Leslie West of Mountain to play Rock, Ribs & Ridges Festival

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  • Photo provided Leslie West.

The volume at the 5th annual Rock, Ribs & Ridges festival will be cranked up as Mountain’s Leslie West will be joining the two-day celebration of classic rock and Southern cooking on June 28.

Presented by Franklin Sussex Auto Mall, Rock, Ribs & Ridges features nine bands and barbecue served up by top regional chefs over two days. West will join George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Artimus Pyle, and Grand Funk Railroad, among others, at the annual festival, which moves to a new venue, The Sussex County Fairgrounds, June 28 to 29.

From his glory days with Mountain (“Mississippi Queen,” “Nantucket Sleighride”) through the powerhouse trio of West, Bruce and Lang, West laid the foundation for loud hard-rock guitar bands everywhere. He established his heavy-metal legacy at the Fillmore and with his breakthrough performance at Woodstock in 1969. “Mississippi Queen”, with its celebrated cowbell count-off, is a staple of classic rock radio.

Playing Rock, Ribs & Ridges keeps West close to his roots. He grew up in New Jersey and attended Hackensack High School. He got his desire to play guitar when he saw Elvis Presley performing on the Ed Sullivan Show. After learning three chords, he played “Heartbreak Hotel” in a seventh grade talent show. With the proceeds from his bar mitzvah, he bought his first electric guitar.

Seeing the Beatles in New York in their first tour inspired West to form the Vagrants, his first professional group. During a stretch playing New York clubs, the band met the Rascals, who introduced them to an agent, which led to a contract with Atlantic Records and working with bassist and Cream producer Felix Pappalardi.

West soon left the Vagrants and released a solo album but found himself wanting to work with Pappalardi on a permanent basis. They formed Mountain in 1969, forging a style and sound including West’s big guitar riffs, that would forever change the face of rock music.

In their short musical life, Mountain produced three gold albums and created one of rock’s most recognized tunes, “Mississippi Queen.” Though together for just two-and-a-half years, their legacy lives on through generations of musicians who have aspired to copy them, including Jay-Z and Kanye West, along with countless others.

Rolling Stone placed West 66th on their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists.” VH-1 named Mountain one of the Top 100 Hard Rock Groups of all time.

Tickets are on sale for $35 to $45 with VIP packages starting at $65. Weekend passes and Miller Mezzanine Group Table Seating are also available. The festival also features on-site camping and RV packages. For tickets and information, visit www.rockribsandridges.com.

The SussexCounty Fairgrounds is located at 37 Plains Road in Augusta.

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