Cincinnati’s Bunbury Music Festival makes its debut
By Gary Spencer
Music festivals in the United States tend to come and go; very few last and stand the test of time. But if you’re a betting man, you might want to put your money on promoter Bill Donabedian and his brand new alternative music festival venture, Bunbury Music Festival. Donabedian was one of the co-founders of the very successful Midpoint Music Festival in Cincinnati that made its debut in 2002. Although Midpoint was eventually sold to the Queen City’s CityBeat paper, Donabedian still had the itch to go out on his own and do a new music festival that had its own vibe and repertoire and provide an experience that was somehow different from what he had done in the past with Midpoint.
Donabedian’s new enterprise, the Bunbury Music Festival, which takes place at Sawyer Point at Yeatman’s Cove in Cincinnati, has been his brainchild for a couple of years now and is finally ready to make its inaugural debut this coming weekend beginning on Friday and going through Sunday night. The nearly all-day lineups for the three days feature both regional acts like The Seedy Seeds and Wussy as well as headliners like Jane’s Addiction, Weezer and Death Cab for Cutie. I caught up with Bill Donabedian to find out more about what he has up his sleeve for his brand spankin’ new music festival, and here’s what he had to say:
Tell me about the genesis of the Bunbury Music Festival
I always wanted to do a larger, multi-day festival – a festival that was the opposite of MidPoint. In 2009, I decided it was time to start working on it. I can’t believe the fest is now only days away. (Bill Donabedian)
What is Bunbury Music Festival all about? Why might our readers want to make the trip from Dayton to Cincinnati for your event?
Bunbury is an “authentic musical escape.” That is the essence of the brand. I like bands that have worked their way up through the clubs, through touring, and keep songwriting as their focus. I want Bunbury to be one of the best music festivals in the country. Bunbury will never be the biggest, but I want music fans to put Bunbury on their list of “must attend” festivals. And I think I’ve given people from Dayton the ultimate reason to come this year: Guided By Voices. (B.D.)
How did you go about deciding who to get to play Bunbury?
Neederlander did the booking. They’ve done an incredible job. They are well respected and their stamp of approval is what got the big names. I simply gave them my vision – bands that I’d like to see whether we could afford them or not – and then they started finding the bands. We started with the headliners and everything flowed from there. If you look at the headliners, there is a common thread. Jane’s (Addiction) was one of the first alternative bands to go mainstream. Weezer continued that tradition in the mid-90s and early 2000s. Death Cab for Cutie is continuing that tradition. These bands write great, accessible music, but don’t pander to the audience. (B.D.)
Did you make it a point to also have local/regional acts at Bunbury?
Absolutely wanted the local and regional bands. There are locals who have no idea about the bands that are currently working the clubs around town. They are in for a surprise. And for the people from out of town, they are going to be surprised as well. There is unbelievable talent in the Midwest and I’m proud of it. (B.D.)
Why did you decide to have a DJ-specific stage at Bunbury?
I got hooked up with Sean of Self Diploma last year and he booked the DJs on Fountain Square last year. The events were huge. I also saw Perry’s up at Lollapalooza last year. That’s when I realized the crossover and knew I had to have them at Bunbury. I hope we can make it even bigger next year. (B.D.)
Your website describes the festival as “tech-savvy and eco-friendly.” Can you explain?
The excitement around startups and technology grows each year. Music seems to be playing a part in it. We wanted to bring that to the festival. We boiled our eco-objective down to two words: Bee Kind. We do this in two ways. First, every year we will evaluate what we do and try to find ways to do it in a more efficient manner; in ways that will minimize the impact of the festival on the environment. Second, we will encourage our third-party vendors and attendees do the same. Bunbury’s Twitter account has been growing. It’s a great way to answer questions and address comments. We feel more connected to our fans. (B.D.)
What would you like to achieve or see happening with Bunbury in the future?
I want Bunbury to be a respected festival; one of the best in the world. It [Bunbury] should be on people’s bucket list. Words such as “awesome” and “excellent” come to mind. (B.D.)
The Bunbury Music Festival takes place from July 13-15 at Yeatman’s Cove at Sawyer Point in Cincinnati. For a complete list of bands and other information, please visit http://www.bunburyfestival.com/.
Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at Gary Spencer@DaytonCityPaper.com