Sept. 30 – October 8: Harvesting The FAM Festival showcases Windsor’s Creative Community with it’s 6th installment

Posted: September 29, 2011 by Windsor Zene in Live Performances, Previews

What a difference five years can make. It was five years ago, in the summer of 2006, when two local creative types – film maker Ben Young Hart and artist/musician Murad Erzinclioglu – beginning looking for new and bigger avenues to showcase their crafts (Young Hart’s film “Hot Tw*t” and both Murad’s experimental electronic project (wh)y.m.e.(??) and his visual art). As plans for the multi-media screening, performance and art opening begin to unfold (the show was initially intended to also feature art from “Hot Tw*t” production artist Maryam Yousif), it also explodes. The duo meet up with former UWSA Director of Student Life and local promoter Meghan Carbone and low and behold, Harvesting The FAM Festival was born. Windsor’s largest inter-arts community festival was hatched.

After months of planning, Harvesting the FAM Festival launched in January of 2007 as a one-day, ten hour festival, incorporating all three levels of the CAW Student Centre at the University of Windsor. Film screenings by area film makers, art exhibits by local visual artists, as well as non-stop musical performances by such various acts as Measured In Angles, MicLordz & Sauce Funky, Ron Leary, Days Fade, The Hung Jury, Portia, FURS, and Explode When They Bloom made the first foray into Windsor’s creative collective conscious since GreenArtsFest folded in the late ’90s.

The desire to top the success of the first festival was immediate and plans were sped up to make Harvesting The FAM Festival II happen in the fall of 2007, just eight months after it’s first inception. Working once again with the University of Windsor, an outdoor stage was added to expand FAM’s presence on the campus. More and more screenings of new local film makers, more visual arts displays and even more musical performances ensued, this time from such acts as The Golden Hands Before God, The Locusts Have No King, VEX, Orphan Choir, Lodown, Lone Locust, Kero, What Seas What Shores and Two for the Cascade, as well as returning FAMily members Measured In Angles, Portia, Tara Watts and James O-L & The Famous Last Words. Musically, the show saw double the features of the first installment, going from 12 to 25 films, 30 to 45 visual artists and 21 to 35 musical acts. It also marked the first involvement with local fashion designers.

Despite the growing success of the Festival – with an increase in crowd and community support – the University decides to withdraw backing of the festival and organizers (now beyond just the principle duo to involve a team of community volunteers) decide to move future festivals to the downtown core and instill the idea that the festival should happen once annually rather than the previous idea of it happening twice annually.

Harvesting The FAM III ran from September 12 to 14, 2008 in downtown Windsor, incorporating the live music venues that have nurtured original music in town – Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), The Loop Complex (The FM Lounge, The Coach & Horses and The Loop, 156 Chatham St. West) and Milk Coffee Bar (68 University Ave. West) – as well as coffee shops, art galleries and more to make the downtown core a central celebratory hub for Windsor’s vibrant creative communities to showcase their talents to the rest of the city. The additional days allowed for more freedom of shows and again the roster increased, to 30 films, 60 artists and a staggering 80 musical acts, including new additions Michou, The Peace Leeches, Salt of the Chief Cornerstone, Perilelle, and The Square Root of Margaret, plus multiple returnees from the prior two festivals.

In 2009, Harvesting The FAM IV continued to strengthen the realities of the downtown core being the central breeding ground for original new music (although more and more venues outside of downtown are realizing the strength of original new local music). There was the usual cast of local music star power (The Locusts Have No King, James O-L & The Villains, Tara Watts, Square Root of Margaret, Sledgehammer, etc.) as well as notable FAM debuts for The Stand Stills, The Golden Eagles, The Vaudevillianaires, Magic Hall of Mirrors, Silent Movie Type, and Which Witch. It also marked the debut of the FAM Fashion show at the Loop, with electronica music composed by local artists Kero, VEX and FURS. One of the co-ordinators for the 2009 festival, Emily Copeland from CJAM 99.1 FM, also organized some hip-hop and electronic symposiums featuring many Detroit electronic and hip-hop artists at Empire Lounge (now Untouchables).

Last year, Harvesting The FAM V exploded with even more films, art showings and yes, more live music! Indie pop favourites Yellow Wood and metal icons fiftywatthead were welcomed additions to the now week long endeavour. It also marked memorable FAM debuts for Years of Ernest, Surdaster, Red Rows and Red Red Run, as well as amazing sets by surprise national touring acts Hot Panda (from Edmonton) and the unforgettable entrance from My Son The Hurricane (from Vancouver). Carried by the reliable sounds of veteran FAMilia The Locusts Have No King, George Manury, Monique Belanger, ASK, Explode When They Bloom, Eric Welton Band, The Vaudevillianaires, shinje and much more, the FAM festival officially became the once a year “can’t miss” festival for fans and musicians alike.

This year’s line-up for Harvesting The FAM VI – running from September 30 until October 8 – continues to grow on it’s humble beginnings from the University of Windsor, including the addition of two new live music venues joining the cast of host sites – The Dugout (300 Ouellette Ave.) and Villains Beastro (256 Pellisier St.). Learning the lesson of “less is more”, the event is scaled back slightly, with just over 50 acts performing, one day of film screenings (October 4th at Milk Coffee Bar), and two venues showcasing art exhibits (Milk and Phog) throughout the duration of the festival. A more concentrated festival means that less ground needs to be covered and people can access much more of the festival. Musically, this year’s festival features the long awaited return to the Windsor music scene of Salt of the Chief Cornerstone and The Sean Connery Supergroup, FAM debuts from acts such as The Blue Stones, Repititions, Dave Russell, RYE, Cellos and Diesel Junkies, plus local heavyweights such as Surdaster, The Locusts Have No King, Orphan Choir, Poughboy, The Nefidovs, The Vaudevillianaires, Kaycce Closed, Kero, Vultures?, Explode When They Bloom, The Rowley Estate, Jae Cyphe, Years of Ernest, James O-L & The Villains, Two for the Cascade and much much more! Also, this year’s festival is dedicated to memory of Bradford Helner (who played several previous FAM festivals), the local musician who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly a month ago.

The great things about FAM Festival is that there are many waves of FAM. One is the familiarity of the faces you see every year: be it the amazing bands who only get consistently stronger in their crafts, or the fellow music lovers in the audience.  Another is the camaraderie shown by all the musicians who frequent each show. And another is the unpredictability of the “debuting” bands. Who can forget the debut of little-known Death or Comber at Milk in 2008 (or Shawn Daniel at the same venue in 2009), where people where pouring out onto the street, the walls of the small venue unable to contain the bodies who had come across this amazing new act. Or the unparalleled entrance from funk maestros My Son The Hurricane to their show last year at the Loop when they marched up Chatham Street playing horns and drums, announcing their own arrival?

FAM Festival has truly become an annual rite of passage for the local Windsor music scene – the scene that creates their own songs, who play the “dives” or seedy parlours that day-folk scorn, just to get their songs heard. Sometimes they play for $100s of dollars, but mostly it’s for enough to cover their bar tab – but hey, at least it’s not “Sweet-fucking-Caroline”. The FAM Festival becomes that celebration that their is a collective group – whether their playing thrash metal or hip-hop – of individuals in this community who thrive on creating music, regardless if they’re making money of it. They tour, many of them outside of Windsor-Essex, they sell CD’s, sell on iTunes – but they all love to create. If you’ve ever wanted to truly taste the music (as well as films, art, fashion and more) that is truly coming out of Windsor-Essex county, this is the festival to check out. Not only is the entire festival free to the public, but there is literally a taste of something for everyone, from rock and roll to hip hop, heavy metal to folk, blues to electronic. These aren’t musicians covering songs from British or American bands – these are musicians telling their own stories, stories cultivated right here in Windsor-Essex. And what tales we have to tell.

Welcome to the FAMily.

Harvesting The FAM Festival takes place throughout downtown Windsor from Friday September 30 until Saturday October 8. All events are FREE to the public. Check the website here for complete listings and line-ups for all musical acts, film screenings, art exhibits and fashion shows.

  1. jeff stiles says:

    um..the STiG are actually playing ‘sweet caroline”.

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