picture by: Jennifer Compston Strough
A local musician who “works very hard to succeed”, according to supporters, opened the 2022 edition of the Blame My Roots country music festival on Thursday, drawing a large crowd of people who know him and his music.
Gage Joseph was the opening performer, taking the Roots stage above the main stage at 5 p.m. Wyatt Kitt, a fiddler from Marshall County, joined him.
Matt Coffland, a Shadyside resident and former Belmont County Commissioner who owns the Prima Marina in Moundsville, said Joseph makes regular appearances at his business and at the Tiger Pub in Shadyside, operated by his son, Matthew Coffland. The elder Coffland said about 20 people joined him to come to the show and show their appreciation for Joseph and Kitt.
“These are people from Marshall County who came out to support Gage and Wyatt,” Coffland said, waving to a large group surrounding him on the lawn. “These are local boys who work very hard to succeed.”
Tim McCormick of Rock Stone Productions agreed. McCormick does sound and production work at Prima and said Joseph and Kitt are great to work with at local establishments.
“Gage started playing with us,” McCormick said. “…We love having them.”
Many other people in the crowd seemed to feel the same way. Some danced or sang, while others clapped and waved to the performers from the blankets and chairs around the stage.
Other acts that appeared on Thursday included North to Nashville, a Columbus-based band; singer/songwriter Walker Montgomery, son of John Michael Montgomery; and country pop singer Niko Moon.
Belmont County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom DeVault and some deputies were also on hand, helping to ensure that everyone present would stay safe and have a good time. He said the department will be present at Valley View Campground for the duration of the three-day festival.
Other first responders on hand to help keep people safe and healthy included members of the Bethesda and Morristown Fire Departments.
Local residents made up much of the early Thursday evening crowd. Doug Longenette, owner of nearby Route 40 ax throwing and gaming venue Lumber Jaxe and other adjacent businesses, was on hand as he has been since the event began in 2019. He said he was planning to camp at the top of the hill for the whole weekend and enjoy the show.
Brittany and Dustin Kolanski, local Union grads who are raising families in the area, have also settled in to camp for the festival. They said they were looking forward to the evening performances and the whole concert.
The show continues today and Saturday at the site along US 40 between Morristown and St. Clairsville.
– 3 p.m. — Doors open
– 3:30 p.m. — Franck Vieira
– 4 p.m. — Levi Hummon
– 6 p.m. – Priscilla Block
– 8 p.m. — Randy Houser
– 10 p.m. — Rice hunt