This weekend, McDowell Mountain Music Festival celebrated its 10-year anniversary in style, at a new primo location of Margret T. Hance Park, with good beer from Deschutes, and with awesome bands like The Shins, The Roots, Balkan Beat Box, Les Claypool, and more.
You can catch up on our reviews, interviews, and photos, but what we've got here is a collection of the lessons the festival taught us.
10. It's McDowell Mountain Music Festival's 10th Anniversary
This year, MMMF celebrated 10 years of music -- but tons of people didn't know it was the festival's 10-year anniversary. Not that the lapse in marketing gusto mattered much. Turnout was fantastic, and Margaret T. Hance park made for a perfect location, ensuring that it wasn't overcrowded. Plus, practically every dollar went to charity, and $5 bucks for a Mirror Pond Ale is hard to beat, especially when we're used to paying much more for much worse beer at other events.
9. Beat-Boxing Is Awesome
Once Tomer Yosef, lead singer of Balkan Beat Box, picked the microphone up and began singing and beat-boxing, people were blown away. Any local reggae or hip-hop fan should check them out -- and maybe pick up a few tricks.
8. Roots Rock = Big in Phoenix
Gypsy Western folk rock (think the viola/trombone/bass clarinet/accordion noises of Dry River Yacht Club) and blues-driven rock 'n' roll (Mergence, Sara Robinson and the Midnight Specials) came out on top as the local scenes favorite sounds at this festival.
7. Banjos Are the New Synthesizers
I knew big-time acts like The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons were making waves with old-timey string instruments, but I never knew that banjo-driven bluegrass was such a force to be reckoned in Phoenix, until I saw the crowds for Banana Gun and Jared & The Mill.
6. Last Exit Has Got Some Serious Buzz
Music venue Last Exit has finally reopened, providing a new boost to the local scene. Considering the establishment's upcoming schedule was plastered all over the festival grounds, hopefully the start will be strong, and it'll stay that way.
5. We Get It: Joe Arpaio Sucks
Okay. We all know how big of a hot-button issue Joe Arpaio is in Arizona: Everywhere you went at the festival, people were shoving petitions in your face concerning him. But Phoenix, there is a time and place to talk about this man, and it's not when you've commandeered the mic during Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes' set. Hopefully, local acts take note of how the nonsensical interruption bummed out the crowd.
4. Deadheads Are No Rare Breed in Phoenix
JGB Band, or the Jerry Garcia Band, may be well-known in the Valley because of local musician and vocalist/lead guitarist Dave A'Bear (Hebert) being on board, but they are definitely a little underwhelming. Granted, I'm not be the biggest Grateful Dead fan, but their performance on Sunday was lacking energy. However, there was a guy in front of me where a JGB Band "Winter Tour 1980" T-shirt, who had been following them for years, and claims that he goes to every Valley Grateful Dead cover show he can get his mind wrapped around. According to him, there are a ton of Phoenix deadheads, and on a monthly basis they convene for everything from underground dinner parties to drum circles.
3. Hippies Just Want to Dance
A local adult male music fan wearing a butt crack-baring hippie skirt and no shirt rocks out the same to The Roots as he does the JGB band.
2. Walt Richardson Is a True Force For Good
I wish Phoenix reggae vet Walt Richardson, who talked about the festival's 10 year anniversary and introduced The Roots, introduced more local shows in Phoenix. He just has the happy aura around him (and no, I wasn't feeling that way from the cloud of smoke around me due to the surrounding hippies). I love that he's been involved with the local scene for more than 30 years -- and I'm pretty sure he hasn't trimmed his ground-skimming dreads in the same amount of time.
Any local music fan who hasn't taken the time to check out Kongos, Mergence, Fayuca, The Wiley One, or Future Loves Past should not be able to claim they are a local music fan. Period.
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