THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
29th May, 2014 1
Over the past six years the annual Free Music Festival held at Tittabawassee Park in Freeland quickly evolved into one of the more innovative summer showcases, featuring some of the most original and engaging musical artists populating the Michigan region; and drawing thousands of people together for a day of musical celebration.
So when festival organizers announced earlier this year that they were suspending Free Music Fest, Freeland business owner David Klawuhn, Director of Homewatch Caregivers, who harbors a strong passion for music and community, approached the Freeland Chamber of Commerce about the urge to keep the momentum on this annual award-winning event moving forward.
As a result, the first annual Freeland Palooza Music Festival will be taking place on Saturday, June 14th at Tittabawssee Twp. Park from 11:30 AM – 10:00 PM and Klawuhn hopes to ratchet the festival up to an entirely new level of excitement and audience satisfaction by pulling together a roster of entertainment crowned by headlining performers War Machine – a Detroit-based KISS Tribute Band consisting of Brian Ford (Paul Stanley), Tim Cerda (Gene Simmons), Jeff Alex (Ace Freyley), and Lou Ryan (Peter Criss) that is not only sanctioned by the actual original group; but is the only KISS Tribute Band featuring both drummers that have performed with the legendary group.
Additional performers at Freeland Palooza include Armor the Forest, BanShee, Barbarossa Brothers, Deadman Serenade, Greta Van Fleet, Magic Flight, Marsupial Creampie, Kyle Mayer, and The Hitmen.
Klawuhn explains that he is an avid music fan that has played piano since the age of seven and was concerned when he heard that this annual showcase was being suspended. “Music is right up my alley and my involvement with pulling this festival together dates back to December, when the previous organizers posted on facebook they were not going to be doing the festival anymore. They posted a statement to the effect that they hoped somebody would pick up the torch and run with it, so I tried contacting them, but heard no response.”
“I am involved with the Freeland Chamber of Commerce so approached them about picking up the ball on the festival, but was told the original organizers wanted to sell us the name for Free Music Fest,” he continues. “Frankly, I don’t need to buy a template because I can build one, so at that point made the decision to do something off the charts, which is when I came across War Machine, which is one of the top KISS Tribute acts in the country. KISS was being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year and I feel they will be a strong act, given the pyrotechnics and definitive stage presentation that KISS is known for and they reproduce so well.”
(Editor's Note: FreeMusic Fest co-founder Ben Cohen disputes that his intention was to sell the name of his festival to the new promoters. "As the founder of the FreeMusic Fest event, financial gain was NEVER my goal and the actual conversation was more like: ' I'd prefer if you didn't use the name FreeMusic Fest, your event should have its own name to reflect its own unique qualities.')
“After we secured our headliner the next task was to flesh out the rest of the festival,” continues David. “Kyle Mayer from Thick as Thieves assisted me with contacting other groups, so whereas Free Music Fest focused on booking many Indie bands and embracing original music, our idea is to embrace musical groups embodying the various communities of the region and do a more ‘Michigan Made’ approach. So we’ve got Greta Van Fleet from Frankenmuth, Deadman’s Serenade, which is oriented towards early country rock, Armor the Forest, which is an exciting high school band out of Freeland. Plus Kyle Mayer is working on polishing up a Johnny Cash set that he is really excited to debut, and of course KISS is right out of Rock City Detroit, which helped propel them to fame, so my goal is to give all these opening groups an opportunity to perform on a larger stage.”
Klawuhn says that food vendors will be on hand, including Olvera’s Texas Pit BBQ and Irving G’s out of Midland, along with funnel cakes and traditional concert/carnival fare, a Kids’ activity area, various visual artists, along with a Climbing Rock and Bounce House for the children. “We’re also tentatively working on a dunk tank and trying to get off duty police officers to volunteer their time so we can go with a ‘Why Dunk a Donut When You Can Dunk a Cop’ type of thing.”
“Basically, I’ve had 90 days to pull this first festival together, continues David, “and am pleased with how far we’ve gone in a relatively short amount of time. We’re going to run this a little like DTE with various people having specific tasks; and I would like to see this evolve into a really big event. We have 35 endorsement contracts that were sent out and have received about 20 back thus far, so all the signs are looking strong.”
“In all honesty, I was disheartened when events like the annual Bay City Pig Gig stopped happening and didn’t want to see this festival follow a similar path,” admits Klawuhn. “People coming to see this year’s event might be a little surprised about the realignment of the musical focus, but we’re hoping to raise money to help Habitat for Humanity and Junior Achievement and are getting good feedback for this inaugural event and are starting to show up on various radars.”
“The park layout is perfect for this type of event and we don’t have any neighbors too close to the action,” notes David. “Hyperman will be doing sound for this one with over 12,000 watts that should fill the area pretty well. In fact, somebody asked me how much sound that would provide and I told them to go to the Softball Diamond in Auburn to listen from there if they were concerned about volume.”
While Klawuhn says they are not changing the footprint drastically this year from prior festivals, hopefully in the future they may be able to provide a Beer Tent at the event, as it would be a solid revenue source for the Chamber. “But if people with to bring in coolers and not purchase food and beverages on site, that’s fine – mainly we want to see how things go and get firsthand experience with this inaugural outing.”
Key sponsors this year include Covenant Health Systems, Burt Watson, United Financial Credit Union, and David’s own company Homewatch Security. “People are stepping up to the plate left and right,” he notes. “Initially when we started pulling everything together fundraising was not going as fast as we wanted, and KISS cover bands don’t come for free, so my wife and I decided to take the pressure off and we are sponsoring the headlining band in addition to committing our time. Again, I feel this is an important event and don’t want to see things reset to zero. If this festival were not happening this year next year it might be nothing more than 18 friends sitting in the park singing to themselves, so our goal is expand upon the momentum, not diminish it.”
“This is going to be an excellent day of music,” concludes David. “KISS laid the groundwork and cut a very big swatch for music coming forward to this day. We’re going to have a lot of fun with this thing and it definitely gets the blood going. So many people have been very helpful, especially Ron Whitman from the Chamber who became involved in an advisory capacity and has been out pounding bushes to get us sponsorships. I’m thankful for everybody that has invested time and energy into this to help pull it off.”
“The only uncontrollable variable involved with these outdoor events is the weather, so this will be a rain or shine event – but I’m just thinking positive.”
1st Annual Freeland Palooza Music Schedule
Armor the Forest • 12:00-12:20
Marsupial Cream Pie • 12:30-1:00
Magic Flight • 1:15-1-45
Deadman Serenade • 2:00 - 2:30
Kyle Mayer • 2:45 - 3:20
Barbarossa Brothers • 3:35 - 4:10
Ban Shee • 4:30 - 5:15
The Hitmen • 5:30 - 6:15
Greta Van Fleet • 6:30-7:30
War machine • 8:00-10:00
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)