Founder Matthew Boyle, laser-locked into what’s good for Butte, continues to land like-minded, community-oriented performers and activists for the third annual Original Festival next weekend, Sept. 11-12, at the Original Mine venue.
Firmly rooted in electronica music, the Original Festival is spreading its eclectic wings to appeal to a wider range of ages, including kids.
“It’s an all-ages event,” said Boyle, who originally conceived the idea of the festival with former business partner Curtis Reid in late summer, 2011.
They spent that summer hitting festivals and concerts that inspired Boyle and Reid to hold an electronica show at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Butte for 400 music-crazed teens.
“That’s really kind of how it started,” Boyle, told The Montana Standard. “After going to all these shows and being inspired by all these festivals, we got back to Butte and there was nothing to do.”
So what do newbies do when they want to create an event unique to Butte? They pattern their creation after the best, of course.
“After seeing the Montana Folk Festival, we wanted to use the same venue but be more like the Sasquatch Festival at The Gorge and a mix of hip-hop, country and blues,” he said. “We wanted to do a clash of the two.”
After a hit with the electronica show, Boyle realized they were onto something viable for young music-lovers and fest-fans.
“As it turns out, we were fairly good at it,” he added.
The event has grown from 450 attendees the first year to double that number in 2014. Boyle, sans original partner Reid, who moved to Denver, aims to draw 7,500 fans this year – enough to cover the lawn in front of the Original stage.
Five years ago the visionary Boyle established Super Happy Giggly Fun (SHGF) Productions, a for-profit company sponsoring the Original with Encomp-Us Live, another Boyle company.
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS
More than 20 musical acts epitomizing a range of styles will take to the stage this year. It is the most diverse lineup so far.
“We’ve worked hard to find acts that reflect the whole spectrum of musical talent,” said Boyle, “while maintaining the top-notch electronic that our returning fans love.”
He and his 30 volunteers are anxious to connect established artists like SKisM and Sage Francis with younger acts at the same festival.
Considered a DJ’s DJ, SKisM is a cutting-edge producer, manager and a forefather of “heavy dubstep,” a style of “mostly instrumental electronic music, originating in London, influenced by dub and characterized by syncopated rhythm and an emphasis on bass and drum elements.”
SKisM’s bio on the Original Festival website reads:
“His mixes gain almost as much, if not more attention than his tracks, and his inimitable 'Double Drop' style whips dance floors into a frenzy wherever he plays.’’
Variety is what it’s all about, emphasizes Boyle.
He’s especially anxious to introduce Sage Francis, an independent rap and hip-hop artist from Rhode Island.
“Sage Francis is a very big name on the roster,” said Boyle, 25. “He has a very big following in Montana. People my age definitely know who he is.”
Dubbed the forefather of indie hop, Francis is a lyricist who narrates, instigates and inspires from a rebel’s standpoint. “ … it’s more about storming the castle than about watching the throne,” reads his bio.
Another performer, solo guitarist Chadwick Stokes, 39, has traveled the country via freight train, the source of many of his songs. A socially conscious advocate for change, he has played Bozeman and Missoula with the band State Radio. He also plays with Dispatch, but he brings his solo indie folk genre and acoustic guitar to Butte.
A Boston native, Stokes grew up in a musical family playing trombone, then he switched to guitar at age 13.
“I like singing about political issues and struggles,” said Stokes. “Woody Guthrie is my hero and trains are a pretty interesting way to see the country.”
“Having Chad on this year’s lineup is huge for us,” said Boyle, as Stokes’ band Dispatch sold out Madison Square Garden in New York for three straight nights.
LIBRARY TO BENEFIT
In keeping with Boyle’s community-oriented vision, the Original Festival will offer ticket discounts if fans donate a book or two to the Butte Public Library. He serves on the library board of trustees and seeks to imitate Stokes’ successful books fundraising initiative.
A Kids and Family area is a new element incorporated into the festival. Sponsored by Butte Teens Advocating a Safe Community (TASC), it offers a bouncy castle, coloring, face painting, sidewalk chalk for drawing and children’s games.
The Original will be designated the Burgman-Boyle Memorial Stage in honor of Boyle’s brother, Casey Boyle, and Casey’s best friend and roommate, Kyle Burgman, who died tragically in a car accident in early August. The Boyle brothers traveled far and wide to music festivals and shared a great love for the Dave Matthews Band.
An additional stage will be set up to the north of the Original, where food vendors row sits during the Folk Festival.
The second stage is designated the Tallahassee Bob Memorial for Robert Ernest “Tallahassee Bob” Peeples, 63, a harmonica player who gained a musical reputation around town. He died on July 24.
While honoring the community and loved ones, Boyle can’t help but look to the future, when he dreams of one day hosting the likes of Dave Matthews, Dispatch, DeadMau5 and even the Foo Fighters.
“There are some really big names that would really shock people,” said Boyle, ever optimistic. “I think it’s definitely doable.”