By: Josh Krol
In a world where most festivals strive off of massive profits and production companies try to monopolize the scene, one festival strives for something more. For McDowell Mountain Music Festival it’s more than just profits and demographics, it’s about enriching the area’s culture through music and charity.
Now in its 11th year, McDowell Mountain Music Festival returns to sun-drenched Phoenix, Arizona during the last weekend in March where the festival continues its mission to give back to the community that has made it a success.
The festival began as an opportunity for President of Arizona-based Wespac Construction, John Largay, and his company to give back to the community that has helped the business thrive while simultaneously raising money for local charities. Every penny earned and every hour of manpower worked during the course of the festival is donated and will profit two local, family-based, non-profits: Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and UMOM New Day Center. Over the past decade over $1,000,000 has been donated to local charities throughout Arizona.
“The community has been good to us so we felt the need to give back. We chose a music festival because the mentality from a logistics standpoint is no different than a jobsite,” Largay explained.
This year’s lineup includes everything from Livetronica veterans, STS9 & Disco Biscuits, to one of the hardest working country/rock musicians still playing, Dwight Yoakim, to the reggae stylings of Slightly Stoopid with bits of funk (Lettuce) and folk (Donna the Buffalo) artists thrown in for good measure.
“The festival is fairly eclectic in its genre. We do that intentionally to expose a lot of different styles of music,” Largay said. “We like to think we are playing artists who are relevant and current that don’t necessarily tie to a generation or genre and we have found our audience likes the exposure.”
A unique strategy that MMMF takes with its featured lineup is that organizers schedule artists in a very direct way in an attempt to create “theme days.” The initial day features new-age funk powerhouse, Lettuce, followed by the funky wobble of Gramatik. This will be the first EDM artist to grace the main stage of McDowell Mountain Music Festival. STS9 will premier their revamped lineup and close out the night making it for a heavy funk and electronic-filled day.
Saturday sees soul newcomer, Allen Stone, followed by the eclectic harmonies of Dispatch. Slightly Stoopid’s brand of tasty fusion and massive grooves will precede Saturday night’s headliner, The Disco Biscuits. Line these artists up and it’s clear that Saturdays were made for grooving.
The final day sees the festival take a step back to breathe. The acoustic stylings of G. Love and Special Sauce and Dwight Yoakim will ring out to the Sunday sun. A newly formed ‘super-group’ will close out MMMF this year. Poetic mastermind Ben Harper teams up with the iconic blues muscle Charlie Musslewhite for what is sure to be a Sunday Funday to remember.
But even with these big name artists, the festival’s mission is to keep it small. With approximately only about 10,000 attendees throughout the three days, the crowd remains family orientated which is a main priority for the organizers. There are only two stages in the park that will feature a total of seventeen headlining performers with eleven bands representing the local stage.
Also featured throughout the festival grounds will be interactive music making for children, an afternoon drum circle, food vendors and a craft beer garden hosted by Deschutes Brewery. There is a camping area for those who wish to opt of a hotel. You can find the schedule of artists and past lineups as well as information about the charities mentioned and the festivals mission on its website.
Start your festival season early and come Ray John in the desert at McDowell Mountain.