After a good day of playing 18 holes of disc golf, or cycling 100 miles through some of the mountains' best views (if you can still stand up after such a ride), let those muscles relax with some live music. The Mountain Sports Festival delivers, bringing some of the finest local and regional acts to the main stage, with a couple of ensembles from Baltimore and The Big Apple thrown in for good measure.
Highlights include local favorites Ol' Hoopty, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, Jen and the Juice, Turbo Pro Project and Soulgrass Rebellion.
Ol' Hoopty brings its smooth funk-and-soul grooves to the festival on Friday. Baltimore's Kelly Bell Band rounds out the action for the first day with a sound the band dubs "phat blues music," a scorching combination of funk, rock, soul, R&B and blues.
Jazz-fusion quartet the Jonathan Scales Fourchestra plays first on Saturday. The Fourchestra plays an eclectic mix of jazz-influenced pieces, with one important instrument added to the mix: steel-pan drum. Scales, a classically trained composer, adds steel-pan riffs that at times sound traditionally Caribbean, other times frantic.
Jen and the Juice also brings its charming indie sound to the main stage on Saturday. Coming off the release of last year's Fruit, the band features members Laura Reed and Deep Pocket, The Big Ol' Nasty Getdown, and the Booty Band, in addition to songwriter and Asheville native Jenny Greer.
Turbo Pro Project comes to the fest with a sound that you have to hear to believe, playing a fusion of bluegrass, hip hop and Americana. The band has mixed a formidable acoustic and electric banjo section, with live DJs that have spun records for everyone from the Notorious B.I.G. to Method Man.
Asheville's Soulgrass Rebellion, known for impressive, raucous live shows, may progress from traditional roots reggae melodies to a jam-band style breakdown all in the same song. The group takes the stage ahead of Brooklyn's funk and soul outfit The Pimps of Joytime, an Asheville festival veteran.
Scott Kinney, the Mountain Sports Festival's entertainment director, says The Pimps of Joytime are more than happy to be coming back to play in Asheville again. "After I booked their first Asheville appearance in 2009, the band really fell in love with the city," he says. "If there is an opportunity to come back that works with their schedules, they've been happy to come."
The final night showcases Charlotte's Simplified and the Brooklyn/Boston/Burlington-Vermont collective Rubblebucket Orchestra.
The ever-touring Simplified plays catchy tunes with a definite college rock vibe in the style of O.A.R. and Dave Matthews Band, switching effortlessly from reggae-infused songs-to-noodle-to, to power chord-laden, fist-pumping ballads.
Rubblebucket Orchestra has a sound that is so eclectic that it is difficult to define. The horn section is straight funk, the organ is right out of the golden-era of soul, and the driving percussion pounds it all home, courtesy of drummer Craig Myers of the Mike Gordon Band.
The music at Mountain Sports is free. But the fun doesn't stop after the festival ends. The Rocket Club offers a Saturday-night after-party, and the Emerald Lounge invites festival-goers to its Sunday-night after-party festivities.
For more information, visit www.mountainsportsfestival.com or call 251-4029.