The Muddy Roots music festival celebrates punk, roots, metal, folk, and just about everything in between.
Muddy Roots isn’t much like other music festivals. Apart from the unusual combination of musical acts, Muddy has a few other characteristics about it that set it apart. Free camping is the big one. The venue is a large sloping field surrounded by trees. I don’t know how many people attended this year – maybe one thousand – but there was plenty of room to set up a tent and a fire pit, or a marquee and an RV. First come, first served; camp anywhere you like. To sweeten the deal, they also have free hot showers. I do not know of any other festival that does this. Given the relatively low ticket price in the first place, free lodging at the campsite makes Muddy Roots one of the best deals for fans in the country.
Along with the free camping, you can come and go as you please between the camping areas and the event space. You can even leave the grounds and return whenever you like – the gates are open twenty-four hours a day. You can bring in your own food and alcohol … try doing that at any other festival. There are several vendors on site so you can buy chow and drinks, and the prices are the lowest I have seen anywhere, especially for beer, soft drinks, and water.
There were three stages at the festival this year. The main stage is called the Wood Stage, and it is at the bottom of a sloping main (gravel) street that where everything happens. It is an open stage with a shed roof and good views from all angles. The smallest stage is in the Little Tent, and then there is the middle ground of the Big Tent a little bit farther along. These tents are open-sided, and they allow you to get out of the direct sun and rain while listening to the music.
The headliners this year ended up being Stöner, Fear, and Heavy Temple. Monolord was a late dropout and Heavy Temple took up the mantle on day two. The variety of bands that played is impressive and fascinating. There was a large punk presence, and that surprised me (even though I hadn’t formed strong expectations in the first place before the festivals). There were many folk and roots bands, and I did expect. Straight-up rock bands, and especially Doyle, felt a little out of place, but the crowd seemed to love them just as much as all the others.
There is a real sense of community at this festival, unlike any other I have ever been to. Part of it is the small size of the crowd, but it is more than that. There is a very specific vibe at Muddy Roots. One way to say it is that they only really have one rule at the festival: Don’t be a dick. I only saw one small group get the boot during the entire weekend. Virtually everybody had a constant positive attitude and there were good vibes all around all the time. Really.
This was my first trip to Muddy Roots, and I won’t be going back. No hard feelings, but I am simply looking for something else in a music festival. Muddy offers an eclectic blend of music and people, adding up to a unique music festival in the humid hills of middle Tennessee. It is worth going at least one time and, if you don’t live too far away, it is one of the best deals in music festivals you can find anywhere.
Photos by Wayne Edwards.
Note: This is a summary/excerpt/reduction/reimagining based on the original article that appeared in Ghost Cult Magazine. A link to the article appears below.