MULBERRY MOUNTAIN — The ninth annual Wakarusa Music Festival boasts about 150 confirmed acts appearing on five stages over four days at Mulberry Mountain, north of Ozark. That’s a lot of bands and a lot of music, and deciding who to hear can be challenging.
This “Seven to See” (72C) series offers daily recommendations for music. Sometimes they include the major, can’t-miss acts. But they also offers suggestions for intriguing acts that promise to put on a great live show.
Programming note: In assembling these daily lists, attention was paid to performance times, though a quick-turnaround might be required to travel between stages.
72C on SUNDAY (JUNE 3)
• Thinner Teed (George’s Majestic Backwoods – 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.)
Today’s musical offerings are somewhat scaled down, with no performances on the Main Stage. So, why not start the day with a jam? We suggest starting at the Backwoods stage wtih Thinner Teed, a Chicago-based band that’s influenced by rock, blues, funk, bluegrass, electronic and jazz. This is a high-energy band that’s not afraid to improvise. That on-the-spot creativity is one of the best things about a music festival, and you’ll find it here.
• Toubab Krewe (Revival Tent – 1 to 2:15 p.m.)
Grab some lunch on your way over to the Revival Tent for an entirely different musical experience. Toubab Krewe, based in Asheville, N.C., is stopping by on their way through Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas. Formed in 2005, this instrumental band fuses the music of Mali with American styles, including blues, folk, bluegrass and Cajun. It’s an intercontinental sound worth listening to. In addition to guitar, bass guitar and drums, the group plays several West African instruments: the kora (21-string harp-lute), kamelengoni (12- string harp-lute), soku (Malian horsehair fiddle), as well as African percussion.
• The Sheepdogs (Kum & Go Outpost – 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.)
Mellow into the afternoon by catching a set at the Outpost with The Sheepdogs, a Canadian rock band from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. This casual band has an old-school southern rock sound. Members offer a big guitar sound and solid, soothing harmonies. The band is Ewan Currie (on vocals and guitar), Leot Hanson (on guitar), Ryan Gullen (on bass) and Sam Corbett (on drums). Formed in 2006, the band recently signed with Atlantic Records and has an album coming out this year, produced by The Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney.
• The Infamous Stringdusters (George’s Majestic Backwoods – 4 to 5 p.m.)
Next, you’ll want to head to the Backwoods stage for the Infamous Stringdusters, a bluegrass band that formed in 2007, the same year they won three awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. The five-piece band features Dobro, guitar, banjo, fiddle and upright bass. They toured with Yonder Mountain String Band earlier this year for that band’s annual Cabin Fever Tour. In addition to opening, the Stringdusters’ bassist Travis Book filled in for Yonder’s Ben Kaufmann, who took off a few nights to spend with his wife and newborn baby.
• Hot Buttered Rum (George’s Majestic Backwoods – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.)
Admittedly, the name of this band seems invitation enough to check them out, so just stay where you are. This music will make you feel just as good as that sugary sweet drink. Like rum, there’s a bit of an island feel to some of their tunes, as well as jazz and country. The five-piece, San Francisco-based progressive bluegrass band formed in 2002, and they play lots of festivals. They used to be acoustic, but, after their founding mandolin player left a few years back, they added a drummer. Both instruments provide the backbeat, but now they’re not purely bluegrass. No need to categorize here. They even have a flute player, and the overall sound is sweet.
• Slightly Stoopid (Revival Tent – 8 to 9:30 p.m.)
Take a long, dinner break, and then head to the Revival Tent for Slightly Stoopid. The band, based in San Diego, plays a blend of acoustic rock and blues, with some hip-hop, punk and reggae. The band formed in 1995, created by childhood friends Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald when they were in high school. They offer a great groove and solid guitar work, punctuated with congas, trumpet and saxophone.
• Matisyahu (Revival Tent – 10 p.m. to midnight)
Finish the final festival day under the tent with Matisyahu, who was on stage here in 2009 (and in Kansas in 2005). He blends contemporary styles of reggae, rock and hip-hop beatboxing with traditional Jewish themes. His songs offer an uplifting message and positive outlook. He has a new look since his last time here — his beard is shaved. (He’d grown it out since he adopted Orthodox Judaism more than 10 years ago.) He also has a new band, Brooklyn’s acclaimed Dub Trio, which includes D.P. Holmes (on guitar), Stu Brooks (on bass) and Joe Tomino (on drums). They’re sure to bring a fresh sound as Matisyahu continues on his musical and personal journey.