As Boise and the state of Idaho grow, music festivals are becoming more and more commonplace. Last year we had the first installment of the Sawtooth Music Festival up in Stanley; we also saw festivals happen in McCall, Garden Valley and other areas around the state. Music lovers know it's a good thing—a day of music in a hip location can be the perfect tonic for blazing summer heat. And, until a few days ago, those same lovers could have added what was originally going to be called the Idaho City Field Trip—now just the Field Trip—to the list of festivals to attend.
Taking a cue from larger festivals that feature deep and varied schedules, Boisean Jeremy Jensen, with the help of his brother Elijah and friends Joel Wallace, Jake Hite, Lisa Mooney and Brian Mayer decided to put together the two-day event as a way to showcase some of the most innovative and eclectic music the area has to offer. They chose "Field Trip" because they know the term makes many people think of yellow buses and that gleeful feeling that nobody will be spending the day in the classroom.
"Since I was a kid, my family was always going up to Idaho City, and I've always kind of felt a connection to it," says Jensen. "My friend Joel Wallace and I were up there just for the heck of it one day and thought we'd inquire about renting the community hall for a big show. It was nice and cheap, so we started putting the wheels in motion in March."
Putting together a music festival is no easy undertaking. The tasks are arduous and not for the faint of heart or those lacking in the energy department. Jensen was more than up for the challenge.
First on the agenda was putting together a lineup. Jensen and crew convinced 21 bands and musicians to commit. The roster was impressively diverse—running the gamut from verified indie rockers Thomas Paul and The Girl Next Door to the alt-country stylings of Jonah Shue and Dave Manion.
"Our tastes range from indie-rock stuff to electronic to more 'rawk' stuff," says Jensen. "We think it makes for a nice variety."
After getting the lineup together and renting the venue, Jensen started doing all the other important stuff such as writing press releases, acquiring a PA system, creating a Web site, making posters, contracting food vendors and, in general, getting folks excited about his event. It wasn't long before people were saying, "Are you going to the Idaho City Field Trip? It's going to be awesome." It didn't hurt that the entrance fee was just $5.
Jensen says he was able to keep the entrance costs low because of the cooperative help of musicians.
"The bands aren't getting paid much, though we are splitting all the profits equally among the musicians," says Jensen. "They're doing this more because they're dedicated to contributing to the music scene, which is what artists in Boise do all the time."
Most musicians in Boise know it's important to support each other and, in this case, get behind an exciting musical event. As the weekend of the The Idaho City Field Trip drew closer, the bands were rehearsing like crazy, Jensen was putting posters up all over the place, and people were preparing for the jaunt to Idaho City. Then came some startling news. Jensen found out he needed, what he calls, a "prohibitively" high insurance policy in order for the event to happen.
The news sucked all the joy out of Jensen's preparations. He sent out an e-mail letting people know that the Idaho City Field Trip was not going to be in Idaho City—and for a few tense hours, maybe not anywhere at all.
Jensen and his brother started mapping out a plan B. They picked up the phone and started calling around. They found two Boise venues willing to host the bands so that, ultimately, the show could go on: Neurolux and Visual Arts Collective (VAC).
"We are really grateful to the VAC and Neurolux for hosting us at the last minute," says Elijah Jensen with what sounds like a pound of gratitude in his voice. "It means a lot to us that we're still able to move forward."
So the lineup is the same, the dates are the same, entrance fee is the same, but the town of Idaho City has been dropped from the event name—Jensen is now calling the festival simply The Field Trip. And now nobody has to worry about the high cost of buying enough petrol to make it out of Ada County.
Jensen says having the festival in Boise still accomplishes most of what he was trying to do: give Boiseans a chance to break out of the daily grind and hear some new music.
"It's still going to be a great festival, even if it's not up in the mountains. The most important thing is the musical community is getting together," says Jensen.
Another bummer for Jensen is that, beyond the festival not taking place in its originally intended locale, only one of the days will be an all-ages event: Saturday, June 30 at VAC. Jensen originally envisioned toddlers and teenagers dancing alongside the grownups.
Nonetheless, even after suffering some considerable setbacks, the tenacious Jensen is already looking to the future. "We would like to set up some benefit shows for the upcoming year to do a festival next year. Maybe in Idaho City, maybe somewhere else," says Jensen, turning to his brother, who adds, "We'll also definitely do the festival in a place that allows Boiseans an opportunity to enjoy music in an exciting, remote, beautiful location."
It takes guts, organization and, most of all, vision to get a music festival off the ground, never mind one that loses its namesake venue. He lost Idaho City, but Jensen may yet have a great event.
June 30, 1 p.m, $5, all ages, Visual Arts Collective, 1419 Grove St., 208-424-8297, www.visualartscollective.com. July 1, 1 p.m., $5, 21 and older only, Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St., 208-343-0886,www.neurolux.com. Lineup includes Kris Doty, Discoma, The Unicorn Feather, Mayerforceone, The Universal, Seth Asa, Nollifur, Bonefish Sam and His Orchestra, The Very Most, Secretariat, Thomas Paul and the Girl Next Door, Holly Johnson, A Seasonal Disguise, Jonah Shue and Dave Manion, Nom De Plume, Central City Music Company, Hot Dog Sandwich, The Mongoloids, Otis and How's Your Family and Craters of the Moon (featuring members of Dirt Fishermen). For more information, visit www.idahocityfieldtrip.com.