Homegrown Fest Organizer Josh Florence Talks This Year's Offerings and Plans For The Future.

Categories: Interviews
Thumbnail image for homegrownneff.jpg
Neff Conner
The scene at last year's inaugural Homegrown Festival.
Ah, music festivals. You just know that summer is truly here when musicians begin crawling out of their usual habitat of dark clubs and windowless bars, and emerge into the sunlight to spend an afternoon playing live music in the great outdoors.

The Homegrown Music and Art Festival, held at the Main Street Garden Park downtown, was a hit last year, drawing a crowd of 1,200 people to see such local favorites as Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights and RTB2. This year, it's back and boasting an impressive lineup of local and indie bands -- plus booths filled with local art and food beneath what is predicted to be a cloudless sky.

In anticipation of the second annual offering, we spoke yesterday with festival organizer Josh Florence (who local music fans may recognize as the man behind such area music venues as Club Dada and City Tavern) about this year's jewel of a festival, which boasts a bigger budget, bigger crowds and some kid-friendly attractions this go-around.

Check out our Q&A with Florence after the jump.

Last year went pretty great for a debut festival. You had 1,200 people show up over the course of the day. How do you feel about that, moving forward into this year's offering? What are your hopes?
Well, obviously, our hopes are to increase the number of people that will come out. We want it to grow, we want this thing to grow. We want it to get really big someday. I don't know if we have an actual projection of what we're expecting or what we're planning for, but we definitely want it to grow. We think it's a good event, and we think it's good for the city. So, really: Growth, more so than any specific number, is what we're after.

What are the major differences in organizing the festival this year as opposed to last?
Well, first off, in some regard, it's been easier this year than last year organizing the event. Surely, you know, based on the reasoning that we did it once before. I mean, last year, I'd never applied for a special event permit, off-site TABC and catering permits, and dealing with all the Porta-Potties and the fencing. In some regard, it was our first time dealing with, you know, these gigantic riders for bands that are flying into town and all that. [There's] a lot of these first-time situations we found ourselves in last year that we're in again this year, which you know obviously we've done it before and it's easier to tackle this year than last. As far as preparing for the festival to grow this year versus last year, we're definitely gonna have more manpower, more bartenders, more security. That being said, we're still going to have to stand by the things [that gave last year a successful] boutique festival atmosphere.

What are you most excited about with this year's festival? You've got some bands back, you've got some new bands...
I'm so excited about so many things. Obviously, the bands, the lineup we have this year, we feel is just absolutely out of sight. We're really proud of it. We're proud to have every one of the bands as part of the festival. We've got national acts this year -- we're really proud of that fact, and excited about the fact that they really kind of cross the genres. Another thing we're still kind of crossing our fingers on -- but is looking really, really good -- is the weather. Last year, it was pretty hot. It was in the low 90s, I believe, last year. And, this year, the forecast is supposed to be in the mid 70s, with a light breeze and not a cloud in the sky, which is just perfect outdoor music festival weather. So, the weather works out as well.

Tell me a little bit about the stuff that's going on other than music during the festival, like the art and restaurants stuff.
The Lily Pad, which has a location at the park, is gonna be providing all the food. They did a fantastic job last year and we think they'll do the same this year. We're gonna have a kids' corner. We feel that it's really important to include families. [The kids' corner] will have jugglers, magicians, entertainment for the kids. Also, the fountain will be on, which was a huge hit last year with the kids. My kids, personally, were in the fountain all day long, and they had an absolute blast. That's one thing going on that we're real excited about. During the concert, there's a muralist in Dallas -- he did the mural at the City Tavern -- he's gonna do an eight-foot by 20-foot mural that incorporates elements of Deep Ellum, downtown, the local music scene and the Homegrown Festival. So, I'm excited to see him work on that throughout the day. I'm curious to see how much progress he's gonna be able to make in one day, but I think that's gonna be really neat. We've got several local artists -- jewelry makers, glass blowers, etc. -- that are going to be out there.

Tell me a little bit about the amenities you guys are providing.
Well, Hotel Indigo. They're one of our sponsors, and they're providing discounted rooms, discounted rates, at $89 for Saturday night. So, if you call and mention Homegrown Festival, you can get a room for $89, which is a really deep discount. They're a really nice boutique hotel that is literally right across the street from the park.

How big a factor is the weather in all this?
You know, if I was on the fence, it'd bring me out. Beautiful weather, spring in Texas, fall in Texas -- it brings people out and about. So, the better the weather is, the better I think our turnout will be. You always fear the rain when doing something like this. So, just to see, this close to the event, there's not a projection for rain, it's helping me sleep better at night.  

Where do you go from here? Are you already looking forward to next year's festival? What can you tell us about what you are planning for the future?
First and foremost, we kinda want to keep our eye on the ball with this year, make sure we're capable of executing everything, and the way we execute it so that everybody stays and has a great time. But we definitely have big ideas for the future. We'd like to organically grow this thing without pushing it too much. That being said, it's something that everyone involved would like to be involved with for years and years and years to come.

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5 comments
barry
barry

Very exciting times for local music in the metroplex. This adds to it all. Thanks to organizers of this event for putting it together and for focusing on the local angle. Can't wait.

Josh
Josh

I obviously say obviously too much!

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