With the possible exception of mountain unicycling, most outdoor sports look pretty damn cool. What’s not awesome about dangling from an overhang by your fingertips, or busting out a dark slide. But—let’s be honest here—it’s not as cool as it could be, is it? You know what all this danger calls for? A soundtrack.
Luckily, the Mountain Sports Festival has got you covered, with three full days of music to provide the beat behind your high-risk hobby. Here’s a rundown:
5 p.m. Who better to kick off a celebration of regional sports than a bluegrass-loving powerhouse like Phil Barker? With a sound that’s equal parts Bill Monroe, Carter Stanley and Steve Earle, Barker is sure to set the mood for this most Appalachian of outdoor fests.
6 p.m. Unpredictable and eclectic, the Charlotte-based instrumental jazz trio known as Green Light brings a trance-laden edge to the evening’s sounds. It’s the perfect kind of vibe to chill out to—which, given the extreme nature of MSF’s demos, is probably a good thing.
7:30 p.m. After a long day of trying every outdoor sport you can, chances are the most you’ll be up for is listening to tunes while you lounge in the grass, right? Wrong. At least, that is, if Custard Pie—Asheville’s all-star Led Zeppelin tribute act—has anything to say about it. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself up and dancing to classic Zep, even if you ache a little with each step.
Noon Is “jamgrass” the musical equivalent of mountain unicycling? Quite possibly. Just look at Asheville’s Brushfire Stankgrass, a band constantly trying to find the balance between jam-band groove and bluegrass passion. They’ve been at this a while, though, so don’t expect a sonic face-plant.
1:30 p.m. With the day’s events now moving full steam ahead, who better to provide the soundtrack than the self-described “hipster swing” group Jen & the Juice? Jazzy, funky and always interesting, the group is likely to play at least a couple of songs almost everyone can squeeze a little something out of.
3:45 p.m. As the afternoon’s supply of adrenaline starts to run a little low, why not take a breather and check out the bluesy tunes of Cyril Lance. A master of the slide guitar, Lance plays exactly the kind of music you’ll crave for a midafternoon breather.
6:30 p.m. Forget all this outdoor-sports stuff: It’s time to rock, Southern style. Tishamingo takes a heaping spoonful of Americana, a healthy dash of jam, and a giant pinch of country to make a sound that’s surprisingly familiar to almost anyone who hears it.
1 p.m. The sultry, roots-music trio known as the Barrel House Mamas will give Sunday’s frazzled competitors a much-needed boost. The Asheville-based group’s unique fusion of old-time, blues and folk is just the thing to kick off the festival’s final day.
2:30 p.m. There’s a reason that the heavy groove of bar rock just won’t die. That reason is Ol’ Hoopty, and you can be sure they’ll bring their sturdiest for this afternoon set.
4 p.m. In a surprising move, the MSF appears to have saved one of the best acts for last. Check out local funk-groovesters Strut as they close out the festival. We dare you not to dance.