The McDowell Mountain Music Festival rolls into downtown Phoenix March 22, 23 and 24, bringing together music, arts, food and fun. Here are the top five reasons we’re stoked to have this locally grown event happening in our own backyard!
1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
After nearly a decade in North Scottsdale, the annual music festival is heading south to a new downtown Phoenix address. Margaret T. Hance Park will play host to the event, which will include two stages of both national and local music acts, arts & crafts vendors, food trucks, camping, kids activities and a whole lot more.
John Largay, festival founder and president of Wespac Construction, the organization behind the McDowell Mountain Music Festival, felt there were a number of good reasons to relocate the event.
Largay saw a natural partnership between the MMMF, the Roosevelt district and the City of Phoenix, with their shared goal of bringing arts and culture to the community. Says Largay, “I think it’s something that (we) can build around. So if we’re there to support community and culture, which is really our primary mission . . . I think we picked a good location and I think we picked a good partner in the City of Phoenix.”
He also liked the amenities that downtown Phoenix had to offer. “I love Hance Park. It’s a great fit for what we’re doing,” says Largay,“and from a convenience and logistics, access side, both from a light rail and parking standpoint, it’s very easy for a lot of people to get to.”
2. A ROCKIN’ LINE-UP
With national headliners like The Roots, The Shins and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and a great collection of local artists, this year’s MMMF line-up should have something for just about every music fan – which is exactly what the organizers are going for.
“We think music is universal,” says Largay, “that’s a universal language that speaks to a 10-year-old the same as it speaks to an 80-year-old, so we try to diversify our genres to make sure there’s some entertainment factor for everybody.”
Largay is especially proud that the line-up includes a number of critically acclaimed bands that haven’t stopped in Phoenix for a while, like The Shins and The Umphrey’s McGee.
3. SWEET CHARITY
As if a great location and a great line-up weren’t enough, the McDowell Mountain Music Festival is essentially a charity event, donating 100% of its proceeds to local nonprofits.
According to Largay, it’s been that way since the beginning. The festival started ten years ago as a charity project organized by Wespac employees and their friends and family and has continued to build on that mission ever since.
This year, all of the funds will be donated to three local charities: Phoenix Children’s Hospital, UMOM New Day Centers and Ear Candy Music Charity. Since its inception, the festival has given over $700,000 back to the community.
4. FREE YOGA
You’ll be able to prepare your mind, body and soul for a day of awesome music with a free yoga class from Sutra Midtown Yoga, one of downtown’s coolest studios.
According to Sutra co-owner Matthew Fritz, they will offer a free all-levels Vinyasa class on the Saturday and Sunday mornings of the festival, complete with a live dj. The class will take place inside the festival grounds on the local stage from 10am-11am both days.
The class is open to anyone who’d like to attend, whether you have a ticket to the festival or not. If you don’t have a ticket, but decide you’d like to stick around, yoga participants can buy tickets at the gate for a discounted rate of $45 with their Sutra wristband. That’s a win-win for the mind, body, soul and wallet!
Learn more here: http://sutramidtown.com/events#mmmf
5. JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE
It may sound like a copout, but it’s true: from the afterhours shows at The Crescent Ballroom, to camping at the festival, to the vast array of delicious eats and drinks to choose from – there are countless reasons to be excited about this year’s McDowell Mountain Music Festival.
Most of all, we are thrilled that it will bring together a community of music and culture lovers for a great time and a great cause. And it’s all happening right in our fantastic downtown.
If You Go
Where: Margaret T. Hance Park – 200 E. Moreland St.
March 22: doors 4 p.m./show 5 p.m.
March 23: doors 11 a.m./show 12 p.m.
March 24: doors 11 a.m./show 12 p.m.
Photos provided by McDowell Mountain Music Festival
Phoenix is known for many things, but poetry is not one of them. Which is odd, because Phoenix is a city that’s birthed its fair share of talented poets and quality poetry events over the years, including Jason Lalli, organizer and host of Infuse – Open Mic. I talked to Jason about his experience as a performance poet in Phoenix, as well as his current work as programming committee chair for the first annual Phoenix Festival of the Arts in December.
I have been writing and performing poetry seriously for about 6 years now. I dabbled on and off in the writing of poetry since I was 19. I am 29 now.
What ignited your passion for the kind of work that you do?
My passion was ignited when I realized after reading poems to friends and family that my words were making a difference. It was confirmed in a moment of what I call divine intervention when I was in a low point in my life on Christmas 2005. I was unwilling to share my negative energy with anyone. I was soaking in the bathtub at home when I heard a voice that was never verbally spoken and I felt a force lifting my head towards the ceiling. I’ll never forget those words, ‘You’ve been given a gift, now go and change the world.’ I became active within the performance community shortly after.
You describe yourself as an ‘awareness/performance poet.’ How do you define that?
I write about the truth I see in issues I feel are often over-looked or ignored because they come with a harsh reality. Like self-awareness, Self-love, substance abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, domestic abuse, and bullying. So I suppose an awareness poet would be one that uses the creativity of their poems to bring awareness to its audience through the poems content. The scope of my poetry is not limited to awareness but many are also personal stories or simply a source of expression and therapy as poetry has helped in establishing a stronger development of myself.
Does that mean you use poetry as a form of political/community-oriented activism?
Yes, I believe both questions go hand in hand. The action of being out there and performing poems that promote awareness is advocating for its cause and speaks for itself. My primary goal through each performance is to hopefully resonate with at least one person in the audience, with hopes that my words invoke introspection of themselves, their thoughts, their actions, and the reactions they are causing with those around them.
So yes, you could say my cause is community-oriented. It is through the betterment of each individual that our community’s improve in quality, safety, and involvement. It’s most easily summed with a quote out of one of my poems on the back on my business card “It only takes one voice, one heart, and one passion create a positive existence in another’s life.” I go about advocating for a stronger more united community through these outlets: hosting Infuse – Open Mic, my poetic performances, the creation and planning of the Inaugural Phoenix Festival of the Arts, various donations of my time and art to fundraisers, as well as speaking at schools on substance abuse through an organization called, “notMYkid.”
How did Infuse – Open Mic come about?
Infuse was created in May of 2010. I used to host “Mill’s End Open Mic” and after Mills End Café went out of business we were looking for a new home. That home was found at the Phoenix Art Museum. We flourished with an average of 250 patrons and 30 artists throughout the 3 hour show. I started the event because I had begun hosting Mills End Open Mic which was previously Mills End Poetry Slam. I wanted to open it up to more than just slam poets. I wanted to create place where new-comers whether to the performing arts or to the city could come practice, develop, build friendships, network, and most of all feel welcomed.
How did Infuse end up at the center?
It was through my involvement with some other community-oriented activists that I was introduced to Joseph Benesh at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. Our relationship quickly became one of a close bond and similar visions, the Phoenix Festival of the Arts being one of those.
How did you get involved in the Phoenix Festival of the Arts?
There is a need for an arts festival in Phoenix, it’s 2012 and it’s never had one. I became entrenched with the festival as one of its creators. Joseph Benesh and I recognized this need. We teamed up together and were able to accept a generous sponsorship from dear friends of mine Lou and Evelyn Grubb. They had been to Infuse at the art museum and believe in what difference I am making and trying to make in our community. Unfortunately, Lou Grubb has since passed beyond this life and we are determined to make him proud for believing in us.
Also, there have been several others who I have had the honor to work beside for the last couple years in attempts to make this festival happen. It was through our relentless persistence and hard work of searching out new avenues that we are excited to see it finally become a reality. I consider myself beyond blessed to be surrounded with such positive uplifting people with a passion for humanity and making a difference.
You recently held open auditions for performers for the Festival. Did you see a lot of promising talent? What do you look for in a performer for an event of this scope?
The turn-out for the auditions was small but much was learned for years to come. But we’ve also received lots of applications and lots of great talent that applied. Every artist was graded on a scale of 1 to 5 based upon the following categories: Preparedness/Professionalism, Stage Presence, Creativity, Performance/Execution, and Originality.
It sounds like the performances are meant to be family-friendly. Are there any plans to do more adult, envelope-pushing performances in the evening or is it the festival’s intent to keep all its programming accessible to the widest possible audience?
This is best answered by our main goal of the festival; to unite our community by cross-pollinating markets through a variety of arts from vendors, organizations and performance artists. The festival is a family-friendly free event. Our night programming has some incredible caliber performances of bands/artists that have adult followings. There can be great entertainment without having to be controversial and profane. It is a professional artist’s job to gear their performance towards the audience, so we are asking for that discretion. However, there will be shows, for example a poetry slam in the center’s theater, where a disclaimer can be posted for those who enter that will allow for more “envelope-pushing” performances.
This is a festival of all the arts that will include diverse cultural showcasing from visual, performing and literary arts. Several artists throughout history have spoken on such controversial and heavily debated topics tastefully and we intend on having tasteful programming. We would never want to discourage creativity but there is a time and place for controversial pieces, I believe most would agree that a family-friendly arts festival is not that time or place.
Do you have any plans to bring Infuse into the festival, or to do some kind of open mic/open stage to get the audience involved?
We are still programming but yes Infuse will have a festival edition. There will also be a poetry slam where anyone can compete for a cash prize.
Are all the shows free, or will some have individual ticket prices?
Admission to the festival and its entertainment will be 100% free. We will have two stages running throughout the course of the three-day festival, with the main stage located in the Margaret T. Hance Park, and the second stage in the theater located inside the Phoenix Center for the Arts.
Some news items don’t need translation. That’s why DPJ launched the From the Wire series, so we could serve the destinations here by posting information and announcements – in their own words.
The Phoenix Festival of the Arts, the City’s first signature arts festival, will take place in the heart of downtown Phoenix at Hance Park December 7-9, 2012.
Hosted by Phoenix Center for the Arts and sponsored by Lou and Evelyn Grubb, this free festival will become an annual tradition in the Valley of the Sun.
“Our goal is to unify the Phoenix arts community and to show how accessible the arts really are,” said Joseph Benesh, director of Phoenix Center for the Arts. “The arts aren’t just a weekend activity. Phoenix has a huge cultural landscape, where people can find things to do any day of week – and we want everyone to know that.”
The Center, operated by Phoenix Center Arts Association (a 501c3 nonprofit), is a historic facility dedicated to making the arts truly unique, affordable, and enjoyable since 1975.
“Unifying the Arts” The festival will unite the arts and arts organizations through a cross-pollination of artistic markets in a way Phoenix has never done before. Just as First Friday’s have become a destination for citizens throughout the valley due to cooperation from galleries, retail, food, and performance venues, the festival will similarly serve to stimulate economic growth within the community. Furthering this model, the festival will act as an added tourism attraction in the winter.
Event highlights include nearly 90 hours of live arts entertainment on THREE stages! Plus dozens of arts vendors, food trucks, a beer & wine garden, a children’s play area, flash performances and more!
Phoenix Arts Guidebook: This take-home guide to all things arts-related in Phoenix will feature information on the participating arts organizations, with coupons to help you enjoy the arts in the months to come. A minimum of 5,000 will be handed out at the festival…for free!
Community Participation: Mayor Greg Stanton is the honorary chair and will participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, December 7.
The inaugural Phoenix Festival of the Arts is made possible through the contribution of Lou & Evelyn Grubb, and sponsored by APS, Hensley Beverage Company and SM Moving Systems.
Members of the arts community around the Valley are invited to participate, including:
• Arts vendors who produce locally made original art.
• Valley arts organizations large and small!
• Performing arts groups (ex: poetry, choirs, dance, hip-hop, symphony, folk, etc.)
All applications can be found on phoenixfestivalofthearts.org. Applications must be submitted by Friday, September 28, 2012.
Event Facts at a Glance
The Inaugural Phoenix Festival of the Arts
December 7-9, 2012
Friday, December 7 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday, December 8 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, December 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(Art exhibitors will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all three days)
Limited street parking available. Avoid the hassle and take METRO Light Rail to the McDowell/Central Ave or Roosevelt/Central Ave. Bike racks are also available.
Phoenix Center for the Arts, operated by Phoenix Center Arts Association (a 501c3 nonprofit). Our mission is to provide the community with opportunities to participate in the visual and performing arts through creative and affordable quality programming.
Made possible through the contribution of Lou & Evelyn Grubb, and sponsored by APS, Hensley Beverage Company and SM Moving Systems.
Nearly 90 hours of live arts entertainment on THREE stages. Plus dozens of arts vendors, food trucks, a beer & wine garden, a children’s play area, flash performances and more!
Phoenix Arts Guidebook:
This take-home guide to all things arts-related in Phoenix will feature information on the participating arts organizations, with coupons to help you enjoy the arts in the months to come. A minimum of 5,000 will be handed out at the festival…for free!
About Phoenix Center for the Arts Phoenix Center for the Arts is a historic building located in downtown Phoenix well suited to provide art, music, and performing art classes and programs. This facility, known to most as the Phoenix Center for the Arts or The Center, is now managed by the Phoenix Center Arts Association, a nonprofit organization. Our mission is to provide the community with the opportunities to participate in the visual and performing arts through creative and affordable quality programming. The association now offers online registration for classes year round. Summer classes include the Summer Extravaganza, and arts program for youth 6-14. For more information, visit phoenixcenterforthearts.org.
Guest contributer, and Phoenix Blues Blast volunteer, Daniel Liguori shares an annual event that is making a new home in Downtown Phoenix’s Hance Park.
Downtown Phoenix is growing and the Phoenix Blues Society felt a change was needed.
“The Mesa Amphitheater was a great venue, but Phoenix offers several advantages. It is centrally located and there’s a light rail stop [nearby]. Phoenix is undergoing revitalization that we are excited to be a part of,” says Phoenix Blues Society Volunteer coordinator Dave Saunders.
A total of six bands will be playing at the blues blast event.
“Our headliner is Sugar Ray and the Bluetones (pictured below). Sugar Ray Norcia is one of the premier blues players and he’s played with some of the best in the business.” Saunders says.
Saunders believes this year’s blues blast will be a treat for blues fans.
“Blues Blast is just one part of our greater mission, which is to promote blues music. If you never have been to a blues show, come out. I guarantee you will be back for more!” Saunders says.
If You Go
Event: Phoenix Blues Blast
Where: Margret T. Hance Park (East side, 200 East Moreland Street) (map). Accessible from Roosevelt/Central and McDowell/Central Light Rail Stations.
Date: Saturday, March 10
Time: 11a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tickets: Available here for $20 or $25 at the gate
Info: Visit Phoenix Blues Society