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Spring Hookahville set for Memorial Day Weekend

• Festival stretches for extra day this year

May 7, 2010
By ERIC AYRES, Times Leader News Editor

THORNVILLE, Ohio - The Buckeye State's biggest jam band has big things in store for Memorial Day weekend this year, as ekoostik hookah plays host to the 33rd biannual Hookahville.

The 2010 Spring Hookahville music festival will take place at Legend Valley Music Center on Friday, May 27, through Sunday, May 30.

Now in its 20th year, ekoostik hookah has performed across and even outside the country over the past two decades. Once an Ohio-based bar band, the group has grown to become one of the most respected grassroots rock'n'roll bands in the nation.

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ekoostik hookah

Hookahville began as a humble fundraiser and campout on band co-founder Dave Katz's wooded property in central Ohio back in 1994. It has since grown over the years to draw tens of thousands of fans, with ekoostik hookah sharing the bill with the likes of Willie Nelson, Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, David Crosby, Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band, Arlo Guthrie, Blue Oyster Cult and many more legendary artists, in addition to some of the best new artists and veteran music festival acts.

This year's Spring Hookahville will once again feature two nights of ekoostik hookah, which in a special twist will headline both Friday and Sunday night instead of two nights in a row. Headlining with two sets Saturday night will be Gov't Mule, led by front man Warren Hayes, who has also weaved his guitar wizardry as a member of the Allman Brothers Band and The Dead.

A true crowd pleaser, American poet and musician Michael Franti & Spearhead will also perform two sets at Hookahville. The group has not only electrified crowds on the festival circuit in recent years, but has also performed with the likes of everyone from U2 to the Dave Matthews Band, Ziggy Marley and REM.

Also on the bill for this year's Ohio-grown spring music festival and campout will be Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, Zach Deputy, Donna the Buffalo, Carlos Jones & the P.L.U.S. Band, Oakhurst, The Ark Band, Strange Arrangement, Rumpke Mountain Boys, Cowboy Hillbilly Hippy Folk, UV Hippo, Boogie Matrix Mechanism, Jahman Brahman, Bloom Street and Under The Sun. For early arrivals on Thursday night, Freekbass will perform, as well.

A variety of musical genres will once again be represented at Hookahville. From jam band rock to reggae, zydeco, bluegrass and more, the festival promises to paint a mosaic of musical performances that will be sure to entertain even the most finicky fans.

Hookahville is a homegrown festival that celebrates and showcases great music with a "no hassles or bad attitudes" motto. It not only brings some of the best regional acts together before huge crowds, but also plays host to big name artists, and of course, one of the most electrifying bands to call Ohio home.

At the end of last year, ekoostik hookah saw the departure of founding member and bassist Cliff Starbuck. Just months later, vocalist and rhythm guitarist John Mullins - an original member who had returned to the band in recent years after a previous departure years ago - stepped down as well.

Despite these turns in the road, personnel issues have not slowed them down. Bassist Phil Risko has joined the band as a permanent member, and longtime friend and musical collaborator Eric Sargent has been filling in on guitar and vocals, alongside Katz on keyboards, vocals and acoustic guitar, Eric Lanese on drums and vocals, and lead guitarist extraordinaire Steve Sweney.

The band has continued playing show dates this year and just returned from a trip to Negril, Jamaica, where they performed several nights for locals, tourists and a host of fans who came along for the vacation via open invitation.

Last weekend, ekoostik hookah's revamped lineup stunned the crowd at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in northeast Ohio, where the band headlined two nights of the annual Blossom Blast festival.

Although the band headlines clubs and festivals throughout the region on a regular basis, Hookahville offers ekoostik hookah and their dedicated fans a chance to enjoy a headlining performance on the grand stage, complete with state-of-the-art lights and sound, video screens and thousands of their enthusiastic fans gathered together.

Steve Trickle of Trickle Productions is once again producing the show, which if it lives up to last year's standards promises to be a full-tilt spectacle.

Legend Valley is located off Interstate 70 exit 132 near Thornville, Ohio, east of Columbus. The legendary outdoor concert venue is also playing host to the Cabin Fever festival this weekend, featuring the Spikedrivers, One Under, John Mullins Band, Rumpke Mountain Boys and more.

Admission to Hookahville includes music, parking and camping. Accommodations include restrooms, drinkable water, a medical tent, handicap accessible camping, numerous food and merchandise vendors and more.

A limited number of advance tickets are available at a discount price online. VIP tickets will once again be available, and they include behind-the-stage camping next to your vehicle with easy access into the concert bowl and expanded facilities. Early bird tickets for Thursday night arrivals are also available. Children age 12 and under will be admitted for free with a paid adult.

For more information about Spring Hookahville 2010 and other events at Legend Valley, long onto For information about ekoostik hookah, visit and for information about Hookahville, visit

Ayres can be reached at



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