WATCH PARTY: Watchhouse, formerly Mandolin Orange, performs in August 2022 at Beech Mountain Resort in North Carolina. (Courtesy venue)
Micah Davidson is an opportunist, which goes a long way in the live music biz. Davidson, president of Midwood Entertainment, saw a crevice of opportunity to create a new event in North Carolina to help fill the gap after Virginia’s Floyd Fest canceled its 2023 event.
The result is Party on the Mountain, a three-day event at Beech Mountain Resort, set for July 28-30. It’s not a full-blown festival. A total of six acts will perform over the weekend outdoors in the Blue Ridge Mountains, paced by headliners Sheryl Crow, JJ Grey & Mofro and My Morning Jacket.
Concert capacity is 4,000. Weekend passes run $150 a person for general admission to $450 for a VIP package. Single-day GA tickets cost $55 a person. As of mid-July, tickets were still available.
For Davidson, the “party” falls in line with the monthly summer concert series he already books at Beech Mountain, a ski resort owned by the Costin family of Charlotte since 1986. He’s programmed live music at the resort over the past six years, including winter concerts indoors at the resort’s Beech Tree Bar & Grille, a 600-capacity venue.
Apart from Beech Mountain, Midwood Entertainment, also based in Charlotte, produces a handful of festivals in the southeast, such as the NC Brewers & Music Festival in Huntersville; Bristol Rhythm & Roots Festival, spanning the states of Tennessee and Virginia; and the Orange Blossom Revue in Lake Wales, Florida.
Party on the Mountain came to fruition after Davidson caught wind of Floyd Fest possibly canceling this year’s event, which was scheduled for the final weekend in July.
Davidson immediately called Ryan Costin, Beech Mountain’s CEO, to see if he might be interested in promoting a new event that same weekend that would fold into the summer concert series. The Costins serve as the promoter, taking the financial risk to bring national acts to the northwest corner of North Carolina.
Together, they quickly formed a budget. Davidson researched acts booked for Floyd Fest to see if Beech Mountain could fit their routing if the festival canceled. The region where Floyd Fest has been held over the past 20 years is about 150 miles northeast of Beech Mountain.
“I used to be an agent and have a pretty good sense of what they’re going to ask me,” Davidson said. “I figured it was do-able.”
Sure enough, in early April, Floyd Fest was officially canceled after event officials could not work things out with permitting and logistics for a new site they had selected for the festival, according to published reports.
Davidson had offers out to Floyd Fest headliners Goose and the Black Crowes, in addition to Sheryl Crow and My Morning Jacket. The Crowes decided to take some time off from touring and Goose ultimately booked the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island.
Two out of four remains a hefty batting average. Davidson filled Saturday’s headline slot with JJ Grey & Mofro. Support acts, chronologically, are Southern Avenue, Dawes and Katie Pruitt.
“Beech Mountain is specific about how we use the terminology with ‘festival,’ from the standpoint of they don’t want it used at all, partially because it’s only two bands a day and we don’t know if this is going to be a long-term event,” Davidson said.
“Plus, we didn’t have time to truly market it, because it was only a few months away,” he said. “But to me, if you’re even a slightly decent promoter and see an opportunity in front of you, do everything you possibly can to go after it. I feel bad for the folks at Floyd Fest and we expect it to come back in 2024.”
The venue for Party on the Mountain is a ski slope called White Lightning, one of the resort’s steeper runs, according to Davidson. Officials turn it into an amphitheater layout with fencing and barricades, installing a StageLine 320 portable stage at the bottom of the slope.
The existing ski school building behind the stage serves as the green room for the artists. The bunny hill next door is converted into a vendor village with food trucks, beer stands and merchandise booths.
Additional production vendors include Codex Sound Company of Hickory, North Carolina, which supplies equipment for all Midwood Entertainment events.
For shows at the resort, the biggest challenge is getting equipment up the mountain, whose peak elevation is 5,506 feet, which stands as the highest point in North Carolina.
No tour buses or semis are allowed to drive up the mountain.
Buses park at the Best Western Mountain Lodge hotel in Banner Elk, a small town about seven miles south of Beech Mountain. Trucks park at Lowe’s Home Improvement in the same community. Depending on the situation, the resort uses stage trucks to haul trailers and box trucks to load gear before taking it up the mountain. The process is reversed for loadout.
“We’re used to thinking outside the box on this kind of stuff,” Davidson said. “The fact that we already have a series here and our reputation as event producers has allowed this particular situation to come together, makes it much easier for the agencies to understand the logistics.”