Spring Hookahville :: 05.28 & 05.29 :: Frontier Ranch :: Kirkersville, OH

Memorial Day Weekend seemed to last just a little bit longer than normal this year as Hookahville XXIII switched from the usual Friday-Saturday schedule to a Saturday and Sunday lineup. With the gates opening at 4 p.m. Friday for Early-Bird campers, the elongated weekend was nothing but good times and mostly-clear skies.

Mike Perkins :: Hookahville by Scott Preston
By early Friday evening, the lots were filling with what would eventually be the largest turnout for Early Bird camping in Hookahville history. The vibe that night was laid back as friends arrived at our camp from opposite directions as far as New Hampshire and St Louis. Mike Perkins of The Shantee provided entertainment on the side stage, but there was no rush to hurry and set up a tent before running to the music. It was a take-your-time kind of night - perfect for greeting festival friends who had been in hibernation since the Fall.

Spring Hookahville is known to be a wet weekend, and anyone that attended "Mudville" in Spring of 2001 can attest to that. Hookah fans come prepared for the worst, with extra tarps, raingear, and towels in tow. So on weekends like this one, when the clouds break up and barely any of that gear is needed, it is an extra special treat.

Sam Bush :: Hookahville by Scott Preston
Sam Bush kicked off early Saturday afternoon with his bluegrass renditions of reggae classics. With two solid days of music in front of them, you would think that the crowd would ease into the festivities, but Sam Bush drew as big a crowd as any right off the bat. Bob Marley's "Is This Love" drew me from my tent around 12:30, just in time to watch hookah's own Johnny Polansky sit-in and jam with Sam and his band. Johnny sat in with nearly every band over the weekend, proving that Hookahville can still be the big jam session that it was originally intended to be.

The Wailers :: Hookahville by Scott Preston
The Wailers' set may have been the most pleasant surprise of the weekend. Though I knew I would enjoy the music, I never thought it would grab me in quite the way it did. The ten-piece band played Bob Marley tunes I have heard a million times before and made them even more brilliant. The female vocalists/dancers shone brightly despite ominous clouds overhead as famous tunes like "Lively Up Yourself," "Bend Down Low," and "War" > "No More Trouble" reverberated throughout the thickening crowd. Lead singer Gary "Nesta" Pines seemed to be enjoying himself too, warning the fans not to become "herb junkies" or they wouldn't be productive - advice that I'm sure was heeded...

Steve Sweeney - ekoostik hookah
Hookahville by Scott Preston
Each night, just before ekoostik hookah came on, fans at this fest were reminded how lucky they were to have it so easy at Hookahville. Sure, there may not be as many bands as there are at Bonnaroo, and true, the backdrop might not be as scenic as High Sierra. But to be able to get from the stage to your tent with plenty of time to have a few beers and still make it back before the set starts is truly priceless.

ekoostik hookah waits all year for the opportunity to blow the lid off of Hookahville. In a recently released DVD of Spring Hookahville 2004, Steve Sweney commented that Hookahville is a place where the band has to "try to be the culmination of everything they've ever been musically." It is a festival built around hookah's music, and the expectations are huge.

Steve Molitz - Particle :: Hookahville by Scott Preston
Saturday night was certainly no disappointment. Opening with a fitting "Springtime Again," it didn't take long for hookah to bring the customary special guests on stage. Particle joined the band three songs in for one of hookah's funkier tunes, "Life Is Good." Side by side with Dave Katz on keys, Particle keyboardist Steve Molitz seemed to be having a blast while he was providing some great dancing music. "Sundial," "Bone," "John Henry," and "And When I Die" were other memorable moments of pure chaos, energy, and awe. And while the sky looked threatening now and then, by the end of the night the stars were out and lighting the way to the late-night stage for the Drew Emmitt Band until 4 a.m.

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