by Maryll Jones
It’s finally April and festival season is quickly approaching. One of the first festivals of the season is WFHB’s own Acoustic Roots Festival (ARF).
The ARF first began with the idea of having a signature music event that would also serve as a fundraiser for the station. Originally held on the property of the Story Inn in Story, Indiana, as a 4th of July festival, it was later moved to the Upland Brewing Company in Bloomington to allow for an earlier start in the season as a pre-cursor to the later, well-established bluegrass festivals in the area.
While speaking with WFHB music director Jim Manion, he explains that there is a “…spectacular acoustic music scene in Bloomington and you can’t pin it down to any one genre.” He continues, “Part of our mission is to celebrate an increase in local cultural diversity.” The ARF provides a public face for the station to the community and serves as a way for musicians to connect with each other. As a result, several of the artists have collaborated on other projects.
The last two years, two stages were utilized but this year, WFHB will exclusively use the new big new permanent stage that Upland built with limestone from the construction site next door. The decision to make this change was easy; one stage, one sound system and only one seat needed per person.
This year’s festival emcee, Hondo Thompson suggested that you “Come early and stay late.” The Friday afternoon mix DJ and co-producer of Market LIVE continued, “The adventure begins with the first note from the first band and doesn’t end ‘til the lights go out.”
As the festival grows each year, so does the need for volunteer participants. Without the 20-25 volunteers that pitch in every year, the festival would not exist and a huge fundraising opportunity would be lost. It takes a group effort doing anything from physically helping with the set-up the day before to taking tickets, selling merchandise, providing security, being stagehands, and finally the cleanup and tear down at the end of the day. The service the volunteers provide is invaluable. Look for the call-out for volunteer sign-up in the coming weeks.
In the future, WFHB hopes to increase sponsorship and apply for grants for the festival. The idea is to pay the performing musicians as they presently volunteer their talent for the benefit of the station but at the cost of losing a potential paying gig. Organizers would also like to have the budget for a national or international act such as Eileen Jewell and Jason Wilber, both of whom have close ties to Bloomington and donated their time and talent to past Acoustic Roots festivals.
On Wednesday, May 7, at 9pm, WFHB’s Local Live, a weekly WFHB program that features eclectic music broadcast live from various recording studios in Bloomington, will be doing a sneak preview show with upcoming festival artists Lexi Len & the Strangers and TV Mike & the Scarecrows. This broadcast will be live from Primary Sound Studio (formerly known as Farm Fresh Studios). Stay tuned to WFHB radio.
Who: The Underhills, Jacob Latham, Lexi Len & the Strangers, Ottomobile, White Lightning Boys, Tim Grimm and Jan Lucas, the Indiana Boys, and featuring TV Mike & the Scarecrows What: WFHB’s 7th Annual Acoustic Roots Festival When: Saturday, May 17, 2014 from 3-11pm. Gates open at 2:30.
Where: Upland Brewing Company, 350 W. 11th Street, Bloomington, IN.
Why: A great way to hear a full day of great music, hang with friends and support WFHB Community Radio.
Cost: Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the gate. Upland Brewery food and beverages will be available on site but food and drinks, coolers, etc., are not allowed to be carried in.