NORMAN — Thousands of fans standing shoulder to shoulder, the sounds of music echoing through the streets, and over 200 bands gathered Downtown can only mean one thing: Norman Music Festival.
In it’s fifth year, NMF Chair Steven White said the urban, indie festival has quickly gained momentum and effectively worked to showcase local artists.
“That’s what this whole thing is about,” he said. “Norman has an incredible music scene. And it’s not just because of the college.
“There’s a lot of locals and people in the community who are great musicians and people who love live music. This is a thriving music community. So the mission has always been to take these Norman artists and showcase them — lift them up and just see what happens.”
The festival attracted approximately 22,000 visitors during its first year in 2008, and White said he expects 50,000 at this year’s event.
Part of the mass appeal, White said, is that the three-day event is free of cost. It also doesn’t hurt that the festival has something for everyone.
“We’ve got blues, we’ve got salsa,” he said. “This year I’ve added a classical component. Country, rockablity, folk, rock, punk rock, garage rock — everything. It really is. It’s a little bit of everything.”
The musicians will include a variety of local, regional and national bands, including headliners Portugal. The Man, Hayes Carll, and Other Lives, and local favorites like Parker Millsap, The Damn Quails, Camille Harp and John Calvin.
Michael Bendure, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for local band, Radio Apathy, with bandmates Seth McDonald, Chad Crow, Brian Gwinner and Tyler Walker, said the festival evens the playing field for musicians.
“I love the fact that you can catch a high school garage band on one stage, walk two minutes, and catch a band out of Austin on a huge stage, and everything in between,” Bendure said.
Courtney Goforth, a volunteer for this year’s festival, said NMF helps keep “the community aware of the talent that is right there on their doorstep.”
“Norman Music Fest is a great way to showcase the vast and diverse talent of the Norman music scene and surrounding areas,” she said. “I love any chance I can get to immerse myself into the music culture, and NMF offers a variety of genres and free entertainment for a weekend.”
Though the weekend event is free, VIP tickets that give patrons a behind-the-scenes access to the event can be purchased for $60. Visit www.normanmusicfestival.com for more information.