Hangtown Music Festival ready to celebrate 10th anniversary

Carey Harmon of Railroad Earth plays drums while Joe Craven dances behind him in a Jack Skellington suit.

Carey Harmon of Railroad Earth plays drums while Joe Craven dances behind him in a Jack Skellington suit.

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Hangtown Music Festival is coming back to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The festival in Placerville, California, celebrates the spirit of Halloween with music, costumes, activities and more from Oct. 21-24.
After being postponed last year due to the pandemic, many are looking forward to reuniting with their friends and family. Carey Harmon, drummer for host band Railroad Earth, can’t wait to get back to Northern California.
“By going back to Hangtown for the long-awaited 10th anniversary; we’re excited and we’re excited it can happen. We’re hyped up because we haven’t played as much. Add costumes and all the craziness that is Hangtown — it’s going to be great.”
Event organizer Adam Northway said it’s a big deal for the festival’s return after a year off and it’ll be a special one to celebrate 10 years.
“Last year was pretty rough for everyone in the industry and it’s nice to see large-scale events coming back,” he said.

The lineup is the biggest draw to the festival and the organizers bring a mix of larger, established bands as well as up-and-comers.
Northway said the festival’s music vibe is mostly Americana with some funk sprinkled in.
Railroad Earth has hosted the festival since the inception in 2010, when it was known as Hangtown Halloween Ball.
Northway said everyone is excited for Gov’t Mule — one of the biggest acts they’ve brought to the festival. The Southern rock jam band is led by Warren Haynes, who was a longtime guitarist with the Allman Brothers Band.
“That’s a pretty big deal for our event,” Northway said.
St. Paul & The Broken Bones is rock n’ roll soul band making waves in the music world, and they get a spot on the lineup.
Also on the lineup: Galactic; Leftover Salmon; Twiddle; The Travelin’ McCourys; The High Hawks; The Lil Smokies; The Nth Power X2 (Including Nth Utero Performing Nirvana); Scott Pemberton O Theory; Kamani (Members of Nth Power, Dumpstaphunk, Lettuce, Snarky Puppy); Ida Mae; Diggin Dirt; Royal Jelly Jive; Mescalito; Island of Black and White; Red Dirt Ruckus; Birches Bend; Joe Craven as Emcee.

WHAT: Hangtown Music Festival
WHERE: Placerville, California
WHEN: Oct. 21-24
MORE INFO, TICKETS: http://hangtownfestival.com

Northway said the festival offers the production level of a really large festival with the small intimate vibe. They bring in a large main stage, a line array sound system, lighting systems and consoles both front of house and monitor.
“It’s really good for the bands and it’s really good for the fans,” Northway said.
Family Friendly
The festival touts itself on being a safe place for families and people are encouraged to bring their children. There’s a KidZone next to the stage with different activities. Elevation Hula Hoops is right next door for the kids to play with their toys all day, Northway said.
Festival emcee Joe Craven said it’s a place he’s brought his family over the years. While his four children are adults now, his wife still joins him along with one daughter who is a professional musician.
“She really loves to come there,” he said. “She’s performed there with one of my groups.”
Harmon said the kids get a real kick out of the costumes and the atmosphere. He said one of his favorite memories was a year the theme was “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” He said Craven came out dressed as Jack Skellington from the movie, and they added theatrics as the costumes matched the music.
He remembers guitarist Todd Sheaffer’s son, Wyatt, was a big fan of the movie and loved what Railroad Earth did on stage that night.
“It was fun because the kids were into it,” Harmon said.

Susan J Weiand
The KidZone has activities and fun things for the little ones.

The price of the ticket for the festival includes camping within the festival grounds. There are grassy areas for people to set up tents. The festival also sells RV Passes and a VIP package. There are also one-day tickets available. Northway said there are hotels in town and parking lots for those planning to leave at the end of the night.
From entrance to entrance the fairgrounds stretch 1/3 of a mile. Within the fairgrounds there’s bathrooms, showers, and electricity available. Kleen Kanteen will have filtered water stations set up at convenient locations. There’s also a Raley’s grocery store just a walk across the festival entrance for any last-minute needs. Northway said they’ve sourced local vendors and resources, including fencing, porta-potties and ice.

To keep patrons well fed there’s several food accommodations at the festival. There’s a variety including a pizza stand, a Mexican option, and healthy options.
“Over the years we’ve improved our food options,” Northway said.
Northway said Spiro’s Gyros are among one of the most popular. He said the one year they weren’t there, he had more questions asking where they were more than anything else.

With the large-scale event during a pandemic, they will need safety protocols. Northway said the festival hired a CDC compliance officer who is making the calls regarding the situation.
Attendees will need either a proof of vaccination or a negative test within the past three days. Northway said the festival will be very accommodating. There will be masks required for indoor events and hand sanitizer will be accessible. There will be a testing site available in case anybody needs one.
“99.9 percent of the feedback is people very happy with what we’re doing,” he said. “With anything, you’re not going to make everyone happy. We just want to do what is best for the event, the town, the industry, the workers and the patrons.”

Harmon said the festival has a little bit of something for everyone.
“The fest is a lot of fun. Day and night, you can come and dress up and there’s always great food.” he said.
“We love it. It’s home to us. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else around Halloween and that’s for sure.”

Susan J Weiand
Many people join in the spirit of Halloween by dressing up and partaking in all the fun Hangtown Music Festival has to offer.

Railroad Earth Drummer Carey Harmon said he’s excited to get back to Hangtown Music Festival and it’s a great sign their lives are returning to normal. The band hasn’t been to Northern California since January 2020.
“We’ve been anxiously awaiting that part of our lives to come back.”
He said Railroad Earth is excited about a new record they hope to finish by the end of the year. The release will coincide with a tour to support the new album.
While they’ve played a few songs from it while on the road, there’s still more to give.
“There’s a lot of stuff people haven’t heard, and we haven’t gotten together and played,” Harmon said. “We’re pretty excited for that and sharing it with people.”


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