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September 27th, 2023

exit west spotlightColorado-based group Exit West will be returning for this year’s High Plains Music Fest in Hugoton. Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Audiences will see a familiar face at this year’s High Plains Music Fest with Exit West. This year’s High Plains Music Fest fun is scheduled from 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Sept. 9 at Dirtona Raceway in Hugoton. 

As band member Alan Mullineaux tells it, the group is excited to be making its way back to Southwest Kansas. 

“We're really looking forward to it. It's been five years since we've been through there, and we're really excited. There's actually a really fun backstory to the last time we were there – back in 2018, my oldest son (who's also my bass player) and his wife were expecting their first child, and right after we finished our set, he got a call from her saying she was going into labor, but we were still way out there in Hugoton,” Mullineaux said. “So we were scrambling to get our gear together and grab everything of ours so we could get on the road ASAP and get back, and we were hauling it back, and we ultimately made it in time. That's the story of my grandson's birthday, and we're going to have him with us at the show and introduce him to the audience at some point during the show. This will be our first time back in Hugoton since we were there last. We stay pretty much in Colorado, but we do perform in North Texas and Eastern Kansas and some other places out of state, so we do stay pretty busy overall, and that helps keep us doing what we do. Jan [Leonard] contacted me a few months ago when he was working to finalize the lineup and wanted to know if we had an available spot that would let us be in Hugoton. We did some rearranging and ultimately made it so we would be able to be part of this year's High Plains Music Fest, and we're really excited.”

This year’s lineup will also include Casi Joy, Cooper Hamilton and headliner Clare Dunn. With that lineup, Mullineaux said there should be something for everyone music-wise. 

“I feel like there will be something for everyone and there will be a great mix. When it's a more laid-back atmosphere like that, people like that mix, and we'll definitely be happy to be part of that. It'll just be a great time with a lot of great music for people to listen to,” Mullineaux said. “Our style is more of the Outlaw Country, and we follow in the footsteps of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and all of those amazing artists. They've influenced me a lot throughout the years, and people definitely get that in our music. We'll hit the stage running and keep going and going, and we've got quite a varied repertoire – we were at a rodeo about a month ago or so, and we even threw in a couple AC/DC songs out there, so people can expect a lot of energy and good music from us.”

With a positive response to the group back in 2018, Mullineaux said he hopes to see a great crowd again this time around. 

“The last time we were here, we were really pleased with the crowd and the people who'd turned out, and we met a lot of great people while we were there, so it was great being there,” Mullineaux said. “Everyone was so welcoming then, and we're looking forward to seeing everyone again. The last time we were there, as I recall, there had been a big storm that had come through the night before and turned that facility into a big mud pit, but that didn't stop anyone from having fun.”

Mullineaux added it feels good to be fully touring like normal again. 

“It feels great. When COVID-19 really hit, it shut down EVERYTHING, especially live events, and a lot of bands took a hiatus and did their own thing. We were extremely fortunate because we were able to stay busy and did a lot of smaller events – a lot of people would call us and say 'I've got a massive barn and some people who would like to see a show, would you do a private show at our ranch/farm?'” Mullineaux said. “And we did several of those throughout that summer and made sure to keep everything safe. It also let us look into a different area of the business, and we've incorporated more of those smaller events into our schedule since then. But getting back to the bigger events and seeing bigger crowds, it's been great to see that happen, and we're seeing even bigger audiences than what we were seeing before everything shut down.”

Overall, Mullineaux said, it should be a great night for everyone in the area who comes out. 

“We're really excited to be back in Hugoton, and it'll be great to get back out there and see our friends again and introduce my grandson to everyone since he's got such a special connection to the event,” Mullineaux said.