Once a year on a mid-winter’s weekend, a unique social and musical experience goes down in the heart of Lewisburg. The WV Winter Music Festival (WVWMF) takes over the downtown streets with 2-days of music, nightlife, and comradery. Festival goers are entertained by seven venues, scattered throughout the downtown, brimming with personable people, energy, and mixed musical genres. There’s old-time and bluegrass, funk and reggae, thrasher metal and classic metal, blues and R&B. Anyone venue is no more than a block from another, meaning you can walk everywhere. Held on the last weekend in January, The Irish Pub, Asylum, Sweet Shoppe, Wild Bean, Hub Teen Center, Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center, and Hill and Holler are all stages for this special event. (Pictured above: Vital Shock at Winter Music Festival 2018)
Featured photo above: facebook.com/withintimephotography/
While this festival makes us think of cool bands and having fun, there’s also emotional wellbeing from the power of music. A good festival offers space, time, foods, and brews to people desperate to communicate and connect with each other. The 21st century, with all of its remarkable tech advances, is increasingly the era of computers, tablets, and smartphones- which direct peoples’ focus downward into a non-human, non-worldly source, rather than towards the earth and each other. Though technologies have undeniably increased global communication among humans, connecting through this medium is not, cannot be, and will never be the same as connecting face-to-face. The online community is often an impersonal one, while a community that shares the same physical space, time, music, foods, and brews is destined to propagate close and personal connections. These communal connections are essential to the well-being and mental health of humanity. Emily Greene, co-recipient of the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize, is famous for her quote “As the world community develops in peace, it will open up great untapped reservoirs in human nature.” Greene was a major leader of the peace movement in the United States and she believed that overarching values were essential guides to human interaction.
Not only do music festivals create positive feel-good vibes all around, but they also provide musicians with a platform to sing and play their heart out. A musician is a bard – teller of stories, channeler of passion: a dream-weaver. They delve down deep, into their spirit, to release melodies of feeling through the air. The effect can be magical, making the bard and the listener experience memorable sensations. The sensations deliver happiness and a sense of place and belonging. During this last Winter Music Fest, Lewisburg hard rock band, Vital Shock channeled power and butterflies across the Wild Bean. Performing covers and originals, the band’s electric vibes coursed through the audience, and many of them roared to release it.
Here are impressions of a few of the over 30 bands that played:
LONG POINT STRING BAND elicited feelings of bounciness and warm-heartedness, as the mountain dulcimer plucked the highest notes like sugar falling from trees.
KATHLEEN COFFEE spat floating poetry of a somewhat epic nature
THE KIND THIEVES formulated a groove, compelling the audience to dance. If you missed them, catch their next show on June 16th at the Wild Bean, 9pm, in downtown Lewisburg.
GUILTY, far younger than the others, were even mightier in spirit.
And on the street, four musicians sat on two benches facing each other, traded around plastic and wood guitars, and shared melodies.
As an outsider looking in, it is so inspiring to see the West Virginia Music Festival grow each year. Make plans to attend next year and don’t be surprised to find yourself immersed in the crowds. Let your surroundings encourage you to “become one” with the crowd. You will gain a heightened sense of common-purpose in this rapidly changing and isolating tech world.
Good feelings aside, the best part of this festival is its mission. Since 2013, WVWMF has granted financial and resource assistance to music industry professionals in the West Virginia area in the times of need and emergency crisis. It’s been noticed that 2018 was the most highly attended event yet and we are very excited to congratulate this year’s grant recipient(s). Keep a lookout for the announcement at facebook.com/wvmusicfestival.
For more information about the WVWMF, visit wvmusicfestival.org. WVWMF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. If you are a musician in need of assistance or know someone who is, apply online at wvmusicfestival.org/assistance/.
– Ethan Jones, HashtagWV #99. March 2018.
Ethan Jones is a musician from Athens Georgia and is currently serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer for the Mountain Music Trail. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.