Medicine Stone 2019
Medicine Stone is an annual music festival, hosted in Tahlequah, Oklahoma at the Diamond Head Resort along the Illinois River in late September, dating back to 2013. Collaborating founders, Jason Boland and the Turnpike Troubadours, select the festival lineup each year, assembling a diverse collection of artists whose talents they admire and wish to showcase. Many of these musicians have long-standing existing relationships with the festival creators, but some are newer acts taken under the wings of one or the other in a mentor/protégé type role, while still other invitees are long-standing and well-known talents invited for strengthening the cast. The result is a very family-like atmosphere between the bands, which quickly spills over to the attendees.
The seventh production of Medicine Stone was held, September 19, 20, and 21, and the lineup was among the best ever, notwithstanding the regrettable absence of the Turnpike Troubadours. Jason Boland and the Stragglers anchored Saturday evening with Robert Earl Keen taking the top bill on Friday. Up and coming Texan, Parker McCollum, was handed Thursday evening’s Main Stage closing set. These acts were more than capably supported across the three-day event by Todd Snider, Wade Bowen, William Clark Green, Flatland Cavalry, Shinyribs, Jamie Lin Wilson, Cody Canada and the Departed, American Aquarium, Mickey and the Motorcars, Red Shahan, and local favorites, RC and the Ambers.
While the Main Stage acts are always fantastic, the sets played at the River and Gravel Bar stages provide a more intimate experience for artists and fans, alike. The following acts filled out the cast of performers on the other stages, each with its own unique charm and atmosphere: John Fulbright, Courtney Patton, Kaitlin Butts, Max and Heather Stalling, Bri Bagwell, the Vandoliers, the Bottle Rockets, Austin Meade, BC and the Big Rig, David Beck’s Tejano Weekend, Carter Sampson, Jacob Tovar, Doc Fell and Company, Jared Tyler Band, Dave Kay, Chris Blevins, and Osage County.
The Main Stage is a conventional outdoor music festival unit, trucked in and assembled for the event. It’s wide enough to allow the artists to spread out during performances, and tall enough for those adding a light show, while creating an acoustic cave to capture and channel the music out into the crowd. A metal rail between the stage and the crowd kept a slight gap for security and photographers to have necessary access. A large standing only area stretched back from the rail about 30 yards or so to a point where a space for folding chair seating was established. Fans assembled early each day to stake their claim along the rail for a front row view or the perfect spot for their chair. Both the view and sound were ideal, though wherever you took in the shows from. Surrounding the viewing area were merchandise tents, vendor booths, and food trucks offering a variety of choices. Security to the Main Stage area was effective, but in no way heavy handed. There was a considerable presence of Cherokee County Deputy Sheriffs at Medicine Stone, available if needed, but mostly they just blended in. Officers and event staff were friendly and helpful, and entry/exit screening was minimal yet still thorough.
The sound systems and technicians were first class across all three stages. Aided by a well-planned schedule, ample time was allocated for artists to conduct sound checks ahead of time. This tends to be taken for granted at times, but not all festivals flow so smoothly. The aforementioned family atmosphere across the festival contributes to the chemistry between artists and supporting personnel, allowing for seamless performances without interruptions to fix the sound during the shows. With limited set times these details are critical for a successful event, and Medicine Stone has their act together on this.
As a three-day festival, lodging is a big decision. Medicine Stone offers a variety of packages from basic tent sites to “glamping” (glamour camping). RV spaces with or without utility hook ups are available also. If you’re looking for indoor accommodations, they offer bunkhouse (large cabins) and hotel packages in nearby Tahlequah. The hotel packages offered an excellent shuttle service that ran between the festival and town from 11:00 Am to 2:00 AM each day. Several vans were running at all times, and the drivers passed out a number to text if you needed a ride at any time a shuttle wasn’t idling at the pick-up and drop off points. For day visitors, parking on site was abundant and reasonably priced. VIP packages offered an exclusive viewing area (elevated and covered off to the right side of the stage), daily meet and greet sessions with the artists, a 2019 Medicine Stone t-shirt, and a signed souvenir guitar.
This article and coverage were in conjunction with our friends at Americana Highways. Please check out the highlights and best of Medicine Stone here:
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