Jubilo Music Festival: Appalachian Students Learn on the Job



Our swole neighbors to the east in Richmond, Kentucky have put together an optimistic event  for the weekend of September 13-15. That weekend the Fort Boonesboro State Park will be overrun with local music lovers watching acts from all over the region, as well as a few heavy hitters from far and wide. The lineup features local acts playing everything from country cowboy ballads to psychedelic anthems.

Friday night’s lineup boasts a performance from the infamous Unknown Hinson, the voice of “Early” on the hit show Squidbillies. Unknown Hinson is a persona based on the great rebel country singers of the past. Donning glued-on sideburns and a black western shirt, Hinson is the embodiment of everything Americana. Saturday night caps off the festival with our good friends Moon Taxi, a band whose progressive groove is very familiar to the ears of Kentucky. They are still powering through their demanding tour schedule, which has brought them to Lexington on a few occasions.

Tickets are $60 for a three day pass. Individual day passes are also available. Camping is provided and proceeds are going towards scholarships for Appalachian students.

That’s right! The festival, inspired by the program touted by nearby Berea College, is providing opportunities for students to work for scholarship money by putting this shindig together. Jubilo is working with its non-profit sister organization known as “APPalachian UPrising” (APP UP for short) to provide students from the Appalachian region with a chance to work for scholarships while gaining valuable work experience. They have pulled students from a wide spectrum of academic foci; there are marketing, accounting, graphic design, journalism and business students working together on the process of putting this festival together. They collaborate on everything from lineup decisions to performance contracts and promotions.

There could be more to this idea. Not only do they have a program that is helping students from a troubled region of the state experience higher education, but it is training these students in the art of festival management. According to the press release from APP UP, fourteen students are participating in the program. Assuming this continues for five years, that is at least 70 students with experience putting together a music festival.

Let’s go back to the future- The year is 2017. There are 70 people from the same region with experience in putting together a large scale camping music festival AND college degrees. This is a horde of experienced and educated individuals with the power to cash in on struggling Appalachia’s rich cultural capital. Let us hope that they become possessed with the entrepreneurial spirit and create something remarkable.

Some day the coal will run dry and the economy of Appalachia will be looking for answers to very serious questions. Stories in the Daily Yonder, ABC News, and a Public Health Report paint a bleak image of the future of central Appalachia. Rampant drug abuse, mental illness, health problems and poverty are a part of every day life for our friends in the east. Coal town “boom and bust” economies wear heavy on eastern Kentucky while opiate painkillers are being handed out like lollipops in banks. It is a time where either thieves or heroes can take control of Appalachia’s future, and the Jubilo Festival hopes to be a three-pointer for the good guys.

Lineup at aceweekly.com September music calendar.


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