On the first weekend of October, nine bands and artists will come together at Shadyside Memorial Park to perform a free concert for the Anderson area.
The event is called Sneeze Fest, a music festival put together by Ethan Stutz, a senior music education major.
The lineup of artists includes: The Unfortunate Sneeze, Doktra, 6th Century Future Recovery Group, Sojo, Gerald Potts, Rob Lowman, Prank S., Daisily and Ben Watson.
The event’s name, Sneeze Fest, was born from Stutz’s own band, The Unfortunate Sneeze, which will be the headliner for the music festival. The band consists of Stutz’s friends and fellow musicians, Brenn Shipman and Isaac Ferguson.
Stutz, who is single-handedly organizing and paying for the event, lives by a code of inclusiveness and the idea that music can bring people together.
“This has been the only thing on my mind,” said Stutz. “I feel like all of the Anderson community can benefit from a big music event like this. Not just the younger people, not just older people. I think bringing everybody together would be really cool because that’s something that doesn’t happen very often.
“Being able to create that inclusive experience is unique and something that needs to happen,” he said.
Sneeze Fest is purposefully being held at an off-campus location.
“I was walking around Shadyside Park several weeks ago and realized that it is a very open and welcoming setting,” Stutz said. “Having it at the memorial park gives people in the community a sense of welcome, too, instead of them feeling awkward for having to come to an on-campus setting.”
Not only does Stutz hope that this music festival will bring people together from all over Anderson, but he also wants to give a platform to the wide range of local bands and see them succeed.
“It will be quite a conglomerate of groups,” Stutz said. “When I started asking for musicians to be a part of Sneeze Fest, I was surprised at how open the artists were to play. I got all the artists booked in the span of three or four days.
“I want these bands to feel appreciated. This event is for bringing people together but it is also for the good of these bands. All the bands are so different, it’s not just one brand of people. Bringing groups together is much more beneficial than groupings of people.
“The types of music are all so different. I didn’t want too much similarity, and the wide range of artists adds to the inclusivity. You’ll have people coming for different styles of music.”
Stutz has been involved in many arts programs throughout his life. He reflects on his time in high school when he was part of many different clubs and groups, including choir, band, theatre and sports teams.
“I’ve really diversified myself amongst different groups of people,” Stutz said. This statement rings true in both Stutz’s history of the arts and in the wide range of bands he has asked to participate in Sneeze Fest.
The styles of music that will be featured include progressive rock, Indie, rap, acoustic singer-songwriter, alternative rock and even neoclassical. Each band will perform for 35 minutes with the exception of The Unfortunate Sneeze who will be headlining the event. With nine bands each bringing their own unique sound to the table, Sneeze Fest promises an exciting experience.
Ben Watson, a senior music business major and performer for Sneeze Fest, is looking forward to being part of a music festival that encompasses both AU artists and outside artists. Ben thinks that having the festival off-campus will help the draw of the event.
“It feels like AU events are very closed off to the outside world, so it will be nice to hopefully get some locals to Sneeze Fest as well,” Watson said.
Jacob Cupps, who will be taking the stage twice at Sneeze Fest as part of both Daisily and Prank S., is excited about the camaraderie of performing alongside the acts that Stutz has invited.
“There are a lot of people who I’m just really excited to get to spend an afternoon with,” he said.
For Stutz, Sneeze Fest is more than just a fun event, it is a way to tap into his passion for music and community. In bringing people together through a shared enjoyment of music, barriers are being broken, and community takes on a broader definition.
“An event like this draws upon my passion for people to be moved by music,” said Stutz. “I am showing the impact of music as a tool to bring people together.”
“Depending on the success of this music festival, there might be a spring edition of Sneeze Fest,” said Stutz. “If this event goes well I can create an even better one next semester. It’s a lot of work but I think it will pay off.”
There is no charge to attend the music festival, but Stutz is open to receiving donations to cover the cost of the event space and sound equipment.
Sneeze Fest will be held from 1-9 p.m. at Shadyside Memorial Park on Saturday, Oct. 6.