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Blue Ox Festival Interview and Preview with Contest Winner Dave Noles!

Photo by Smouse

Music in Minnesota ran a contest to showcase a fan’s experience at Blue Ox Festival. The winning fan is no other than Dave Noles, a fascinating and friendly person we had the fortune of meeting on a beautiful day in the park. 

Photo by Smouse

Dave has always enjoyed all kinds of music throughout his life. Since he easily gets along with people, being turned onto the Blue Ox festival opened his eyes to a whole new chapter of his life. Discovering new bands through Blue Ox has made the festival all that more enticing. Bringing his close friends and their kids to a festival of great music is an ideal pairing for an excellent summer experience. 

The first year they went with their friends and their kids they stayed off-site so they could get a feel for the festival since they would be bringing their kids every time.

Dave mentioned really enjoying the band Pert Near Sandstone. The whole thing was so much fun and such a positive experience they decided to all stay on-site this year. 

Camping at the festival will be extra special because it gives the adults the opportunity to take turns going to see the special backwoods midnight shows while the kids are sleeping.

Set up at the end of a path in the woods, bands play small sets at midnight among the stars in the sky. Little lights along the way create a near-magical experience. 

Feeling lost and fully connected to nature, the audience is able to really lean into enjoying the bands.

Another positive to staying on-site is catching the morning yoga sessions and then taking a lunch nap before the bulk of the bands play back to back on the two stages. 

Photo by Smouse

Blue Ox Evolution 

The festival appeals to bluegrass, folk, and Americana fans but also has expanded to be palatable to families and fans of other genres of music as well. 2022 ‘s festival will bring Okee Dokee Brothers, Them Coulee Boys, Pert Near Sandstone, and Sam Bush band.

Some genres you will find among the blue grass are infused with jazz, pop, rock, and rap. Bands such as Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Paul Cauthen, Humbird, and Samantha Fish infuse different styles into their sound.

For instance, Joseph is a sister trio from Portland, OR whose music is a blend of folk and pop and rock. Blending harmonies with hard strumming brings a variety to the mix of bands. 

Another band, Railroad Earth, is primarily comprised of an acoustic guitar, violin, and mandolin leading to the base of bluegrass soul music, but the new albums lend themselves to a hard rock feel as the electric guitar and bass start to shine. The vocals in the newer albums lose the main sound of twang and become more of a powerful, well-rounded hard rock sound. An evolution, not a redesign, it’s a sign of growth and good change. 

Folk band Good Morning Bedlam has a great way of having folk elements with a splash of theatrical pop. Their sound has also evolved wonderfully. They will be playing in the backwoods at midnight on Saturday. 

Another very cool part of the festival is the changing of band merch. The merchandise is changing throughout the day so there’s always something to look at, but be quick if you see a band’s merch you want because it will be packed up and a new one will be set up in its place. 

Photo by Smouse

Families Welcome!!

Families can enjoy little wonders like bubbles being part of the musical experience. At night, glow-in-the-dark balloons float above crowds. Blue Ox festival makes sure there are enough friendly visuals to make the kids feel comfortable and entertained. 

Our contest winner Dave Noles and his wife have 3 kids – ages 11, 8, and 3 are looking forward to seeing all the bands and all the family things the festival has to offer. The kids play games and eat snacks while being in nature while their parents listen to music and perhaps partake in a special beverage. 

They went last year and were surprised and pleased by the crowd’s welcoming feeling. People were generally happy and there was a sense of community and togetherness within the festival grounds. 

There’s a good sense of general safety and precautions set up as well, which is very important in a festival of many people from many walks of life. 

Photo by Smouse

Dave Noles Blue Ox from His Eyes

Dave had such a great time at Blue Ox the previous year. He noted that he liked that the stages are side by side so it was easy to catch each band as they bounce back and forth. He liked the family-friendly activities and feels very confident bringing his family and having his friend’s family join them.

He especially says being with his kids and friends at the festival altogether. He is looking forward to knowing the music and knowing his kids are having fun with the family-friendly things alongside him. 

Dave mentioned he really liked the refillable metal cups they give you at the beer stands. It cuts down on plastic waste and consumption when you can bring your same cup up to be refilled.

He is a happy, friendly guy and I’m sure his infectious enthusiasm will add to an ideal festival atmosphere perfectly.

Written by Renee Jones

Writer, Photographer, and Editor at Music in Minnesota

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