Imagine a group of people so caught up in their enjoyment, the only thing they could seem to focus on was the people around them, the feeling of contentment, the music that filled the air, and the food and drinks that surrounded them.
The fifth annual Rte 23 Music Festival embodied all of this on Aug. 25 at the Carl Smith Stadium.
Attendees enjoyed games, a variety of food and drinks and a lineup of bands including Young Mister, album rock rhythm-and-blues act Cordovas, and funk-soul-pop headliners, The New Respects.
Opening the evening was the duo Young Mister. Their folk style grabbed the audience’s attention and kept listeners engaged throughout their performance.
Following the duo was Cordovas. While this group played plenty of well-known songs, their original rock content was better received. Overall, the band lacked enthusiasm although their music was well-written.
The headlining act and finale was The New Respects. Not only was their music upbeat and entertaining, they also had the most audience interaction and kept listeners actively engaged throughout their entire performance.
The four-person Respects had a varied style of folk and soul, and their energy and excitement was evident. After one fan began dancing to the band’s music, The Respects interacted more intimately with the audience.
“The people around me all had smiles on their faces,” said UVa-Wise senior, Summer McCoy. “It made me happy just to see the community out, having fun, and drinking together.”
Members of the UVa-Wise community and surrounding areas banded together to dance through the night and keep the bands playing. The bands obliged by continuing to engage the audience.
Students, faculty, and staff attending Rte 23 seemed to cast aside any stress related to school or work and let loose with friends, family members, and peers to enjoy a break from classes and work.
While the music, atmosphere, and food made attending Rte 23 worth it, the overall sense of community and togetherness was an added bonus.
Rte 23 also helped the college community get a better feel of the surrounding community. UVa-Wise student Ryan McFadden described the night was “exhilarating.”
This festival helped new students mingle, catch up with old friends, enjoy some delicious food, partake in the beer/wine garden, test options from several local brewery’s and take a break from studying. It also provided the perfect environment for members of the town to come and enjoy a Saturday evening.
Most major music festivals can lose their authenticity, however, the smaller and more intimate venue that Rte 23 offered sets them apart from other music festivals.
Rte 23 was a chance to reconnect with one’s musical roots and soak up some much deserved relaxation.