The McDowell Mountain Music Festival is back with a new lineup and a new name: M3F. But the abbreviated moniker is the only place you’ll find cutbacks at the 15th annual edition of this jam-packed party.
The event’s 2018 lineup is as loaded as ever. M3F promises three days of good tunes blasting from booming sound systems, drum circles, food trucks, and plenty of vendors over the first weekend of March. A dozen Phoenix-area acts are scheduled to take the stage at downtown Phoenix’s Hance Park between sets from visiting performers and headliners like Nick Murphy (the artist formerly known as Chet Faker), Dr. Dog, O.A.R., Anderson East, and Father John Misty.
Local bands are, of course, jazzed to be included in the mix. Not only is the atmosphere totally inviting, it’s a great opportunity to get in front of massive crowds and give folks a taste of what the Valley’s music scene has to offer.
Rock outfit Wyves will make a return appearance during Friday’s lineup. When they get keyed up about taking the stage at M3F, it comes from experience.
“We think it's exciting to play M3F because as a local Arizona band you rarely get chances to play back-to-back with that many national acts,” drummer Evan Knisely says. “We have seen some amazing performances from locals that rose to the occasion at M3F. That recognition and opportunity is always appreciated.”
Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra (PAO) know how to own a stage. The 10-plus-member group are scheduled to perform at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, and they can rile audiences into a sweat with their eclectic and infectious mix of soul, funk, and jazz.
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Mitch Freedom handles some vocals and percussion for the band. He says there are a few reasons they are “absolutely ecstatic” to be part of this year’s festival. "We couldn't align more whole-heartedly with the ethos of volunteerism and community that encompasses this festival and organization,” he says. “The ambitiousness of the lineup and current location of the festival is indeed a most welcome aspect of the annual Phoenix concert calendar."
Part of that ethos he’s referring to is the fact that the M3F is a nonprofit event. One hundred percent of the festival’s proceeds benefit a variety of charities. Since it began, they’ve donated more than $1 million.
Other Valley acts scheduled to perform at the three-day musical affair rep sounds ranging from alt-rock to Americana. Treasurefruit, Spark Jack Daddy, and Jane N’ the Jungle are on the Friday, March 2, bill, while Romen Buffalo and the Loyal Order, Daisy, and Jerusafunk play Saturday. Scattered Melodies and Uncommon Good will play Sunday.
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Like PAO, garage rock band The Lonesome Wilderness are also making their M3F debut on Saturday. Guitarist and singer Joe Golfen likes its overall vibe.
“It’s very laid back and joyful, and everyone is so excited about the music,” Golfen says. “The park setting in downtown is perfect, and I’ve seen some great shows at the festival over the years. We’re excited to get the chance to play, especially alongside bands like Dr. Dog and Father John Misty.”
As a regular attendee, Golfen says that, although Sunday is usually the most relaxed day of the festival, “We’re gonna rock that afternoon slot.”
M3F runs from Friday, March 2, through Sunday, March 4, at Margaret T. Hance Park, 67 West Culver Street. Single-day general admission tickets are $50. A three-day general admission pass is $90. One- and three-day VIP passes are available. Visit m3ffest.com.