Why Are The Haymarket Squares
Not Playing MMMF?
The Haymarket Squares.
MMMF Local Stage Lineup
Friday, March 28
4 p.m. — Field Tripp
5 p.m. — Avery
7 p.m. — Delta Fifths
9 p.m. — Spafford
Saturday March 29
12:30 p.m. — Travis James and the Wretched Ones
2:30 p.m. — Drum Circle
4:30 p.m. — The Hourglass Cats
6:30 p.m. — Carol Pacey & The Honey Shakers
8:30 p.m. — Black Bottom Lighters
Sunday, March 30
1:30 p.m. — Tommy Ash Band
3:30 p.m. — Drum Circle
5:30 p.m. — Between Spaces
7:30 p.m. — Guru Gods
By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine
Feb. 5, 2014 — Most of the time, I think it is not in my purview to tell experienced festival organizers how to do their jobs.
But in the case of the Haymarket Squares not being selected for the 2014 McDowell Mountain Music Festival, I just have to say something.
So here it goes: How in the world were The Haymarket Squares not selected for the McDowell Mountain Music Festival Lineup?
This is more than just a matter of taste: Their exclusion from the festival following its move to downtown Phoenix last year was egregious. Leaving them off this year too — two years in a row if you're not taking notes — is a borderline insult.
In my opinion, the Phoenix-based five piece should have been on the main stage, but a local stage appearance would have been acceptable. The fact that they were left off entirely, frankly, makes no sense. For an event that is supposed to be about “community,” the Squares should have been an easy pick.
The Haymarket Squares are a staple of the Phoenix music scene, playing at music festivals, art openings and even protests. They are so grass roots in the downtown scene that their CD release party for their latest album Riotous Ruckus was held at a private residence with no one turned away, instead of at Crescent Ballroom, or Sail Inn. As far as bands involved in the “community,” I do not think there is one more involved than The Haymarket Squares.
As for an event which is obviously trying to look as though it has a social conscience by being a non-profit event with all proceeds going to charity, why not invite the Squares? The Haymarket Squares are obviously a band with a social conscience playing events like Arizona State University’s Local 2 Global, Mesa Community College’s Legendfest, and Amnesty International events as well as benefits for a wide array of causes throughout the Phoenix metro and beyond.
Furthermore the Haymarket Squares’ drawing power is unquestionable. The Squares have a devoted Phoenix fan base who not only make it out to most of their Phoenix dates, but also travel with the Squares on in-state road trips and camp out with the band. The band’s CD release easily brought in more than 150 people, while many of their other appearances have brought in similar numbers.
Also, their sound is just the right way to present their progressive ideas to a possibly more conservative crowd in the country jam band fans. The twangy tones of The Haymarket Squares could be just the thing some of these old conservative curmudgeons need to hear, and surely there is no question about their talent.
As a band. their playing together is seamless and as individual musicians each member has built his own reputation as an outstanding instrumentalist. So, I guess the real question to the MMMF organizers has to be, what gives?
I emailed those in charge of picking the talent for the festival to find out their opinion and this was their response: “Jeff Marc Anderson copied here selects the local bands. He does a great job considering hundreds of bands. I can assure you his selection is objective and any exclusion not intensional Thanks and appreciate your support.”
The Haymarket Squares are well respected by their musical peers, Phoenix music fans, local music writers and bloggers, as well as local activists. Gutter punks mosh to the Squares, politicians tap their feet, teachers dance, one Mesa Community College administrator called The Haymarket Squares “the best band MCC has ever had on campus.”
How could a band that appeals to so many different kinds of people and music fans, a band that makes “punkgrass for the people,” be left off of the “party for the people,” on their home turf?
Undoubtedly, the festival will still be a must-see event and there will be some very good bands on the local stage: Saturday night is especially fine with The Hourglass Cats and Black Bottom Lighters bookending the comparatively mellow Carol Pacey & The Honey Shakers. The two “Desert Reggae” bands will give main-stagers Dispatch, Slightly Stoopid and Disco Biscuits some serious competition.
But without the Haymarket Squares, something important will be missing.
Oh, well, I guess I’ll have to see them at Local to Global at ASU’s Tempe Campus at 4:30 p.m. March 1 instead.
Jeff Moses a senior contributor at Modern Times Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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