The third annual Music on the Mountaintop opened Friday under cloudy skies in Boone, with performances by local favorites like Now You See Them, Uncle Mountain, Josh Phillips Folk Festival, Holy Ghost Tent Revival and more.
It was clear from the start that there would be no shortage of guest spots and jam sessions as multi-instrumentalist Matt Williams, Holy Ghost Tent Revival’s Hank Widmer and Now You See Them’s Shane Conerty joined Boone natives Uncle Mountain for an uncharacteristically loud and booming set of folk-rock gems that began to draw the self-conscious crowd to their feet.
Following the melodic, early-afternoon performance, Holy Ghost Tent revival took the main stage by storm, drawing the now-withering crowd back to the grounds with their infectious, toe-tapping blend of folk, pop, bluegrass and zydeco. As a growing number of dancers and spinners gathered below, the band was joined by, you guessed it, Matt Williams and Shane Conerty for a horn-heavy jam session that rang throughout the grounds.
Next up was the Josh Phillips Folk Festival, whose soulful, reggae-tinged set was a highlight of the afternoon and included a stellar cover of Paul Simon’s “I Know What I Know.” “This one’s for all you Boonies out there,” Phillips offered with a laugh, before diving into a rap that seamlessly transitioned into a funky reggae beat and melodic chorus of “Thank you for smoking your hash with me.” With the audience now eating from their hands, the band was joined by Shane Conerty — who Phillips introduced as “the number one floating musician of the weekend” — for a two-song jam that saw Conerty channeling his inner rock star for raucous kazoo solo. Closing out the block with another cover, this time a subdued, folky version of Radiohead’s “Creep,” Phillips graciously thanked the energized crowd and quietly left the stage.
As the trebly tones of Keller Williams echoed through the Old High Country Fairgrounds and the sun began to set over the mountains, throngs of festival-goers rushed to the main stage for the one-man-band’s fun-loving set that included “I Love California” — Williams appeased the adoring crowd by substituting North Carolina for the Sunshine State — “Kidney In a Cooler,” “Freaker by the Speaker,” “Novelty Song” and a cover of Marcy Playground’s “Sex and Candy.”
But it was Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, the evening’s final act, who drew the largest crowd with their funktastic jams and over-the-top antics. Bassist Al Al Ingram, donning a Parliament-inspired getup that included a slightly-creepy set of gargoyle wings, worked the enthusiastic sea of fans as a plethora of glow sticks illuminated the grounds and hoola hoops swirled about. But the most notable moment of the performance came when the band was joined by founding member Josh Phillips, who performed a hip-hop inspired track that brought down the house. “It’s like a family reunion up here,” said Ingram as Phillips exited the stage to deafening applause.