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Indie Music Spotlighted at 2014 Hocktoberfest

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There’s no shortage of fall festivals in Southeast Ohio, especially this weekend.

But there’s only one area festival featuring many of today’s best indie musicians (not to mention lumberjacks, bull riding, Columbus Zoo animals and fireworks): The second annual Hocktoberfest, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 4 at Hocking College.

Sponsored by Rocky Brands and Hocking College, the free day-long fest is offering a jam-packed schedule of entertainment, including several notable up-and-coming bands.

Brian Bucher of Rocky Brands is the man responsible for booking this year’s musical talent. After witnessing Hocktoberfest’s inaugural year, and having a great interest and passion for music, he had no problem helping out.

“I’ve had a great time putting this together,” he said. “Advertising, working with the bands, promoting the bands, doing the social media…those are all things that I really love. It’s easy to do stuff like that on top of your other work.”

Five national acts will be performing–The Shook Twins, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Bombadil, Chris Good & The Sweet Insurrection and Taylor & The Wild Now–as well as one local group, The Summoners.

Headlining act The Shook Twins are currently on a 38-date U.S. tour, while Horseshoes & Hand Grenades will be traveling from Wisconsin simply to play the festival. Bucher encountered both of these acts during DelFest (held Memorial Day weekend in Cumberland, Maryland) and wanted them for Hocktoberfest.

However, with this weekend’s event being free and the budget tight, it demanded some creativity on Bucher’s part. He made a point to pick bands that stood out to him as talented and genre-bending while also remaining faithful to the region’s taste for bluegrass, folk and rock and roll.

He ended up with a selection of bands that should appeal to a wide audience, even if it’s challenging to describe their various styles.

“Everyone likes to classify music and classify what genre a band is in. Even though music is so dynamic, we still have to figure out a way to classify it because we’re humans,” laughed Bucher.

Since 2004, Portland, Oregon’s Katelyn and Laurie Shook have made a name for themselves by creating unclassifiable music, incorporating modern musical elements–such as beat-boxing and looping–into the folk tradition.

Katelyn (guitar, ukulele, banjo, glockenspiel and mandolin) and Laurie (banjo, guitar, upright bass, djembe, ocarina flute, tambourine, giant golden egg and telephone microphone) started performing regularly after graduating from the University of Idaho. Other band members include Kyle Volkman (double bass) Chris Lynch (violin) and Niko Daoussis (bass, mandolin and guitar).

The group, who have been featured on MTV and NPR, have self-released two albums, Window (2011) and What We Do (2013). Despite offers from major record labels and even American Idol, the Twins plan to stay independent.

“Do what you want and do it on your own instead of giving up and being part of a machine,” Katelyn told WOUB.

Another group that embodies the indie spirit is Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, who hail from the small town of Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

Since 2009 the band, which includes Adam Greuel (guitar, vocals), David Lynch (harmonica, accordion, spoons, vocals), Russell Peterson (banjo, fiddle, vocals), Sam Odin (bass, vocals) and Collin Mettelka (fiddle, mandolin, vocals), have been performing their brand of old-timey, high-energy bluegrass throughout the Midwest.

According to Greuel, Saturday’s audience can expect to hear a mix of the group’s usual repertoire as well as newly written songs which will be included on their upcoming yet-to-be-titled album.

While many of this year’s bands are new to Southeast Ohio, one act is returning to the area: Bombadil. The North Carolina-based trio has performed at Stuart’s Opera House and has a number of local fans, including Brian Bucher, who said his wife and daughters like to sing and dance to the band’s songs.

“They’re incredible songwriters,” said Bucher. “Very unique, talented musicians and their songs are very poppy…poppy in a way that will get into your head and not leave. You can listen to a song once and sing along like you know all the words. It’s poppy, but it’s not fluffy.”

While Bombadil’s press materials describe the band’s sound as “a quirky, sophisticated twist on vintage pop, indie rock and alt-country,” member Daniel Michalak attributes it to everyday life activities.

“We pull a lot of things from our real lives, things that happen to us, people that we know, books we read. I like working in my garden a lot so sometime I get inspiration from that, as well as food, travel, things like that,” he said.

Although Hocktoberfest’s groups have different musical and geographical backgrounds, they all have a common goal for this weekend’s event: To have fun.

“We love doing these kinds of festivals. It’s free and the point is to bring people together,” said Katelyn Shook.

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades’ Adam Greuel agrees and is promising to put on a memorable show.

“It will be a good time,” he said, encouraging the audience to “throw down, let it go for a second and stop taking life so seriously.”

Saturday’s music lineup kicks off at 3 p.m. Visit this link for the music schedule and a complete list of activities.