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McDowell Mountain

Music Festival 2015 Lineup

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The Phoenix Metro’s Best Musical Event Has Reached Back And Hit It Out Of The Park With Stellar 2015 Lineup Featuring Mainstream Appeal And Jam-Band Tradition, Featuring A Greater Emphasis On EDM


By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

Dec. 14, 2014 — McDowell Mountain Music Festival hosted their lineup announcement party on Saturday evening at Copper Blues, 50 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix, and it seems like 2015 is going to be MMMF’s best year ever. Obviously, every festival tries to out do itself every year but just looking at the names that Wespac Construction was able to draw to Margaret T. Hance Park for the late March festival alone says that the regional festival maybe considering a jump up to the national level.

2015’s lineup shows MMMF’s new appreciation for electronic music with a lineup that features way more DJ’s and EDM than 2014. It’s quite obvious that EDM and jam bands go together. The repetitive groove based music styles are incredibly similar, so for a festival looking to bring out the deadheads and the Candy Kids, mixing in a little of both was definitely a great idea.

Judging by dates they’ve booked around the festival here is our perspective lineup for what bands will play which days.

Passion Pit looks good for headlining day one, Friday March 27, and electronic dance music acts STRFKR, and Robert Delong seem to match up with dates to land as opening acts earlier in the day. All three bands bring major-festival pedigrees, and major-festival music. In years past, acts as big as Passion Pit and STRFKR would almost assuredly be headliners.

Day one could feature another mainstage national act, and like the EDM acts, Portugal the Man is a veteran of Coachella, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, South by Southwest, and pretty much every other major festival in the country. They are fairly different from the rest of the acts playing that day, but they bring the same level of appeal. Their possible appearance on day one along with the EDM acts are clear indicators that MMMF is ready to be mentioned in the same breath as America’s major summer festivals.

For day two the possibilities are equally stellar, with equally huge implications. Thievery Corporation, a DJ collective, seem like the right band to be  heading up the day, but they make a very different sound than Friday’s EDM acts. They bring a far more globally-rooted sound than their lineup mates from Friday evening, and they are often joined by a live singer and a live band. They are known for mixing acid jazz, dub, Indian music, Middle Eastern music, and a whole slew of other international sounds.

Another group that has the right dates open to Join Thievery Corporation on the mainstage seem to be Phantogram. As if the possible Saturday headliner wasn’t enough to show that MMMF meant business in 2015, they went out and got the New York-based electro rock duo.. Their music doesn’t necessarily match with the jammy roots of McDowell, but who cares when a band is that good. They’ve appeared at most of North America’s biggest festivals and they should be releasing a new album right around February or March.  If their popularity continues to grow, they are in great position to be headlining some of them in the near future.

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, and Break Science will also be in good position to roll through Phoenix and jam on the main stage Saturday. Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is a brass instrument virtuoso and bona fide legend in jazz circles, as well as his hometown of New Orleans. Break Science are proteges of Pretty Lights Music, the premier electronic music label for jam band quality electrofunk.

Friday evening is the statement that MMMF is ready to mentioned with the biggest festivals in the country, while Saturday is the proof.

Widespread Panic will be the headliner and the festival’s closer on Sunday, March 29. It hasn’t been announced yet, but come on … when else would they play? Their presence reinforces the festival’s jam-band fest roots by trotting out what is arguably their biggest headliner to date. McDowell Mountain Music Festival obviously takes a lot of their cues from Bonnaroo, and they have shared plenty of acts. But never before has MMMF been able to bring in a former Bonnaroo headliner.

If the lineup works out this was Sunday is obviously the day designed for the more traditional jam-band fans as it would also feature Beats Antique, Trampled By Turtles, and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. I predicted Beats Antiques appearance in last month’s MMMF Story, and like I said before with past acts like Balkan Beat Box doing so well they were a no brainer.

Trampled By Turtles is a bluegrass band more in the vein of past acts like Yonder Mountain String Band. While Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe is fronted by a legendary saxophone player who has played with The Rolling Stones, Slightly Stoopid, and, like Trombone Shorty, Lenny Kravitz.

MMMF’s PR director Nate Largay said their will very likely be more national acts added as the festival draws closer.

It has also been announced that The Hourglass Cats, Black Bottom Lighters, Spafford, and the Tommy Ash Band will be the locals appearing on the main stage. Though the festival has yet to release the full local lineup, assuming the national acts work out how we think they will most likely play in the above stated lineup with THC on Friday, BBL on Saturday, and Tommy Ash and Spafford on Sunday.

As for the local stage, like I mentioned in last month's article, The Haymarket Squares, The Senators, Snake! Snake! Snakes!, and Small Leaks Sink Ships will all be playing. So will newly announced rock and soul band Gus Campbell, EDM act Pastries With Teeth, and jazz fusion act Captain Squeegee.

There are a few more spots left on the local stage, and if I were a betting man I would bet the farm on an appearance by either Tempe spazz-funk punks Playboy Manbaby or psychedelic indie folk band Wooden Indian, or possibly both. Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra is another heavy possibility. While  my best suggestions for the remaining slots are Sister Lip, Jerusafunk, Drunken Immortals, Boss Frog, PRO TEENS, and Injury Reserve,

There will be more announcements regarding the MMMF lineup leading up to the festival.

Jeff Moses a senior contributor at Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at
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