In its sixth year, the Werk Out Music & Arts Festival has become a summer destination for fans of progressive rock and jam band juggernauts from across the nation. This year offers the heaviest hitting lineup to date with the Umphrey’s McGee playing a couple of sets alongside The Werks, Papadosio, Dopapod and a variety of other acts. The sprawling festival grounds, Legend Valley, formerly known as Buckeye Lake Music Center, have played host to some of Ohio’s most memorable live performances of the past five decades including half a dozen Grateful Dead concerts as well as tour stops from Lollapalooza, AC/DC, The Allman Brothers Band and numerous other large events.
Ghettoblaster recently spoke to The Werks vocalist and guitarist, and event organizer Chris Houser about the festival events he enjoyed in his formative years, Legend Valley and the Werk Out.
During your formative years were there festivals that you regularly attended? How did those shape you as a music fan?
When I was growing up, the festivals that I would regularly attend were The Maji’s “Harvest Jam” and Hookahville was always a must.
As the band was growing in the early years we also played many smaller festivals at the Zane Sawnee Caverns in Bellefontaine, Ohio. The caverns were also the site of the first two Werk Out festivals.
Going to those festivals made me aware of many different kinds of music. I saw good festivals and bad festivals, and I learned that the best ones were done right, all the way to the smallest detail. As a music fan I saw a lot of magic that seemed to be unplanned and insane. As time went on playing more and more festivals I realized that it was all planned and was pulled off with meticulous precision. This is what we wanted to be able to achieve throwing our own festival.
After six years I imagine you’ve learned some best practices for the festival.
After six years we’ve definitely learned some “worst” practices and we’ve tried to learn from our mistakes. The number one thing I would say is to have a proper staff for the job, every job. The first few years we tried to do everything ourselves, which left us basically running around like chickens with our heads cut off most of the weekend.
Over the years we’ve networked across the country through touring and found the right people for the right jobs all the way down the list of responsibilities. We still do a lot ourselves, but the weight is getting lighter on our shoulders. It makes for better music, and an overall better experience for everyone involved. This year will be better than ever, we’ve stepped up the VIP game this year, we’ve stepped up the roster and production this year. The stage is set, all we need is the environment and the good people who have made The Werk Out what it is year after year.
What aspects or characteristics of Legend Valley make it the perfect venue for this event?
Legend Valley is an awesome little valley in the heart of Ohio where the hills form a natural amphitheater where we are able to contain all of the camping and vending within the concert “bowl.” There’s not a bad spot in the house. The stage is a massive permanent structure that that was just installed last year and is the envy of any venue in Ohio I would guess at this point. The possibilities are endless.
Is the event designed to accommodate families or is it an adult atmosphere?
There is something for everyone at The Werk Out. We invite our families every year to enjoy the festival and they have enjoyed themselves to the full extent. There is a kids area separate from the masses, and there are plenty of vendors to fulfill your appetite. I’ve had my little brothers, ages 13 and 10 last year, come for a day and had no problems. Of course some people get crazy in their own way, but there seems to be a common respect of keeping one’s composure while on the grounds.
How will each of The Werks’ sets differ?
We are actually playing four sets as well as a VIP set and meet and greet. A night set on Thursday, a Tent set on Friday after Umphrey’s and two sets on Saturday with Lettuce playing in between. The night sets will be geared toward the crowd, the earlier set on Saturday will be geared toward the sunset, the clouds, other inspiring things that we see that are the best thing about playing a festival during the daylight hours. There’s nothing like it.
Which of the other acts are you most excited about?
There is not one band on this bill that we are not excited to see. We have hand-picked all of the acts and they’re not just acts or bands to us, they are our friends. It is our pleasure to host them for this weekend every year, it’s our way of saying, “thank you.”
What does The Werks have planned for the rest of the year?
We will be releasing a new studio album in the fall titled, Inside a Dream, and we will be touring coast to coast with our good friends Twiddle. We will also be having our traditional New Year’s and “Werksgiving” shows to end out the year.
Do you still have loftier goals for the band?
The sky is always the limit for The Werks; nothing is too lofty. Continuing to write new music and cross new boundaries along the way. Hard work always pays off and we have no intentions of slowing down. Now, it’s time to shift it into high gear and keep on truckin’. Red Rocks seems to be an achievable goal for the upcoming year, but our dreams don’t stop there. I, for one, can’t wait to see what the future holds.
(The Werks will perform at The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival Thursday-Saturday, August 6-8 at Legend Valley in Central Ohio, 7585 Kindle Rd., Thornville. General admission festival passes are available now for $129.95 and $249.95 for VIP packages. The link for ticket purchase is thewerkoutfestival.com/site/get-tickets. More information and festival tickets are available at thewerkoutfestival.com.)