The Oscoda Rock Festival • Bringing Original Music to the Sunrise Side

An Exclusive Guide to the Aug. 10th Showcase!

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, , Artist Feature,   From Issue 882   By: Robert E Martin

17th July, 2019     0

According to organizers of the 1st Annual Oscoda Rock Festival,  poised to happen on Saturday August 10th at Oscoda’s  Furtaw Field, all indicators point to an unprecedented level of success for what they hope will become an annual event drawing upon Michigan’s own homegrown line-up of top flight original rock bands.

With a line-up consisting of Here After Six, Silverspork, Polychromic, Grounded,  Siren, Damned by Dawn, Assault the Silence, Everyday Ghost, along with a recent addition of We, the Infamous, organizers intend to create an annual event that will showcase Oscoda Township by bringing something new to the area in the form of original Modern Rock Music and creating a destination event that will attract visitors of all ages while introducing them to Michigan’s Sunrise Side and Paddletown USA.

In addition to promoting and supporting Oscoda Township, organizers will also be supporting the Veterans Memorial Park through this fund raising event, as they continue to expand the park to honor all of our Veterans who have served and provided a meaningful experience to our visitors, veterans, and their families. According to event chairperson Bob Tasior, “Because we have a closed air force base up here you can imagine how many veterans we have living here, so we also decided to stage this festival as a fundraiser for the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation.  Even though the base is closed this town still has many people who served in the military, so the Park Foundation is a big deal up here.”

“We figured that Tawas has an annual Blues Festival, as does Alpena, and because we’re smack dab between them, producing a major Rock Festival featuring top-notch Michigan rock bands performing original music would be the way to go, because that’s what we’re lacking up here,”  notes Bob.

Fortuitously, the promoter of Veterans Park was also looking for something to showcase in the park that would advance the community of Oscoda.  “They’re raising funds to put up a six foot by 22 foot long acrylic and aluminum mural that lights up the Vietnam Memorial area; and would like to install six of those. These murals run between $18-20,000 for each one of them and because the community is very active in supporting Vets Park, our Board decided to use the proceeds from this inaugural festival to lend them a hand in achieving their goals.  We have a lot of veterans and citizens that use the park for many events and want to aid with improving it, not only for the community but for visitors coming to enjoy our natural resources.”

“We’re putting up our first mural on August 3rd,” notes Rosemary Nentwig from the Veterans Memorial Park. We’re really excited about the possibilities that this event can do for the park and expect a big crowd. So far this summer we’ve been getting amazing traffic up here in Oscoda and it’s been difficult for people to find lodging, so we also want to help people get whatever lodging they need.”

As it currently stands, the festival has been coming together better than anticipated. “My sense right now is that things are coming together really well,” continues Tazior. “In addition to the great coverage from The Review, we have a public radio station producing interviews, radio ads revving up, commercial billboards in place, and a lot of buzz on the street. We have over 180 people following us on facebook just from our county alone, a lot of the performing bands are taking names and collecting money, and our event listing on facebook has over 1000 interested followers.”

The organizing committee is anticipation anywhere from 1500 to 2000 people attending the festival based upon a conservative estimate. “The recent Freedom Festival that was held only two blocks away from where we are located had 5000 people attending, so there’s a good chance we can match that number.”

Numerous food vendors have also been lined up for the festival, according to Committee Member Tom Wdowik. “Right now from the Saginaw area we have TNT Authentic Mexican and from up here we have Rob’s Barbecue, plus we will have a smoker cooking on the field along with an ice cream truck lined up, Hungry Howie’s pizza truck, and have another food vendor that will be serving gourmet burgers.”

As for what festival attendees can expect when they show up on the day of the festival, Vets Park committee member Joe Brinn says that while people cannot bring in their own alcohol, beer and wine trucks will be available on site. “The Legion riders are advertising a large poker run that will end at the site and tickets to the Poker Run will include tickets to our event, where we’ll have a special parking area set up. We’ll also featuring merchandising and event shirts sales, the bands will have merchandise stands, and three of the performing bands will be introducing their new albums, so we’ll also have brand new music coming out that day.”

When asked what the most challenging component has been in terms of bringing this festival together, Tazior responds: “That’s a good question to ask when it’s all over!  Being our first endeavor it’s always a challenge, as its difficult to plan for the unknown; but we’ll have plenty of things going on to keep the attendees busy. We have a bug stage that is 90 x 60 feet with a 30 x 24 foot stage rim, with sound that is being supplied by Dave Gordon from Sound Design.”

“One thing that has really come as a nice surprise is the level of interest from other bands that have been contacting us through facebook asking if we can add them into the line-up. Another 15 bands have come forward about performing, so going into our second year in 2020 I can see this easily becoming a two-day festival at this point.”

“What’s truly gratifying is the phenomenal sponsorship levels that have been coming forward from throughout our small community, concludes Tazior. “Everybody has been pitching in and this festival is the talk of the town. The Convention & Visitors Bureau has been fantastic giving us the funding and advertising dollars we need and the Township has been helping us set things up, placing fencing around the field, and been very cooperative when it comes to helping us out. Everything is coming together and the professionalism of the people stepping forward is remarkable.”

Furtaw Field is located right in the middle of town on US-23 and will be extremely visible. Tickets can be purchased online or at various stores for only $7.00 and admission at the gate will only be $10.00.  The festival will run from 1:00 PM - Midnight.

Veterans Memorial Park is located on the corner of Skeel Avenue and F-41, was established on Veteran’s Day November 11, 2006, and consists of 6 acres under continuing development. The Circle of Flags, which includes the 54 United States and territorial flags is impressive. The Visitor’s Center is open on all holiday weekends, specials events and other selected times. The parks stated purpose is to provide a place of relaxation and reflection which recognizes and preserves the honor of those who served and sacrificed for our freedom. General information, past events, accomplishments, current activities, development plans and upcoming events may be sought by calling 989.739.8152 for further information, or by visiting the Oscoda Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Presale tickets can also be purchased online at

Here’s a breakdown on all the performing artists along with their showtimes:

Grounded • 1:00 - 1:45 PM

Consisting of Jon Brun-Lead vocals/guitar, Jordan Morris-Lead Vocals/keyboard, Rich Warner-Lead guitar/vocals, Tom Erlenbaugh-Bass/vocals and Jim Rowden-Drums/vocals, Grounded play many types of music, ranging from old to new, Classic Rock to new material off the radio today, along with originals.

Siren2:00 - 2:45 PM

Siren is a rock band based in Rochester, Michigan, known for their energy, talent, and patriotism. The talented lineup includes Steve Curtis, Evan Miller, Sean Donnelly, and Charlie Shoha. Formed in the summer of 2017,  their lead singer, Steve Curtis, is part of Oakland County's police force. The band often gives back to the local police force, with frequent fundraisers for police officers held at the Rochester Eagles Club. Siren is currently finishing up an album to be released sometime in 2019.

We the Infamous • 3:00 - 3:45 PM

Based out of Saginaw, this hard rock blues outfit consists of William Patrick Hystad on vocals & lead guitar; Keenan ‘KJaVon’ Smith on keyboards, sampling. Vocals; Deshawn Witherspoon on bass and David Danger on drums. Formed one year ago We, The Infamous has made a big splash in the local Michigan music scene. Firing twin barrels of fully loaded rock’n’roll mixed with blistering gut-bucket blues, they have played a litany of venues showcasing their talents, while keeping with the wild & rowdy tradition that is true rock. The guys draw on inspirations ranging from Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, & Stevie Ray Vaughn to newer influences like MGMT, Hozier, and Highly Suspect.

Polychromic • 4:00 - 4:45 PM

Polychromic is an original hard rock band formed in early 2013 that now consists of guitarist Phil Smith, drummer Steve Palmer, vocalist Branden Marker, guitarist Cal Murray, and bassist Steve Austin.

Polychromic has released 2 cds and a 5 song ep called Beyond the Fray, along with a 10 song self-titled cd and are currently writing new material for a future cd. They won Best Metal Band at the 2016 Review Music Awards and  Michigan's Best Unsigned Band in 2013. They are influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Three Days Grace and  Breaking Benjamin.

Everyday Ghost • 5:00 - 5:45 PM

Everyday Ghost is a heavy melodic group, with thought provoking lyrics, heavy guitar riffs, shredding solos & a groove that will lock you right in. They band came together with the idea of pushing musical boundaries in a direction that feels right at home. Their goal is honesty and a true interpretation of the life we live each day with nothing but hope for a better day and a better world.

Formed back in 2009 by Aaron Lenk & Sean Haller, they picked up drummer Bobby Butterfield, released a demo, and released their debut album Volume One in October 2011. In 2013 new drummer Nate Cupp came on-board and in 2014 the band released their self-titled album and started gaining momentum. Lead guitarist Pete Metropoulos joined the group in 2016, with Butterfield returning on drums and the band built their own recording studio to speed up the writing & recording process.

Now working with latest drummer Mario Salcedo of Silverspork  this year is looking like the fresh start Everyday Ghost needs to get back into the groove and continue to push forward.  Focus has been put back on finishing the latest album, booking shows again and planning the release of their new album later this fall. 

They also won Best Metal Band at the 2017-18 Review Music Awards.

Assault the Silence • 6:00 - 6:45 PM

Based out of Alpena, this group assaults the silent venues of Northern Michigan with an arsenal of heavy tunes that will not disappoint. Formed in 2011 and bred from the ashes of Skyral and Cicada, Assault the Silence is a traditional metal band, with an arsenal of original music and covering both older stuff like the Big Four to new metal like Five Finger Death Punch and Avenged Sevenfold. They have been playing shows all over Eastern Michigan and parts of Western, Central, and Southern MI. They have been voted in as the Best Group or Duo, Best Male Vocalist, and Entertainer of the year in the 2013 Northeastern Music Awards and released their debut self-titled album in December of 2014. ATS strives to bring a 'big concert experience' to every gig they play and will continue turning heads with their live shows.

Damned by Dawn • 7:00 - 7:45 PM

This 6-piece rock group hailing from Evart, Michigan, combines the sounds of modern rock with the feel & attitude of hard rock.  The harmonizing sounds of the guitars, by Levi Elder, Chris Martin and David Armentrout, pave the way for the thumping groove of the rhythm section of both Ameer Pore' on bass and Nicky Dolph on drums, followed by the attention grabbing voice of Justin Miscikoski.

In just over 2 years Damned by Dawn has supported national acts such as Nonpoint, P.O.D., Saving Abel, Texas Hippie Coalition, Quiet Riot, HedPe, The Lacs, Bobaflex, Powerman 5000 and soon to be Saliva on July 27th, 2019. Their song roster includes the politically charged 'Crowns', a depiction of the current political structure as dictated by today's society, in addition to the "gonna get mine" anthems 'Our Time' and 'My Promise'. On Nov. 16, 2018, they performed onstage at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, beating out more than 80 bands in the area to become Z93’s finalist in Cumulus Media’s national neXt2rock competition. Damned by Dawn had the opportunity to compete at the national level with the 46 other bands that were chosen from more than 1,800 competing bands vying for a record deal.

Silverspork • 8:00 - 8:45 PM

Based out of Saginaw, band members  Carl Abila, Mario Salcedo, Brian Gretzinger, Anthony Lee and  Ryan Phillips are an all original band with a wide range of influences. If you like poetry and lyrics to make you think, with a strong hook to emphasize the intent - you’ll love this band.  Silverspork has been together and playing original music since 1999 and have won numerous awards and contests over the years. The band has had the honor to share the stage with such acts as GodSmack, Breaking Benjamin, Anthrax, Alice Cooper, Puddle Of Mudd, Kittie, Nonpoint, Cold, Jackyl, L.A. Guns, Taproot, Jimmys Chicken Shack and many more.

Here After Six • 9:00 - 9:45 PM

In their three years of existence, Birch Run-based heavy rock band Here After Six have created an impressive resume.  The group first made their mark two years ago with a Top 5 finish against an 80 band field in the Z93 FMNext To Rock” contest. They also proved this was no fluke with their near sweep of the Rock Categories at the 2018 Review Music Awards.  Included in this haul were the awards for Best Rock Band, Best Rock Songwriter for lead singer Jake Priest, Best Guitarist for Levi Johnson and Best Drummer for Bryan Tasior.  The combo is rounded out by bassist Nate Brookman, who doubles as the group’s recording engineer.

Collectively the band has hard rock chops to burn, with bands like Tool, Three Days Grace, Chevelle and Kings X all showing influence in their original material. Each member has earned their proverbial stripes though years of experience, mainly making original music.  As vocalist Jake Priest explained, “The best thing about this band is everyone brings their piece.  I write with a lot of passion, but that’s just the writing.  I need these guys for the songs to come to life.”



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