MACRoCk XIV: A Preview

Chris Foster-Baril -- March 27th, 2011

Algernon Cadwallader at The Artful Dodger. MACRoCk 2010. Photo by John Reiss

It’s the last week of March and that means that the MACRoCk committee is putting the finishing touches on what will be the 14th iteration of Harrisonburg’s own spring independent music festival. For those unfamiliar with this event, MACRoCk is a festival that originally took place on JMU’s campus, but two years ago moved to downtown Harrisonburg. The event seeks to showcase up and coming acts yet to be associated with a record label, as well exciting and talented bands that would not normally stop through Harrisonburg. But live music is not the only aspect of the MACRoCk festival. There are panels that provide for a dialogue between festival attendants and experts in music, arts, and general culture, as well as a label expo in which regional record labels and artists sell their wares.

An event of this magnitude does not materialize out of thin air. It takes a committee of dedicated individuals to pull it off. MACRoCk’s organizational committee is made up completely of volunteers.

2010 MACRoCk committee.

Last year, we wrote about how MACRoCk 2010 was “laying a foundation for the future.” Longtime committee members Amanda Phillips and Harper Holsinger had decided to make 2010 their last year. So, they focused on selecting committee members who would be able to use their planning experience to organize future MACRoCks. Of the six other committee members from 2010, four continue to lend their talents to this years event. Ben Mills, Claire Kita, Phil Kim and Patrick Walsh remain as members of the committee, and they’ve added four new members; Tess Duncan, Marisa Cagnoli, Vincent Castellano and Seth Bauserman. Committee members share the responsibilities of booking bands, planning showcases, organizing panels, fund-raising, and publicity. Just to give a perspective of how much time the group spends planning MACRoCk, This year the committee began weekly meetings in August and now less than 1 week away from the festival they are meeting multiple times daily.

All of this hard work seems to have paid off. This year more than 90 bands are playing the festival. 15 record labels, distros, and independent vendors are participating in the label expo/impromptu market. And fans of MACRoCk’s panels won’t be let down with the return of the popular screen printing panel at Laughing Dog as well as a food panel lead by members of Friendly City and The Farmer’s Market among others.

Brooke Waggoner performed at MACRoCk in 2008. This year she will return to play on Saturday at Court Square Theater. Photo by Holly Marcus for

Attendees will find an incredible diversity in each band’s approach to music this year at MACRoCk. From analog distortion worshipers Windhand to composition focused pop performed by Brooke Waggoner.

Local favorites The Cinnamon Band will be headlining Friday night at The Artful Dodger bringing their brand of Simonian Americana to the stage, as well as an addition of a multi-instrumentalist to make them a true power trio.

Drummer in Bon Iver, S. Carey, will be performing songs from his solo project at Court Square Theater Friday night.

Algernon Cadwallader will be returning to the festival for the 3rd time on Saturday and for good reason. Their shows are notorious for their high energy with kids flying through the air and the first 3 rows of fans singing along to every word for the entire show.

There are too many worthy acts to count. According the committee members Phil Kim and Ben Mills, the only way to truly experience MACRoCk is to watch a band you have never heard, or attend a showcase that spotlights an approach to music that you normally wouldn’t listen to. You can also check out the full list of performers here.

There are four panel events this year, all of which take place on Saurday around noon.

The Shenandoah Bicycle Company will be hosting the Love Your Momma Earth panel. Speakers include: Suzi Carter from The Friendly City Food Co-op, Justin Van Kleeck Assistant Manager of the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market, members of Gifts From Enola, a Harrisonburg band that toured around the US last summer in a vegetable oil powered school bus, and The Petrol-Free Gypsy Carnival Tour among others.

Line out the door of Laughing Dog at MACRoCk 2010. Photo by Jeff Guinn

MACRoCk attendees will be able to stop by the Laughing Dog from 1PM to 3PM on Saturday for the “Screen-prints for Free Freety-Free” panel. Just bring a t-shirt by the shop and get one of two MACRoCk t-shirt designs screened on it for free. Jeff Guinn and Seth Bauserman will be providing the designs.

Clementine will host Put My Band On That! A panel focused on the booking aspect of live music. Speakers include: Michelle Cable of Panache Booking, Daniel White of Independent Label Collective Distribution, and Jacob Wolf of Holy Smokes Booking.

Also, At Clementine is the Independent and College Radio panel which will feature speakers from WTJU in Charlottesville, and WRIR in Richmond.

For more information on MACRoCk panels, visit the official website.

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