AMMPLIFY Festival is just the beginning of the hot summer music

A conversation between friends has come together in a unique mentoring program that supports local talent by giving 30 participants hands-on experience in careers focused on art and music. The program is called AMMPLIFY, and the participants will organize a festival of the same name on May 6.

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

Since then, he’s gone on to On The Map and booked several independent music shows at venues in Northwest Arkansas while Wood is general manager of KUAF, the NPR station in Fayetteville. She produces several podcasts and hosts the weekly “KUAF Vinyl Hour.”

“We basically wanted to do this again – plant the seed now and go from there because we feel like there’s been a bit of a lull in some activity and a lull in new people getting into venues and venues closing down,” Barrett explains.

After hosting shows at Mount Sequoyah’s Clapp Auditorium, Barrett feels the space fills a gap for all-ages shows and provides a “home place” in the area. The campus also provided a good venue for the festival.

“It made sense as we expanded and had a larger presence as an arts destination in Northwest Arkansas to host this festival because of the variety of types of venues in Mount Sequoyah and the connections we have with the arts community,” Jessica DeBari, director of Creative Spaces NWA in Mount Sequoyah, says.

With guidance from mentors, participants put together an all-day, immersive art festival using several of the spaces on Mount Sequoyah’s campus.

Headliners Bonnie Montgomery and Adam Fawcett will 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 the Water Liars will perform at Vesper Point. There are also performances planned for Millar Lodge, as well as Afrique Aya Drum and Dance Circle, an art market, poetry reading and workshop with Julia Paganelli Marin of Bee Balm Arkansas plus a songwriting workshop with Avery Lee of Fayetteville punk band The Phlegms .

“We also have a series of panel discussions that will be happening on campus. And it really hits that mentoring piece, which I think is really unique to this festival,” says DeBari. The panels were curated by Wood and will feature conversations with industry professionals on a range of arts and music related topics.

Panels are open to all, but workshops require pre-registration.

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

“There’s also a neat little mini film festival called The Middle of Knowhere, which is organized by two artists who have put out a special call to weirdo filmmakers,” adds Emily Gentry. She says it’s made up of “artists who are in the Arts Management Mentees cohort and are currently students in the University of Arkansas’ MFA program.”

Between events there is an art installation with comfortable seating in Millar Lodge, a beer garden with food trucks and DJs plus Inhabit Dance will be performing on campus. Also performing are JT London, LeaKe, TSU, SEWLO and Tylo May.

“It’s going to be an extended performance that’s going to happen all over campus that day, just to fill in the experiences between the shows, basically,” DeBari adds.

Tickets for the festival on May 6 are

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

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