By: Zachary Kolesar
Attracting an ambitious following for local Columbus musicians is a rite of passage. As with most cases, the opposite is true as well: if an artist does not stay committed, than the locals flee and forget.
Ryan Getz—Steadfast Festival founder and manager of music blog and promotions company Tuned Up —has been successfully echoing for the past three years the sentiment that Columbus’ music scene is distinctive and needs to be commingled with bands of the same stature from different cities. Subsequent success has been imminent for Steadfast, which will fall on Sat., March 3rd this year.
And he is one of the most perfect local residents to head up such a festival, running headstrong with the festival for a third straight year after a blog inspired a dream.
Living in Columbus for practically his entire life, Getz has had the pleasure of observing local acts like Playing to Vapors garner a fervorous fanbase. With feet firmly in the dense waters of the city’s scene, Steadfast Festival is a fitting venture for the creative curator.
“I went to high school with all of the guys in [Playing to Vapors] and have witnessed their evolution as musicians over the past ten plus years,” Getz said.
As a testimony toward his undying loyalty to roots fandom, Getz began Steadfast in 2016. The far-ranging passion project was initially inspired after he attended Audiofeed Festival in Champaign-Urbana, IL. The goal for Steadfast was to capture the all-encompassing feel of Audiofeed.
“Audiofeed inspires me because nowhere else will you find a family of music fans that is prone to enjoy vaudevillian folk, dark industrial drum and bass, hardcore punk, and indie rock playing simultaneously a stone's throw from each other,” Getz said.
Getz bottled up the essence of Audiofeed upon returning to Chicago after living there during his college years and brought it back home. Starting off at Veritas Community Church in the Short North, Steadfast Festival’s past two years have truly been a tribute to, well, steadfast music fans: a following that is devoted to the local music scene.
However, a change in scenery is due for Steadfast come this Saturday. Not wanting to pigeonhole an outside audience that might assume Veritas would not host a music festival, Getz decided to pack up the festival and move across the Scioto River to Strongwater Food & Spirits.
A much more fitting atmosphere for a live music-curated event, there will be two bars and a come-and-go eatery at Strongwater’s main bar separate from the festival. There will be two stages for music.
Still not shying away from booking artists that fall under the Christian genre, Getz wants to make Steadfast a beacon of musical diversity. This year’s lineup ranges from indie pop act and headliner Day Wave to Chicago’s hip-hop, jazz-spoken word duo Bonelang and even includes other locals Personal Public and Mystic Mamba.
“When I started going to shows I noticed the separation of cliques in the types of people that would go to certain shows. Even within genres,” Getz said. “I've always had this thought in the back of my head of, ‘What happens if we get these groups to overlap?’ I think the result is greater amplification of art.”
During the scheduling process, Steadfast had over 150 bands submit to play in 2018 and also considered “a combination of recommendations from [its] selection committee.” Obviously the process was arduous, and the need to showcase a variety of genres made narrowing down acts a far-reaching task.
Tuned Up also helped out in corralling the local acts besides Getz’ longtime friends in Playing to Vapors. Noticing CD102.5's promotion of Personal Public and one of the blog’s events at Spacebar leading to an encounter with Mystic Mamba helped fill out the rest of the local lineup.
Other acts on the lineup include Shiny Penny, Veaux, Danger Scene, The Still Small Voice and Seaside Holiday. Although Getz booked less artists this year, he feels the lineup will appeal to those interested in seeing their favorite artists and discovering new ones.
“Steadfast isn't about making money, but at the same time we want to be smart with our finances on the event so we can keep doing this for years to come,” Getz said.
The quantity of artists is not what Steadfast wants as its M.O.; it is the hodgepodge of cohesive musical acts that are relentlessly grinding—whether in Columbus or elsewhere—to aspire fans to keep coming out to support local music.
“Lots of people like to root for the underdog in sports. I feel similarly about a lot of music,” Getz said. “When a smaller band you like accomplishes something big and you've played a tiny part in their story, it's fun and rewarding.”
Doors for Steadfast will open at 2:30 p.m. with the festival getting started at 3 p.m. You can purchase advance tickets for $15 (plus $1.74 for fees) at HERE or $20 at the door. Steadfast is located at 401 W. Town St.