Last weekend families and friends from across the region gathered for a very special Red Wing Roots Festival at Natural Chimneys Park in Mt. Solon, Virginia. Hosted by locally raised and nationally touring band The Steel Wheels, the event has quickly established itself as an annual attraction for families with youngsters, music lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts. In light of this year’s event being the fifth, we’ve featured our five favorite things from Red Wing Roots Festival V.
Upon the first few steps on the grounds, the amount of youngsters around was immediately evident. Groups of kids were zooming around camp on their bikes, clearly having the time of their lives in such a way that made you wish you could relive your childhood at Red Wing. It’s not uncommon to see twelve year-olds riding the rail or a little girl on her dad’s shoulders in the crowd at this festival. While there’s a different activity for kids everywhere you turn, the youngsters are very much so a part of the music experience as well.
Natural Chimneys Park is perfectly picturesque for a music festival and a beautiful presentation of Virginia’s beauty. The surrounding camp space and venue itself is quite flat, which is a pleasant surprise after a scenic drive in on hilly roads. No walk is too far on the Red Wing grounds, and the absence of hills makes this festival perfect for bikes. Oh, and the Chimney rocks. This natural structure is awe-inspiring by day, and one of the coolest backdrops for a light show by night.
The location of the festival is also perfect for outdoor activities. On both Saturday and Sunday morning of the festival, many gathered for peaceful chimney-front yoga sessions, and ambitious outdoorsmen and women rose early for hikes and bike rides in the surrounding Shenandoah Valley.
Now, for the music. Of course, every artist’s set was a memorable piece of the Red Wing Roots Festival V experience. These highlights are just the ones that we can’t stop reminiscing over.
Lake Street Dive
A large crowd flocked to the main stage on Friday after dark, ready to get blown away by Lake Street Dive. Lead singer Rachael Price graced the stage with an undeniable aura of energy and soul. When the audience cheered the group back on stage for an encore, Price belted the first notes of Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl,” and the excitement roared through the crowd. Meanwhile, The Lil’ Smokies put on a captivating set at the Roots Stage on Friday night, followed by Dustbowl Revival, who kept the party going with an energetic, soulful and upbeat performance to close out the night.
The Steel Wheels at Shenandoah Mountain Stage
Perhaps one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend was The Steel Wheels themselves playing on the main stage to their hometown friends and family at a festival of their creation. Friends from The Stray Birds joined them on stage, and the sun was setting as the group played the festival’s namesake song,“Red Wing.” For those few very special moments, everyone was on one single beautiful wavelength.
Billy Strings wasted no time getting into his acoustic guitar-blasting groove after The Steel Wheels’ set on Saturday night. It’d be hard to exclude the word ‘badass’ from a description of this artist’s live performance style. Strings can purely and energetically shred the guitar with a natural stage presence that is unquestionably deserving of the spotlight. Not to mention, he can sing, too. It was evident that the Red Wing crowd hadn’t had their fill of Strings when his set capped off at one hour, and despite the main stage act Steve Earle & The Dukes were kicking off their set within earshot, Strings came out to appease his remaining audience with an enthralling rendition of “Down To The River To Pray.”