, based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, have enjoyed surging popularity since forming just a few years ago. From their hard-hitting stomp-Southern-grooves to their rollicking, in-your-face style of string music, The Squarshers are always ready to throw down. The self-proclaimed “groovegrass” band, which pulls heavily from funk and jam styles, is quite a spectacle, with a stage presence that matches the members’ musical intensity.
Next up from 6:45 to 8:20 pm will be Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, whose website states: “WARNING: If you like your Grateful Dead songs performed in their original way, or if you prefer traditional bluegrass, this is not the project for you. If you like singing along to Dead songs in that song’s normal tempo but dancing double time to the music, this is definitely your jam.” Yes please.
The Grateful Grass lineup often times rotates; so far, it has included collaborations with The Keels, Keith Moseley (String Cheese Incident), Jeff Austin (formerly of Yonder Mountain String Band), Michael Kang (SCI), Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green, Mark Benevento Trio) Bill Nershi (SCI), Allie Kral (YMSB), Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon), Sam Grisman and members of The Infamous Stringdusters. Check out this video of Grateful Grass doing “Bertha” at Summer Camp.
Speaking of the Stringdusters, they’ll take the stage next Friday, playing from 9 to 11 pm. The five-piece acoustic bluegrass group makes acoustic bluegrass seem like a hard rock show. The bring a new meaning to the phrase “jamgrass” – with a complex, distinctive, and groove-friendly sound founded on bluegrass basics – and they have been widely recognized and acclaimed for it for a decade running. The group has won countless International Bluegrass Music Association awards and even Grammy nominations. The Stringdusters were in 2011 named one of the top-trending bands of the year, just behind the Foo Fighters, The Wood Brothers, and B.B. King.
Colorado-based jamband Leftover Salmon closes out a raucous night of music on the main stage Friday, bringing their unique blend of bluegrass, rock, country, and Cajun/Zydeco, which the band calls “Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass.” Leftover will perform from 11:50 pm to 1:50 pm.
Following that, a campfire set will be performed by Julian Davis and the Hay-Burners.
Saturday’s music kicks off with Fayetteville-based quartet Arkansauce, which has seen growing fan support as it has recently toured out West, including numerous stops in Colorado, again. Arkansauce starts at 2:25.
Following from 4:30 to 6:05 pm will be Dirtfoot, of Shreveport, Louisiana, a six-piece party-starter featuring guitar, banjo, saxophone, upright and electric bass, drums and various percussion instruments. Dubbing their music style “Gypsy Punk Country Grumble Boogie,” Dirtfoot has quite the reputation for getting rowdy – and getting the crowd rowdy, too.
Next up is Greensky Bluegrass beginning at 6:45. The five-man Greensky Bluegrass is known for its improvisation, lengthy shows, top-notch light show, and open audience recording policy. The group has broken through to a multi-genre fanbase covering songs from Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, John Hartford, Dawes, Phish, The Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, Prince, and more. They recently headlined Memphis in May alongside Widespread Panic, and they’ve co-headlined Jamcruise as well as major festivals across the country.
Railroad Earth is the star Friday night (and rightfully so), performing from 9 pm to midnight. The band’s music combines elements of bluegrass, rock and roll, jazz, Celtic, and more, and the six-member group is widely hailed for its extensive live improvisation and lyrical songwriting within an acoustic base.
Fruition follows, from 12:40 to 2:10 am. Last year saw this superstar quintet that’s clearly on its way out of orbit appear at Bonnaroo, Northwest String Summit and Telluride, where Rolling Stone praised the band’s artful choice of covers and “raucous originals filled with heartfelt lyrics and stadium-worthy energy.” More recently, they’ve enjoyed a Red Rocks bill with JJ Grey and Mofro and The Infamous Stringdusters, along with a full headline tour of the United States.
After the main stage performers finish, Eureka Springs-based Ozarks-soul band Opal Agafia & The Sweet Nothings will lead a campfire set from 2:30 to 3:30 am.
After a picking contest from 11:30 am to 1 pm, the Arkansas-based-but-nationally-loved duo of Handmade Moments will kick off the band sets at 2:50 pm. “What makes the homey Ozark stew of Handmade Moments so very nourishing, so perfectly spiced?” asks writer Matthew Souzis. “Partake and be effortlessly guided through wistful and deep channels of musical flavor, rich with hearty roots and fungi, vegetables home-gardened and watered from the sacred well of American music: jazz, old-time country, blues, soul, hip-hop, rock (and it don’t stop). Glistening with insight and whimsy, long-simmering with righteous compassion and beauty, Handmade Moments is a fearless all-weather duo.”
Old Salt Union follows, beginning at 4:50 p.m. This fast-rising five-piece based in Belleville, Illinois, in 2015 won the FreshGrass Band contest and found the perfect collaborator in Compass Records co-founder and Grammy-winning banjoist and composer, Alison Brown. OSU has some of the best songwriting in the country’s progressive bluegrass scene, the energy of the group on-stage (led by bassist/vocalist Jesse Farrar) is irresistible.
Yonder Mountain String Band, which has been rocking the country all summer, performs from 6:50 to 8:20 pm. For two deacades, YMSB has redefined bluegrass music, expanding the traditional acoustic genre beyond its previously established boundaries by steadily pushing the envelope into the realms of rock ‘n’ roll and improvisation.
Next, Railroad Earth performs another three-hour time slot, from 9 pm to midnight, followed by a festival-closing campfire set by Arkansauce from 12:30 to 1:30 am.