GregoFest is happening this weekend, and if you're a fan of partying for a positive cause while immersing yourself in great music, it's well worth checking out.
Imagine a music festival where, in addition to a full lineup of great bands, you could also experience “a cookout, campout, half-ass waterpark, a giant jam session and one hell of a party,” all in a cozy and friendly setting located right in Austin’s backyard. Why pack the car until it sags and drive halfway across the country when you can just grab a tent, a twelve pack of beer, and make the 20-minute haul to Lockhart for GregoFest.
So what is GregoFest? In a nutshell, it's an annual party aimed at celebrating and raising money for the musical coopertive known as Purple Bee. Brothers and members of local band The Trim, Evan and Dustin Bozarth (Dustin was also a founding member of legendary local jamband, Moving Matter), are part of Purple Bee Crew, and helped get GregoFest off the ground. According to Evan and Dustin, Purple Bee is a loose conglomeration of musicians, engineers, and artists who volunteer their time and contribute to various musical projects.
All of this comes back to Grego, a Polish immigrant who, after moving to the States in his teens, wound up making his way to Austin in the early 90’s. Eventually he connected with the Bozarth brothers and joined their band at the time, Groovin Ground, becoming fast friends through it all. Grego is a multi-instrumentalist who happens to own the property in Lockhart, where he and the rest of the Purple Bee Crew have worked tirelessly to build a professional recording studio and live video production soundstage. The space also works pretty well as a nightclub, and will be one of the stages during the festival.
“Grego was a major reason that this community [Purple Bee] formed, because he is such a unique and likeable character - with a laid back attitude and an amazing musical sense, as well as what many call a 'golden ear' behind the control board. He has a knack for making other musicians sound good,” says Dustin.
Musicians are able to play intimate performances at Purple Bee that can be recorded as an album or a streaming video or both (Check out some videos from Purple Bee). All of this is made possible by the creative energy of Grego and the many volunteers, who all contribute whatever they can to help keep the studio functioning. Grego will be performing with members of The Trim, Moving Matter, and other bands on Saturday night of the festival as The Portal. The group of local allstars will be playing an instrumental tribute to the Beastie Boys with a late night funky jam session (think The In Sound from Way Out!)
So exactly how does GregoFest benefit the Purple Bee Crew? When I asked about the business model behind GregoFest, the Bozarth brothers were quick to point out that there is no business model per se. The event is more of a benefit aimed at raising money for studio and equipment upgrades, thus creating an even better environment for the musicians involved with Purple Bee. According to the Bozarth brothers, GregoFest is able to happen as the result of generous support from bands willing to play, people donating their time, and sponsors donating product (free liquor anyone?). In other words, “everybody works their ass off.”
Now in it’s 6th year, GregoFest is gearing up to be bigger than ever with not one, but two days of constant live music ranging from hip hop to bluegrass to down and dirty jam sessions, pretty much all of whom are Texas acts. The event is as much a party as it is a festival, or, as the Bozarth brothers put it, “a glorified family reunion and backyard barbeque.” Some of you may be thinking, only the devil himself would throw a two day outdoor event in late June in Texas, but would the devil provide a slip 'n slide, misters, and a pool that happens to be surrounded by stages? Watch bands play while sipping free booze in a pool?
Yes, you can do that at GregoFest.
Part of what makes GregoFest so awesome is the willingness of local spirit purveyors to generously donate their products for the good of the cause and the enjoyment of festivalgoers. Some of Austin’s finest mobile food vendors will be helping keep revelers satisfied with quality grub that I can guarantee will be better than that plate of greasy Chinese food we’ve all drunkenly fell victim to at music festivals. Supporting local music and food vendors is the type of thing Austinites love to brag about, and we should be proud that even the smallest festivals can feature tasty eats from the likes of Short Bus Subs and others.
Festivalgoers are more than welcome to camp out, and if you're at all familiar with the drive between Austin and Lockhart, you probably already know this is a very smart idea. Free alcohol plus driving equals BAD IDEA! There will be late night DJ’s, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own acoustic instruments for some pickin’ under the stars, so you'd be crazy not to spend the night.
GregoFest may not have major headliners and corporate sponsors to reel in the big crowds, but what the Purple Bee Crew can promise is a friendly community vibe and dedication to great music that lies at the core of what every music festival should truly be about. Attendees can feel good going to GregoFest with the knowledge that their ticket purchase goes to expanding and enhancing the creative powerhouse that is the Purple Bee Crew.
For tickets, music schedule, and all other info visit the following websites:
Facebook event page
Full Musical Lineup:
Day 1 (Friday June 22nd):
A Live One
Flounders Without Eyes
Big Mike's Hip Hop Jam (with DJ Ninja with Blacknote, Evolve with DJ Myke Nyse, Haris Da Terist)
HYDRENALIN (ft members of BrokeAssProphets,LL Cool J, Very Angry Scientist)
The Doodlin' Hogwollops
Day 2 (Saturday June 23rd):
Flying Balalaika Brothers
Jimmy George Band
Kem Watts & The Pistols
Mo Pair & Mike Phelan
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