An avalanche of information about this year’s MidPoint Music Festival reveals the event’s growth and focus entering its 10th year. The full schedule of performances — from an eclectic assemblage of artists that includes Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Booker T. Jones (pictured), rising Australian Indie Dance champs Cut Copy and clever Pop duo Mates of State — is available now at mpmf.com. Many of the popular features from recent MPMFs are returning Sept. 22-24, but there are plenty of brand new ones being introduced, all designed to make the MidPoint experience even better.
In past years, MidPoint showcase venues have been fairly spread out, even including clubs like the Southgate House in Newport. This year, 14 of the 18 stages are in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood (the other four are Downtown, just a few blocks south). The Over-the-Rhine focus is a good way to spotlight the area’s ongoing revitalization and rebirth as an arts hub and entertainment destination.
Containing all of the MPMF action to OTR will make showcase-hopping a little easier. While the free car shuttles of the past few years will not be returning, organizers have done a few other things to make getting around MidPoint easier. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own “shuttle,” their bikes, to zip from venue to venue. With help from the City of Cincinnati, the MPMF venue route will have multiple bike racks, offering a safe place to park your ride.
One of the coolest new features of MPMF this year should also make getting around easier … and safer. Even when venues were more spread out, the routes to get from show to show have always been well lit and on or near busy thoroughfares. But the 12th Street drag that offers the quickest path between the action on Main Street and the venues just a few parallel streets over (Below Zero, as well as the three stages on Jackson Street, this year packaged as “MidPoint’s Bioré Strip,” explained here) has always been a little dark and sketchy.
This year, that drag is becoming part of the action, bustling with music, art and other activity all weekend. Twelfth St. will be blocked off between Walnut and Vine and transformed into the “MidPoint Midway,” anchored by a literal “street art” exhibition. Local community arts group ArtWorks is organizing a “box truck art” festival, a fun endeavor whereby creative citizens sign on to convert a moving truck (of varying sizes) into a living interactive experience, transforming the setting in creative ways to craft imaginative, self-contained “alternative realities” within the constraints of the vehicle.
“Creatives and artists are invited to submit ideas for artistic, experiential driven installations for box trucks. Truck operators will choose between a 16 to 24 foot long truck to transform into a completely unique experience or means of entertainment. Submissions in past festivals have included but are not limited to cafes, venues for performance art, carnival game, interactive art making, karaoke stages and much more. The Midpoint Midway provides a platform for introduction of one of a kind installations and experiences to Cincinnati visitors and residents. Box truck operators are welcome to find ways to generate revenue. For example, one might charge a small fee to attend a box truck dance party.”
The project is part of ArtWorks’ SpringBoard program, an initiative encouraging creative entrepreneurship in the community. The box truck festival will be joined on the MidPoint Midway by vendors selling food and drinks, live music (of course) on a singer/songwriter stage and other activities.
A block over from the Midway will be all-ages showcases at Media Bridges as well as a first-time MPMF venue, the new state-of-the-art School for Creative and Performing Arts. SCPA is presenting some of the fest’s biggest acts (Kaki King, Mates of State) with its extensive slate of all-ages shows. MidPoint and SCPA are working together to involve and engage students, offering educational opportunities relating to production and presentation, as well as “master class” workshops with some of the MPMF artists.
MidPoint is continually evolving, but not everything is different this year. Grammer’s is back on board to host the big, open-air-tent Dewey’s Pizza Main Stage, once again featuring some of the bigger acts of the festival (Okkervil River, Cut Copy and many more). The MidPoint Poster Expo, presented by Newport’s Powerhouse Factories design firm (makers of plenty of spectacular concert posters themselves), is back with another collection of imaginative concert posters from various top-notch designers. And the Tweet/Text Visualizer System by Topic Design returns with even more presence, broadcasting texted/tweeted dispatches from MidPoint to more screens and people than ever this year.
Last but far from least, if you’ve enjoyed MidPoint in the past, but always felt it needed more donuts, your eccentric expectations of a music festival will be met at MPMF ’11. Busken Bakery’s 10,000 Donut Deployment will celebrate the festival’s 10-year anniversary by keeping MPMFers fortified with free donuts throughout the three-day affair.
Three-day MidPoint wristbands are on sale now through mpmf.com or at several retail outlets around town (visit the site for a full list) or you can buy them in person at tonight’s MidPoint Indie Summer show on Fountain Square at a reduced rate. Keep an eye on the main MPMF site and its corresponding social media pages for the latest updates.