Local DIY Festival Beardfest, Featuring Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles, Returns to Hammonton, NJ This Weekend!

On the Beardfest homepage, its mission blazes across the page: “In a world where entertainment is often too reduced to a passive, spectator/performer relationship, and where social interactions are too often reduced to quick moments of stolen time, and appreciation of nature is too often kicked aside for the pride of progress, Beardfest attempts to be a breath of fresh air.”

It’s an ambitious, lofty goal for any festival, let alone a festival run by one band, Out of the Beardspace, with no major corporate backing. But it’s these humble roots and goals that make Beardfest the intimate, special DIY festival that’s become a local favorite.

Zach LoPresti, cofounder of Beardfest and guitarist of the prog-rock fusion band Out of the Beardspace, recalls the origins of the festival, which were located in his backyard for the first two years (2012-13). “In 2012, I went to the Rootwire Music Festival, which was the first of its kind that any of us [in OOTB] had attended. Many of today’s touring jam/fusion/festival scene bands – such as Papadosio, Dopapod, Snarky Puppy and Consider the Source – were there. I was completely unaware of this whole branch of live music, and moving forward it hugely inspired what we did with Beardfest and Out of the Beardspace,” he explains.

Organizing the festival created some challenges for the young, local band. “There is no one behind the scenes with a fat wallet. ALL the risk is on a few musicians in our mid-twenties just trying to figure the whole thing out,” LoPresti explains. “We have been fortunate to receive small donations/sponsorships over the years in the way of food and drink (Spring Garden Produce, Guayaki), gear (School of Rock/ATPYKAL Productions) and modest monetary contributions. The biggest help, BY FAR, has always come through the friends and family that make up our core team. This team includes our parents, workshop coordinator Robyn Mello, the brilliant artists of ROMPUS and more. We know that with them at our side we can dream big and effectively execute.”

Over the years, Beardfest has grown from its backyard beginnings and now takes place in Paradise Lakes Campground in New Hammonton, NJ. This year, over 25 bands will play over three days from June 16th to 18th. The eclectic range of bands includes: explosive horn-and-percussion trio Moon Hooch, groovy soul-funk group Nik Greeley & The Operators, an 8-piece absurdist soul outfit Johnny Showcase & The Mystic Ticket, “Sci-Fi Middle Eastern Fusion” trio Consider the Source, and many more.

All members of Out of the Beardspace carefully curated the lineup. “As avid music fans, we want to create a bill that is exciting and diverse from start to finish. It’s important to us as a band to link up with artists that inspire us,” LoPresti says. “Selecting artists this year such as Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles, Screaming Headless Torsos and in the past Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music and Jojo Mayer’s Nerve is our attempt at both linking up with and exposing our fans to some of the world’s top modern musicians. On top of that, there is a plethora of incredible local talent in South Jersey and Philadelphia that we aim to highlight.”

Beardfest is not just a music festival, however. The three-day fest includes yoga, art showcases, workshops, and sustainability initiatives. These features help create the unique community found at Beardfest each year. As LoPresti explains, “Our heavy emphasis on aspects other than music is based around our interests and concerns as people. Out of the Beardspace has been part of a larger community that includes farmers, activists, teachers, artists, authors and progressive thinkers for years. For our group, sharing music with one another has been just as important as sharing ideas and skills. All of this is reflected in what we present within Beardfest.”

ROMPUS will be performing live visual art sets each day. As stated on the Beardfest website, “ROMPUS creates large-scale improvisational paintings inspired by surrounding people and sounds, playing with light, shadow, resists, dance, and color to create vibrant, theatrical art. This year the ROMPUS team will take live art at Beardfest to a new level with scrims enveloping the stage, an expanded community painting area, and some surprise tricks they have hidden up their sleeves.”

Beardfest is a festival that demands to be experienced with all the senses. It’s only a short drive from Philly and it’s a great festival for those who are new to the festival scene. LoPresti has some advice for those new to Beardfest this year. “For new Beardfest attendees, I would say this: come with a willingness to learn and share. Sure, you could hang around, listen to some amazing music, swim and sunbathe on the beach, party all night and have a great weekend. But, at Beardfest one can do all that and more. At Beardfest one can learn the basics of Brazilian dance fighting (Capoeira), how to identify the plants in our pine forest, and can participate in an organized drum circle where people of all experience levels will be welcome.” Sounds like quite the weekend!

Are you ready for Beardfest? Beardfest takes place this weekend, starting on Thursday. You can purchase single-day or combo tickets here, and visit the Beardfest website for more information. Remember to bring a bathing suit and towel, natural bug repellents, and check yourself and friends for ticks!

1 Comment

  1. carney1990

    September 23, 2016 at 10:55 am

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