Beyond the Music: Mustang Spring Jam

The improv rock band Ghost Light serve as the headliners of the 2019 Mustang Spring Jam.

Billed by its creators as “Two days of amazing live music by eight nationally touring bands of various genres,” Mustang Spring Jam 8 — the premiere Outer Banks music festival — is back with a vengeance.

The annual music extravaganza is set for Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19, at two locations in the stunningly beautiful Corolla — Mike Dianna’s Grill Room, 777 Sunset Blvd., Corolla; and Sundogs Raw Bar & Grill, 807 Ocean Trail, Corolla.

As usual, Mike Dianna, (the festival’s creator and musical curator), has put together an eclectic selection of musical pairings meant to appeal to a vast cross section of the most dedicated music fans and casual listeners on the OBX.

The improv rock band Ghost Light serves as the festival’s headliners on Sunday night. Touring in support of its debut album “Best Kept Secrets,” Ghost Light is a very cool, jammy quintet fronted by guitarists Tom Hamilton and Raina Mullen and augmented by the spectacular piano chops of Holly Bowling. Drummer Scott Zwang, also a bassist/vocalist, rounds out the band.

Primarily, Ghost Light’s sound is based on late-'60s, early-'70s jam-based tunes along the lines of the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, with a good dose of Bruce Hornsby-esque keyboards provided by Bowling. The songs are melodic, easily accessible and are replete with twists and turns by way of tempo and dynamic volume changes. Each member is technically suited for his or her roles, and I certainly look forward to catching their set closing out the show on the main stage, Sunday night.

While Ghost Light is reason enough to check out the event, don’t — even for a nanosecond — think that's the only reason to go to the festival.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, Mustang Jam 8 promises not only top drawer, developed talent, but also a glimpse of the potential future festival headliners by way of the student bands from the Mustang Outreach Program.

Saturday’s headliners are the Asheville, N.C.-based Travers Brothership, who is making the rounds on the East Coast this summer, with stops at some of the most prestigious music fests.

True to the band's monicker, the lead guys are brothers Eric Travers and Kyle Travers. Kyle is a scary guitarist with chops that normal guitarists would sell their souls for. Brother Eric lays down a solid foundation in conjunction with bassist Josh Clark, and Ian McIsaac fleshes the quartet out on keyboards and percussion. In my humble opinion, this is another “must see, must hear” group at this year’s festival.

But that’s just the Jam’s tip of the iceberg. Also appearing are “folk wave band” Emma’s Lounge, Downtown Abby and the Echoes, Roosterfoot, Andrew Scotchie & the River Rats, and the OBX’s own blues great Mojo Collins & Triple Vision.

So, come on out to get a glimpse of the future of music (the Mustang Outreach student bands), a good hard listen to the present (Ghost Light, Travers Brothership), and a local legend (Mojo Collins & Triple Vision) proffering his high energy blues.

Ticket price varies from the $10 general admission on Saturday, $35 general admission on Sunday or $40 for both days. Packages also include an option for a ride on the OBX Party Bus to and from the festival that allows you to bring your own beer and wine to consume on the way to the show, (as well as providing tunes during the ride). The party bus option is available both Saturday ($45 with a general admission ticket included) and Sunday ($65 with general admission ticket). For those who prefer a cushier experience, a VIP package is available that includes a three-course dinner inside the Grill Room on Saturday, a brunch and dinner on Sunday, five beverage tickets and a private bar, early access to the venue on both days, and most importantly, access to flushable toilets.

The VIP Weekend package will set you back $149 and is well worth it considering the meal inclusions, as the Grill Room is an excellent dining experience. A VIP option for Sunday-only runs $109.

So, if you’re a lucky local, or just visiting the OBX during the event, it’s going to be a rocking weekend.

Transplanted to the Outer Banks from the wilds of the L.A. area, singer-songwriter Scott Sechman has shared stages with Bill Medley, Tom Rush, Al Wilson and the Grass Roots during his ongoing music career. He has contributed to Mojo and various online outlets. His column, Beyond the Music, appears Fridays in Coast.

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