By Zak Kolesar
[Festival flyer courtesy of Steadfast Festival]
Columbus is becoming a local music festival destination: a city where residents no longer have to travel across states to be exposed to different music scenes. Steadfast Festival is one of the daring events taking a ground-level approach that has contributed to Columbus’ success as a destination for music. This year, Steadfast is returning for its fourth iteration under the helm of Tuned Up, a local music blog, podcast and manager of Steadfast. The festival continues to grow in size and artistic range, and after nearly five years of operating, Steadfast is on its way to becoming one of Columbus’ can’t-miss musical celebrations.
Zak Kolesar, Experience Columbus writer and former In The Record Store editor, had the chance to ask Tuned Up editor and Steadfast Festival organizer Ryan Getz about past successes, the growing music community in Columbus and what’s in store for this year. You can read the interview below.
Q: What is Steadfast Festival’s mission statement?
Ryan: We don’t have an official mission statement, but we exist to pay homage to the steadfast fans, musicians and movers and shakers that make up your local music scene — wherever that may be.
With steadfast pertaining to the loyal local fan base, what is it about the Columbus community that makes our music community steadfast?
As I’ve been following the Columbus scene, I’ve seen a lot of growth. Currently, more bands seem to be taking that “next step” than I’ve ever noticed before — hiring management, touring, pursuing PR, etc. Likewise, there has been an influx of movers and shakers trying to build camaraderie among locals as of recent. Columbus Covers Columbus and the Gnarbeque come to mind. What? Fest is another homegrown event happening in Strongwater later this year. Even in light of controversy, a conversation is being fostered between segments of the scene that might not normally interact — we’re all moving toward a common goal.
Having been a festival for almost half a decade now, where has the biggest growth for Steadfast been?
Moving the venue out of the church last year was a huge turning point for us. Though attendance declined slightly, the fans that came to hang out made more effort to discover new bands and the vibe was much closer to what I had in mind from the beginning. We have mad love to Veritas Community Church for letting us cut our teeth in their space the first two years of our existence!
Steadfast has acted as an echo chamber for fans in the past. What artist on the lineup this year were most people excited about?
The highest drawing artist we’ve ever had was The Classic Crime our second year. Mike Mains & The Branches this year will fulfill our followers’ desire to see another artist with some connections to the faith-based scene while being on brand for emerging alternative acts that anyone — regardless of your background or personal beliefs — can love.
Also, on our internal selection committee, it was unanimous that we have Zoo Trippin’ back this year. I can’t think of a local band that is the archetype of a steadfast music fan or supporter more.
Who are you most excited to see perform?
Personally, I’m most excited for SHAED and label me lecter. LML’s energy is very infectious and I’m very excited to have a band on CD1025’s playlist that, in my opinion, may cross over into top 40 pop territory in the next six months.
How do you get a good read on the out-of-state indie acts on the lineup without living in their specific local music scene?
Mostly just by having people we know who are in those scenes make recommendations!
O.D.D.I.T.Y is a part of the local scene where our writer Topher Parks resides. He does a feature on Tuned Up every month called Hoosier Highlights and has featured O.D.D.I.T.Y multiple times. Faintheart are an indie band we first heard on RadioU that was referred to us through friends in bands we have booked and reviewed in the past. Rymo is being managed by Morgan Fisher of Mozy Media Co., who are dear friends and colleagues of ours in Nashville.
After deciding to partner with Ooko Studios, what can fans expect from their contribution to the production?
They are friends with Mozy Media Co. We thought we needed to document some live performances permanently to get fans excited about future years!
What are you most excited about returning to Strongwater this year?
Strongwater is perfect for Steadfast at the stage it’s at now. You can fit a lot of people in there, but there are many areas to hang out and absorb that down-to-earth vibe we’re going for. It has character, and I love the staff there. They are very accommodating.
A pre-show for the festival will be held at Donato’s Pizza (2084 N. High St.) on Friday, March 8, one day before Steadfast Festival takes place. The Castros, Ultraviolet Pilot, Paper Lung, Forever Unknown Band and We Are The Movies are all on the bill for Friday night. Tickets are $10 at the door and doors open at 6 p.m.
Steadfast Festival itself will again take place at Strongwater Food and Spirits (401 W. Town St.) on Saturday, March 9. Tickets can be purchased beforehand for $15. The full lineup this year will be featuring Mike Mains & The Branches, SHAED, Captain Kidd, Whale Bones, label me lecter, Hello Luna, Faintheart, Zoo Trippin’, O.D.D.I.T.Y, The Forty, Spirit of the Bear and Rymo. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.