For many, Labor Day weekend is spent over a grill in their backyard with neighbors and family, but for some they choose to spend their weekend camping with like-minded folks in Ohio at The Ville Music Festival. Formally known as Hookahville, the Ville is a long running holiday tradition for Ekoostik Hookah fans since it first started as a camp-out in founding member and primary songwriter Dave Katz and band manager Jeff Spencer’s backyard in 1994. Over the years, it has been held at different venues on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends before coming to its current location. The band has a simple motto that sets the mood for the weekend “no hassles or bad attitudes.”
This past Labor Day weekend brought thousands together for the fourth time in two years to Clay’s Park Resort for a weekend of swimming, camping, and music at The Ville Music Festival. With its abundant amenities and gorgeous location it is quite possibly the best location this event has ever been held at. Clay’s water park is connected to the camping and stage area by a short walk. A large sandy-bottom lake provides festival goers with all sorts of water activities when taking a break from the music and provides a well needed place to cool down from the heat. From kayaking, swimming, a suspended log roll, water slides and zip-lines there is something exciting for all ages. You could easily expect to find fans spending a few good hours cooling off while the hot sun drove them from their camps to relax in the water before the music started every morning.
The Ville has an amazing Main Stage area with a large permanent stage at the bottom of a soft grassy bowl providing great sight lines and incredible sound quality. Vendors line the right of the stage and wrap all around the top of the hill. In the mix of cold drinks, stir-fry, and tie dye clothes was an unexpected surprise. The famous Merry Pranksters Further Bus was parked off to the side. Driven by Ken Kesey’s son Zane, the bus was on its 50th Anniversary Tour and had stopped by to share a piece of history and join in on the fun. It was great to see children’s faces light up while staring in amazement at the crazy, psychedelic-inspired paintings inside and out on the bus. Kids who had no idea about the history they were looking at pointed out their favorite paintings as they inspected every inch of the 1939 International Harvester school bus.
The gates opened Friday for attendees who chose to take advantage of the “Early Bird” special. For an extra $20 they were able to camp an extra night and have first pick of where they would call home for the weekend. Music started later that day at 4pm at the Wood Stage with Boogie Matrix Mechanism. Set in the middle of the woods, the stage is cool all day from the shade provided by the surrounding tall pine trees. Following Boogie Matrix Mechanism on the Main Stage were Dead Ahead Ohio and Derrick Howard who gave way to headliner and fan-favorite Keller Williams and his bare-foot, one-man show. While Keller’s variety of bands always entertain, it is great to see him by himself doing what he does best. His high energy one-man show always gets the crowd going, stomping dust in the air while they spin and dance. At midnight the boys from Ekoostik Hookah took to the Wood stage to play an intimate acoustic set joined by Blue Moon Soup that lasted until late in the night.
Saturday morning started early with a nod to the famous Merry Prankster’s bus parked on the grounds as West Virginia’s KR3 hit the stage with their rocking their ’60 psychedelic-style of progressive-improvisation that helped wake any of the late sleepers. The field filled up slowly as it seemed of the majority of people were either cooling down at the water park or hiding from the sun in the wooded camping area where you could still hear the music coming through the trees. Local Ohio bands The Mucklebuck, KrisB, Jones for Revival, Big Leg Emma, and Aliver Hall filled the day with music that kept fans going from the Main Stage to the Wood Stage with quick stops at friends camps along the way. Ekoostik Hookah headlined the night with a stellar two-set show that started at sunset and went until midnight. Rounding out the night were the Rumpke Mountain Boys joined by Blue Moon Soup in the late night slot.
Sunday morning was greeted with a good dose of Grateful Dead inspired music starting with Willy Mac and the Leftovers and
continuing with Terrapin Moon. Staying with the Dead theme, The Main stage filled up early for a special Larry Keel set billed as “Larry Does Jerry.” For many the following band Pink Talking Fish was the highlight of the weekend with a jam-packed set of fan favorites. Ekoostik Hookah wrapped up the weekend on the main stage with yet another spectacular set that served as the perfect capstone to a weekend that truly lived up to the motto they set forth: No Hassles or Bad Attitudes.