Jonathan Luther's Full Moon Festival Had Humble Origins

Jonathan Luther celebrated the end to homelessness by launching the monthly Full Moon Festival in Phoenix.
Jonathan Luther celebrated the end to homelessness by launching the monthly Full Moon Festival in Phoenix. Allen True

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Jonathan Luther celebrated the end to homelessness by launching the monthly Full Moon Festival in Phoenix.
Allen True

One of the most important things about maintaining a solid music scene is actually caring about it. Besides attending the occasional show or buying merchandise from their favorite musician, the average listener of the average music scene doesn’t support beyond that. Without sustained support for the community, it is hard for a scene to truly showcase, and promote, the hidden talent it holds.

Locally, events like the Full Moon Festival, the increasingly popular multigenre festival, are specifically designed to shine light on some of the amazing artists that are on the rise. Founder and cultivator 31-year-old Jonathan Luther, once a musician himself, understands the importance of movements like these and hopes his efforts will help.

“I want to do whatever it takes to serve the Phoenix artistic community,” a focused Luther states. “Our goal is to make it the number one platform for local Phoenix artists to get their name out there.”

With the current trajectory that the Full Moon festival has taken, it is possible that Luther may just achieve that goal in the long run. The first Full Moon Festival began in 2016 as a housewarming party for Luther and his roommate, who were previously homeless after moving back to Phoenix after graduating from the University of Washington.

“Truth be told, we really didn’t have anything,” Jonathan reflects. “We were living on the streets, crashing in the back of a Volvo. We didn’t have any money, so we panhandled a little bit outside some places downtown.”

Eventually, the two would save up enough money to purchase a box truck. They set up sleeping bags inside, and slept off Roosevelt Row. Living the musician life, the duo would work odd jobs and do what they could to survive. Over time, they eventually were able to get a place together. They decided to throw a party to celebrate.

“Our planned celebration actually landed on a full moon, “Jonathan recalls. “So we decided to make it a full moon party.”

They had originally invited 50 people but due to the duo's popularity, 200 showed up. The party wound up being a huge success, and Luther decided to continue the event the next year.  At that point, he began holding the festival monthly. Over time, the house party grew too big and neighbors began to complain. Not wanting to let the community down, Luther decided to take the Full Moon party to the next level.

Since then, the Full Moon Festival has been held at venues such as Unexpected Gallery, Club Downtown, the Ice House, and District 8. Hundreds of local acts from all realms of music have hit the multistage event in the celebration of the month’s current moon. Artists like Stoneypie and Dela Preme provide electric performances for people of all ages to dance to, fulfilling Luther’s ultimate vision.

With that in mind, Luther doesn’t have any plans to take the festival outside of Phoenix.

“I really like the idea of keeping the festival in Phoenix,” Luther ponders. “This scene has taken a lot of blows over the years and I think they are the last group that gets consideration when it comes to a lot of moves that are being made in this city. I just want to provide a space for them with high quality production.

The next Full Moon Festival will be at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 1, with “Pink Moon” at The Pressroom, 441 West Madison Street. Tickets are $15 at
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Jaron is a musician, writer, promoter, videographer, and a founder of the like-minded collective and movement known as Starstruck.
Contact: Jaron Ikner

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