A day of must-see music

September 28, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON — While the Herd is away, the funk will play.

At least that’s the case come Saturday, Sept. 29, as the third annual Funktafest will roll a full day and night of funky music at the Ritter Park Amphitheater.

Advance tickets are $10 on sale now (through midnight Friday at http://funktafest.com/) for the festival, which will feature 18 sets of live music including headliners that include the Toronto-based funk ‘n’ soul unit After Funk; Marbin (from Chicago); as well as Mateo Monk, and a hot who’s who on the regional funk and groove scene including host band M.F.B., The Settlement, Black Garlic, The Tangled Roots, Brother Smith (out of Cincinnati), Beggar’s Clan and Stratus. Not to mention, scheduled are some sweet in-between set beats from DJ Charlie Brown Superstar, DJ Feminasty, Sin Revel and DJ Tim Hoover.

General admission tickets will be $15 day of the show with a $20 ticket to include the hourly Funk Yoga sessions. There’s also a $50 VIP package. Children 12 are admitted for free. Featured along with music is local food, drink, arts and crafts vendors as well as performance art.

Festival organizer Parry Casto, who fronts the regionally traveling funk unit M.F.B., said he and co-organizer Joe Troubetaris, are super-stoked to bring the full Funktafest experience, which included three musicfilled pre-parties around the region, the 10-hour-long main festival followed by an epic V Club after-party featuring eight more sets of music that will rock, funk and roll Saturday night into a Sunday morning.

Funking it up live

Funktafest was birthed as a season-ending Ritter Live concert series show that Casto put on with that series’ organizer, Joe Troubetaris, up at the Amphitheater, which is also home to Huntington Music and Arts Festival as well as the summer time HART in the Park productions.

“It started as an idea between members of The Settlement and Beggar’s Clan and

M.F.B. We were given that opportunity through Joe and Ritter Live to curate a day of funkier and groovier artists. After talking to Kevin Brady with the park district, he was able to give us a Saturday instead of a Sunday. So we only had a month or so to throw the first one together. We started off with eight sponsors and eight bands, and I think we had at least 300 people there throughout the day that first year. It has really snowballed from there.”

A Point Pleasant, West Virginia, native who organized five years of the free music festival Sweat Stock in Mason County, Casto said he and Troubetaris dug in hard early this year to build a bigger, better fest.

“Just barely after New Year’s the great hustle began and we started getting our ducks in a row and thinking about how we can improve this. How we can make it more inclusive and more interesting. We put a lot of things into the cauldron for this year, hopefully it will taste good,” Casto said.

Casto, whose band The M.F. B. has been described as a “one-band festival,” said in curating the other acts, he wanted to really just pick bands that make people move and groove. Some funk, some more jazzy, some more rock, some more country, some more R&B.

“Bands like Marbin have played Charleston and Beckley and they have blown me away,” Casto said. “We found out they were approachable and within our budget, so we secured them. They’re not really funk but in that jam and jazz vein. That’s the rule of Funktafest, and it’s not even a rule, but if you groove, you are going to be considered. You got to have that groove and be somewhat danceable and then you are on the radar. You wouldn’t think that Brother Smith would play the fest, but they groove something fierce even though they come out of an Americana and almost country vein. We just tried to be somewhat conscientious about growing it up.”

Getting their funky move on

During the first half of the fest lasting from noon until 5 p.m., there will be Funk Yoga. Then, as evening fades to night, there will be live painters followed by fire artists. Casto, whose band plays a lot of area festivals, said that it felt right to add a wide array of kinetic acts to accompany the music.

“HMAF kind of has their own thing with getting people involved in the arts community,” Casto said. “For us it’s kind of like involving all of the kinetic forms of energy. We have yoga and then flow artists and fire spinners who are going to be there. So it is all about the groove and the motion and moving forward to try to better our community.”

Every hour on the hour from noon to 5 p.m., there will be Funk Yoga with a variety of the region’s instructors. The schedule is: noon, Joan St Clair; 1 p.m., Naomi Ittig; 2 p.m., Ashley Skeen; 3 p.m.; Sara Limb; and 4 p.m., Jeannie Harrison.

“Funk Yoga, was an idea early on as we have seen yoga at other music festivals and Joe used to do it on on a smaller scale at Ritter Live,” Casto said. “That was a real informal thing to have yoga there, and it grew from that. We thought lets make it really funky and encourage people to dress up and have a stable of really talented yoga instructors come up. I nominated Ashley Skeen as a point person. She was more than happy to help assemble this.”

A carnivalesque community — Open to All

Like last year, Funktafest will have local food and drink vendors, as well as an addition of arts and crafts vendors, organized by Zac White, (Huntington Culture Storm) who brings together artists for HMAF along with his own Heck Yeah Fest, and the popup Huntington Culture Storm events.

There will be a booth called Funk The Vote to register folks to vote in the upcoming November elections.

Marshall University’s Sustainability Department will have volunteers at the fest to help with recycling, composting and trying to get the fest to be a Zero Waste event.

Once again Funktafest will have about 45 or so sponsors — about the same amount as last year, but up from the first year’s eight sponsors.

Casto, who took the city’s Open to All campaign pledge in his Funkle Sam costume, said he hopes to make the fest a celebration of the progressive positivity that is happening in the Jewel City.

“With us being a part of the city’s Open to all campaign we think it is important to be a leader and encourage other businesses to be the same,” said Casto, a Huntington resident and school teacher by day. “When you think of West Virginia it is not the most progressive states, but when you think of Huntington you think of it as one of the most progressive areas in the state along with Morgantown, and I want to continue that trend. There are a lot of talented like-minded people who want to try something different for a change and that is the idea of FunktaFest.”

Casto, whose band M.F.B. plays at 5:50 p.m., said he is trying to delegate more chores and handed over the reins to the dozens of volunteers who are being organized this year by Jerry Smith.

“I hope I don’t clock in another 27,000 steps again — that is what my Apple Watch said,” Casto said of last year. “I’m trying to delegate more and to enjoy the fest.”

The after party at the V

Casto said they also continue to build the after-party, which last year drew nearly 200 people to the V Club.

This year they have Athens, Ohio, duo Hellnaw returning, the wild Chattanooga, Tennessee-based band Opposite Box, B-Rude and the shouldbe-famous Charleston hip-hop group Dinosaur Burps.

DJ Charlie Brown Superstar will be spinning between sets, and outside on the patio, another one of Huntington’s most revered DJs, Jesse Clark, will be spinning. He’s a regionally traveling DJ who played Pittsburgh’s Hot Mass in late August, and who birthed one of Huntington’s most original dance events, Grown Ass Folks.

“Weather dependent — this will be one for the ages,” Casto said. “It could be one of the coolest things that has ever went down at the V.”


WHAT: The third annual Funktafest, facilitated in part by the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District. Funktafest is a one-day music festival that highlights funk, jam, electronic, reggae, jazz, and other groove-related styles of music from some of the region’s top musical acts.

WHERE: Ritter Park Amphitheater in Huntington

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

HOW MUCH: Free for kids 12 and under. Adult prices are $10 advance (for fest only), available until midnight Friday. At the gate, $15 general admission. A ticket plus Funk Yoga (hourly yoga sessions) is $20. There is also a $50 VIP, which includes all-access pass, a swag bag, hospitality tent, artist meet and greet, VIP Beer Tent and Funk Yoga admission.

FUNK YOGA: Every hour on the hour, noon to 5 p.m. Each block will feature different yoga instructors. Instructors are: noon, Joan St Clair; 1 p.m., Naomi Ittig; 2 p.m., Ashley Skeen; 3 p.m., Sara Limb; and 4 p.m., Jeannie Harrison. Bring your yoga mat, funky yoga attire and a funky attitude.

MUSIC SCHEDULE: 11:30 a.m., Sin Revel; 11:40 a.m., Tangled Roots; 12:30 p.m., Sin Revel; 12:50 p.m., Stratus; 1:30 p.m., Feminasty; 1:50 p.m., Black Garlic; 2:30 p.m., Feminasty; 2:50 p.m., Beggars Clan; 3:30 p.m., DJ Tim Hoover; 3:50 p.m., The Settlement; 4:30 p.m., DJ Tim Hoover; 4:50 p.m., Brother Smith; 5:30 p.m., DJ CBS; 5:50 p.m., The M.F.B.; 6:30 p.m., DJ CBS; 6:50 p.m., Marbin; 8 p.m., Mateo Monk; and 8:40 p.m., After Funk.

PARKING AND SHUTTLE: Park along 8th Street hill, 12th Street hill (by tennis courts), and regular parking around Ritter Park. There will be TaxiTommy shuttle stops at the Ritter Park fountain and the tennis courts to shuttle festivalgoers up to the fest.

WHAT ELSE: A couple dozen arts and crafts vendors as well as drink and food vendors. Southside Sliders, The Peddler, Pita Pit and Grindstone will be there, as well as Country Boy Brewing.

RULES: Dogs allowed on a leash. No glass bottles. No outside food or drink inside the festival grounds.

ALLOWED ITEMS: Umbrellas, if needed, camp chairs and blankets, Hula Hoops, sealed water bottles or empty refillable water bottles, empty hydration packs (if filled, they may only be filled with water), yoga mats and funky attire (strongly encouraged).

THE AFTER PARTY: Enjoy DJ sets by Charlie Brown Superstar, at 10, 11:45 p.m., 1:20 and 2:25 a.m., Hellnaw at 10:30 pm.. Opposite Box at midnight, Dinosaur Burps at 1:35 a.m., and Grown Ass Folks on the Patio. Admission is $12 day of the event for those 18 and up.

ON THE WEB: Visit http://funktafest.com/for more information.