The Anatomy of a Hipnic: Exploring The Mother Hips Festival
Once again, San Francisco concert promoter (((folkYEAH!))) is teaming up with The Mother Hips to host the third annual Hipnic festival in Big Sur, California. (((folkYEAH!))) has been generating a major buzz lately with its coveted psych-rock and folk concert series nestled in the redwoods of the Big Sur Valley. The man behind it all is Brit Govea, who, along with Tim Bluhm of The Mother Hips, took the time to talk with Relix/Jambands.com about their collaborative festival taking place on May 13 and 14 at the Fernwood Resort in Big Sur, Cal.
Can you tell us how (((folkYEAH!))) got started and what the company is all about?
BG: It began in January 2005 with two Superwolf (Bonnie “Prince” Billy & Matt Sweeney) shows in Big Sur. Those two shows were a game changer for me. (((folkYEAH!))) was blessed to have come out of the gate presenting one of the most exciting and best songwriters in the world, my friend Will Oldham. There are just not that many artist that have been as interesting and fun to watch evolve and grow as Bonnie “Prince” Billy. I respect his approach to all things music, art and performance greatly. He goes with the gut, that voice within that always points the way. I fully believe he’ll [Will Oldham] go down as one of the greatest performing artists of our time because of his fearless approach to his art. I have a few exciting things planned for 2011 too including the launch of my new 7 inch label called “Spiritual Pajamas.” The first release will be a Bonnie “Prince” Billy 7 inch.
The first year there were maybe eight weekends of shows and then the second year there were maybe 20, then by the third year it was getting close to probably 60 shows. Now, it’s a lot of shows. But what the prerequisite was in the early days, and still is for the most part is today, is my record collection—I have a fairly large record collection. My goal is to present as many of these bands that I listen to and collect records by as possible. That’s kind of been the prerequisite this whole time. It’s varied a little from time to time, but that’s the underlying theme of the “curation.”
How did (((folkYEAH!))) team up with The Mother Hips to create the Hipnic?
BG: I got turned on to The Mother Hips in ’98 and started following them a little bit after that. Then, I kind of knew them a bit and as time grew on—about three or four years into my series at Big Sur—I got with them and was like “Maybe we should do a day-long show in Big Sur where we kind of co-curate and make a whole day out of it.” That quickly turned into two days and the first one was two years ago on the 4th of July. They came up with the name Hipnic and it’s just kind of grown since.
So this is going to be the third one now, and the date has kind of moved to its final date in mid-May, which is where it will be now going forward. I’ve just had a lot of admiration and respect for those guys for their devotion to the California sound, for one, which is something that they’re hugely influenced by.
I’m really honored because this year, I was trying to take that California sound to the next level and I was able to get my friend Al Jardine of The Beach Boys to do a mini-set with The Mother Hips as his backing band, which is going to happen at Hipnic three. So it’s kind of like a full circle for them. We’re all very excited. Now we’re finally going to have ultimately one of the more contemporary examples of the California sound these days, The Mother Hips, playing with one of the inventors of that sound, Al Jardine, who is a founding member of The Beach Boys. I’m super thrilled for that, The Mother Hips are too. I think it’s going to be exceptional and unique for all those that come to [the Hipnic].
What was the approach you took this year with regard to selecting artists for the festival?
TB: Well, to some degree there’s a core of groups that we want to have every year—it’s kind of like the theme of the festival. The theme is that it’s sort of The Mother Hips family. My wife Nikki Bluhm and her band The Gramblers play it every year and she probably always will, because she’s my wife. [Laughs]. And then Little Wings is another band that’s really good friends of ours so they always play.
Then this year, we were also trying to expand our horizons a little bit so we got Pegi Young and her band The Survivors. Nikki and I got to open for her a few months ago in San Francisco, so we invited her to come and she’ll be there.
So in a sense the The Hipnic holds true to its name in that it’s somewhat of a family affair.
TB: Yeah, it’s our chance to curate a music festival and have the bands that we want there. Usually, you’re just saying “yes” to an offer from some other festival. But this time, we actually get to create it from the beginning. It’s an exciting process.
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