Roots grow deep at Marvin’s Mountaintop

Festival lovers set to jam at Deep Roots Mountain Revival this summer


Life Editor

West Virginians are preparing to explore their roots at Deep Roots Mountain Revival Music Festival this summer in Masontown.

Deep Roots is back for its second anniversary and promises a great and unique festival experience for all types of people. Festival founder and organizer Claude Ryan said the choice of where he should hold Deep Roots was obvious.

“Everyone associated with creating this event are life-long residents of West Virginia, so having this event in West Virginia was an easy decision — all of our family roots are here,” Ryan said.

The festival’s connection to West Virginia doesn’t stop at family members, the roots grow deep and intertwine with the roots of other festivals that aren’t even around any longer. For the second time, Deep Roots will be held at Marvin’s Mountaintop — a name festival attendees may very well recognize, seeing as it was the original home for All Good Music Festival from 2003 to 2011.

“We knew it was going to be a little bit of a challenge separating our event from the history of the venue, but we felt it was worth the effort,” Ryan said. “Marvin’s is an iconic venue on the festival scene and to retrieve this mountaintop so we can share the experience of what it has to offer is a dream come true to us. We believe the mountaintop is the best music venue on the East Coast and I’m sure there are a lot of former patrons out there that will agree with us.”

There are trials and tribulations involved with running any kind of event, but a music festival typically carries its own specific problems. Ryan said the festival planners were constantly learning how the festival operated in September 2016.

“Last year taught us a lot about who we want to be and what we need to change,” Ryan said. “The biggest changes for 2017 would probably be a change in the stage layout, more kids’ activities, an updated walking path through the woods to the Roots stage, an Artist Village, updates to the family and Americans with Disabilities Act camping area, better site transportation and RV electrical hookups in the general admission parking. Every year we survive we want to make minor changes to the event to enhance the experience for the attendees that support us — we don’t exist without them.”

Something inherently unique about Deep Roots is the family friendly aspect. Instead of focusing on just an adult audience, Ryan said it was imperative to be as inclusive as possible. A lot of festivals in the immediate area wouldn’t be advisable to bring children to, but Ryan said that wasn’t the case for Deep Roots.

“We don’t want to just throw a party, we want to create an event that will be sustainable and can be appreciated by everyone, no matter their age,” Ryan said. “A community isn’t really a community if there aren’t any kids around. Plus, I have three kids of my own so there is nothing more important to me in life than family. The energy of kids just makes everything better.”

Deep Roots staff are also going above and beyond when it comes to ensuring the future of their festival, especially keeping the festival in West Virginia and ensuring the event is fruitful for not only attendees, but those in the surrounding area as well.

“We are taking steps to reduce our footprint as much as possible, but as we all know this is an extremely challenging task with an event like this,” Ryan said. “We are working with a local company to assist us with a recycling program this year, this is something we want to get better at every year we exist, so we will strive annually to improve on this each year. We also want to keep it local, so if there is something we need for our event that we can resource locally, that is what we will do. In addition, we encourage attendees to carpool, as well as help us to recycle the trash they create at their camps. If everyone pitches in, we will be successful at creating a responsible, sustainable, environmentally friendly event that we can all enjoy for years to come.”

To make the festival even more of a local affair, Ryan said his staff makes sure to always look at local services to fill a need the festival has. Instead of hiring a traveling company, Ryan said there is a strong emphasis on reaching out to those in the community.

“Last year we hired a local restaurant owner, who also does catering, to provide food for the artists and staff,” Ryan said. “Other local businesses catered the food for VIPs, as well as provided a coffee bar in VIP camping. A local business handled all the trash from the event. We partnered with local non-profit, Friends of the Cheat, to help staff the event and organize  our kids’ activities. Masontown Volunteer Fire Department will be providing assistance with EMS again this year. We are working with local hotels and bed-and-breakfasts to partner up with offsite accommodations for those that don’t enjoy camping, and this year we are reaching out to locally sourced food growers to supply product for the vendors at the event. Each year we hope to expand our reach within the community so we can grow together.”

The Deep Roots 2017 lineup does something more regional festival also don’t do — blend together national and local acts to provide the best jam sessions for festival attendees possible. This year’s lineup includes national talent like Dr. Dog, Brandi Carlile and Yonder Mountain String Band. Local favorites on the lineup include Tyler Childers, The Horse Traders and Qiet.

“I really enjoy the experience of discovering something new when I attend a music festival, so I guess this year I’m most excited to see JJ Grey & Mofro, Brandi Carlile, Moon Taxi and Billy Strings,” Ryan said. “Also Forlorn Strangers and White Denim because I haven’t had the chance to catch them live yet. Another thing that always gets me excited are collaborations and a little bird told me there may be some pretty unique collaborations at Deep Roots Mountain Revival 2017, so I’m pretty stoked to see how that all plays out.”

Deep Roots Mountain Revival is offering locals a unique opportunity to experience great talent and a beautiful location, surrounded by their peers and festival organizers who love to see life breathed into the hills of Marvin’s Mountaintop.

“What is great about our event is we have the space to accommodate everyone that attends the event onsite, regardless of your weekend-long camping choice,” Ryan said. “If you want to stay in a tent, car camp or bring an RV, you do that all on the property of Marvin’s Mountaintop. We don’t have any need to shuttle people to offsite locations, you just get to wake up and enjoy the event at your leisure. Oh, and the fact that we aren’t owned by big corporate money is awesome — we are an old-school grassroots event.”

The Deep Roots Mountain Revival Music Festival is July 20 through 22 in Masontown, West Virginia. Deep Roots is open to music fans of all ages, is easily accessible for people of all types of mobility and offers both general admission and VIP tickets.

William Izzo can be contacted at [email protected].