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10 Reasons To Discover the McDowell Mountain Music Festival This Weekend

This Friday, the McDowell Mountain Music Festival will kick off for its 8th straight year. The all-for-charity event has hosted the likes of Los Lobos, the Neville Brothers, the Flaming Lips, and the Black Crowes over the years. For the second year in a row now, the festival will take place adjacent to north Scottsdale’s Compound Grill (right near the loop 101 and Scottsdale Rd.). The organizers do a fantastic job of transforming the parking lot into an intimate, park-like setting (with real, glorious grass). Vendors, food and drink, friendly folk, and plenty of room to shake it to the diverse list of artists that grace its stages.

This year, headliners include Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros (“Home” and “Janglin” anyone?), JJ Grey & Mofro (killer southern blues rock), Xavier Rudd (worldly rock n’ folk from down under), Black Joe Lewis (vintage, good time R&B/soul from Austin) and super-late night sets from blues/folkman Otis Taylor and jamtronica outfit Particle (looking particularly forward to this). There’s LOTS more, check the lineup.

Here are 10 solid reasons to check out the MMMF this weekend…

10. I’ll be there. Need more? You do? Fine, read on.

9. Weekend warriors unite! Okay, I’m not getting any younger. The grays creep into the hairs (that are still there), and with a family now in tow, it’s harder for me to justify taking off out of town for days at a time to see live music and go to festivals. For me (and my family), the MMMF has turned into an annual vacation, where we spend a weekend to escape it all, kick back and enjoy the music – right here in ol’ Phoenix, AZ.

8. The Compound Grill – this great restaurant and music venue is only a couple years old now, and is really coming into its own as one of the top music venues in town. Along with the Rhythm Room, the Compound is my favorite place to take in live music. All throughout the festival, duck inside for a break from the sun, because Creamy Radio will be showcasing some of our town’s best local bands on its indoor Creamy Radio Stage. You can also have a seat and order a snack or meal from the Compound’s tasty menu.

7. It’s all for charity. All proceeds go to two homegrown Arizona charities: Ear Candy and Phoenix Day. Two great reasons to separate yourself from a few of your hard-earned bucks.

6. Laid. Back. There are many reasons the MMMF is my favorite local festival, but one of the biggest is the chill, laid back vibe in the air. No posturing, no douchebaggery… just smiling faces, young and old. Good people watching? Oh, hell yes.

5. Kid Friendly. Do you have kids under 11? So do I. Two of ’em. Does the word free get you all tingly inside like it does for me? Well, kids under 11 years old can walk right through those gates without paying a cent. Kids are free. My girls have been with me the last few years, and always have a blast. Last year, kids were going crazy for the sprinkler and the hula hoops.

4. Making musical memories. Trust me, you’ll come away with some really great moments to hang on to. Over the years for me, some of my favorite moments have included taking in the Grace Potter experience (three times, including this killer version of “Pain In My Heart“) ; seeing my kids’ faces as they watched our first Flaming Lips show (giant balloons, a small platoon of Teletubbies, Wayne Coyne crowd-surfing in his giant plastic bubble…entertainment for all ages). But biggest for me? Standing 10 feet from Aaron Neville as he sang “Tell It Like It Is” with his brothers…

3. The Weather – It’s that time of year where we have to get out and enjoy the outdoors before Satan comes knocking again for his summer stay in the Valley. And we’re lucking out, because the forecast for this weekend is sunny in the 80’s… glorious!

2. Discovery – Forget Pandora, come discover music the old fashioned way – experience it LIVE. So shut down that computer for a day or two (you know it needs a rest), and head out to MMMF for some new music discovery. Personally, I’ve seen a handful of these acts live already, but I’m a newbie when it comes to seeing Black Joe Lewis, Particle, SOJA, and Orgone. And I’m excited to check out Kinch, a local indie rock band that is making big waves nationwide. They kick off Saturday at noon on the main stage.

1. Support Live Music, Support a Local Festival – It’s a win-win situation, really. You see amazing live musicians like Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, What Laura Says, JJ Grey & Mofro, 7 Walkers, and Martin Sexton, and you’re supporting not only their lifestyle (and thank God for live touring acts), but you’re also supporting a great local music festival – the best in town, as far as I’m concerned.

So people of Phoenix. People of Arizona. People of the Southwest… Grab your sunscreen, bring your blankets, your camping chairs.. come join a great group of people this weekend for the 2011 MMMF.  See ya there…

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Recaps from past years:

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