If you are anything like me, the thought of an upcoming music and arts festival makes every fiber in your body tingle with the anticipation and promise of a truly amazing weekend alongside a life-changing experience. It is without doubt that over the past decade Tennessee has become one of the most successful music and arts festival hosts in the country. From Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival to Fly Free Festival, Muddy Roots and more, who can resist the luscious green fields and forests of the sweet South? That is why many of my friends and I were so excited when we heard about Music in the Middle Modern Arts Festival. Finally, a music festival in our own backyard!
Murfreesboro residents Cameron Sloan and Stephen Masterson, founders of Heady Vibes Mini Music Festival and other events, have put together an amazing and diverse lineup of about 75 local and mainstream bands to form a music festival of electronic, funk, folk, reggae, rock, indie rock and everything you can imagine on the beautiful 300-acre farm of Short Mountain Distillery in Woodbury, Tenn. Who would have thought a music festival could be made more interesting by being on a moonshine distillery?
“We love going to Bonnaroo and other music festivals, but if you have ever been to a large festival, you know that sometimes you want something a little more personal,” said Sloan. “What we want to do is to create a music festival with a really close community vibe. Stephen and I have been working on this for about a year, and really it started with our love of music and wanting to bring something really cool to our community.”
The guys predict the festival to be made up of around 5,000 people with around 75 bands. The lineup for the 2013 1st Annual Music in the Middle Modern Arts Festival consists of The 1975, Aeroplane, Blue Sky Black Death, Gigamesh, Space Capone, Sky Hi, Ghost Beach, Zoogma, and many more. There is no doubt Sloan and Masterson are sincerely passionate about this festival, and the two have managed to overcome their fair share of trials and tribulations this year to make Music in the Middle possible for those who share a love for music and art.
“We really want to grow Music in the Middle into a much larger festival eventually,” said Masterson. “However, being the first year, we really need to see how the festival will go and how we can improve it in order to expand in the future. There were some necessary changes made at the beginning, unfortunately, but we feel this will be the best for our attendants and the community.”
With the help of Earmilk Presents, Full Spectrum Events and others, three main stages (and smaller stages) will showcase bands throughout the day and night. The fields of Short Mountain Distillery will give a home to decked-out lights in the trees (creating an Electric Forest Festival vibe), shows taking place in the perfectly spaced-out woods, smaller stages for acoustic improv shows and more. Guests can enjoy yoga in the morning time, hula hooping areas, a bonfire at night, EDM laser tag, glow and regular Frisbee and more! Attendees are encouraged to bring instruments so they can jam out at their leisure, and spray cans for graffiti walls, paint or anything artistic. Performance art is also encouraged!
“We have done everything we can to make this enjoyable for our guests,” said Masterson. “A lot of planning has come with our frustration from other festivals we enjoy. We don’t want people to have to wait forever to go to the restrooms, we don’t want anyone to feel crammed in, and we really want to create a symbiotic event where people are working together. We also wanted to create a symbiotic relationship with production companies and businesses so that everyone is getting along and working together.”
The festival will begin Friday, Oct. 4, with music beginning at 9 a.m. and lasting until around 2 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6. There will be an option for outdoor camping or day parking with shuttle service. Among many of the wonderful things going on that weekend, attendees can enjoy local food, music and art vendors such as Enchanted Planet, Auroravizion Diffraction Glasses, Hippie Hill Snowcones & Smoked Goods and more. The Craft American Beer Tour will be there for anyone interested in 100-plus quality beers, and of course, moonshine will be available.
“The people of the Short Mountain Distillery Mountain have been very helpful as well as TDOT and other members of the community,” said Sloan. “Everyone at the distillery has been very understanding. They are big on giving back to the community and providing good entertainment. We are very grateful for all of their help.”
“What we are doing out here really is extraordinary,” said Ben Kaufman, one of the founders of Short Mountain Distillery. “Liquor-making really has been the pinnacle of the agriculture business. Short Mountain has their own recipe special to the area, and everything we grow is organic and heirloom corn. I was looking for something to bring people out here, and with the founders [of Music in the Middle] being from Murfreeboro, the festival seemed like a great fit. MTSU college students connecting with other college students is something we would like to involve here.
“This distillery is an underground, epic area,” Kaufman continued. “This is not a wealthy area, so anything we can do to get people to come out here helps this farm grow. I predict us to host many things in the future to help put this town on the map. I’m trying to make moonshine cool. It’s already cool, but it’s not young. We’re just trying to think outside the box.”
For more information on Music in the Middle, check out musicinthemiddlefest.com or follow their Facebook page for updates and giveaways. You can hear some of the festival’s music on SoundCloud at MusicinthemiddleFest, and stay tuned to Nashville’s 102.9 The Buzz radio station, where one of the festival bands will be chosen for their Acoustic Den.
If you are interested in volunteering , visit marcatoforms.com/mimapp/volunteers/ for an application. Volunteer and get a shirt, other perks and best of all free entry to the festival! Vendors can also still apply at marcatoforms.com/mimapp/vendors/. The new line-up, new ticket pricing and more is predicted to be posted Sept. 2. For more information on Short Mountain Distillery, visit shortmountaindistillery.com.