New unique festival comes to the mountains of Erwin

Hannah Swayze • Sep 2, 2018 at 12:24 AM

ERWIN — There’s a new festival in East Tennessee, and it’s come all the way from the coast. 

Sol Slam Mountain Jam took over the USA Raft campus this weekend for a few days of good music, family fun and riverside adventure — mixed with the occasional downpour.

It was a year ago when the idea of holding a music festival on the banks of the Nolichucky was first formed. Sol Driven Train was performing at USA Raft for the grand opening of the newest part of the property; that’s when USA Raft owner Matt Moses and Joel Timmons of Sol Driven Train hatched the idea of moving the festival the band usually held in Charleston, South Carolina, to Erwin.

About nine months ago the two committed to the plan.

The two partnered up, bringing their skills together. Moses said that partnership was a good idea, because a music festival is not the kind of event he is used to having on the grounds.

“Big change for us. (We built a) Brand new stage,so I’m committed now,” Moses said.

In fact, Moses and the staff built that stage right in between the Nolichucky and one of the cabins in five days. This, in turn, fulfilled the desire Timmons had to get the festival somewhere the audiences could camp and stay for a few days.

“You wake up here, you make coffee, you have breakfast with your neighbors. There’s a real sense of community that happens with people staying put for a few days,” Timmons said.

About 167 people staying are staying on the USA Raft property in rentals and in tents, but at night the crowd grows to about 300. Saturday’s lineup featured the Terraphonics, Josh Roberts and the Hinges, Sol Driven Train and Yarn.

The two kept the first music festival small. The weekend had a handful of vendors, which included a pizza vendor, a food trailer and other craft, clothing and jewelry sellers.

On top of the festival, there was also a charitable aspect to the event. A portion of all the ticket sales will be donated to the Southern Appalachian Conservancy Fund, an organization that helps preserve plant life, animal habitats, clean water, farmland and scenic beauty in the Appalachian Mountains.

A small bar was also on location for the weekend, run by volunteers from Ziggy’s Second Chance Network, with the proceeds contributing to their mission of helping special needs and elderly cats and dogs and spaying and neutering animals in the area.

Just halfway through the festival, considering the positive response, Moses and Timmons were already prepared to do it again next year.

“We’re hoping It’s the first annual,” Moses said.

“I am too,” agreed Timmons

The Sol Slam Mountain Jam continues Sunday at noon with Sol Driven Train’s Kids show, Jeff Sipe’s Slam Shine and Sol Driven Train again to close out the festival.

For more information about the Sol Slam Mountain Jam, or to buy a day pass for Sunday, visit https://www.soldriventrain.com

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