Hey, in case you haven’t heard by now, there’s a pretty great concert going down this weekend, right here in Frederick. The ninth installment of the JoAnn Garrett Classic is set to feature a gaggle of great bands, including (but not limited to) Youngblood Hawke, Royal Teeth, Ghost Hotel and The BOA. Earlier this week, we caught up with Jason Mecler, who is one of the many people who help decide which musical acts the event gets each year. He had a lot of interesting stuff to say, and for those who might have taken a quick look at the Q&A in this morning’s 72 Hours: Yes, there is an exclusive question (and answer) below that did not make it to print. So, right after you enter our four-ticket giveaway, scroll on down, have a look, and get ready for a great Saturday night of music at the Frederick Fairgrounds!
How long have you been associated with the JoAnn Garrett Classic and in what capacities? What drew you to the event in the first place?
I’ve been involved with the Classic since the beginning. In 2006, the Frederick Adult Co-ed Kickball Association (FACKA) did the first event, which was an all-star game followed by a concert, and it benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In 2007, Mrs. Garrett lost her battle with cancer. She is the the mother of our good friend Allen Garrett. She was an incredible, selfless woman who was more concerned with comforting others in similar situations than she was with herself. After a discussion with some friends, we got permission to name the event the JoAnn Garrett Classic from the Garrett family. The Garrett family chose local cancer charities to donate the funds raised to. We have donated to American Cancer Society’s local chapter and FMH Cancer Patient Assistance Fund. We are also sometimes able to donate to other local charities as well. My role is equal to that of the other members. It can involve anything that goes with event planning from set-up to tear down, ticketing, fliers, booking, manual labor, etc.
Music seems to be a pretty big part of the event each year and you guys bring in nationally known artists — last year, Rusted Root, this year Youngblood Hawke. How do you decide on which national band to bring in and how/when does that process begin?
We pride ourselves on giving a great event with great music. We’ve had Biz Markie, Rival Schools, Shane Gamble and G. Love and Special Sauce as national headliners as well. The process can vary. It usually involves a fun evening and some cocktails, listening to music and writing down possibilities. Then, we see who would be in the budget, a good draw and different. We check availability, negotiate and get a date set. We usually start the process in early fall, not long after the event happens. It takes close to a year to get everything ready and finalized.
You also have some great local bands on the bill as well. How do you choose which local musicians get to play your event?
We love the local music scene and try to support local acts as much as possible. We have a lot of ties with them. Sometimes, we have bands approach us to play, and sometimes we approach our friends or bands we are just fans of. It seems a lot of times that the musicians have been affected in some way by cancer, so they take a lot of pride into playing as well. There’s a lot of great people in our community playing music and we love having the combo of national and local acts sharing the stage.
Are there any performances you are looking to this year more than others? If so, which ones and why?
I’m looking forward to all of the bands playing, as always. We don’t book people we wouldn’t pay to go see and we don’t put a price tag on an event that we wouldn’t pay. The BOA is making a return particularly for this show. To me, that’s pretty special. They’ve played our event before and the musicians are just outstanding people in the community. Ghost Hotel has a different local flavor that fits in perfectly with the three other bands. They’ve been blowing up in Maryland and have been getting a great response and following. Allen saw them one night and he immediately hit us up to grab them. Royal Teeth has been hitting the festival circuit hard and getting noticed. They were recently featured on “American Idol” as well, brought in by Harry Conick Jr. Their song “Wild” is on the Galaxy 5 commercials. We had them play last year and they were a fan favorite. We’ve actually befriended them and they were excited to return and play the classic again this year. Youngblood Hawke should be pretty awesome and again, it’s just a perfect fit with the other three bands. Some people may not recognize these names, but usually once they hear the most popular songs, they realize who they are. We can promise you will enjoy these bands and have no choice but to dance and have fun. I’m also looking forward to the pre-party on Friday the first at Bushwallers. Plastic Planets (a Mute Math/Social Ghost/Blue Man Group Mash Up), who are touring nationally are playing as well as Frederick’s own Twin Radio. Twin Radio will be joining Plastic Planets on the second part of their tour after the Classic. It’s pretty cool to see happen — an Orlando band with a Frederick band that met because of this event touring the nation.
The event is at the e-ventplex at the fairgrounds. Can you talk a little about why you guys chose to have the event there as opposed to downtown?
We do different things and try and switch it up. One year, we hosted the Player’s Ball at VOLT. We’ve had one at Crumland. We’ve had them on the creek. In bars. We are indoors this year, so we don’t have to worry about weather. It’s about one-quarter the size of most of the other events — more intimate and personal. Fans of these bands aren’t going to get this experience anywhere else. And those who aren’t familiar but still come out to support will leave being a fan. We kind of think the fairgrounds are still downtown, just not on the creek.
What is your opinion on the local music scene? Do you think we have become a thriving place for local, original entertainment? Or is there still work to do? Why or why not?
I love the local music scene. I think there could always be more work. Places like Cafe Nola have brought in some great bands like Lake Street Dive in addition to fun, local bands. Bushwallers has been doing great open mic nights and always has great music going on the weekends. JoJo’s has been bringing in some acts. Firestones, Canal, Cafe 611 and The Cellar Door have something going on at least once a week as well. There is a lot of talent in this town. Plus, we get to do our thing a few times a year, too. It’d be great if we could get more than the downtown community involved in the scene. It seems like those are primarily the attendees. On the other hand, that’s what makes downtown so great.
And, of course, what can we expect from this year’s event?
You can expect a great time for charity at this year’s event. We will have local beers from Stillpoint Farm, Barley and Hops and more. We are roasting 2 pigs with CarterQue and you get fed with the purchase of your ticket. There’s an incredible silent auction. Snow balls from our pals Community Living Inc with all proceeds going to them from those sales. And of course, 4 awesome acts. People can expect to leave feeling that they did a good deed, made a difference and all they did was have a good time.