By Anita Stewart, Journalist/Managing Editor and Chyrisse Tabone, Editor/Photographer
Hops and Hogs Festival
April 10, 2021
We raced to Orlando from Tampa (what a huge FUBAR in the way of traffic) including detours, weird traffic patterns, huge intersections with no traffic lights, GPS snafus on our phones and in the car–but we finally made it to the venue for this really cool and very new music festival. It was a steamy hot afternoon and we headed through the main gate and raced to the stage just in time to catch Moon Fever‘s set.
Moon Fever is a favorite of Rock at Night; we interviewed the band when they played at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, Florida just a few short months ago. Catch that story HERE. Hailing from Amarillo, Texas and previously home-based in Los Angeles, the band is rapidly becoming a crowd favorite and is on the radar of European rock musicians (Jyrki 69 of The 69 Eyes/The 69 Cats) we have recently interviewed! So that is saying something! Check out their very cool videos HERE and HERE.
The grounds were set up with food vendors in one section with some great smells of awesome barbecue wafting everywhere. We had some really good pulled pork and pulled chicken…a tad expensive, but hearty portions and really good. There was a merch area, a natural grassy section that was sloped for great seating (festival goers could bring blankets or their own chairs) and perfect for acoustics from the stage. In front of the stage there was a cemented area for general admission and VIP patrons. The VIP section on stage right had some cool and comfy chairs. Security was well organized and posted everywhere. The only drawback was there was not enough shade.
All kinds of characters were attending this fest including the “Yacht” enthusiasts of 70’s and 80’s soft rock. They have turned it into a new genre called “Yacht Rock” and wear the little mariner caps to shows. Yes, it really is a thing! Another interesting character was the Mosh Pit Turtle! (See pic to left).
The second band was Jive Mother Mary which formed in 2006 and are from Burlington, North Carolina. I gotta say, this band rocks! They have played in over 30 states and 6 countries, opened for bands like Drive by Truckers and Blackberry Smoke, and are creating a lot of buzz. Currently, they have a new album and their third full length recording, that just dropped on March 8th called 8 Tracks.
The third set was Saving Abel, a crowd favorite that came on stage to a slightly bigger crowd and played a great set, thanking the audience and saying that they were happy to play for any sized crowd. Saving Abel is from Corinth, Mississippi, formed in 2004, and have acquired die hard fans over the years. The fans knew the lyrics and sang along throughout the band’s set. They have had a few lineup changes over the years but have remained solid, have 4 studio recordings, a few EPs and we at Rock at Night are waiting to hear about upcoming releases and tours.
The end of the day came about in a very strange and freaky way. The sky started to cloud up and the temperature noticeably dropped 10 degrees within a few minutes. Everyone has a different story about what exactly happened but Mother Nature was bizarre. We were sitting at a table in the food area and it was 6PM–we had just noted that we needed to start walking back to the stage–then it started to rain, everything was blowing, the vendor’s tents falling over, equipment flew by! We were not sure if it was a tornado or what meteorologists often call a micro-burst or something else. We did see dust swirling in little funnel cloud formations. We found ourselves running with all of our camera equipment to the most secure building on the grounds which was the brick structure that housed the bathrooms and we huddled under there for a while with lots of others until it was safe to walk into the parking lot.
We chose to leave right away as we did not want to get hurt or end up with damaged equipment. The festival was shut down after that as the management could not guarantee anyone’s safety. Their public statement went out on the social networks. It was unfortunate that some of the artists did not get to play that night.
This festival was ready to go with good organization, a great lineup of musicians, super food and beverage and ample accommodations so we at Rock at Night hope they try to come back next year and hold another one. Hops and Hogs also have a festival in Charlotte, North Carolina and their next dates are in September 2021. You can see more about them, the lineup and get tickets HERE.