The fifth annual Shindig festival took place on Sunday in Clayton, North Carolina with headliners Snyder Family Band, Forlorn Strangers, Love Canon, Town Mountain, Big Daddy Love, and local favorites American Aquarium. The event had been rescheduled to what turned out to be a lovely November weekend in response to the deadly hurricane Matthew that occurred in early October. Catered to the craft beer lover with over 25 brews on tap, The Shindig’s lineup attracted people young and old to Clayton’s historic downtown on a stunning Sunday.
The excitement was all there, from the chicken wing eating contest, to the amazing flat-picking that was displayed throughout the day on stage. The theme musically was constant one-up-man-ship that started off with Nashville’s “on the rise” band Forlorn Strangers. The musical abilities in this quintet is on par with some of the best that Nashville offers. But, what sets this band apart from their peers are the harmonies of Forlorn’s two female members, Abigail Dempsey and Hannah Leigh. Do your ears a favor and seek this band out if you are not familiar. Love Canon was next with a high energy bluegrass take on 80s staples such as Kenny Loggins’ “Dangerzone” and Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.” Love Canon amplifies the energy whenever they play, and their Sunday was just plain fun.
Based out of Lexington, North Carolina, Samantha, Zeb, and father Bud of The Snyder Family Band are a three piece group that plays well beyond their years. Within minutes of their first notes, the crowd was in awe. Not only was the crowd attentive to The Snyders, but almost every musician on hand stopped and walked to the stage to witness. One musician looked at me and said “that young man just picked the TAR right off the GUI-TAR! How am I supposed to follow that up?”
Asheville’s Town Mountain was next on the bill. Listening to this band is a pleasant walk back in time to 1930 thru 1960 country classics. The set was a great juxtaposition to what Love Canon offered The Shindig crowd just a few hours earlier. The flow of the stage performances was a very welcome change from what you might see at many festivals where the performers are similar to one another.
Later on the day was extremely sentimental for American Aquarium’s lead singer BJ Barham. Earlier in the afternoon he proposed to his longtime girlfriend at the festival (she said yes!) in front of many family members and friends. The good vibes were brought on stage with them, and they happily turned up, giving the crowd a heavy dose of electric Americana. American Aquarium is not a country band in the same sense that The Drive-By-Truckers are not a country band. They rely on Southern themes and simpler times with a LOT of guitar. They are a thematic band that are somewhat reminiscent of early John Mellencamp, which is one heck of a compliment.
Article and photos by Tim Hobert