Sat 2/24 @ 10AM-10PM
If left untreated, cabin fever could result in cranky, anti-social behavior that puts out negative vibes into the universe. In an effort to counteract such buzz kills with music, art, healing, workshops and family-friendly activities, the fifth annual Big Love Festival returns Sat 2/ 24 at the Summit Artspace building.
Musical performers throughout the day include the Brent Kirby Trio, Carlos Jones, Church of Starry Wisdom, Zach & the Bright Lights, Angie Haze Project, Rhodes St. Rude Boys, Jim Ballard , Chris Hatton, DJ Kevin Richards and DJ Chaka.
There’s also the Kids Space with activities such as Trace That Face, Strengths and Scruples, Baby and Me Yoga, Toddler Story Time Yoga and Kids Yoga.
CoolCleveland talked to Big Love Festival co-founder Zach Freidhof, who is also a member of local band Zach & the Bright Lights.
CoolCleveland: What’s in store for this year’s Big Love Festival?
Zach Freidhof: This year’s main theme is Seven Generations: The Future of Love. So it’s working on celebrating and building bridges between three generations before whatever current generation is, and then three generations after that. We’re excited about having representation from multiple generations throughout the day with discussions, art and music. And we’re super excited as far as the music goes. We have a couple of young, brand-new performers, as well as folks like Carlos Jones. So it’s a nice mix.
CC: Are you planning anything new this year?
ZF: We expand it each year. We have a bigger kids and family space this year with more programming throughout it. I know most of the bands will be performing either new material or have something to debut. There will be a lot of neat stuff as far as that goes. We have a new art director, so the art is going to be different than usual.
CC: What was the impetus of the event, which began five years ago?
ZF: When we first started, we wanted to build something in the wintertime — the dark, cold months — to inspire and celebrate our community. But it’s more than just a festival. There’s a lot of education, community-building stuff and healing practices. It’s very much about really building and cultivating community and transformation. Our very first event was at the Musica complex in Akron, which is a fairly small sort of area, but we had 1,000 people show up. We’ve grown it over the years to about 4,000 attendees. Each year it gets a little bigger. It’s a collaboration between a lot of different artists, a lot of different healing practices and a whole bunch of musicians that are doing collaborative-based things. And a lot of nonprofits are leading discussions so it’s a lot of cool stuff going on.
CC: Are you surprised how the festival has grown over the half decade?
ZF: Yeah, very humbled and grateful. I didn’t expect that. For our first event I was excited if 100 people came out. I’m really glad it’s touched upon some need in the community. It’s not like anything else. It’s kind of like walking into a little dream bubble where anything can happen, It can be a lot of fun for all types of generations with lots of different things to experience. You can certainly come and just be passive about your whole experience, but it’s sort of designed to be very engaging so you can be a part of actually creating some of the art that’s there. I think people really appreciate that.
CC: After holding the Big Love Festival at the Well in Akron, this year’s event returns to Summit Artspace. What’s the idea about the move?
ZF: Artspace is just a great venue for this type of thing. There are three floors with fairly large rooms and it’s centrally located with lots of parking. So it just made sense to return and to work upon what we’ve been building there.
CC: Regarding Zach & the Bright Lights, what’s new?
ZF: It’s going great. We’re working on what will be our 18th release. We’ll have ready this summer. At Big Love Fest, we’ve got a whole new set of material. We always work up some sort of special anthemic cover that’s always a surprise. This year we have a couple of brand-new songs that we’re working on and in the process of recording. This will be the first time anyone gets to hear “All My Relatives,” which has somewhat of an indie Coldplay-type feel to it. We also have a brand-new one called “The Offering.” That’s kind of funky and it has some spoken word. I’m really excited. It kind of blurs a few genre lines.
CC: As for the Big Love Festival, it seems like attendees should expect to receive a big, well, hug.
ZF: Yeah, definitely. I think everybody appreciates some connections. It’s sort of a choose-your-own-adventure time. So if you’re looking for community and looking for things to meet new folks or experience things, it’s great. If you want to come and just enjoy good food and music, then that’s an option. If you want to come and do some yoga and get some Reiki, that’s great. It’s got a little bit of something for everybody. It’s very family-friendly and very family-oriented.