Maximum Ames Festival 2017: Music is for everyone

The Maximum Ames Music Festival will once again take over downtown this weekend with a theme of accessibility. 

Accessibility. If there was one word that could define the seventh Maximum Ames Music Festival, that would be it. The people behind the annual downtown event have crafted something that is for everyone this year.  

Each of the main events on the 2017 Max Ames Fest schedule are located at all age and handicap accessible venues. In years past, the festival has been all about openness and creating an environment for everyone; this year is just another step in that direction, according to co-founder Nate Logsdon.

“We want to say our shows are for everybody, music is for everybody,” Logsdon said. 

Max Ames event planner and senior in marketing, Lindsey Darland, believes that the festival was always moving toward all accessibility, but she said that this year’s political climate enforced that idea even more.

“We recognize the importance now more than ever to make sure everyone feels included in any way possible,” Darland said. 

One may look at the venues lined up for this year’s event and think that they are unusual spots to have live music at, but the venues are places of community and gathering. Logsdon thinks those are two elements that make these spaces well suited for Max Ames Fest.

Logsdon is also a big believer in making any area into a music venue.  With this year’s schedule, that concept is heavily showcased.  He said that these venues should create unique experiences for fans and artists.  

“It’s gonna be more about engaging with our neighbors through art and having these intimate special encounters with musicians that are very unique to the time and place,” Logsdon said. 

Like always, many local and out-of-town artists will make up the weekend’s lineup. This year, one of the headliners is Gaelynn Lea, performing Saturday at 6 p.m. at Ames Public Library. Along with her work as a musician, she is also an activist for disabled individuals.

“She’s such an outstanding artist and songwriter.  The advocacy work she does is very important and extremely vital.  She’s just very talented and very graceful,” Logsdon said. 

Diane Cluck also headlines the weekend, performing Friday at 5:30 p.m. at KHOI Community Radio. Logsdon said that Cluck is loved by many artists in the Ames area.

“She’s from Virginia, but a lot of artists in the local music scene have been inspired by her,” Logsdon said. “We always want to create these experiences in Maximum Ames where people are playing with, or seeing, in a small environment artists who they have been influenced by.

Another thing to look out for will be the Flavor Basket songbook release show; It will honor local musician Charlie Vestal, who died earlier this year.  

Vestal’s brother organized a group of people to comprise this book. Logsdon said that every word, and every chord, of Vestal’s entire recorded discography can be found inside.

Maximum Ames does not plan to stop at a songbook in the honoring of Flavor Basket, either. Starting this year, a stage named after the artist will be present at every festival moving forward.

Some may wonder about the bars and other venues that have been a part of the Max Ames Festival in past years and are not on the main schedule this time.  Well, they are not completely forgotten this year. Shows at these places will still be held, but in the form of pre-parties, overflow-parties and after-parties.

The task of making some of these other shows happen was handled by Darland and fellow Max Ames planner Lindsay Kayser. The two of them have interned with the company in the past, and now they continue to help out.

Through this opportunity, both have had hands on experience planning the event as a whole and they have been able to organize shows through their own production company, Double L.

But, of course, with planning comes challenges. Both Kayser and Darland wanted to have a female musician at each show they handled.  Kayser mentioned that they sought out a variety of talent while looking for these artists.

“We needed to brainstorm which female musicians were not getting overplayed in the festival and some of them are in three or four bands, so we wanted to make sure we included different musicians that we didn’t think of,“ Kayser said.

Darland said that the hands-on role has been a lot of work, but she has gained many new relationships because of it, and she has felt a sense of community from the local scene.

“Max Ames is a business I’m always going to love and always going to support, even when I don’t go to school here,” Darland said. 

Along with the concerts, Kayser and Darland put together a pop-up art show which will be held at Ink Blot Studio on Sunday. All of the pieces in this show will be from local artists. 

This weekend will be Double L’s biggest endeavor as a company thus far. Kayser said that those at Maximum Ames and at Nova Labs have been a major help through it all.

“They’ve been backing us all the way and pushing us along,” Kayser said.

Coming back to help out with the festival is something that both women have enjoyed doing. Kayser called it a reunion of sorts.

“The first year you meet a whole bunch of different people and it just becomes a tight, close-knit community, and then it becomes a family reunion because you see those people year after year,” Kayser said.

The seventh Maximum Ames Music Festival may have a different look to it compared to past years, but it is all for a good cause and in line with the event’s long term goals.

Logsdon stated that each year the festival becomes a little more refined, and even smaller.  But, he said that the shows within it are capturing the essence of Maximum Ames and the local music scene.

In the long run, the company wants to celebrate Ames, along with the music and artists within it.   

“We’ve gone more in the direction of trying to just harness this energy of Ames D.I.Y., underground music, and punk rock, and history, and diversity and inclusion and advocating for all ages music,” Logsdon said. 

There does not seem to be an end in sight either.  Logsdon believes that Maximum Ames has reached a point where they know what they do best, and because of that, stability has been found.

“We’ve met a lot of our goals, but we’ve also adapted the festival every year.  I did think we were gonna be in for the long run.  I knew from the very beginning it was gonna be a tradition, so I’m not surprised we are at Maximum Ames 7, I expect there to be Maximum Ames 37,” Logsdon said. 

For a full line up of all the artists and shows that are a part of the 2017 Maximum Ames Music festival, visit their website.