We finally made it to Owlfest, and it was absolutely amazing! Three days and two nights of camping filled with incredible music, activities and breathtaking views of nature.
This was Owlfest’s 5th year and it was held at the beautiful Toney’s Mountain Golf Course out in Grass Valley. This amazing annual event started with a few friends hanging out and creating music. One thing led to another and the legend known as Owlfest was born. It’s held once a year around the end of June, and is a grand time for friends and family.
The camaraderie surrounding you is really enjoyable, and everyone is focused on simply having a great time.
I interviewed one of the creators and drummer of MAU, Scott Allen Carpenter. He provides some insight on the adventurous weekend, and proves to be quite the poet.
Sasha: “How did Owlfest start?”
Scott: It all started back in 2011. Myself and Nathan Kingham (my friend and co founder) had been putting together open jams for about a year at that point. The jams would consist of Nathan and myself inviting musician friends over, where they would proceed to drink beer and play whatever they felt like.
It was through this process, and through playing music locally for an approximately combined total of nearly 30 years, that we were privileged to meet a lot of people who all played in different bands… after doing these gatherings for about a year, [we] thought that it would be fun to have an annual gathering… We would make it family friendly, try and include camping if possible, and we would call it “Jam Fest”.
One [of our] close friends had some property up in Gardnerville NV. His nickname was “The Owl”, so we decided to call it Owlfest… Year 2 we moved it off of his property but we kept the name.
Sasha: “What is your favorite part about Owlfest?”
Scott: My favorite part of Owlfest is the people. I love watching people have a good time. I love providing that outlet. Providing an opportunity for folks to hear bands that they have never heard before. Providing bands with the opportunity to network with other bands and help our local scene stay connected to each other.
Being that we are an annual event 5 years running, I have gotten to see kids grow up at Owlfest. I have knowledge of a romance that sparked there at Owlfest 3 and is still going strong after Owlfest 5.
Now that I am talking about it, more so than just the people, it’s the sense of community. Everyone comments on it every year, about how nice everyone is, how helpful and genuine the folks are. That is key for us to succeed. We will never bring large national acts to Owlfest cause that isn’t our philosophy. Owlfest isn’t a money machine, it isn’t a festival thrown together to praise the idolatry of rock and roll or the fame of the stage. It’s a family gathering, and our family likes to play kick ass tunes and howl at the moon till all hours of the morning.
Sasha: “What do you envision for next year?”
Scott: I don’t see us getting bigger. I like our festival attendance to be right around 400 people… I do see us refining our event more.
Possible changes for next year may include a change of date to a slightly cooler time of year, maybe spring or early fall. Other changes I would like to see… [are] a better vendor area, more support for our kids area, better coordination of the campgrounds and marking out spots, volunteers to assist with finding a campsite and parking, a possible singer songwriter stage at the Bloody Mary Bar in the mornings, an earlier start and stop time for Sunday, solid 2 hour dinner breaks on Friday and Saturday, a Rockmed tent for emergencies, main stage music ending around 10pm giving more time for campfire jamming, a centralized generator for vendors to use, more porta potties, a way to provide ice, and yeah! We have done a great job in the last 5 years, but we can always make it better.
Sasha: “What’s your ultimate goal for Owlfest?”
Scott: I want to provide a vacation spot for musicians, [their] friends and families. I want to provide a networking weekend in which we all live, eat, play, write, meet, and create long lasting and substantive ties and relationships. It’s all centered around the bands, and being that we are all performers and that we all love those who support us, it really turns into a love fest! I am rambling, LOL.
My ultimate goal is to create a festival of community and support among local area musicians. That this festival will create unions of bands who leave the mountain and go out and blaze trails. I want this festival to rejuvenate creativity in bands. I want this festival to conceive bands.
This year my ultimate goal was kinda realized when I looked around and saw that Owlfest had finally arrived. We didn’t need big bands, we didn’t need a ton of money, all we needed was some people who wanted something special to call their own. That’s what we have. Family, our Owlfest Family.
Sasha: “Is there anything else you want people to know about Owlfest?”
Scott: Owlfest isn’t for anyone. It’s not for haters, people who are intolerant, folks who like to fight, who like take advantage of others, bullies, ***holes, people who only like one style of music, people who don’t like kids, or anything else that falls under the category of negative, judgmental, or inconsiderate.
Owlfest is only, and I mean only, for those who are interested in being apart of Owlfest. We want this to be the best festival in Northern California. Not the biggest, just the best. We want it to be a community endeavor, a place where everyone knows your name, a place where you can relax and be yourself and we are all cool with you and like you for that.
I know love is a very overused word, but I can’t think of a better one. Owlfest, in my opinion, is the antithesis of your average music festival. How? Well the love. If you come for a whole weekend you will leave with new friends and some of them will be musicians. If you come for any portion of the weekend you will leave with a new band that you liked, maybe your new favorite!
At the end of the day though Owlfest is a celebration of local music and community. A true snapshot of what happens when you bring a small community together around the focal point of live music. The outpouring results are that of happiness, self discovery, friendship, community and love. That is and always will be owlfest as long as I am apart of it.
Here a few of the photos I took to commemorate the memorable weekend: