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CYM’s 10 Highest Highs of Highberry 2016 In Ozark, Arkansas [Festival Review]

Meeting On Mulberry Mountain: Home to iconic festivals and events throughout time, it is no question that Mulberry Mountain is nothing short of magical. With the cancellation of a few different festivals this year leaving deep holes in the hearts of many a-Mulberry lover, Deadhead Productions immediately saw the potential and made the decision to move the 7th annual Highberry from the beautiful Byrd’s Adventure Center to its new beloved home. Many people, including myself, have had their lives changed from experiences on Mulberry Mountain, so it was truly a blessing to have the opportunity to return to the mountain again this year. Highberry was the perfect festival to fill that aching piece of the soul that has been present since news of Waka’s cancellation and we cannot wait to see how Deadhead will continue to interweave the special space and Highberry together.

Deadhead Productions: For years, D.H.P. has been keeping the grateful vibe alive by collabing with each other to play music (Friends of the Phamily), throw small festivals and produce and promote bands and events. From a seamless check-in, to art installations, to communication and teamwork, to unexpected surprises, to dealing with the imminent weather, the entire team was incredible all weekend. D.H.P. stayed true to the Highberry traditions of peace, love, compassion, kindness and family. A huge thank you to every single person involved in creating this magical, one-of-a-kind production.

The Fireworks Show: There’s not many words that can sum up a firework show, besides ‘WOW,’ ‘OOH,’ ‘AHH,’ and ‘DYNAMITE,’ so we will just leave a picture to help you visualize the epicness that was the Highberry fireworks show Sunday night after Keller William’s intimate set at the Imagination Station. With some prime real estate directly in front of captivating fire flow artists, we watched with wide eyes the word ‘FREEDOM’ in its fire form.

Abundance of ART: Throughout the entire festival from first arrival to saying our ‘goodbye for now’, D.H.P. did not hold back when it came to providing multi-sensory art for attendees of all ages to enjoy. All of the painters present were amazingly unique and enjoyable in their own way, but some of our favorites included Michael Garfield, Nicholas K. Tarr, Nathan Huffman, Stacy No Pants and Joseph Edwards. Whether created by D.H.P. or brought by festival goer’s, we enjoyed all of the details throughout the grounds. Every bubble blown big or small and every ounce of creativity poured into the atmosphere went noticed. Oh, and here is a special shout out to the Arkansas Circus Arts who dazzled crowds throughout the weekend with their incredible talent and showmanship.

Kung Fu: Hailing from New Haven, Connecticut, Kung Fu brings forth extreme funk jams in their most genuine form. Made up of Adrian Tramontano (drums), Beau Sasser (keyboards), Chris DeAngelis (bass), Rob Somerville (sax) and Tim Palmieri (guitar), Kung Fu brings forth an everlasting eargasm fused of electronic, jazz and have we said ‘funk’ yet?! On Sunday night after the firework show we mentioned above, the funk did NOT stop for even a millisecond as Kung Fu showed us what they are all about. My fondest memory of the set was the new dance moves my body created as I channelled the power of the Kung-Funkery. Hats off to you, Kung-Fu, for being one of those sets at a festival that has you seriously questioning your choice of favorite bands mid set.  

The Most Legendary Pool Party on Mulberry Ever: Can we talk about that magic moment? Yes, that ONE moment The Drifters talked about back in 1960? Well, I am pretty sure we recreated it on Saturday afternoon at camp Electric Mayhem. With twelve bodies, a bubble machine, cold beverages AND a pizza delivery all in the same hour, it is safe to say those precious moments will ring in my memory forever. Who wants to be number 13? We will definitely be doing this again at Hillberry in October, so come join the fun!

TAUK: After seeing TAUK at Wakarusa last year and having my mind melt away, I knew this heavy instrumental rock fusion band from New York would bring the heat at Highberry. Composed of Matt Jalbert (guitar), Charlie Dolan (bass), Alric “A.C.” Carter (keyboard-organ), and Isaac Teel (drums), TAUK effortlessly merges together an assortment of musical tastes ranging from classic rock, fusion, hip hop, fresh funk, ambient, world and jazz. If you ever see them on a bill near you, please GO, because TAUK is all we are TAUKin’ about these days. 

The St. Bernards: Just as lovable as Saint Bernards are in canine form, the human form of the breed is equally as lovable, helpful and trustworthy. If you have ever been to Wakarusa, chances are the St. Bernards (a facet of the Central Plains Jamband Society) have helped you in some way, whether big or small. A tight knit group of festival veterans, the Bernards were placed on Mulberry to manage Highberry’s lost and found, help pass out water, serve as a safe place in times of loss or confusion, help with that tent pole you thought you brought but in fact did not and pretty much lend help of ANY and ALL kinds throughout the duration of the festival. Thank you infinitely for everything y’all do, because honestly, festivals with the St. Bernard presence flow much more smoothly.

St. Bernard Info Booth; Photo by Mike Bollin

That1Guy: Mike Silverman a.k.a. That1Guy had my jaw legitimately dropped his entire set. Inventor and player of The Magic Pipe, a thick bass string wired to miked steel pipes, Silverman really knows the way to captivate an audience and entrance them under his musical magicianry. Combining his classical musical training with various elements creating what he calls experimental “earthshaking future funk,” his show is truly one you must see live to believe. Well, That1Guy, you nailed it and left me genuinely speechless and bone shakingly impressed. Definitely check out That1Guy if you ever receive the privilege to do so.

Chompdown: Chompdown is the perfect event to join the festival community, get everyone acquainted and cook all that extra food you brought to eat, but never had time to cook. Chompdown came into fruition in 2007 when a group of friends, Wakarusa Forums group members and the bands Dirtfoot and Grazgrove wanted to have a potluck breakfast and over 250 hungry humans showed up. When I heard Chompdown would be at Highberry, I was beyond excited. It is by far one of my most cherished breakfast experiences in my twenty-five years of life. Everyone comes together, old and young alike, to celebrate music, the blessed food we are graced with, the amazing community we are surrounded by and the amazing things that can happen when every person helps a little bit towards a common goal. Whether you are arriving after hours of beauty sleep or just starting to wind down from the night before, Chompdown is never a bad idea. Thanks to everyone who continues to make it happen!

Chompdown; Photo by Mike Bollin

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