Mulberry Mountain Arkansas - Music Central

C. Michael Bailey By

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Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip.

Nestled in the upper part of the Arkansas River Valley just North of Ozark in Franklin County is Mulberry Mountain. Mulberry Mountain has become the site of several notable music festivals, including Wakarusa, Thunder on the Mountain and The Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival. These festivals take advantage of the beautiful scenery and hospitable climes of the River Valley resting in the lap of the Arkansas Ozark Mountains.

The Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival is a four-day alfresco soiree focusing somewhere in the vicinity of alternative rock and is held in early June. Named for the Wakarusa River (Wakarusa meaning "Ass Deep" in the Native American vernacular), was first held at Clinton State Park immediately outside of Lawrence, Kansas beginning in 2004. It moved to Mulberry Mountain in 2009. The festival is known for a diverse mix of music and has featured artists The Black Keys, The Flaming Lips, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Activities other than music included disc golf, yoga, hiking, and swimming in The Mulberry River. Since its inception in 2004, the festival has grown dramatically from only 5,000 at the initial 2004 Wakarusa until in 2011 which holds the record highest number of attendees at 20,000.

Thunder on the Mountain is a whole different kettle of fish. It is a country music festival that had its inaugural year in June 2013. Feature acts included Toby Keith, Luke Bryan and Gretchen Wilson. From the edgier side of the dirt road come Shooter Jennings, Reckless Kelly and The Cadillac Three. Festival organizers elected to take 2014 off to consolidate their efforts, preparing to return in 2015 with a more impressive line-up.

Lastly, and chronologically closer in proximity is the The Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival AKA The Mulberry Mountain Harvest Music Festival. The festival, occurring October 15—18, is in its eighth year, threatening for popular dominance the well-established and internationally known Mountain View Bluegrass Festival in Mountain View, Arkansas, enjoying its 12th annual airing in November. It might be fair to compare the two festivals as the Mountain View as the traditional and the Harvest Festival the alternate-alternate version of the "bluegrass flavor."

This year's schedule includes the Yonder Mountain String Band, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Trampled by Turtles and the Jerry Douglas Band as well as many other bands from the outer climes of wooden music. There is no better time to enjoy all things Autumnal than at the breast of the Ozark Mountains in October.


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