Playing in the band
Published 9:23 am Thursday, May 8, 2014
SOUTH BEND—It may not be as big or as well known as South by Southwest — the annual music festival held in Austin, Texas — but if organizer Dena Woods has her way, the South by South Bend Music Festival will someday be just as big.
“Our city is just poised to become a great cultural center,” Woods said. “It’s perfectly geographically located as a stopping point between Chicago and other Midwest towns where bands come to play. That’s why this festival is what it is.”
In only its second year, the festival, which is slated to take place from May 8 through May 11, has already doubled in size.
“From last year, we’ve doubled the number of days as well as the number of acts, and we’ve doubled the number of venues, so we’re expecting double the number of visitors to the different shows we have going on,” Woods said.
The festival grew out of a collaboration between Woods and her former roommate, Gus Bennett.
“We were living in a place known as ‘The Pool,’ and we started hosting live bands. It grew into a lot larger community event, so we decided to have a two-day festival at multiple venues,” Woods recalled.
“Now, I’m running the show with a group of Notre Dame undergraduates called ‘The Bridge Project.’ Their goal is to educate undergrads at all the local colleges about the events and businesses that are available to them in South Bend,” Woods explained. “We’re trying to get them off campus so they can have a very full and rich college experience while they’re here in South Bend.”
Over the next four days, 60 bands — both local and regional — will be playing at 15 different venues around South Bend.
“This year, we’re featuring some of the different neighborhoods around South Bend — like the River Park neighborhood and the Near Northwest neighborhood,” Woods said. “We’re trying to expose people to the different venues in those neighborhoods—places they may not realize have really great live music.”
Venues in downtown South Bend, like the State Theater and the South Bend Chocolate Company to name just two, will also host shows during the festival.
“I’ve tried to keep it as varied as possible,” Woods said of the line-up. “There will be a jazz and soul stage as well as a rock and country stage and an acoustic showcase, too. We’ll also have some of the louder bands playing at the South Bend Drum Company. It will definitely be an array of different kinds of music.”
The festival will begin at 5 p.m. on Thursday with performances at The Music Village and The Exchange Whiskey Bar. A special downtown celebration kick-off is also planned for that evening with a “go go parade” sponsored by main stage performers, Von Strantz & Friends, beginning at the State Theater at 6:30 p.m.
“We’re hoping to have a really good turn-out on Thursday, May 9,” Woods said. “We’ll have shows starting at 5 p.m. and going until midnight.”
Friday’s program will showcase the Near Northwest neighborhood and the East Bank Village with five-band line-ups at the South Bend Drum Co. & Music Exchange and at Suite 11 at the East Bank Emporium.
“On Saturday night, we’ll have a big, main stage show at the State Theater,” Woods said. Doors for that show will open at 5 p.m., and eight bands will play, with the last of them, Rutabaga, taking the stage at 10:30 p.m.
Finally, Sunday will see the South Bend Renaissance Celebration hosted by Suite 11 at The East Bank Emporium. Doors for that four-band show will open at 5 p.m.
While it may seem like tickets to such a fully-packed festival would be expensive, they are actually quite affordable, with day passes priced at $5. Weekend passes, which include a T-shirt, are $25. They can be purchased at https://southbysouthbend.eventbrite.com and picked up at Suite 11 at The East Bank Emporium, located at 122 S. Niles in South Bend. A variety of wristband specials make the deal even sweeter.
More information, including the complete line-up and list of venues, is available at www.SouthBySouthBend.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SouthBySouthBend. In addition, ten percent of ticket sales will be donated to The Refugee Resettlement Program of the St. Joseph County Branch of The American Red Cross.
While Woods herself is a musician, as well as a music promoter, she will not be playing any shows during the festival.
“I’ll be running around making sure things are going smoothly,” Woods said. “This is my chance to put something together to bless the musicians in this town.”