liveLIVE! Music and Arts Festival Wrap-Up

liveLIVE! Music and Arts Festival was a humble little gathering that happened in the first week of May in Oneonta, NY. The festival was liveLIVE! Productions’ first event of this caliber. The company is already knee deep in a multitude of projects that spread them evenly over the music and arts scene in Oneonta. They have a dedication and that shows promise, with the eager optimism of any fresh-out-of-college start up. liveLIVE! founder, Dan Sternstein, says, “liveLIVE! is run and supported by people who are truly passionate about music. When we aren’t planning a festival, we are booking shows, promoting events, recording, tour managing, and even writing and playing in our own projects. We also are heavily involved with the local arts scene right in Oneonta, and we have been going to City Hall meetings and lending a hand to coordinate efforts for the local artists in our hometown. We are constantly looking to improve liveLIVE! and we have many things planned for the next few years, but the most important thing is to keep an open ear and an open mind. We have met and worked with some of the best musicians in the country – both known and unknown – because of our passion for finding musicians that are making true art, every night.”

The lineup included great performances from progressive electro-rockers Jimkata, the fun and funky party rock of Capital Zen, sci-fi shredders Consider The Source, progressive dance-party funk with Dopapod, soulful roots sensation Underground System Afrobeat, and a Vermont funk squad called Bearquarium.

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Music aside, it was a very small festival. There were only a handful of vendors and only one place to buy food. The vendors were small, and some were incredibly unique, including arts students from the area and a mini consignment shop. With that and the one stage, there wasn’t much else to get lost in. You don’t realize how necessary the different activities and different places to wander into are to the energy of an overnight, weekend-long event until you don’t have them. liveLIVE! has a lot of potential, and we’re sure that next year’s event will be that much better.

We sat down with Sternstein to talk more about liveLIVE! Productions and the future of the company and of liveLIVE! Music and Arts Festival.

Was this your first event? I heard word that there had previously been a festival in the area that yours was associated with. People talked about how they always had a free keg.
This was our first festival since the birth of liveLIVE! as an organization. Trevor (Dunworth) and Dan (Votke) had been organizing and running a small festival in Oneonta called Headyfest for the past few years. Those were beautiful events, but the party grew to such an extent that it could no longer be managed in the same way. Nate and I joined forces with Trevor and Dan to create a company which is now giving us the opportunity to delve into many different aspects of the music industry. However, the festivals are what we have the most fun doing, and this year was truly something special. As far as the free kegs? Some things will have to remain a mystery.

Can you describe the process of putting an event on like this? What were some of the easiest and some of the most difficult things you encountered?
When you are putting a festival together, piece by piece, the process is like being in a dream. There are funny moments which we will always remember, but there is just so much that goes into it. You need to have a lot of patience and drive. I think this year, the hardest part was being up for 60+ hours without any sleep. You almost feel like you’re in battle. However, watching a weekend like that unfold before your eyes is enough to make me want to do it all over again.

Did you sell more or less tickets than you imagined?
We had a wonderful turnout. We really didn’t know what to expect this year, but the support we have gotten from our musicians and our fans has been immense. I have to personally give a shout-out to our volunteers and interns who helped out for months, not just with the festival but with day-to-day operations in the office and recording at the studio.

What made your colleagues and yourself decide that you wanted to form a production company?
I think it started with the festival. From there, we realized that by teaming up, we could accomplish all of our individual goals in the industry, as well as accomplish tasks that take a team effort. We compliment each other very well. The offices can get a little loud sometimes, but it helps drive us forward in everything that we do.

Coming straight out of college, how easy or difficult was that? Do you have any advice for other people in your position?
We all are relatively young. I think the nicest part about it was that the whole process of growing into liveLIVE! felt very organic. There was an opportunity there that we all felt could not be passed up. A simple twist of fate. My advice to any young person trying to pursue a career in the music industry is that you must be driven 100% at what you do. If you are not fully committed to your craft, and do not work every day on improving your talent and furthering yourself, it is almost impossible to make it. However, music is noble work, and if you feel that you are ready, get after it with every ounce of strength you have.

What are your short term goals for the company? Long term?
Well, we are planning on expanding operations over the next year, but we are garnering our reputation show by show. We want people to look at liveLIVE! as a name that backs great music and has a sense of community, and we are working hard to establish that reputation in a larger area. I feel like Alan Lomax sometimes; We have all this great music that we really want to use to connect with people throughout the world. As far as long-term goes, we are constantly looking to brand liveLIVE!, because we feel it does back something positive, and something we hope lots of people can connect with. Great art is timeless, and we want to be a part of something that can be appreciated for a long, long time.

What else is liveLIVE! Productions working on?
Oh man, the list is long… We are currently producing three albums, all in different genres. We have a psychedelic rock album, a hip-hop album and a wonderful songwriter named Micah Resney that we have been trying to get in the studio for many years now. The first EP to come out will be M.A.E. and the Machine Gun Funk, who are some amazing young hip-hop artists that play with a live band. Recording them was a blast and I can’t wait for everyone to hear their tracks. We also will be tour managing Geoff Hartwell and Yonrico Scott, as well as working on shows every weekend. After all that is underway, I’m hoping to get in the studio and finish off my album which I have been working on for months.

What can we expect for next year’s festival?
I can’t give too much away, but look out for bigger headliners, more vendors, great vibes and maybe even… a UFO?

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