Blount County hosts three music festivals this weekend
By Timothy Hankins | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This weekend, live music fans will have a tough choice to make as three festivals hit Blount County. With prizes, good food and great music, there is something for everyone.
For seven years running the annual SlimFest has given Blount County adults a dose of summer fun while raising money to benefit Blount County kids.
On Saturday the tradition continues as the festival lights up New Midland Plaza from 6:30 p.m. until midnight. The event features food and beverage vendors from around the area, two bands and a ton of cash and prizes up for grabs.
The free concert features performances by Joe the Show and Smooth Groove.
Prizes include $10,000 in cash, a diamond necklace valued at $1,500 courtesy of Phillips Jewelry, $500 in gas cards from KenJo Markets, $500 in gift cards donated by Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson along with a variety of gift cards from local establishments Aubrey’s, Puelo’s Grille, Texas Roadhouse and Foothills Milling Company.
The $10,000 grand prize will be given away through a reverse raffle. Purchase one of 600 tickets (tickets are $100 each) and then wait in nail-biting anticipation as the field is narrowed — the last ticket drawn wins the prize. Where it gets interesting is when there are only ten tickets remaining. Contestants have to decide if they’ll split the prize or let the chips fall where they may and keep drawing names.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Fraternal Order of Police program “Show with a Cop” as well as the Aloca and Maryville high school sports booster clubs.
Over the past seven years, SlimFest has raised several hundred thousand dollars to benefit children’s programs in the Blount County area. Event organizer Steve “Slim” Stilts said “I can’t believe that SlimFest is in celebration of it’s 7th year. I enjoy putting this event together each year. The support I get from Blount County people and businesses is awesome.”
The festival started in 2006 when Stilts had the idea to throw himself a 50th birthday bash and have the party benefit a local charity. “I just wanted to have a large party. It was my 50th birthday and I thought we’d have a community party and raise money for a charity,” he said.
He approached his golfing buddy, Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp, about local charities in need of support. Crisp introduced him to Shop with a Cop and after researching the program Stilts decided it was a perfect fit for his idea.
That first year the event raised $40,000. In the past few years, that amount has grown to nearly $100,000 each event. Stilts is hoping to hit the $100,000 mark with this year’s festival.
“It’s not about my birthday anymore, it’s about the seventh birthday of SlimFest. It feels funny when people wish me a happy birthday -- it started as a birthday party for me, but it’s really a party to raise money for the charities. It’s really about the birthday of SlimFest now.”
SlimFest runs from 6:30 p.m. to midnight on Saturday at Midland Plaza. The concert is free and open to the public. Reverse raffle tickets are $100 each. Check out http://www.theslimfest.com for more details.
After a 16 year hiatus, Walton Fest emerged back on the local scene last year as a brand new and expanded music event with a vision to benefit disaster victims in East Tennessee.
“Walton Fest, years ago, it was just a get-together at our house. We’d have a party with a few bands,” event organizer Charlie Walton. “It was like a company party. The last one we had was in 1996. Everbody kept telling us we needed to have another party, we needed to have another party. And then when all of the storms hit last year, I said, ‘Okay. We’ll do another Walton Fest, but we’re going to do it as a benefit to help people.’”
Walton and his brother own a local construction and remodeling business, so they knew firsthand the impact the storms made on local homeonwers. “And a lot of people — their insurance didn’t cover all of their losses. Or some people didn’t have insurance for certain things,” Walton said. “So we put together a benefit and got a bunch of local businesses to donate stuff for door prizes. And all the bands came and played the benefit. All the money that we raised, we gave to the Red Cross, and we asked that it stay for East Tennessee instead of going into the national account.”
Walton said the event is becoming an annual affair, with this being the second consecutive year since the reboot. “They asked us if we would do it every year, because I guess no one in the state of Tennessee does a disaster relief benefit,” he said. “So we said, ‘Yeah, we’d be thrilled to do it every year.’”
This year’s festival is once again being held at American Legion Post 18 in Maryville, which is also providing food. But the event has expanded into a two-day long music extravaganza. “This year we decided to go with two nights instead of one,” Walton said. “Because of the bands — the (number of) bands that contact us that want to play this event is just phenomenal. And there’s so many great bands in our area that you can’t have them all.”
The festival starts on Friday night at 7 p.m. with a three-band bill. Midlife Crisis, Bad Mouth and Rock Slyde take the stage for the first evening’s festivities. Admission on Friday night is $5 at the door.
The music continues Saturday at 2 p.m. with seven bands on the marquee. Altermatum, Divided We Stand, Stonemosis, Charlie Jade, Big Trouble, Belfast Six Pack and Centric keep the music going all day long. Admission for the Saturday session is $10 at the door.
The festival is family-friendly and shows are open to all ages.
Walton said he’s already begun planning next year’s festival, which he said will be an even bigger event. “They just keep getting bigger and bigger.”
Acoustikazoo is a music festival with a decided point of view. The all-day show features a ton of local acoustic acts — in fact you won’t find a “plug-in” anywhere in the set.
Other than the festival’s acoustic emphasis, the show features a wide variety of acts in a multitude of styles. Organizer David Smith said the festival came together out of love for acoustic music in all its forms.
“It was realy like off a whim,” Smith said. “I went up to one of the acts that was playing here on a Saturday — Brandon Wadley. A few months back he was like, ‘I’d love to have an acoustic festival, but I don’t know where to do it.’ And since I worked at Vienna, I was like ‘Well maybe we can just do it there.’
From there the festival blossomed.
Smith was able to employ the services of fellow barista and Vienna Coffee House music booker Beth Cable to pitch the project to owner John Clark.
Smith tells the story: “Beth Cable, she does the music here, I went to her and I was like ‘Would you be down to help me out with this?’ And me and here are good friends anyway and she was like ‘Yeah, I’ll be cool with that.’ So we went to the owner, John Clark and we were like ‘We want to do this.’ And he was like ‘Well, alright. Whatever you have to do to set it up.’ So we got the go ahead basically right off the bat.”
The lineup is diverse, thanks to Cable and Smith’s varied taste and connections to the local music scene. Smith said he enlisted some of the groups his own band The Turncoats had shared the stage with in the past. Cable also went to work booking some of the groups she knew fit the idea of an all-acoustic music festival.
The result is an eleven-band bill that includes pop-punk acts, poetry and spoken word artists along with folk, rock and Americana outfits from around the area.
The “Acoustikazoo (Music for You)” festival kicks off at noon on Saturday and runs until 9 p.m. Included on the bill: Subject of Change, Elena Roberts, Ashley Roberts, Silhouettes, Brian Canever, Grady Milligan, 2-15, Claxton Creek, The Turncoats, Brandon Wadley, Thenderfin. Admission is free, but there is a minimum purchase required from the coffee house.