I saw a mess of good live music in 2019, but the biggest surprise for me was Sleepy Creek Harfest, with a bill of fine bands I had not heard before, who played on a old hippie campground in mountainous and scenic West Virginia nowhere.
The camp is nestled alongside the Potomac River, just south of I-70 running between Hagerstown and Cumberland, Maryland. It's also bordered by a set of CSX railroad tracks, which occasionally forced the live music to stop for a bit as a train passed by. The campgrounds have a bingo parlor, a few semi-permanent residents camped down by the river, and even its own general store inside a trailer.
I guess someone had the idea to set up a musical festival here, and that idea was genius. The setup was perfect: I bought a nightly pass for Saturday night, which allowed me to stay on the campgrounds until 5 PM the next day. I slept off the night's festivities well into the next morning in the back of my car. Others set up entire camps, Burning Man-style. I think this will be our plan next year.
It wasn't a super-huge event -- maybe a few hundred people in attendance. The organizers took a break in the musical lineup on Saturday afternoon to run a New Orleans-styled Second Line through the campgrounds. Later, they crowded everyone in front of a stage for a group photo.
Like I said, I didn't know of any of acts, but those I heard, were pretty uniformly excellent: a few Dead-style jam units, some neotrad country, folk, even a brass band. My fave was the Ozark mudstomping sounds of the Ben Miller Band. The vibe was such that you could roll up to the stage (many did so in their golf carts!) and check out the show, or go wander back to your camp and listen from there. Or even wander down and watch the river flow.
Chances are pretty good we'll be doing SleepyCreek events on the regular going forward, but for now here are a few rando photos and videos from the 2019 shindig.
Ben Miller Band