The Mendel Center delivers a new take on the local music festival scene by bringing the party indoors and keeping the vibe alive well into the fall. Indie Fest 18 celebrates fresh original music, mouth-watering culinary variety from some of the area’s favorite food trucks, craft beers, Michigan wines, and local artisans when it takes over The Mendel Center on Saturday, October 20, from 4 – 10 pm.
The six-hour indoor festival is anchored by three, nationally touring headline bands performing on the Mainstage – Switchback, The Accidentals, and The Hunts – each known for smart songwriting, inspired musicianship, and energetic stage performances. Throughout the event, attendees can enjoy food from area food trucks parked outside The Mendel Center and pair it with an inviting selection of Michigan craft beers and wines available in the lobbies surrounding the Mainstage. Also featured in the lobbies will be a selection of creations on display and for sale from up to 20 local artists.
“As we planned the Mainstage season and looked ahead to the shorter, cooler days of fall, it made sense to bring all the sounds, tastes, and sights of the festival scene indoors within the comfortable confines of the largest performing arts and event center in the region. With that, Indie Fest 18 was created,” stated Mike Nadolski, executive director of The Mendel Center.
Nadolski explained that The Mendel Center decided to use this opportunity to reimagine and combine the best elements of the former Art of Beer and Winter Delights festivals the venue has hosted.
“The Mainstage provides the right environment to showcase the incredible entertainment we’ve lined up. Adding food, beverages, and artists’ creations to that creates a full sensory experience,” Nadolski added.
Unlike other Mainstage season events, Indie Fest is general admission seating.
“The general admission ticket price of $25 gives festival goers the freedom of staying for any portion of the six-hour event or soaking in every minute of the experience,” stated Nadolski.
The music schedule includes:
Switchback – 4 pm
There is a point in certain musicians’ careers where their music begins to be recognized for its influence on others and becomes the standard to build upon. The duo Switchback has become such a standard with critical recognition of their contribution to Celtic and Americana music, as well as their overall success as consummate entertainers.
With three PBS specials, music on NBC, and appearances with the Moody Blues, Jethro Burns, Clifton Chenier, John Hartford, Leon Russell, Dale Watson, the Chieftains, Liz Carol, Martin Hayes, and many others, Switchback has earned a place among musical legends. That said, it is perhaps the continuing mission of playing music for those who need it most, in prisons, special need homes, schools, juvenile detention centers, and nursing facilities that set them apart from their peers. As the creator of the National Poetry Slam and author Marc Smith said, “Switchback hits an everybody note.”
American Songwriter Magazine (along with Americana icon Steve Earle) praised Switchback as one of the seminal groups to blend American roots and traditional Celtic styles. Switchback’s hybrid has an energy and joyous abandon that Matt Malloy of The Chieftains proclaimed “powerful!”
In his review of their music, Ron Pen, professor and Director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music’s (division of musicology and ethnomusicology at the University of Kentucky) says Switchback is “more than Americana-it is America itself.”
The Accidentals – 6 pm
With Odyssey, their Sony Masterworks debut album, The Accidentals affirm their place among contemporary music’s most original and adventurous new bands. Multi-instrumentalists Sav Buist and Katie Larson, joined on stage and in the studio by drummer Michael Dause, have crafted a genre all their own, fueled by their uniquely limitless approach to musicality and songcraft.
Named among Yahoo Music’s “Top 10 Band to Watch in 2017,” The Accidentals’ adventure began in their hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, when Larson, a sophomore cellist, and Buist, a junior violinist, were paired for a high school orchestra event. They became fast friends and before long, bandmates. Having both grown up in musical families, their shared influences bounded between classical, jazz, bluegrass, country, alt-rock, and the obscure.
The Accidentals recorded and released a pair of independent albums in 2012 and 2013, the latter funded by a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign. The original songs revealed a band with wide-ranging influences but always true to their orchestral roots. The past five years have seen The Accidentals perform over a thousand live shows, including headline dates, festival sets, and shared stages along with such like-minded acts as Martin Sexton, Brandi Carlile, Andrew Bird, The Wailers, Joan Baez, and others. 2015 saw the band embark on their first, full-scale national tour. That year’s SXSW debut saw them hailed by Billboard for “displaying a genre-hopping range of influences and some smart songwriting skills to go with their abundant musical chops.”
The Hunts – 8 pm
The Hunts are an indie-alternative-folk band comprised of seven brothers and sisters. Born and raised in the south land of Chesapeake, Virginia, the siblings grew up in a musical home and fell in love with composing their own music. Josh (guitar, lead vocals), Jenni (violin, lead vocals), Jonathan (keys, vocals), Jordan (drums, vocals), Justin (bass, vocals), Jamison (mandolin, vocals), and Jessi (viola, banjo, vocals) pour their blood, sweat, and tears into every song and strive to write music that moves hearts with beauty, power, and joy.
The Hunts have opened for world-renown bands such as The Fray, X-Ambassadors, Judah and the Lion, and OAR. They have appeared at world-class music festivals and stages including Austin City Limits, Red Rocks, Firefly, and Summerfest. Their music has been used for national TV shows and commercials and has over 13.5 million streams on Spotify. The band’s most recent record, Darlin’ Oh Darlin’, was recorded and mixed by Peter Katis (The National, Jonsi, Interpool, Head and the Heart, and more).
Between performances, local musicians will perform in the lobbies as festival goers enjoy food, drink, and artists’ displays. Information about featured food trucks, beers, wines, and artists will be posted on The Mendel Center website and Facebook page as they are confirmed.
Tickets for Indie Fest are $25 for general admission and $50 for reserved Stage Side seating. Tickets can be purchased at www.TheMendelCenter.com, through The Mendel Center Box Office at (269) 927-8700, option 1, and in person weekdays from 10 am to 6 pm at the box office located in the Grand Upton Hall lobby of The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College, 2755 E. Napier Avenue, Benton Harbor.
Indie Fest 18 is sponsored by swmichigan.org, 98.3 The Coast, and The Livery.