Virtual Nelsonville Music Festival: Water Witches

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Early on in the COVID-19 crisis, the 2020 Nelsonville Music Festival announced its cancellation due to the infectious disease outbreak. In its place, Ohio University School of Media Arts & Studies Director Josh Antonuccio and Nelsonville Music Festival Executive Director Tim Peacock created the Virtual Nelsonville Music Festival, an online presentation of the popular festival, which is being produced by Stuart’s Opera House, WOUB Public Media, the Scripps College of Communication and the Ohio University School of Media Arts and Studies, in partnership with OU Performing Arts, the Ohio University Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Haden DeRoberts Foundation. Under the direction of Antonuccio, Ohio University students and recent graduates are on location around the region with school faculty Andie Walla and Brian Plow filming performances for the virtual fundraiser supporting Stuart’s Opera House. WOUB producers Adam Rich and Evan Shaw are providing post-production on the project, which will go live on Stuart’s official YouTube page August 21-22.

In addition to gaining critical audio and video production experience, students and recent graduates are also learning the ins and outs of music journalism, promotions, and publicity: interviewing performers and creating a myriad of content related to their unique experience. This interview was conducted by VNMF Publicity/Promotion team Lauren McCain, Weiler Harmon, and Madyson Lewellyn and was produced by WOUB’s Arts and Culture producer Emily Votaw.

Water Witches

Water Witches describe themselves as “garage rock psych magicians,” who love shredding together. The three-piece band comprised of guitarist and vocalist Ethan Bartman, bass player Matt Clouston and drummer Charlie Touvell formed in 2015 when they met while working together at Casa Nueva in Athens.

Since their truly organic formation, Water Witches have become a regular part of the Athens and southeastern Ohio rock scene, playing at bars and house shows whenever they get the chance. Their music combines what they call, “mystically charged folk” with “gritty psychedelic rock,” to create a unique and engaging experience for listeners. As for the Nelsonville Music Festival, the band has practically been a staple of the event for the last handful of years; the guys have all performed, volunteered and/or attended it numerous times and have no plans of ending the streak. Check out our interview with them to hear more about their relationship with the festival and how they have adjusted as a band during this pandemic in the feature embedded above.