Hello Festy Friends!
Can you believe it’s been a month since the start of our festival season? Where has the time gone!
Celebrating their 12th year since their inception in 2004, McDowell Mountain Music Festival took place in Hance Park In downtown Phoenix, Arizona this March 27th – 29th.
The stellar line-up this year included acts like Passion Pit, Thievery Corporation, Phantogram, Widespread Panic, Break Science, The Revivalists, Trombone Shorty, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and more! Two stages combined with a plethora of organic food vendors, and thousands of music-loving festival goers laid roots for truly a one-of-a-kind experience.
The McDowell Mountain Music Festival is the only 100% non-profit music festival in Arizona. Dedicated to promoting community involvement, corporate participation and charity – McDowell Mountain Music Festival truly takes pride in supporting, entertaining and educating the community, the arts and families. All of its proceeds benefit two local, family-based, non-profits: Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and UMOM New Day Center.
And for all you true festy heads, we have a tasty CMF exclusive treat!! We were able to catch up with festival organizer, Nate Largay, and got a snippet of the festival origins and music industry advice!
1. What’s the story behind MMMF, how did it start?
The festival started out as an effort for a company to say thank you to the community. If you are unaware, the owner of a construction company called Wespac Construction started the festival. The community of Arizona has been so great over the years with a strong market and healthy job growth that they decided it would be a good idea to start a charity campaign in order to contribute back to society. That contribution took the form of donating proceeds from the music festival. It really started out of the love of music and charity.
3. Can you elaborate on the diversity in this festival line-up?
We started off with strong jam roots. For years we really only played jam, but jam has so many sub-genres that it really made sense for us to expand genres. We started booking indie, Americana, jazz, blues, hip-hop, bluegrass, and electronic acts that all had associations or roots in jam. So once we started booking these acts we decided to give Phoenix a flavor of tons of different music based on different days. That’s why you can see our Friday lineup is entirely different from Sunday. There’s a sense of fluidity to the three days, but that’s why the genres differ day to day.
3. Who is the founder of this non-profit music festival?
The founder is John Largay, also the founder of Wespac Construction
4. What was the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in regards to making the festival happen?
One of the biggest obstacles was having to survive through a tough economy. If you notice we started in 2004, and between then and now were some of the worst years the American economy has ever seen. We had to downscale to a very small festival until the economy picked back up, which is why you’ll notice we’ve been in full swing the past 3 years.
5. Any advice you’d give someone planning a festival or event?
Some advice would be perseverance. Consistency through a strong product is one of the most challenging aspects of businesses in the world. You’ll notice festivals will shift their product to feed the ever-changing platform of popular demand. Businesses won’t survive if they don’t adapt to a changing world. With that being said, we love to feed the popular demand as you can see with bands like Phantogram and Passion Pit, but we will always respect and feed the demand for classic jam.
6. Where do you see the festival heading in the next few years?
I think the festival will grow. We’ve had talks about expanding to have 3 stages instead of two. We have a great local scene in Phoenix and AZ as a whole, so we love to honor that with having a local stage as we have done for the last 12 years. I think you will see us expand to 2 national stages and 1 local stage, which will grant us the opportunity to bring a lot more music to Phoenix than what people have seen.