Each year on Labor Day weekend, ACE Adventure Resort in New River Gorge, West Virginia puts on a one day festival known as Party In The Holler. With hundreds of people flocking to Wonderland Mountain to stomp to some bluegrass jams and pass around jars of West Virginia’s finest moonshine, the name speaks for itself. The 2016 Party In The Holler was possibly the best yet, with Yonder Mountain String Band, Town Mountain, The Larry Keel Experience and The Josh Daniel/Mark Schimick Project making the trek up the mountain well worth it.
Party In The Holler veterans Josh Daniel/Mark Schimick Project kicked off the evening with a bang, playing an assortment of tunes. The up-and-coming band from North Carolina stuck with their Appalachian roots while also blending in the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll, soul and reggae, making a sound of their own.
Also natives of North Carolina, Town Mountain Took the stage next. These small town boys showed the crowd that even though they’re on the rise, they are making a big name for themselves. They played a fire set full of their own bluegrass jams while also throwing in their own twists on classics like the Grateful Dead’s “Mississippi Half Step” and Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.”
Up next, The Larry Keel Experience featuring Jenny Keel on the bass and Jared Pool on the mandolin kept the party going and the moonshine flowing in the holler. During their set, a member of the audience wanted to spread the good vibes by passing over his moonshine jug to Larry, who passed it around, igniting the crowd’s atmosphere even more. Keel then invited Jacob Jolliff and Mark Schimick out on stage to have a “funky mandolin party.” The triple threat dominated the stage for the last few songs where they threw in a teaser of Phish’s “Bathtub Gin.”
Finally, the headlining act, Yonder Mountain String Band took the stage to close out the night with a killer set full of originals. Towards the end of the set they brought out Larry Keel and his moonshine to close out the party with a bang that rang throughout the holler. Keel stayed on stage for the encore which you knew was going to be funky when Ben Kauffman replaced his classic stand up bass for his bass guitar and laid out a “Shakedown Street” that made the crowd go wild.
Labor Day weekend on Wonderland Mountain was full of perfect weather and mountain music jams that had patrons leaving with a feeling of excitement for what’s to come next year. Fun jams and jars of moonshine are to be expected to carry on the tradition.