Jason Ringenberg

Brown County
Music Festival

September 22, 2007

by Barney Quick

Several of Brown County’s most prominent qualities—civic-mindedness, love of music, and love of food—will be on full display Saturday, September 22 at the first annual Brown County Music Festival. This day-long event is a fundraiser for the Brown County Career Resource Center, which provides such services as GED and SAT preparation and vocational guidance to area residents.

The Brown County Community Foundation, which provides funds for the Center, has retained the services of Lisa Morrison Marketing and Media as festival organizer and promoter. Morrison is putting together a two-stage lineup of local, regional, and national talent, as well as a folk-art market, a Beer and Wine Garden, and a kickoff dinner, awards ceremony, and silent auction.

The festival will take place in downtown Nashville, spanning an area from the Village Gazebo, where one of the music stages will be set up, to Coachlight Square, the location of the folk-art market. The Coachlight Stage and the Beer and Wine Garden will be located in Tilton Field, immediately to the south of Coachlight Square. The festival begins at 11:00 a.m. and runs through 10:00 p.m.

Local musical acts presently slated to perform include The Reel Tyme String Band, Robbie Bowden and Slats Klug, and Dave Miller, who will perform a tribute to John Denver. Two national acts, both known as pioneers of the alt-country movement, will also be on hand. The Swinging Steaks, from Boston, will perform on the Main Stage. Nashville, Tennessee-based Jason Ringenberg will deliver the kind of rocking set he’s been known for since his days with Jason and the Scorchers, but he will also appear as Farmer John to perform a show of children’s material.

The Gazebo will host an Emerging Artists Showcase. Eighth-grade jazz drummer Gabriel Stant and his ensemble, award-winning concert pianist Haley O’Neil, and the rock band Moment’s Affair are among those scheduled to appear.

There will be a Career Resource Center information booth onsite where those interested can learn more about the Center’s programs and services. Area media outlets are encouraged to interview Center staff and others associated with the festival.

Five wineries plus Bloomington’s Upland Brewing Company will be represented at the Beer and Wine Garden. Food vendors include Calzone Jones, Gnaw Bone Tenderloin, and Chick-Fil-A, which is the event’s corporate sponsor.

On Wednesday, September 19, at 7:00 p.m., there will be a kickoff dinner at Salt Creek Golf Retreat. It is also a fundraising event, taking the form of a silent auction. Donors include Spears Gallery, which is contributing pottery, and Upland Brewery, which is contributing gift certificates. In addition, the dinner will be the occasion of the Brown County Music Legacy Awards, where various area performers will receive such honors as New Artist of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement Award. Tickets for the dinner are $25.

Lisa Morrison, a Bloomington native with an extensive background in radio, says she came to her enthusiasm for neighboring Brown County in 1995. While hosting the show “Over Easy” on Bloomington’s WTTS-FM she debuted the Liars’ Bench album. “That’s when I first learned all the stories and became exposed to the Frank Hohenberger photographs,” she explains.

Morrison continues to be amazed by the standards of musicianship to be found in Brown County. “Everyone was excited to be at the auditions,” she says. “No one took it lightly.”

If there’s one minor disappointment for Morrison in all her organizing activities, it’s that she couldn’t accommodate all the musical acts that submitted requests to audition. “The nice thing, though, is that several other events are coming up throughout the year, and I know I have a rich reservoir of talent I can tap.”

Tickets for the kickoff dinner and information about the festival itself can be obtained by calling (812) 361-8023.