Hidden away in the hills of southern Indiana just along the banks of the Ohio River is Madison, Indiana, a quiet, but beautiful town with a history every bit as deep and wide as the river it saddles to the south. The small town has carved out a reputation as one of the most prominent tourism towns in the state with it’s beautiful classical architecture, unique shops, unrivaled scenery, and the mighty Ohio as a backdrop. One weekend out of the year is the crown jewel of attraction for the town, however: 4th of July Weekend. The historic Madison Regatta brings the fastest racing boats in the world to the waters of the Ohio River just south of town and thousands of people pour into the usually quiet little town for the kind of great American experience that is all too rare these days.

The whole town converges in the Southernmost blocks to catch a glimpse of the jet engine boats skipping across the water, or to visit the carnival set up along the river’s edge. To visit old friends and make new ones, to enjoy the freedom of summer and the freedom of America.

There’s also one badass music festival that takes place in conjunction with all of it. The Roostertail Music Festival is the new kid on the block as far as weekend festivities go, but in just a few short years it has caught national attention as a destination event that should be on your calendar the next year as soon as the current one ends.

And that is a narrative that I will absolutely echo.

Taking place Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of the week of the 4th the Roostertail Music Festival is one of the best events you’ll attend in a summer. Family friendly, clean, well organized, and best of all incredibly affordable. You won’t pay an arm and a leg to get a ticket, but you’ll get an arm and a leg’s worth of music for what you do pay.

I arrived Friday afternoon, missing the first night of music due to work, to find the town buzzing. The parade, featuring all of the jet powered boats set to race on the river throughout the week and floats from all of the local businesses, clubs, and dignitaries was about to take place. Lawn chairs lined the sidewalks, people milled about going in and out of shops, and you could feel the anticipation and excitement in the air. To the South of Main Street towards the river sits Bicentennial Park, and you couldn’t ask for a better setting for such an event. Perfectly designed for optimal viewing and the hills of Kentucky rising out of the background make the park a picture perfect place to hold a music festival.

Kicking the action off Friday just as the parade up on Main Street was ending was Louisville-based rock band The Pass. Roostertail prides itself on maintaining a diverse lineup with something for everyone, all while making an effort to shine a light on some lesser known acts out of nearby music hub Louisville, Kentucky. The stream of listeners coming into the park was steady, and not even the heat of the early July evening could keep the dancers from getting going.

Another spotlight was cast on a talented group out of Louisville following The Pass as Frederick The Younger filled the air of the park with their groovy mellow melodies. Many in the park too refuge in the shade on the West end of the park, enjoying the show out of the direct heat of the sun. Even the band’s drummer sought some relief of her own, putting her hair up in an impromptu bun, using a spare drumstick to anchor it.

Up next was the first of the nationally touring acts of the evening as hip-hop duo Little Stranger took the stage all the way from Philadelphia. Featuring guitar playing and dancing the pair had no trouble catching the attention of the still growing audience. As the sun fell into the trees the rail in front of the stage filled up with eager fans responding excitedly to each song the pair performed.

Click HERE to see our full Roostertail Music Festival Image Gallery from Day 2!

The evening took a decidedly country turn next, as Jamie Lin Wilson took ownership of the stage with her band in tow. The last time I had seen Jamie was at Tumbleweed 2018 in a solo acoustic set during the heat of the day near the end of her pregnancy. Her set that day showcased her powerful vocals and excellent songwriting, but here at Roostertail she was able to bring the heat with the full band, and did she ever deliver. Sporting a Mike and The Moonpies shirt in the kind of camaraderie that I appreciate about this movement Jamie took total control of Bicentennial Park and commanded the attention of everyone in the park. Between songs she displayed a wit and charm that rounded out the perfect total package of a set. I had never had the opportunity to see Jamie with a band, and her set left no doubt that that was my loss.

Headlining the night was Mike and The Moonpies, who have gained an incredible amount of momentum in the last 16 months, especially here in the Midwest region. The crowd pressed up against the rails several rows deep while others caught the show from their chairs throughout the park.

Mike and the boys did not disappoint, putting on what I will say is the best set I have seen them play yet. The excitement was apparent both from those in the crowd and those on the stage and it all blended for a perfect combination that results in one of those kinds of shows you hope you get to experience again some day. The energy was at fever pitch from the opening riff of “Road Crew” all the way through to end of “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way”.

In the later stages of the set Jamie Lin Wilson made her way back out to the stage and joined the band for a couple of songs, showcasing a natural chemistry with lead singer Mike Harmeier that elevated the energy and excitement even more. After a 2 song encore Mike and The Moonpies left the stage to a thunderous ovation to bring to close the second night of the Roostertail Music Festival.

My first day on the ground at the Roostertail Music Festival was a blast. The music was all great, the event staff treated me with nothing but respect and kindness, and the event as a whole just has a welcoming feel to it. Seeing Mike and The Moonpies headline the event was special for me. I had been telling venues in my area to bring them in for years, but it wasn’t until May of 2018 when Dukes Indy answered the call and booked the show. It wasn’t a sellout show, but those of us who were there made sure to tell the legend of the show to everyone who wasn’t. When they returned in March the show sold out weeks in advance, and shortly later they were announced as headliners for this event. It’s nice to see the good guys get a win, and these guys are definitely good, and Friday night at the Roostertail Music Festival was most definitely a win not just for them, but for everyone who came out to see it.

Saturday would see an earlier start time on the stage in Bicentennial Park and even more talent taking the stage, all while boats ran heat races on the river behind it, and families enjoyed the great American weekend in small town America. Join us right back here tomorrow at the Country Music Armadillo as we take a look back at the final talent filled day of the Roostertail Music Festival 2019!

Click HERE to see our full Roostertail Music Festival Image Gallery from Day 2!

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