JOPLIN, Mo. —
When the gates open for next week's Harvest Music Festival, concertgoers will catch some of the best bluegrass, blues and jam bands in music.
Nestled amongst names like Yonder Mountain String Band and Les Claypool are two of Joplin's sharpest bands: Totojojo and Third Party. Both bands will take part in this year's festival, which is expected to draw more than 10,000 fans to Mulberry Mountain in Ozark, Ark.
While this will be the biggest potential crowd for Third Party thus far, vocalist/bassist Kelly Maddy feels the band is ready for the challenge.
"This is our biggest show to date with the potential draw," Maddy said. "We've got a great slot, and we are up against no one for a little bit. There is an opportunity to really kick it off hard, and we know it will be a wild time."
Third Party will take the festival's Roost Stage at 5 p.m. Saturday, while Totojojo will host a late-night gig Friday at 11 p.m.
While this is the first time that Third Party will take part in the festival, Totojojo has two previous appearances at Mulberry Mountain, including an opening slot in 2011 at Wakarusa and another appearance later that year at Harvest Festival. Though they aren't strangers to the big stage of a festival, bassist Josh Zimmer is looking at the show as an opportunity to build on their previous performances at the festival.
"We've had two member changes since then; our original guitarist left and Tony, our drummer, left, so it will be new to some of the guys," Zimmer said. "But we've got newer music than then and I'd like to think that we have a wider fanbase, so there will be people who know us there. When we were there in 2011, we were just kind of getting going. We were trying to make a name then. I'd like to think a lot has changed since the last time we took the stage."
The opportunity to take the stage for the first time is something that Maddy says the band has been preparing for behind touring and networking.
"It was building a lot of relationships and getting a foot in the door," Maddy said. "This summer, we got a message asking us to play Harvest. When we got that, it wasn't a consideration if we were ready in our minds. We were on the same wavelength, and we knew we were ready. We are hoping it leads to another festival show with (festival organizers) Pipeline."
The weekend will also give an opportunity for the bands to network further while catching up with other bands from the area. Totojojo drummer Al Romero said that is an opportunity he will relish.
"It's going to be an opportunity for us to mix with our fellow musicians," Romero said. "We've played with a lot of bands that are going to be there. It's going to be fun to see other bands that we get a few hours in together, now we get a weekend."
Want to go?
The festival will kick off Wednesday and will wrap up Saturday, Oct. 19. Tickets are still available for $160 for the weekend and includes parking and camping onsite. RV passes are also available for the weekend.
Writer and photographer Ryan Richardson will give festival updates throughout the week through social media. For more information, follow Joplin Metro Magazine on Facebook or @JoplinMag on Twitter.