Arts, crafts, music and more at first-ever event
By Bernie Schmitt
Music and fun are on tap this October for the First City Music Festival, a two-day celebration of art, culture, and music at the Old French Commons in Vincennes.
But you better get your tickets now.
Single admission to the inaugural event, scheduled for Oct. 18 and 19, is $20 in advance, but the price will be $30 come Oct. 1.
“That will be the price at the gate,” says organizer Nash Dunn, “whether it’s for one day or both.”
Dunn has been the fired-up organizer (along with several volunteers) of what is being billed as a celebration of “American roots music.” The event will feature local and area musicians on Friday evening. National touring acts will be featured throughout the day on Saturday.
Bluegrass and folk music, mixed in with country tones, will highlight the Festival, along with food, arts and crafts, music lessons, yoga, and lots more.
“We will have a whole lot going on,” Dunn said. “We hope to represent the color of our community and offer local families and pickers a place to get down and boogie all weekend in a friendly environment. We hope people bring their instruments, bring their art, bring their families, bring their dancing shoes (although shoes are optional) and leave their baggage at the door.
Our hope is to celebrate the heritage and culture of music, provide a venue for local artists to perform and introduce various types of music to our community.Nash Dunn
“There will be a little bit of yeehaw and a lot of boogie,” Nash said. “We just want to smile, dance, laugh, eat and pick. We hope to be able to highlight local musicians, talent of all types, local craftsmen and artisans of all sorts.”
Camping, both with tents and RVs will be allowed on the grounds. Fees are $10 for tent camping, and $20 for RV camping. Passes are available at www.firstcitymusicfestival.com.
‘Cool cultural event’
Nash bills the First City Music Festival as a “cool cultural event,” something young and old will find enjoyable in their hometown of Vincennes. He mentioned that some might go to Bloomington or elsewhere to find such events, when there are a number of musicians and artists here.
“In the past we’ve struggled to keep young people here,” he said. “We can have good things here. People don’t have to leave to find things to do.”
He praised the Wabash Valley Progressives, a group which has sponsored the Rainbow over the Bridge and the Festival Latino events in Vincennes in recent years.
“They’ve done a great job in creating and sponsoring events,” he said. “We’re just adding to the list of different things people can do in the community.”
First City Music Festival lineup
Oct. 18 and 19
4 p.m.-midnight, Friday
10 a.m. – midnight, Saturday
Admission: $20 in advance (two-day pass); $30 after Oct. 1
Gate admission: $30
Friday Local Bands:
(PreShow) – Jared and Luke
Wade Baker Quartet
Dave Parman and Friends
On the One
Joe’s Last Stand (featuring Bob Kemp)
Saturday touring acts:
Mama Said String Band
The Whispering Willows
New Old Calvary
The Hammer and The Hatchet
Starting from an idea
The idea for a music festival resulted from a conversation Nash had with his friends, Jeff Deckard and Ry McCormick.
“We have had bands and people out for parties in recent years,” Deckard said. “But last year we had nearly 200 people there and decided it was getting too big for us.”
The men and their friends had attended a number of bluegrass music festivals, getting to know a lot of the bands and musicians. After a visit to a Nashville (Ind.) bluegrass event, they began talking about having some kind of public music event.
“We talked about having an event larger than a private party,” Dunn said. “We just didn’t want to rent a place and it turn into our own party, we wanted to do it right.”
Old French Commons good fit
Dunn also is a volunteer for the Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous, and thought that the Old French Commons, where the Rendezvous takes place each May, would be a good venue for a music festival. So did others. The SOV committee agreed, and gave its support to Dunn and his group volunteers.
“The thing was, we had zero money,” he said. “We knew fundraising and organizing would take more than three people to pull it off. So I began calling people.”
His calling friends and acquaintances resulted in dozens of volunteers willing to work on, and in some cases, sponsor the event. The group had fundraising to do, but not much time. While a lot of potential business sponsors had already budgeted their annual donations, there still were several willing to help, even if it wasn’t much.
“Most aren’t saying no,” Dunn said, about the event fundraising. “But they are finding ways to help us, even just a little. Drips fill up a barrel and little by little we’re getting there. We still have some work to do, but we’re getting there.”
Having worked with the Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous, Nash said he knew what was involved in organizing a large event.
“We have a strong team and we’re growing,” he said. “It is because we have willing members of the community to help. The support for this has been fantastic.”
In addition to music, Dunn said adult beverages will be for sale during the festival for those 21 and over, and a host of other activities will be happening throughout, including yoga classes, breathing workshops, Reiki sessions, performance art workshops, kids activities, breakout jam sessions and lessons for beginning musicians.
Area interest growing
“We have no guarantee of how many people will be there,” he said. “After all, it is the very first one. But lots of people seem to be interested.”
Gates for campers will open at noon on Oct. 18, he said. Gates officially open at 4 p.m., with the main programs starting at 6 p.m. Friday evening will feature a variety of local talent, including Evan Twitty of Vincennes, Dave Parman and friends, Wade Baker’s jazz quartet, a funk and soul band, and a group featuring Robert Kemp. The popular local duo Jared & Luke will open Friday’s line-up of local talent.
Saturday’s line-up will include quick-pickin’ bluegrass favorites like Grassfed from Kansas City, Brown County hill-country crew The Hammer and The Hatchet, and soulful songwriters like The Whispering Willows from Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Other bands and performers include Mama Said String Band, Hen House Prowlers, New Old Calvary, and Jordan Wood.
“This event is what happens when heart meets action, when friends decide to work together towards a common positive goal,” Dunn said. “What’s better than good music, good food, and good fellowship?
“Our hope is to celebrate the heritage and culture of music, provide a venue for local artists to perform and introduce various types of music to our community.”