7/17-18/09 Berea Fest 4, Berea, OH @ St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
We did it a fourth year. It was worth the work and the work was light thanks to many who helped. We were allowed to use St. Paul’s again for free. We are so thankful for that. The large gym and easy kitchen and bathroom access makes it perfect for the event. There was a small stage built by Pat and Austin, food made by a bunch of sweet hearts that fed many, a recycling/trash team made up of Cleveland’s environmental justice zine crew ‘Green Light,’ a good PA set up provided by Scott Wasilk, and good sound run by Dave of 80HD fame (Cleveo’s greatest ska band ever). We even had wrist bands and a little schedule/Berea map that I made with local hot spots, though there are only a few. People actually volunteered to help clean up too. It went quick at the end of things. Each day had around 600 people at it. We raised a little over $2000 for the Berea Children’s Home. They offer family support systems and behavioral health support. The home is often an alternative to juvenile detention and care that would be otherwise out of reach for many.
Highlights are hard to choose. Here are a few.
-Letters to the Moon getting to start the show. Many family and family friends we there.
-Le Vansona’s wall of amps and brutal blend of metal and hardcore, blowing the minds of the suburbs.
-Shakin’ my ass to The Read
-Gushing Lemuria fans
-Freaking out for The Max Levine Ensemble. Watching Jimi Baby freak out for The Max Levine Ensemble.
-Submarine Spaceship with all their energy, Spooktober featuring Justy Beats
– New Creases with Mickey’s Grandma in the front.
-Amelia, thinking they were off when they were SO on.
-Eastland Inn visit with Lindsey and Meg; running there and back
-Rocking out SO hard to The Sidekicks. I crowd surfed. Lost everything in my wallet. It was all returned to the stage at the end of the night.
-The volume of people singing along to Good Luck
-The Delay set! I will always hold my memory close of My Papa and Grammy coming to see Delay close the fest. It was after midnight. My Papa did his old man tippy kind of walk with his cigar clenched between his teeth heading for the front doors while saying,
“Move, move… Papa coming through… I’m with the band… beep beep.”
Grammy followed. My Papa was baffled by how people reacted to the music and how people looked. He said he had never seen such crazy people. My Gram said that would have probably been her and her friends. They stayed for two songs of ours and I will always keep that in my heart and call it true familial support beyond what words can say thanks for. Rest in peace Papa. My love to you always.
It’s a privilege to have had the opportunity to hang out with so many talented and special people from all over the US who bring a spirit of genuine kindness and fun to the event. There were no major problems. It was a gathering instead of a crowd (op ivy anyone?). It was a community. It felt like we did something right; all of us there.
*Here are select parts of an interview I did with Ray Houska for Positive Ohio Zine ( Ray booked legendary FOR REAL FEST, is a teacher, and a recent import to Columbus). I feel it portrays Berea Fest accurately although I am way to wordy (it was an internet interview) and I use exclamation points carelessly to the point of it being annoying.
1. How, when, and why was Berea Fest created?
Berea Fest was born out of booking and playing DIY all ages shows around the country. The shows led to growing friendships. We, a group of former Northeast Ohioans now in Columbus, wanted a family reunion of sorts to take place for all of the wonderful people we had met. We wanted sweaty, smiling faces coming together and feeling empowered through meaningful and independent music; leaving inspired to impact the world around them in their own way, regardless of mainstream recognition. We wanted it to be in our home town to make a statement: If you have the desire, you can make exciting things happen in a supposedly boring place, like the suburb you and I grew up in! We wanted a big show run by punks, for punks. No sponsors, no security, $5 at the door. I remember a show that we booked at a cabin in the Cleveland Metroparks that was meant for low key graduation parties and church potlucks. I found out it was $70 to rent. I think it was Spring of 06’ and we did the show for Slingshot Dakota. We joked about having a Berea Fest while they were tearing down. A few months later, it was a reality. The first Berea Fest happened in July of 2006. It was at this falling apart historic school house (now renovated) that we rented for around $200.
2. What is your mission behind organizing this DIY event? What do you seek to accomplish?
With this DIY event, we want to strengthen the DIY community. To sustain DIY and spread the ethics surrounding it, it takes some effort. We want to further the idea that success is less of being in the pages of some glossy taste setter magazine and more about being in the pages of your friend’s zine who cut and pasted for six hours and scammed the copies from work. We just want to show that it IS possible and it IS meaningful to create something on your own terms. We can offer food for bands, places to stay, monetary donations for gas money, functional equipment, a welcoming environment. We can support self released music, self booked tours, pretension shattering music, and a fuck you to the “making it” mentality. Some bands give up on it. Those involved in booking/supporting DIY music can create a community around taking care of one another.
3. When selecting performing artists to play the fest, what do you take into consideration? What type of bands do you look to invite, and how would a performing artist find her or his way on the Berea Fest roster?
We choose bands that we love and that we feel perpetuate the values of thoughtful and valuable expression. We want to hang out with our friends from out of town who have inspired us with their music. It sounds like some exclusive thing and it is a little. But it has to be with the time constraints. It is very hard to include EVERYONE that we believe fits onto the show because a lot of bands do and they do not get to participate. Hopefully, people understand that. Berea Fest is not the only show ever or the only fest. It is just one show booked by a handful of people. Anyone is capable of doing what we are doing. We do look for good music, a good message, and good people who have commitment to helping support and further the DIY network. Ohio bands especially because that is our home. For bands looking to participate- With the growth of the fest and many hoping to be involved, most of the bands are contacted by us personally. We (those who book) meet and discuss our thoughts on the bands and then invite them to play. It’s easy to pick bands that are involved, stay involved, and are willing to share their energy for music and the community of individuals that can surround it and can keep it going.
4. How would you encourage everyone involved to participate? Whether it is a performing artist, patron, volunteer, etc. What do you like to see happen over the course of the weekend? What kind of participation are you looking for? What environment are you seeking to create?
Everyone at a show is a part of the show. From literally volunteering for one of many volunteer positions, to just picking up a piece of trash or being kind, everyone can have an impact on the environment of the show and the collective mind set of the show. Hopefully, everyone attending will add positively to the Berea Fest environment. I will quote Kevin Seconds, “Use your head, be aware, GIVE A FUCK!” We hope people will have the best weekend of summer. We are looking for enthusiastic participation and willingness to cooperate in making it a fun, inclusive fest for everyone. Mindlessness has plenty of space in the world and we won’t harbor it at Berea Fest… except for mindless booty shaking. We are into that. We hope people will respect each other and the space in which the show is happening.