AMMPLIFY festival just the beginning of hot summer music

A conversation between friends has coalesced into a unique mentorship program that keeps talent local by giving 30 participants hands-on experience in careers focused on arts and music. The program is called AMMPLIFY, and participants will put on a festival with the same name May 6.

Local concert promoter Roger Barrett says he and KUAF’s Leigh Wood were discussing how “a show we were both a part of in the early 2000s led to a lot of people finding their identity and role as curators and bookers and promoters in Fayetteville,” Barrett says of the former Art Amiss event.

He has since gone on to On The Map and booked several independent music shows at venues around Northwest Arkansas, while Wood is the general manager of KUAF, the NPR affiliate station in Fayetteville. She produces several podcasts and hosts the weekly “KUAF Vinyl Hour.”

“We basically wanted to do that again — to plant a seed now and have it go from there, since we feel like there’s been kind of a lull in some activities and a lull in newer people having access to venues and venues closing,” Barrett explains.

After hosting shows at Clapp Auditorium at Mount Sequoyah, Barrett thinks the space fills a gap for all ages shows and provides a “home venue” in the area. The campus provided a good spot for the festival, too.

“It made sense as we were expanding and having more of a presence as an artist destination in Northwest Arkansas to be a host for this festival because of the variety of types of venues at Mount Sequoyah and the connections that we have to the arts community,” Jessica DeBari, director of Creative Spaces NWA at Mount Sequoyah says.

With guidance from the mentors, participants have organized an all-day, immersive art festival utilizing several of the spaces on the Mount Sequoyah campus.

Headliners Bonnie Montgomery and Adam Faucett are set to perform in Clapp Auditorium, which now has a new sound system. A hip-hop showcase is planned for the Bailey Center, and Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster of Water Liars will perform at Vesper Point. There are also shows scheduled for Millar Lodge as well as Afrique Aya Drum and Dance Circle, an art market, a poetry reading and a workshop with Julia Paganelli Marin of Bee Balm Arkansas plus a songwriting workshop with Avery Lee from Fayetteville punk band The Phlegms.

“We also have a series of panel discussions that are going to be happening on campus. And that’s really hitting that mentorship piece that I think is really unique for this festival,” says DeBari. The panels were curated by Wood and will include talks with industry professionals on an array of subjects related to arts and music.

The panels are open to all, but the workshops require preregistration.

“You don’t have to pay extra. You just have to have your regular ticket,” DeBari adds.

“There’s also a neat little mini film festival happening called ‘The Middle of Knowhere’ that’s been put together by a pair of artists who specifically made a call for queer filmmakers,” adds Emily Gentry. She says that it was put together by “artists that are in the art management cohort of mentees, and they are currently students in the University of Arkansas MFA program.”

In between events, there’s an art installation with comfortable seating at Millar Lodge, a beer garden with food trucks and DJs plus Inhabit Dance will be doing performances throughout campus. Also performing are JT London, LeaKe, TSU, SEWLO and Tylo May.

“It’s going to be a durational performance happening all over campus that day, to just fill in experiences between shows, basically,” adds DeBari.

Tickets for the festival on May 6 are

  photo  Arkansas singer-songwriter Bonnie Montgomery (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Jamie LaCombe/Heavy Glow)
  photo  Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/JOHN SYKES JR. – Musician Adam Faucett.

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