STATE BRIDGE — Sixteen years ago, when Scotty Stoughton first got into the music business, music festivals generally featured one genre of music extensively.
“Back in the day it was a reggae fest, or all Phish, or it was a rave; or maybe all funk,” Stoughton said. “I was really bored going to a festival with just one style.”
Today, the pendulum has swung the other direction.
“Now everyone is trying to combine everything to sell tickets,” he said. “I think it’s swung too far the other direction, to ‘anyone who draws, let’s put them on the bill.’”
At Campout for the Cause, the annual Memorial Day music festival at State Bridge that kicks off today and goes through Sunday evening, Stoughton is “trying to do something in between,” he said.
“I have huge confidence in the fans that people like different styles of music and will get down together,” Stoughton said. “The idea is to have a bluegrass band play, then a DJ on the side stage, then maybe a rock band. Later there will be a hip hop band, then an electronic band and maybe a reggae show. That way you’re getting a really nice show that keeps you interested. Campout is about celebrating diversity in music.”
‘Add to the cause’
In the past, the festival has been comprised almost entirely of Colorado acts. This year, Stoughton has expanded the lineup to three states: Colorado, of course, along with Texas and Oregon.
MilkDrive, a quartet from Austin, will perform tonight and Saturday. “If people like rock bluegrass and funk, I think they’ll like the bluegrass band I picked: MilkDrive,” said Stoughton, who saw them perform last year and then brought them to town for Winter WonderGrass. “They’re happening. They’re a young band and they’re not getting big gigs in Colorado yet. I wanted to use Campout to give them an opportunity.”
Portland-based band Fruition will perform in the early evening on Saturday and again late night on Sunday.
“I love the group,” Stoughton said. “They’re getting great traction and they’re great people. They have a good message and they’re pumping.”
Ramona Wouters, a local female DJ who goes by Ramona, will perform at the festival for the first time. She plays a blend of deep house and tech house music, though she likes to feel out the crowd before she decides her setlist.
“I love State Bridge and look forward to being part of this festival and running around the dirt a bit and meeting up with familiar faces,” she said. “It’s always great to be able to play home base and add to the cause.”
Avon Elementary School music teacher and local musician Jake Wolf attends the event every year. This year, he’s the emcee.
“The music lineup is amazing and a little bit different every year,” Wolf said. “Scotty put together a very diverse list of artists that please every festivalgoer throughout the weekend. The chances of hearing something new and appealing is very large. I love getting turned on to new music.”
The festival welcomes families, and children younger than 13 are free. Wolf calls the vibe at the festival, which also incorporates stand-up paddleboard lessons, yoga classes (there’s a dedicated yoga tent at Rancho del Rio), hula hooping and workshops on topics like healthy eating and permaculture, “spiritually harmonious.”
“It’s usually the first nice weekend us mountain folk get,” Wolf said. “It’s a benefit for a handful of wonderful causes, some far and some right here in our valley. The ability for us to be able to bring our children, knowing they are in great hands, creates a feeling at State Bridge that we are one big happy mountain-family.”
The event does raise money for some nonprofits. Last year, Stoughton donated more than $7,000 to All Hands Volunteers, a disaster relief organization that goes where ever its needed — which this week is Oklahoma, to help people affected by the tornado in Moore.
“That just goes to show how responsive they are to natural disasters worldwide,” Stoughton said, “which to me says a lot.”
This year, the event will again support All Hands Volunteers. “I donate a percentage of my net,” Stoughton said. “Even if I don’t make money, I donate.”
Some closer-to-home charities will benefit as well: A dollar from each ticket sold will go to Save the Colorado and a dollar will go to Ef(ec), a nonprofit that raises awareness and money for musical education. The group will use the money to support Wolf’s Summer School of Rock program. But that’s not the only reason Wolf leaves the festival with a grin on his face.
“Every year, I leave the site feeling wiser, healthier and happier,” Wolf said. “It’s an affordable, local experience that serves the greater good. What a way to kick off the summer.”