Following are the 10 best things we witnessed during Medicine Stone 2018…
The sixth annual event created in collaboration with Jason Boland and the Turnpike Troubadours takes place annually at Diamondhead Resort on the banks of the Illinois River in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. This year’s event brought an extremely talented lineup to entertain the thousands in attendance who travel not only from all of Oklahoma but also neighboring states and even halfway across the country – as we did. In no particular order, here are the 10 best things we experienced at our first-ever Medicine Stone event.
To get the full Medicine Stone experience attendees need to camp or stay at one of the on site bunkhouses. Offerings from areas only large enough for setting up a tent, to “glamping” upgrades and even RV spaces complete with full hookups, there is a variety of different options from which to choose. The camaraderie established between attendees in only a short period of time is fun to watch. Life-long friendships are created and strengthened, meals are shared, parties last into the wee hours of the morning and musical talent can easily be found outside of the festival lineup as many artists bring instruments to entertain campsites at all hours of the day and night.
The weather didn’t cooperate for patrons to take full advantage of the Illinois River but it also didn’t keep people from giving it their best shot. Day one provided the best opportunity as the sun beat down ahead of an impending rainfall forecast for Friday and those campers who were ready when the gates opened, completing set up before lunch crowded into the river ahead of BC and the Big Rig kicking things off at 3:00pm. Setting up lawn chairs and just enjoying the fellowship of other concert goers, pack a bathing suit because regardless of what Mother Nature had to offer, the river still beckoned those who wished to float or relax as people made their way down to the water every day.
Yellow House Revisited
Some of the greatest musicians to come out of Oklahoma have ties to the Yellow House in Stillwater, following the dissolution of The Farm – including Mike McClure, Cody Canada, and Jason Boland. These three reunite on occasion and when they do it provides for a must see experience. All talented and entertaining in their own right, when the three share a stage the stories, lyrics, and music are endless.
Crowded into Mary Ellen’s Greenhouse (one of two side stages), which Boland shared was the namesake of a family friend and subject of his song by the same name on the Rancho Alto album, patrons were treated to a song swap before the grand finale – Carney Man.
The crowd asked and Canada reluctantly obliged after stating he was saving the song for his own set later in the evening. The first track on the very first Cross Canadian Ragweed record, Canada retired the song from his repertoire for many years before recently bringing it back. A crowd favorite, although Canada teased they were “easily entertained”, hearing it live with McClure was epic.
Scheduled to perform on the main stage Friday evening, Reckless Kelly had their set moved into Mary Ellen’s Greenhouse which lead singer Willy Braun affectionately nicknamed, “The Cheeseburger Tent”. Turning a negative into a positive, the tight confines allowed for an intimate set with one of the best in the business and Reckless Kelly didn’t disappoint.
Ending their set with a tribute to Prince and inspired by the continuous downpour outside, Purple Rain ignited the crowd and helped everyone to forget about the dismal weather conditions. Admitting they hadn’t played that song in quite some time, the band showed no signs of rust as it was one of the highlights of the entire festival.
In her first performance since giving birth to her fourth child, a baby boy, Jamie Lin Wilson greeted fans with a toast. “Here’s to the first show since last Christmas without a baby in my belly – cheers.” Set to release her new album, Jumping Over Rocks, in late October, Wilson wowed the crowd by triumphantly owning the stage back from her maternity leave.
The Medicine Stone debut of Oklahoma Stars, a single from her new record written by Wilson and Evan Felker of the Turnpike Troubadours (who previously released the song), took on an entirely different feel at the place of its inception. Hearing her sing, “on the banks in late September” brightened an otherwise dreary day as Wilson shone like the sun throughout her entire set.
In the first three minutes of John Fullbright‘s early afternoon set inside Mary Ellen’s Greenhouse he captivated the audience grabbing everyone’s attention with dynamic guitar skills which were surprisingly overmatched by his ability to control the harmonica.
Fullbright not only entertained with exceptional talent but also shared some jokes, displaying a vibrant personality while on stage. His Satan and St. Paul, in addition to Fat Man, which displayed his ability on the keys, ended with an accentuated foot to the keyboard. A rousing set of songs touching on a number of emotions, Fullbright is not to be missed.
The originally scheduled finale for night two, the Turnpike Troubadours returned after a brief hiatus of touring to “open” for Jason Boland and the Stragglers on night three. Another first in Medicine Stone history, both Turnpike and Boland performed on the same night.
Turnpike picked up right where they left off showing no signs of what has been a noticeable break, entertaining the crowd for what felt like a homecoming performance as many of the current members hail from Tahlequah and the surrounding area.
No matter where you found yourself on the grounds of Diamondhead Resort you didn’t have to look far to find an inappropriate trucker hat created by Uncle Bekah. One patron told her she had the best vendor booth on site and two doors down they were passing out free shots of whiskey – he wasn’t wrong.
Hats available in a range of colors, Bekah has taken her concept and organically grown it into a modern day phenomenon deeply rooted in the music scene. There’s already an option for seemingly every occasion but should you find yourself in need of something new, one can be created in seconds.
Medicine Stone 2018 brought the rain – literally. A brief shower early Friday morning gave way to more steady rainfall as the day progressed. By mid-morning clouds covered Diamondhead Resort and a rain never before seen in festival history ensued.
As the main stage flooded, every performance was relocated to Mary Ellen’s Greenhouse, the only covered venue on site. A tent city was erected out onto festival grounds as patrons attempted to get as close to the action as possible.
The performers, fans, and especially those responsible behind the scenes handling equipment and changing out stage setups for each act, all deserve a round of applause for making the best out of a difficult situation.
Often the highlight of a festival atmosphere when so many talented individuals are gathered at the same location, the collaborations witnessed over the course of the event were amazing. Beginning on night one with Koe Wetzel joining Wade Bowen after his own set and extending to both the Turnpike Troubadours with Jason Boland and the Stragglers sharing the stage on night three, many once in a lifetime moments were witnessed.
Kaitlin Butts joined Flatland Cavalry for their hit song, A Life Where We Work Out, Jamie Lin Wilson sang alongside Wade Bowen and Cody Canada, who joined Reckless Kelly for a monumental performance of the song performed by both, Crazy Eddie’s Last Hurrah.
Cody Braun played alongside seemingly everyone on Friday, on stage with Jamie Lin Wilson, his own Reckless Kelly, Cody Canada, and Charley Crockett. Fullbright also joined The Red Dirt Rangers and Austin Meade for a few songs.
Jason Boland sang without a guitar, hands stuffed into his jacket pockets alongside The Departed, jokingly stating that he didn’t know what to do with them.
Overall, Medicine Stone was an amazing festival full of quality music, people, and memories that will last a lifetime.