A 14-year long tradition of jam bands, camping and good beer will continue this year with NedFest 2012, though it may come with a hint of sadness.
The Peak to Peak Music Education Association (PPMEA) and Friends of Michigan Mike announced Tuesday that the festival will go on as planned, despite worries to the contrary following the death of founder “Michigan Mike” Torpie in November.
PPMEA is a non-profit organization started by friends of Torpie’s who helped coordinate the festival in the past. The organization will give grants to various music education entities in Colorado and fund the festival in the future.
Kristen McFarland, talent buyer for NedFest and a member of the board of directors for PPMEA, is currently serving as an unofficial director for NedFest.
“We decided to continue with NedFest with Michigan Mike’s parents’ blessing right after he passed away,” McFarland says. “I mean, we actually started talking about it within a couple of days, and then when his parents got to town we found out that they for sure wanted Michigan Mike’s life work to continue.”
Torpie had already begun planning for NedFest 2012 at the time of his death. He had even sold some tickets, although no bands had yet been booked.
McFarland says that the PPMEA has decided to keep the festival a three-day event as it was in the past.
“We don’t plan on making any major changes to the festival,” says McFarland. “We want to keep the general mood of music that he always had and loved.”
Though any changes to the festival will be minor, the loss of the beloved founder will be hard to forget at NedFest 2012. The PPMEA is already planning to pay tribute to Torpie in a variety of different ways.
“There’s a few things we’ve thought of doing that are a little bit on the inside joke level, that certain people would get and certain people wouldn’t get,” McFarland says. “Mike was always the MC of the show and he always wore these stupid little pajama pants. So we were thinking that as each of us shares the MC duties we would put on the pants. Silly things like that.”
PPMEA will be giving a booth at NedFest to a local suicide prevention group. There will also be a memorial table with pictures of Torpie and the festival throughout the years.
“He was always a big music fan, and to be honest with you, I think he wanted to start a festival because it’s kind of like throwing a really big party,” McFarland says. “This past year was a culmination of that, in that Leftover Salmon was one of his favorite all time bands, and he finally got them to play his festival. That was pretty special for him.”
McFarland is currently working to book talent for NedFest 2012, and she hopes that the bands Torpie was already recruiting will still commit to play. As no bands have been confirmed for the festival yet, McFarland could not release any possible names, though she did drop some hints about one exciting headliner.
“There is one particular band, as I said I cannot name them, that I’m trying to get to play for NedFest that we normally couldn’t afford,” says McFarland. “I’m trying to get them to play because they were friends with Mike. If they played, NedFest would sell out in a day.”
Though McFarland has been busy and at times frustrated with the efforts of putting the festival together, her efforts are a tribute to the close friendship she shared with Torpie.
“It would be a shame for the festival to go away,” McFarland says. “He got it from a $40,000 festival to a $200,000 festival and worked out all the kinks. The town loves it, and we love it. And Mike loved it. It would just be too sad for it to end.”