Probably the best way to sum up the spirit of the last week's Indy Music Awards Festival is to quote the musicians who played it. After more than 2,500 Independent readers cast ballots for their favorite local musicians, the artists returned the favor: 15 acts performed for free on three stages, representing genres from hip-hop to folk-pop, bluegrass to metal, punk rock to gypsy jazz.
"I never in a million years thought I'd be playing a show with Grass It Up, Black P and the Haunted Windchimes," declared an exuberant Chris Forsythe, frontman for hard rock/metal category winners Malakai, from the indoor stage at Stargazers Theatre and Event Center.
The first-ever Indy Music Awards were also enshrined in rhyme by hip-hop winner Black P, who name-checked the festival once during a freestyle rap with the Charlie Milo Trio, and again while performing his own set.
Even Chuck Snow — not always the most optimistic person when it comes to the challenges that beset local musicians — expressed his own special brand of enthusiasm in a subsequent Facebook post: "The CS Indy Music Awards showcase was a big step into escaping the sea of mucky musical retardation that we've had to swim through for the last ten years."
A winner in the guitarist and Americana categories, Snow had pulled together an impromptu band for the occasion called the Social Retards. The SRs, which may actually become an ongoing group, also featured Dave Mansfield of Mansfields and L.A.M.F's fame, as well as Collin Estes and Stu Pray (whom Indy readers voted best keyboardist and drummer, respectively), all plowing through rousing renditions of Iggy & the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog," the Mansfields' "Night of the Living Creeps" and the Modern Lovers' "Roadrunner."
Other guest appearances included Changing Colors' Conor Bourgal with the Haunted Windchimes and Malakai's Forsythe joining 40oz Freedom Fighters on Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls."
The closing sets also featured some special moments: Molly Boyles sitting in with the Jake Loggins Band indoors, while outdoors, the Haunted Windchimes got down off the stage to do an un-amplified sing-along version of Mike Clark's "Hey Daisy" just as the moon rose over the Stargazers dome.
In addition to all of the above, the festival — which drew more than 1,100 people over the course of the nearly six-hour evening — also included sets by Mango Fan Django, We Are Not a Glum Lot, Edith Makes a Paper Chain, El Toro de la Muerte, Grass It Up, From Slaves to Kings, DJ Brandon Lee, and musicians from the Positively Pikes Peak album.
Anyone up for doing it again next year?