No one would have blamed the McDowell Mountain Music Festival crew for throwing in the towel. Twenty-twelve was, after all, a bruising year for festival organizer John Largay and his staff: Last year, the festival competed against the massive Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in relatively nearby Indio, California, as well as Country Thunder in Florence, and MMMF's venue, the Compound Bar and Grill, closed its doors.
But rather than take 2013 off to recuperate, Largay and company came back hard. Real hard. The 2013 installment of the festival featured its best lineup ever, with the Roots, the Shins, Les Claypool's Duo de Twang, Umphrey's McGee, JGB, Dr. Dog, and more offering the most satisfying take on the festival's particular fusion — indie rock meets jam band — in a new and improved home, Margaret T. Hance Park in the heart of Phoenix.
Always quick to incorporate Phoenix bands, MMMF hired locals like Kongos, Ladylike, and Jared and the Mill to perform on a large side stage in the shadow of Burton Barr Public Library, near local artisan vendors and plenty of food and beer outposts. Smartly avoiding the festival crunch by hosting the festivities in temperate March, MMMF 2013 felt like a breath of fresh air for the festival and its attendees, and it worked out: MMMF has signed on for another edition of the festival in Hance Park in 2014.