Get to know this overachieving little festival
You can be excused for not knowing (yet) about Reevestock, which takes place in the small town of Elkin, North Carolina, population 4,001, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s a grass-roots festival, run by volunteers, with proceeds going toward a scholarship fund for local students. Hometown folk/rock band Time Sawyer (now of Charlotte) founded and hosts the festival, and the band, along with their friends, family and other local volunteers, does the bulk of the work. Band members unload and load equipment for the other bands. Friends work the merchandise table. The lead singer’s mom takes tickets at the gate. It’s that kind of event. And here’s why you shouldn’t miss it.
Small festival with outsize talent
The quality of the musical lineup is way out of proportion to the festival’s size. Headliner The Black Lillies have made over 30 appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, and have performed at major festivals including Bonnaroo, Pickathon and South by Southwest. Their 2013 album Runaway Freeway Blues spent more than five months in the Americana Music Association’s top five, ending the year at #18, based on radio airplay.
Texan Andrew Combs combines soulful, country-influenced vocals with classic songwriting that feels current but could have held its own in the songwriting heyday of the 1970s.
Caroline Spence’s voice is full and delicate at the same time. Its vulnerable beauty steals the stage, but her songwriting is the real deal too. She won the Kerrville Folk Festival songwriting contest in 2014.
The melodic pedal-steel led instrumental duo Steelism is playing at the free downtown Elkin kick-off party July 31, along with the local Luke Mears Band.
Also performing are several rising North Carolina artists. Time Sawyer, the host band, plays high-energy folk/rock music with a focus on ear-catching tunes with fun instrumental interplay. Sinners & Saints is a two-man band from Charlotte that mixes infectious melodies and tight harmonies with foot-powered percussion to create a sound that hearkens back to the early, more raw Avett Brothers. Clint Roberts of The Fox Fire is one to watch as he introduces listeners to his excellent debut solo EP. Rounding out the North Carolina roster is Robert Holthouser, who won 1st place in the gospel/inspirational category at Merlefest’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest this year.
The setting is worth the trip
If you’re used to crowded festivals held in big fields, this will be a change for you. Reevestock takes place in Elkin’s Hidden Amphitheater, a privately owned entertainment venue in a wooded park-like setting. The slope of the rolling hills provides good views of the gazebo stage from all around the property, which is dotted with lounge chairs, hammocks and swinging chairs. Water flows down a stream, into waterfalls, collecting into a small pond. Walking paths wind through the woods on the back of the property.
Everything you kind of hate about festivals doesn’t happen here
Reevestock is the way festivals would be in an alternate, better universe. There are no long lines for food, there’s no price gouging of beverages and you don’t have to race-walk between stages a half-mile apart. You can plant your chair in one spot and keep it there if you want. If you bring kids, they can spend the day trying to catch frogs while you listen to the bands. You can get up close to the artists and talk to them.
It won’t set you back
Tickets are only $15 for the main event on August 1, or you can buy four tickets for $50. Kids 12 and under are admitted free. The July 31 kick-off party in Downtown Elkin is free. Learn more about the festival, and purchase tickets, at www.reevestock.com