More hillbillies than usual — the hippie kind, not the scary Deliverance kind — are in Lone Jack this Thursday through Saturday. That's owing to the second annual Dawg Daze of Summer Festival, which brings 30 acts — mostly along the jam-folk-bluegrass continuum — to three stages at Lake Paradise Resort. The fest is a mix of bands both national (JJ Grey & Mofro, Steve Molitz, Dirtfoot) and local (Hearts of Darkness, the Clementines, Tyler Gregory), and The Pitch recently caught up with Dawg Daze producer Andrew Earl to get a sense of what to expect.
The Pitch: You've got some high-profile acts on this bill. How did you pull them all together?
Earl: Eric Gould, bassist for Particle and Wolfmanz Brother, a KC-based Phish tribute band, is the one who suggested putting together the Dirty Dawgz for the festival — [Gould], Michael Kang of the String Cheese Incident, Steve Molitz of Particle, and Brandon Draper of Quixotic. This seemed like the right place and time to make it happen. JJ Grey & Mofro's roots in Southern rock-funk was perfect, and they were touring through the Midwest at the time and hadn't been at many festivals in the area this year.
Dirtfoot was scheduled for last year and had to cancel early on due to some unforeseen circumstances. We were glad to have got things worked out for this year. We worked on Keller Williams and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, but timing and schedule conflicts were the main reason those didn't work this year. We were extremely close, though. Maybe another year. It is a very organic process that takes shape as the booking process goes along. You don't always get who you set out to have but always have the bands that were meant to be.
What's up with the hillbilly theme?
The hillbilly theme has its roots in southern Missouri, specifically the Springfield-Branson area. I always wanted to see some sort of fun attractions in this area of the state like you find with the Baldknobbers Jamboree in Branson. As the bluegrass scene is starting to really take hold in the northern part of Missouri, we enjoy incorporating that vibe into what we do. In the future, we hope to attract more old-school craftsmen like what you would see at Silver Dollar City: basket weavers, blacksmiths, woodworkers, glass blowers and more. This year, we are glad to have a vendor with real kettle corn and a variety of freshly cooked pork rinds.
Do you find that having the festival in a venue that's more comfortable makes for better times? Meaning, if people can shower, etc., do things run more smoothly? Or do you think that the kinds of people who attend these festivals don't care either way?
It absolutely makes the difference! People want the comforts of home when they travel. Even when you're camping, you always enjoy a nice cool shower when it's hot outside or you're hitting your 10th show in a row and traveling in your VW bus. Our Captain Kirk Stage will be inside, where the air conditioning will be cranking. A sit-down restaurant where you can grab a cold drink and a little something for the stomach can make all the difference. Having a place you can do your laundry on the road is a nice thing to have when you're running short on clean clothes or your kid just got some kind of funk all over their last pair of shorts and shirt and it's only Friday. The amenities are definitely a great attraction, besides the music.
No dogs at Dawg Daze?
Nope. Dogs are allowed at the resort during regular business, but too many things can happen with dogs in big crowds with other dogs running around in the heat at festivals. We've seen too many dogfights in which the dogs and owners have been injured, and we want to look out for our animal friends and everyone else by eliminating that problem from the beginning. The "Dawg" is more about the David Grisman type of dawg, and the musicians who we select are the dawgs of the region and music world. We think they're the best.