The weekend of June 6 and 7, Spencer, Ind. was at ground zero for one of the most destructive storms the Midwest has witnessed in a long time. It was also ground zero for what might have been one of the summer’s most memorable music festivals. The Summer Music Festival was held at Stable Studios, a recording studio located in a remote and beautiful piece of land owned by Chris Kinnick and his wife. What used to be the grounds for breeding and showing Morgan horses has now been replaced by high-quality recording equipment. The owner also happens to be one of the “nastiest” saxophone players around.
On June 6, about one hundred people from Indianapolis, Bloomington, Evansville and all other corners of Indiana arrived at the Summer Music Festival to listen to a weekend full of some of the most talented and entertaining up-and-coming bands in the Midwest. Several bands hail from Indiana: Groovatron (Hammond), Shaggy Wonda (Bloomington), Namaste (Evansville), and Coyaba (Bloomington).
A few hours behind schedule, Groovatron began their sound check. Everyone migrated to the stage. “We are going to play until you all pass out,” promised Groovatron, before they transformed a never-ending storm into a never-ending party, hypnotize the crowd with music that can be described as “schizophrenic rock.” When most people were taking shelter from the devastating storm, Groovatron left their listeners no choice but to dance all night in the pouring down rain. But the weekend and the adventure had just begun.
With Mother Nature making it impossible to play on an outdoor stage, the music was postponed until a safer indoor environment could be created.
As people began to wake up in their flooded tents or cars on Saturday morning, it wasn’t long before everyone found they were stranded. The only place that anyone could go was a little convenience store located about five miles away. Unfortunately, many of the bands could not make it to Stable Studios, so most of Saturday’s music was provided by the bands that had played the night before.
One of these repeat performers goes by the name of Coyaba and is a seven-member band out of Bloomington with a reggae/jazz feel, including a bass/vocalist (Josh) who had everyone at the festival in awe with his soothing, pure and magical voice. After playing an amazing set, the roomers began to circulate around the campsite, questioning whether or not the bands Shaggy Wonda and Namaste were going to be able to make it. Just as most people convinced themselves that the two bands could not get through the road blocks and flooded bridges, both Shaggy Wonda and Namaste almost miraculously arrived at the festival.
Shaggy Wonda, a quartet out of Bloomington, erased all doubt that the weekend would fall short by putting on a great show. The band includes Colby Miller, a guitarist and vocalist who can do anything from serenading the ladies to spittin’ fresh rhymes; Steve Laine, a laid-back bassist with a love for bluegrass; Zach ‘Panama’ Martin, a hardass, long-haired, sexy beast banging on the drums; and a saxophone player with a disco funk that makes people want to rip off their clothes who goes by the name of Teddy Jones. A line in their song ‘The Cut’ states, Shaggy Wonda is “"A group of highly motivated, straight chill motherfuckers who are guaranteed to live it up!" Indeed. They had traveled all night after a show in Virginia the night before, determined to do whatever they could to make it to the festival.
After getting down with Shaggy Wonda, Namaste started to set up. The five-member band out of Evansville, Ind. was without a doubt one of the most anticipated bands at the festival. Serenading their audience with rock, reggae, funk and jazz, Namaste played from their album Homecoming King as well as plenty of new songs that had the audience dancing all night. With Stephen Horning on guitar/vocals, Steven Sandleben on keys/vocals, Dene Stephens on percussion, Eric Gettings on bass and Tim Mitchell on the drums, Namaste satisfied the demand for damned good music and primed the audience for what might have been the best performance of the weekend.
Late Saturday night (or extremely early Sunday morning), it was time to get nasty…Jonasty. Chris, the owner of Stable Studios and crazy good saxophone player led his band Jonasty to the stage to deliver the performance of the weekend. It wasn’t until about 5 a.m. that Jonasty finished their set, but the rhythm beat on, as festival attendees banged on their jimbayaes, wailed on their harmonicas and danced until the sun came up.