Words by: Ali Lane | Images by: Brian Hockensmith
The Werk Out Music and Arts Festival :: 09.08.11-09.10.11 :: Zane Shawnee Caverns :: Bellefontaine, Ohio
Full photo gallery for this fest begins below this review with extensive coverage for all four days!
In only its second year, The Werk Out has established itself as one of Ohio's staple festivals. It's quite possibly the state's best locally grown and operated production of the summer. The Werks have created their own family gathering through their genuine passion. The historic Zane Shawnee Caverns have provided grounds for this celebration since its founding in 2010. This year the festival showcased the rapturous possibilities that total collaboration conjures up and how it transforms the experience into something meaningful to everyone involved.
|The Werk Out Fest 2011 by Brian Hockensmith|
Drawing in big names like Dark Star Orchestra, EOTO, Donna Jean Godchaux Band, The New Mastersounds, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Everyone Orchestra with Michael Kang, Ganga Giri, Future Rock and Johnny Neel, though The Werks blew everyone away. The small nature of the festival and the influence of participating visual artists constructed an ethereal festy-world inspired by The Werks’ own musical imaginations.
It wasn't just the collaboration from the bands that stoked the energy, it was the overall participation from fans, artists, staff, and production that defined it. This grassroots band summoned the best local acts from Ohio and its neighboring states, attracting band's all the way from Albuquerque. Even the U.K. and Australia joined in as they helped celebrate the festival in The Werks’ home state. Full of surprises at every turn, the very nature of these unique musical creations, highly localized and collaboratively mashed up, transformed the festival into epic proportions. You could sense that at any given moment something tremendous could happen.
|The Werks by Brian Hockensmith|
There was massive effort invested by the production team, artists and volunteers. They spent days setting up, in unpredictable weather, for the fun to go down. By the time the festival was in full force, the artistic atmosphere was set as art installations and effects across the venue contributed their magic. Other acts like Nocturnal Arts, The Flow Fairies, The Daredevil Circus, Soul Fire Tribe, Traveling Sirkus Dayz and Zoot Theater added to the fantasy of the soundscape immersion.
With The New Mastersounds in the prime time Thursday slot, their set served notice that something huge was happening. Laying down a thick coat of funk, they sucked the crowd into their intoxicating vortex of blended sound. The Werks’ first set of the festival consequently provided one of the first epic mash-ups when they brought back to the stage Joe Tatton of The New Mastersounds on keys. To follow The Werks was Blue Moon Soup, a local bluegrass quartet out of Yellow Springs, Ohio. Accompanied by sax player Danny Sauers of Romeo Champagne, they would be added to what would become a long list of collaborations over the course of the next three days.
With well known talent accompanying local talent, this trend continued throughout the weekend. Local acts like Jones For Revival out of Youngstown, Ohio, and The Mantras of Greensboro, NC kicked off Friday, with notable collaborations such as Rob Barraco of Dark Star accompanying The Folkadelics from Brooklyn. They surprised everyone with their refined distortion of genres into their own sound as Barraco tuned in on the keys. Kyle Hollingsworth was the first member of The String Cheese Incident to take the stage with an energizing day set. Jamie Janover hypnotized the audience with his improvisational dulcimer and percussion. EOTO would follow with Michael Travis and Jason Hann when the night was setting in.
|Matt Butler Conducting Everyone Orchestra by Brian Hockensmith|
The Werks set gave rise to Johnny Neel playing alongside them for their second show of the festival. Then it was time for arguably the most notable mash-up of the weekend: Everyone Orchestra. Conducted and shaped by Matt Butler, it was composed of Michael Kang (who made his first appearance), Michael Travis, Jason Hann and Kyle Hollingsworth. Three-fourths of The String Cheese Incident joined members of The Werks, Danny Sauers, as well as the returning Jamie Janover. This was collaboration at its finest as the set permeated the air with energy and light. Earlier acts like Headstash and Sweet Earth were wedged between these mash-ups and maintained the energy that kept the excitement high.
The following days did not disappoint with rocking acts like Flether's Grove, Wheels, The Floorwalkers of Columbus, Ohio and Johnny Neel's own set, as well as The Twin Cats. Jahman Brahman, a local Columbus band on the rise, recently relocated to Asheville, NC and returned home to throw down a well-defined set of surging jams full of energy that sucked in attendees and called them out of hiding from their campsites during the day. The Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Matson started off the next notable presence of talents as they preceded Dark Star Orchestra that night, where the band performed Jerry Garcia Band set. The Werks gave their last gift to the festival that night as the three acts jammed onstage for what turned into one of the most nostalgically peaceful nights of the weekend. Ganga Giri came all the way from Australia to tantalize the audience with their unique sound in between sets.
|DSO's Rob Barraco w/ The Werks by Brian Hockensmith|
The festival awoke Sunday to the sounds of Lost Lingo, one of the weekend’s best surprises hailing from the other side of the country in New Mexico. Jam packed with lots of local acts Andy Shaw Band of Columbus, The Rumpke Mountain Boys of Cincinnati, Romeo Champagne from Dayton, and Boogie Matrix Mechanism of Toledo, Sunday showcased the up and coming potential that Ohio music has to offer. The Ragbirds highlighted the night and handed the stage off to Future Rock, who closed it all down, leaving the festival on a high note.
The success of The Werk Out this year has ensured that this festival will only continue to grow. It was the overall participation that everyone brought with them that created such a unique experience that appealed to a wide range of music lovers. It was a festival of togetherness. Everyone brought their talents and abilities to the mix and created something incredibly meaningful for all who attended. Next year, make sure The Werk Out is on your list of festivals and don't miss out on being a part of one of the most inclusive welcoming events of the summer.
The Werk Out – Day One
Continue reading for pics of Day Two at The Werk Out 2011...