This Is The Best Music Festival In America. So Why Haven’t You Heard Of It?
Written by Charlie Renagade on July 21, 2016
As Sundance gets underway it’s a perfect reminder of how drenched American arts festivals have become with corporate sponsorship. It seems like every possible brand tries to create an organic “experience” at these things. At the end of the day the distraction they often create can make these events lose a lot of the luster that made them so attractive in the first place. I feel that way about my beloved SXSW. Within the cradle of one of America’s best music town’s it has become impossible to navigate 5th street when the festival is in full swing. Big brands have taken the place over and turned it into the mall of America. Before you utter a collective sigh, there are still terrific festivals that have remained untarnished and that attract some of the finest line-ups in the business. Arguably the best is Wakarusa, conducted each year (this their 11th) on Mulberry Mountain near Ozark Arkansas.
Taking its name from a Native American word that means “ass-deep” – a term used to measure the depth of a river, Wakarusa is a jam band delight. Over the course of four days 6 stages host over 150 acts who performs over 200 sets of music. Bands this year like String Cheese Incident, Umphreys McGee, Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zero’s, The Mowglis, The Weeks, The Flaming Lips, Dr. Dog and Michael Franti help make up a line up that may in fact be their very best. It’s particularly great to see that a bunch of these are bands that made up our best of 2013 list only a month ago. In a sense this is a Disciples of Sound inspired event! What’s not to love?!
The Wakarusa experience is a camping meets great music with a one two punch. Against one of the prettiest settings possible this festival really does celebrate a lifestyle that only this kind of music can inspire. You may never have heard of it before but that is inherently part of its greatest appeal. This festival remains unblemished, pure, and perfect. There’s little out there that can lay claim to as much. Get ready to be “Wakarusa” in the jam!