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The Mountains Will Sing With Smilefest 2006

May 1st, 2006 8:00pm EDT
Keller WilliamsSmilefest, one of the southeast's most revered eclectic music and camping festivals, is slated for June 2-4, 2006, at the Gorges Music Park, in Lake Toxaway, NC. Joining headliners Michael Franti & Spearhead, Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, and Sam Bush, more than thirty-five additional acts, representing the worlds of Bluegrass, Folk, Alt-Country, Americana, Jambands, World Music, Funk and Jazz, will appear on the two beautiful mountain view stages of this twelfth annual event.

Featured acts include New Monsoon, Everyone Orchestra, Herring-Rodgers-Sipe Project, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, Steep Canyon Rangers, the Avett Brothers, the Darol Anger's Republic of Strings, Jeff Coffin's Mu'tet, Bill Evans Soulgrass, Lotus, The Biscuit Burners, Hot Buttered Rum, and Acoustic Syndicate's Steve McMurry's Big Blue.

One particularly exciting highlight of the weekend's entertainment will involve an appearance by the Everyone Orchestra, featuring experimental guitar legend Adrian Belew. Created and conducted by percussionist Matt Butler, the EO is an interactive musical experience, melding active audience participation with the improvisational input of a revolving roster of all-star artists. Since the group's composition changes from event to event, each performance is a truly unique experience.

For Smilefest, the EO unit will include Butler, Belew (King Crimson, David Bowie, Tom Tom Club), keyboardist Dave McCracken (Donna the Buffalo), vocalist Tanya Shylock (Mountain of Venus), and bassist Tye North (Leftover Salmon). Joining this talented core will be guitarist Jimmy Herring (The Dead, Phil & Friends, The Allman Brothers, ARU), drummer Jeff Sipe (Leftover Salmon, ARU, Susan Tedeschi), saxophonist Jeff Coffin (The Flecktones), fiddler Darol Anger (Psychograss), banjo hero Billy Constable (Sassagrass, Big Daddy Bluegrass Band), and mandolinist Danny Nicely (Journeyman Extraordinaire). While these particular artists have already been confirmed to appear with the Everyone Orchestra, with the high-energy appeal of this experience, there's no telling exactly how many other festival acts will choose to jump in at the last minute.

In addition to a full bill of world-class music, Smilefest 2006 will offer a robust Kids' Universe, diverse culinary offerings, a wide array of high-quality vendor merchandise, scenic waterfall exploration, beautiful hiking and biking trails, and free rustic camping. This year will also see the return of Smilefest's Festi-VOL Village, an interactive exhibit area where attendees will be introduced to worthy non-profit groups they can serve in their own communities once they return home.

Also joining the party are the Pnuma Trio, Barefoot Manner, Dubconscious, Afromotive, Seepeoples, David Via and Corn Tornado, Town Mountain, Furnace Mountain, Hit and Run, Curtis Burch, Ralph Roddenberry, and Donna Hopkins.

Long known for going above and beyond to meticulously cater to the needs of artists and patrons alike, Smilefest's organizers have entered into a long-term partnership with Gorges Music Park to fully develop that site into a premier camping and performance venue. According to Event Director Bob Robertson, "For twelve years now, we've always listened to our crowd and tried our best to provide the features, activities and creature comforts they find lacking at other festival sites. To me, that's what really sets us apart, treating our attendees like family. So we're absolutely thrilled to team with the forward-thinking owners at GMP to work from the ground up to build in all the amenities our folks deserve."

While the physical move to GMP provides significantly more room for festival activities, Robertson points out that Smilefest's attractively intimate size will not quickly change. "Honestly, we'd more than likely be able to fit a ton of extra folks in this year, but we're not going to. Our people are used to our roomy camping areas and the ability to get close to their favorite artists. And that's the way we're going to keep it for them," he says.

Rounding out this year's bill are Packway Handle Band, Cyril Lance Band, Tanya Shylock, Infradig, Chuch, Dromedary Quartet, Scarecrow Collection, Green Lemon, Strut, Sugar and Spice, Irongrass, and AfterDark.

While $95 advance tickets and full festival information can be obtained at Smilefest.com, the website provides info related to physical ticketing outlets and non-profit-supporting sales options, as well.