Near as anyone can figure, Glynn Zeigler has been hosting the Albino Skunk Music Festival for almost 20 years. What started as a small gathering of friends and bluegrass musicians on Zeigler’s Skunk Farm property in Greer has grown into a multiday, multigenre music and arts festival that’s played host to the Steep Canyon Rangers, The Avett Brothers, Darrell Scott, Tim O’Brien, and dozens of other bands, from Grammy winners to up-and-coming artists.
With spring and fall editions of the festival going strong for the past few years, it might seem like Zeigler had enough on his plate, but he had an inkling to create a winter version, a smaller sort of minifest with fewer bands. The only problem was finding an indoor venue to house the hundreds of loyal “Skunkers” who’d want to attend.
That’s where The Spinning Jenny comes in. The 10,000-square-foot venue on Cannon Street in Greer had been home to the Greer Opry House for years after also serving as a grocery store and a skating rink, but it reopened as The Spinning Jenny in 2015 in hopes of filling the midsize slot left by The Handlebar’s closing. After attending a couple of shows at the Jenny, Zeigler reached out to co-owner and manager Sharon Murry about holding the first-ever WinterSkunk festival there in 2017.
“The space is gorgeous, the sound is great, and there’s plenty of parking,” Zeigler said at the time.
The 2017 WinterSkunk festival featured Tellico, The Trongone Band, the Brooks Dixon Band, and Grass Is Dead, among others, and in the tradition of the outdoor versions of the festival, there were food trucks, arts and crafts vendors, and craft brewers on site. It was also a rousing success, attracting about 350 people. Murry says the Jenny’s collaboration with Zeigler was a perfect match.
“We had the same passion about bringing music to the area,” she says. “We have goals in common. And we felt very honored that he’d want to have it here; he could’ve chosen another place, but we’re very honored that he chose us.”
The 2017 version was so successful that there was little doubt there would be a Version 2.0, and this year’s lineup features the country-rock band Yarn as the headliner, along with the folk-pop band Forlorn Strangers, the Americana trio Cicada Rhythm, the indie-pop duo Sawyer (whom Zeigler approached after the opening for Jill Andrews at the Jenny), and local artists Vilai Harrington, Angela Easterling, and The Note Ropers. The food trucks, craft beers, and vendors will be returning, as well.
Murry says that, given the reputation that the Albino Skunk Festival has gained over the years, it was both thrilling and intimidating to work with Zeigler and his volunteer staff.
“He’s had these die-hard fans for years, and they’re going to come in and expect some kind of experience that reminds them of the regular festival,” she says. “So you definitely think about that.”
In order to prepare, the venue staff and volunteers will spend the entire day before Saturday’s festival preparing The Spinning Jenny to reflect the informal, casual feel of the outdoor festivals.
“We close the day before to set up the space,” she says. “We bring in couches; we have games outside; there’s a Skunk Bus on site that people can hang out in; and four or five local breweries will come in and take over all our taps. People can bring foldout chairs and set them wherever they want and claim their corner just like they do at the outdoor festival, and there’s a dance area, too.”
Murry says the best part of the SkunkFest crowd is their loyalty and enthusiasm. In fact, since the first WinterSkunk festival, the fans have come back to pack the house for performances by the Jon Stickley Trio and Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters.
“They’ve become some of our most loyal patrons,” she says. “We’ve befriended them. It’s actually been really exciting to get to know them because of WinterSkunk, and now they come to see our shows. I was surprised at what ardent fans they were, and how vocal they were about it. They would tag us on social media and talk about how much they liked the place, and that just makes you feel good.”
WinterSkunk Music Fest
Featuring Yarn, Forlorn Strangers, Cicada Rhythm, Sawyer, The Note Ropers, Vilai Harrington & The Hamptones, and Angela Easterling & Brandon Turner
When: Saturday, Feb. 10, 2 p.m.
Where: The Spinning Jenny, 107 Cannon St., Greer
Tickets: $35 adv/$40 door
Info: 864-469-6416, https://www.thespinningjennygreer.com/