Bay area music lovers will have the chance to hear all their local favorites over Memorial Day weekend at a new music festival called the Sound Cheq Music Fest, organized by the StageNorth Groundlings.
Why is a non-profit organization associated with the theater arts putting on a music festival?
“Our mission really is to support the arts as a whole,” said Groundlings board member and festival organizer Liz Woodworth. “For the past years we have been focused on theater, but in the back of our minds, we always had the notion of doing something with music.”
Woodworth admits she “totally stole” the idea for the festival — which includes only local musicians and bands — from the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival.
“We have a plethora of amazing musicians in our backyard,” Woodworth said. “At the same time, there are fewer and fewer venues for live music.”
After the Groundlings decided to run with the festival idea, Woodworth said her first call was to Rose Lawyer of the Harbor View Event Center, who embraced the idea and offered tips on hosting a music event gleaned from her experience hosting a blues festival. Other venues include the StageNorth theater, The Snug and the Lake Superior Taphouse.
“All the venues are right in Washburn, so if people want to walk from place to place, they can,” Woodworth said.
The festival starts at noon on Friday and wraps up Sunday at 10 p.m. Over that time, some 29 acts from solo acoustic artists to bluegrass groups to rock bands will play sets lasting just under two hours.
“We tried to stagger the times of all the acts, so theoretically a person could catch every single one,” Woodworth said.
The qualifications for performers? They must live or have roots within a 30-mile radius of Washburn.
“I had some bands from Duluth ask me about getting in, and I had to say no,” Woodworth said.
There will be food and drink available at all the venues. Admission will be a simple $25 wristband, which will be good for as many or as few acts as one wants to attend.
Woodworth said the admission money will go toward paying the musicians and anything left over will be earmarked for future festivals, as The Groundlings hope Sound Cheq will become an annual event.
Woodworth said the response from musicians, business owners and their sponsors has been “overwhelming.”
“Everyone was on board with this opportunity to celebrate local music,” she said. “The enthusiasm is amazing.”
If you go
The inaugural Sound Cheq Music Fest takes place May 24-26 in four Washburn venues — StageNorth Theater, the Harbor View Event Center, The Snug and the Lake Superior Taphouse. A $25 general admission wristband is good for all three days, and can be purchased at any venue. For a detailed event schedule or to purchase a wristband in advance, visit www.soundcheqmusicfest.com.