The Festive Season
Think you know your way around a summer festival? Think again
By Dacus Thompson
Brett Mosiman's stroke of genius wasn't to put together a multi-day music festival in the middle of nowhere. The creators of Coachella and Bonnaroo had already done that. What Mosiman did that separated his idea from the other big-name outdoor camping festivals was that he didn't care so much about booking commercial bands — headliners that were guarantees. He cared more about the integrity of the lineup. "We're focused on getting you on your feet to dance," says Mosiman, founder of the perennially underexposed Wakarusa, a four-day festival set in the Arkansas Ozarks that brings together an impressively eclectic mix of bluegrass, jam band and electronic music.
"We want to have nonstop great party music." And when he says nonstop, he's not kidding: From the opening act on Thursday until the final encore on Sunday night, the music — whether it's the rabbit-fast picking of The Del McCroury Band or the hyper multiplicity of Girl Talk — only stops for "an hour or so every morning," says Mosiman. "At about 8am you can get in a cup of coffee in silence."
But because Wakarusa takes place on more than 640 acres in the Ozarks (pitching a tent on one of the three campsites is strongly encouraged), silence is never that far away. There is no end to hiking trails, waterfalls and hippy-friendly activities like disc golf, costume parades, yoga classes and mid-morning hula-hoop workshops. The main draw, though, for the ever-expanding crowds (after attracting about 5,000 music fans to the first Wakarusa, Mosiman expects about 20- 24,000 folks per day at this year's fest) is still all about the quality of the music. Headliners include Pretty Lights, Primus, the Weir-Rob-inson-Greene Acoustic Trio,
G. Love and Special Sauce, the Avett Brothers, and Big Gigantic. Meanwhile, the deep list of lesser-known acts, such as Tinariwen — the Tuareg group from Mali and Blitzen Trapper, and Mad Men-theme song writer RJD2, guarantee that you'll leave Wakarusa with a handful of new favorite bands.
When: May 31-June 3
Where: Mulberry Mountain, Ozark, AR (79 miles from Branson, MO)
What: Rock, alternative/experimental, instrumental
Why: There's also hiking, fishing, kayaking and disc golf