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McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2011
Bringing Live Music, Arts & Community Spirit Together

By Dave Cooper

McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2011

Since 2004, the final weekend in April has marked a three-day celebration of live music, arts, food, drink, and kids' activities, all to benefit Arizona youth. The McDowell Mountain Music Festival was conceived as a way to bring the community together with music for a great cause. This year's festival will be held both indoors and on the lawn outside The Compound Grill in Scottsdale. McDowell Mountain Music Festival organizers simply put it this way, “If you have never been to a music festival, come to ours.”

Situated in a mall-type setting, the Compound Grill is usually surrounded by parking spaces. But for the festival, it is transformed by magic that requires a lot of physical labor. Event coordinators will have an approximately two-football field-sized area of the parking lot covered with sod -- a living lawn for concertgoers to or dig their toes in or stretch out on blankets. After the festival, the sod will be donated to a local school.

The McDowell Mountain Music Festival took off in April of 2004. The festival has a multipurpose goal: to integrate and support the community, the arts and to help underprivileged Valley youth. Each year, the festival brings a variety of worldwide bands to the Valley. This year the event will benefit two Phoenix-area nonprofit organizations that provide specialized services to Valley youth, the Phoenix Day Family & Learning Center and Ear Candy Charity.

Throughout this 3-day weekend, more than 20 bands and other artists perform on three stages, inside and out, with live music going well into the night. Main stage acts include performers from all over the United States and the Valley, showcasing an eclectic variety of sounds and styles.

Friday’s lineup opens at 5pm with Tempe-based outfit The Paper Snowmen, followed by Martin Sexton of Syracuse, NY and the Jacksonville, Florida band JJ Grey and Mofro. Closing out Friday’s live music is an 'after hours' performance by the LA band Particle. Dubbed the ‘late night kings' of live shows, Particle will do a 21 and over show at the Compound Grill from 11pm-1am. A separate ticket is required for the late show.

Saturday’s main stage schedule kicks off at noon with back-to-back performances from Arizona bands Kinch and What Laura Says. The “Master of New Orleans Funk,” George Porter Jr. and the Runnin’ Pardners, take over next. Former Grateful Dead drummer Bill Krueutzmann’s new band 7 Walkers will then hit the stage followed by SOJA from Washington D.C. Xavier Rudd, a New South Wales, Australia multi-instrumentalist, wraps-up the main stage activities on Saturday. Rudd has been referred to as a “one man band who takes multi-tasking to an entirely new level.” Saturday also features an "after hours” show from 11pm-1am inside the Compound Grill featuring Chicago Bluesman Otis Taylor, described by Guitar Player magazine as “arguably the most relevant blues artist of our time.” A separate ticket will again be required for the over 21 show.

McDowell Mountain Music Festival 2011

At noon Sunday, the main stage fires up with a lineup featuring Los Angeles-based ensemble Orgone. East-coasters Rubblebucket jump in next, with Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears rolling in from Austin after that. Southern California outfit Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros shut it down just after sunset. They are known for playing “intricately embellished psych-folk anthems.”

For the sixth year, Creamy Radio, a Phoenix Internet radio station, is sponsoring the Creamy Radio Second Stage, bringing only the best up-and-coming local artists to the stage. Two acts perform each day. Courtney Marie Andrews and The Smith Family Band are lined up for Friday. Banana Gun and Mergence hold things down Saturday. The Hooves and Gospel Claws wrap-up live music activities on the Creamy Radio Second Stage Sunday afternoon.

Three separate Drum Circle sessions are also scheduled over the weekend, hosted by Frank Thompson of AZ Rhythm Connection. Drum Circles are often interactive, multi-faceted performances involving drummers, fire spinners, and belly dancers. This should be a special highlight of the weekend.

The weekend festivities include a silent auction and raffle, a walk-around marketplace, wine & beer gardens, food vendors and a Kid’s Zone. Find out more about the bands, tickets, parking, wheelchair accessibility, a map of the venue and more at