From moving equipment to providing food, the bands that perform at Groovefest have their needs met by volunteers beginning the moment they arrive on site, and festival founder Tim Cretsinger says that is an essential component of providing the entertainment with a good experience so they will want to come back for future shows.
“One of the most important elements of hosting music – with an act – is treating them with dignity and respect,” he said. “Because most of the time they are not treated that way.”
Though Antioquia lead singer Rachel Antony-Levine said there have been a few nightmare tales along the way on the road, she said she prefers to focus on the positive experiences and Cedar City is always one of those for the members of her band.
She said that last time they were in town they stayed with Steve and Joleene Wise, who frequently provide housing for incoming shows produced by Cretsinger. She said the house was amazing and the Wises treated them like family the whole time they were there.
“They threw us an after party and hosted all of these people,” Antony-Levine said. “There was all this food and then the next morning we woke up to a full spread.”
She said one of the best parts of being a musician is coming into places like Cedar City where there is a strong sense of community.
“The consistency of the generosity of the people that we meet here is just amazing,” Antony-Levine said.
Cretsinger said the Wises are incredibly generous and though they often open their doors to musicians throughout the year, during Groovefest it is strictly family and friends. He said that as a way for making up for not hosting guests, the Wises create a daily feast for the band members at their “Apple Cottage” which is located directly behind Lin’s Marketplace.
Joleene Wise said the house was bought as a retirement home for the couple, and since it is so conveniently located by the park, feeding the hungry guests and offering them a shady spot to relax seemed like the perfect use for it.
The simple cottage is nestled snugly into the landscape, giving the impression it is much tinier than it really is. The gardens in the back yard, fertile with thick, rich soil, receive natural irrigation from the landscape. Inside the home, in a “truth window” located in the bathroom, visitors can find all of the items dug up during construction from the early years of the homes history, and view the original adobe walls.
“Look at that little, tiny shoe,” Joleene Wise said, pointing out the sole of a toddler shoe that barely survived its previous resting place. “I think that is my favorite of everything we found, it’s just so cute.”
Joleene Wise said that she does so much for the festival because she feels it is important to support creating a cultural diversity within the community and music is a fantastic way to do that. Steve Wise, on the other hand, said he has much more selfish reasons than his wife.
“Since I started playing the saxophone again I really like to associate with different musicians,” he said. “I have learned a lot by doing that in the last few years.”
Chicago Afrobeat Project lead singer Squair Black said the hospitality offered by the crew at Groovefest is so much more than just a warm place to sleep and food in the belly. He said there is something comforting about the way they handle everything, including the hiccups that happen along the way.
Chicago Afrobeat Project arrived Friday night quite late, because of a chemical spill on Interstate 15. Blaq said festival founders Tim and Lisa Cretsinger handled everything in stride and didn’t skip a beat.
“There is a lot to be said about the way you handle the tough situations,” he said. “The entire crew from top to bottom really conducted their interactions with us in a very generous, peaceful and calm fashion; everybody from the guys working sound, to the people organizing the festival, to the guys helping us unload our stuff.”
Tim Cretsinger said he is happy to know that when the bands leave town, they have had just as good of an experience as the audience who have come to listen to them play. He said he knows none of that would be possible however, without the tireless efforts of the fearless Groove Crew.