8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival

A couple of weekends ago, I went to the inaugural Epicenter Music Festival [RIP Carolina Rebellion] in Rockingham, NC. It was my first time camping at a music festival and I really enjoyed the chance to experience it. Even though much of the festival was shut down due to severe weather, I met all kinds of cool people and also some weirdos as one typically does at any public event. It was definitely the music festival where I learned the most and I wanted to share these things below for those of you who may be venturing out to your own festivals this summer.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival

I Really Dig Motionless In White – I had never heard of the band, “Motionless In White” before this festival. But they looked cool and I thought I would catch their show and see what I thought. When they started singing “Necessary Evil,” I was like what…. they totally sampled Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party.” I really enjoy when acts do that and do it well. So, when I got home, I listened to that song a few more times and have to say, I really like it. Though I didn’t get to see many acts at Epicenter Music Festival, Motionless In White was definitely my favorite.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Rob Zombie [photo courtesy Darren Menius]

It’s Better To Bring Your Own Bathroom Facilities To A Festival – Porta potties are naaaaaaasty. And they are even nastier when people have been drinking. Waking up in the middle of the night having to pee is bad enough. But how many of you can guarantee you can walk like a mile away to the nasty porta potty before you have an accident? That doesn’t seem like a game I want to play. Also, showers at Epicenter Music Festival were $10 each. Mama don’t have that kind of dough. So solutions needed to be found.

I avoided all this drama by bringing my own way to bathe and use the restroom thanks to my friends at Bass Pro Shops! I had a really cool set up with the PUP [Portable Pop Up Tent] so the bathroom facilities weren’t in my tent. It was super easy to set up – I did it all by myself in just a few minutes. I staked it down and it held up great when the storm hit [more on that in a minute], receiving no damage at all.

Inside the pop up tent, I had a Cabela’s Camp Commode Camping Toilet. It just unfolds and you hook a bag under the bottom and go. I used the WAG Bag Kit. These bags are filled with something similar to kitty litter, I imagine, that turns whatever you do into a solid. When you are done, just throw the bag in the trash and that’s that. No getting lost in the middle of the night, trying to find a porta potty.

I highly recommend getting one of these set ups from Bass Pro Shops. Check out the rest of their camping gear and please let me know of other great camping supplies that this novice camper needs to pick up for my next music festival.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Photo courtesy Darren Menius

I Should Have Left My House Earlier – Epicenter Music Festival officially started on Friday [5/10] but you could get to the camp site on the Thursday before and take part in pre-festival fun [music, etc]. I fully intended to leave bright and early Thursday morning to head to Rockingham, but my neighbor was getting a roof put on her house and the noise was driving my dogs nuts so I didn’t want to leave them like that.

I finally left my house about noon on Friday. And this was a decision I would later regret. I stopped to pick up some things on the way and ended up making it to within 5 miles of the festival at 3:15pm, where traffic came to a complete stand still. By the time I got to Will Call to pick up my media passes and then to the camp site, it was 10:30 pm that night! I could have still seen Korn, but I was just too tired to bother at that point. I still had a fun day, though, as people seemed pretty chill in the stand still traffic. Several people were just walking around, chatting it up with others still in their cars. So I wasn’t “alone” for 7 hours. But it would have been better had I made better decisions. Though I have been to music festivals in the past, this was my first time camping, and this was a learning experience in better time management and decision making.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Killswitch Engage [photo courtesy Darren Menius]

There Is No Good Way Into Epicenter Music Festival – Having said that about my poor time management skills, I want to add that there is only one road into the festival grounds. One. So, of course, it wasn’t all my fault it took so long to get into the festival. I have seen many, many people talk about how Epicenter Music Festival should have planned for this traffic. I have to say though, this festival is at Rockingham Speedway. If they never worked on building better infrastructure when the race was still there, I am doubting they will now, so this may just be what we have to work with. So, again, it comes back to me leaving the house earlier.

Female Solo Travel Is Awesome – I set up my own tent [except for the top part – a kind gentleman in the tent next to mine got that for me]. It was my first time setting it up and I was making a simple mistake so I anticipate no more problems here forward. I packed my own car. I set up my own shower tent. I drove myself to the festival and took care of myself the entire weekend. All of this I did by myself, without having to wait on anyone else who might be late, without having to worry about what someone else wants to do, without having to think about anyone else at all. I have to admit, it was one of the most fun trips that I have ever taken because I could just do whatever I wanted without worrying about someone else and their needs the entire time. I just did me.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Photo courtesy Darren Menius

Always Strap Your Tent Down – When I set my tent up Saturday morning, it was beautiful and sunny. I am not an experienced camper [yet] so I consulted one of my neighbors asking if I should stake the tent down. He said that he didn’t feel that I needed to if I had heavy things inside weighing it down. So, I had a cooler in there a few other things and I thought that would be ok. It was not.

When the storm hit later that night, I almost lost my tent. Seriously, I caught it just as it was about to fly away. I then got out of my car [all this in the middle of the storm, of course] and tied the tent to my car door. Then I had to hang my arm outside of my car for like 10 minutes holding on to one of the tent rods to make sure it didn’t go adios. I have to say, my tent, given all of my idiocy [aka learning experience] held up like a beast! It suffered no damage at all! I highly recommend the Coleman 5-Person Instant Dome Tent for any of you inexperienced campers like me. You will make mistakes. You want the tent that can take it. Trust.

Frozen Apples Are The Bomb – I packed all of my own food for Epicenter Music Festival. Trying to keep in mind that things need to stay cold to last, I decided to freeze some apple slices before packing them in the cooler. I am not a huge apple fan, but I will definitely freeze some for my camping trips in the future. They are ridiculously tasty and refreshing on a hot day. Apples are WAY better frozen. Yum.

8 Things I Learned At Epicenter Music Festival
Foo Fighters [photo courtesy Darren Menius]

There Is No Safe Place When Severe Weather Strikes – Epicenter Music Festival was evacuated on Saturday night due to incoming severe weather. I have to admit, the sky didn’t look all that threatening when the warning came over the loud speakers, cutting off Black Label Society about 2 songs in. But I did as I was told, evacuating the festival and going back to my car as instructed.

Then all hell broke loose. Some say we had a tornado nearby. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that we had one crazy thunderstorm. I spent 10 or so minutes holding onto my tent for dear life while many others weren’t so lucky. There are some people who are now blaming Epicenter Music Festival for their inability to see bands [i.e. Tool] later that night. Personally, I am not going to die to see anyone. I really, really, really wanted to see Bush, who was supposed to play in the time slot during the evacuation but that’s the way it goes. Perhaps I will get my chance some other time.

I feel like if you are at a music festival [or any huge gathering of people] you are choosing to take certain risks. That’s just the way it is. Epicenter Music Festival can’t control the weather anymore than I can. And, even if I were at home, I couldn’t guarantee my safety if a tornado struck. It’s just reality. If we can’t live with this, then perhaps a music festival isn’t the place for us.

Check out my interview with 311’s Nick Hexum here.

Check out more of Darren Menius’ pictures from Epicenter Music Festival here.

Get Social With Epicenter Music Festival

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311’s Nick Hexum Talks New Album “Voyager” & Epicenter Music Festival

311's Nick Hexum Talks New Album "Voyager" & Epicenter Music Festival

Epicenter Music Festival is next week and 311 will be there, bringing massive hits like “Down” and “All Mixed Up” and perhaps new material off of their upcoming album, “Voyager” (out June 28). Singer and guitarist, Nick Hexum, talks to us today about their new album, the origin of their name, Epicenter Music Festival and much more.

311’s Nick Hexum Talks New Album “Voyager” & Epicenter Music Festival

EPR: 311 got their name due to a streaking incident involving one of the then bandmembers, that got him arrested. Was it a dare? Did his buddies come to his rescue or just let him think about what he had done?

Nick Hexum: Well, only P-Nut was there but as I understand it, it was daytime shenanigans because there was no school that day.  It was spring and the pool was closed.  Someone was dared to jump the fence and skinny dip. He got caught and was brought home to mom, naked, cuffed, and given a “311” ticket!  (“311″ being Omaha police code for “indecent exposure”).

311's Nick Hexum Talks New Album "Voyager" & Epicenter Music Festival

EPR: 311 has been around for many years when the majority of bands that were coming up about the same time are long gone. What is your secret to not losing that artistry and creativeness that makes it still possible to perform and make quality music?

Nick Hexum: For me, I work hard to keep that sense of wonder about exploring new music. That means you keep exposing yourself to new stuff and not become the grumpy old guy that only likes the old stuff. We stay excited about music and that makes it exciting to listen to. Cannabis helps keep that youthful sense of wonder!

EPR: Early in your career, 311 lost all of their equipment in an RV fire. How did you not just say “forget this!” and pack it up then?

Nick Hexum: Because we had a gig the next night! And then like six more left on the tour. So, we just needed to borrow instruments and amps to get through it. We rented a car on my credit card and made it back home. Then, I found a guy to lend us money to buy a much safer RV and some new gear.  Our record company didn’t offer to help us so we had to do it ourselves.  That’s ok they got their comeuppance. But no, we never considered giving up. We were having way too much fun!

EPR: What can you tell us about your new album, “Voyager” coming out later this year?

Nick Hexum: I feel it is another exciting step forward. We boldly go into some new territory! I think the title “Voyager” is quite fitting because we see ourselves as musical explorers.

EPR: Do you hang around to watch the other bands at music festivals?

Nick Hexum: Yes, we’ve made so many great friends with other bands. I love to watch other bands to get inspired. There is some kick-ass heavy music on Epicenter Fest!

Catch 311 at Epicenter Music Festival [5/11] and check out the rest of their tour dates here.

Get Social With 311

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Catherine Britt On Moving To The US & Her Battle With Cancer

Catherine Britt On Moving To The US & Her Battle With Cancer

Recently we got the chance to talk with Catherine Britt. If you don’t know her, you are missing out. This spitfire moved from Australia to the US at age 17 to chase her musical dream – alone. Did I mention that she had never been here before? Fast forward to 2010, when she won the CMA Global Artist of the Year award. Read on to learn more about this amazing woman from the land down under.

Catherine Britt On Moving To The US & Her Battle With Cancer

Catherine Britt: I’m in the US for about 3 1/2 weeks total.

EPR: And then you will be back in Australia doing a tour later this summer?

Catherine Britt: Yeah, I’ll be back on the road over there. We pretty much tour all year round in Australia. Then come over and do something in the States as well.

EPR: You moved to Nashville at like 17, right?

Catherine Britt: Yeah, I was 17 when I first come over, around 2002. I was here about 6 years, then I realized that I wanted to go home and sort of figure out what to do next. Then I moved back to Australia and played over there and come back and forth.

EPR: Had you ever visited the US before you decided to move here?

Catherine Britt: No, I just left school and we weren’t really a family to travel much overseas. We did a couple little sets but mainly in Australia. No, it was a big move and about as far away from my family and everything I do as I could get. It was pretty extreme to move over here.

Catherine Britt On Moving To The US & Her Battle With Cancer

EPR: So what did your family think when you approached them with the idea of basically moving halfway around the world to someplace you had never been?

Catherine Britt: Well the first time that I came over, I asked my dad to come with me because I was too young, actually, to sign a contract. He had to come and sign on my behalf, as like a parent/guardian, I guess, on the contract. In the end, he kind of got a vibe for it. I didn’t really know it at the time but he said that he was really sad. And I knew that he sort of lost control over everything. You know, his baby was growing up and going off to do what I was meant to do. So there was not much that he felt like he could do about it. Now that I am a mom, I can’t imagine what that would have been like for him. At the time, I was just in my own world and really focused on what I wanted to do. I didn’t really even think about it when I was 17.

EPR: We are really brave when we are teenagers.

Catherine Britt: I don’t know if I was brave or stupid. I just sort of went, “Sure, let’s go.” I suffered the consequences of that. I was incredibly homesick and I really struggled a couple years with some pretty serious mental illness, with depression and stuff. I didn’t really think it through, I guess. But when you’re offered an opportunity, you’ve got to take it and see where it leads you. And it led me to where I am today, where I am meant to be.

Catherine Britt On Moving To The US & Her Battle With Cancer

EPR: You are an extremely busy person. You work in radio, too, but you also contributed a lot of time to a magazine, as well, as editor and owner, right?

Catherine Britt: Yeah, we recently sold it, it was a music magazine, Rhythms. It was like a blues and roots, cultish magazine that’s been around forever. We took it into it’s 25th year. I had it for a couple years and then moved it on to the next person. It was an experience, that I won’t do again [laughs]. It was pretty full on. It was a little family business, really. Me and my husband did the day to day stuff and my mom and dad did everything else. And then my brother ran the website. It was pretty full on. I’m glad I did it but I’m kind of glad to be down the track from it as well. It was all consuming, a 24/7 job.

EPR: Since you don’t know if you will do that again, do you know if you will be involved with the magazine anymore at all? Or are you just cutting ties completely?

Catherine Britt: I haven’t been so far. When I walked away, I made a clean break, but I can always come back to it. I love writing, especially about music. It’s really easy for me, to write, from a place that is very passionate for me. I always found that really easy to do but I needed a break from it for a little bit. But maybe, I’m not ruling it out.

Catherine Britt On Moving To The US & Her Battle With Cancer

EPR: You won the 2010 CMA Global Artist Of The Year. That is huge! What was that like?

Catherine Britt: Yes! I didn’t really expect it, to be honest. It was pretty weird. I’d just sort of moved back to Australia and was still finding my grounding back there and figuring out what to do next. Yeah, they told me that I had won that award and it was being announced at CMAFest. It was a great honor, obviously, after the 6 years of experiencing being over here and everything that I had done. It was really nice from your peers in the industry. It was definitely a really nice feeling.

EPR: You talked about your fight with depression at times. Also, you have been sick, but you kept on working. Do you think that helped in your healing process?

Catherine Britt: Yeah, I think that was my coping mechanism. I was in the middle of a tour, actually, when I was diagnosed. I just released a new album and I found a lump a week later. So, I was going to doctor’s appointments in between touring and literally went and got a biopsy and then went back on tour and was basically called back in when I got home. When I got back I found out that I had breast cancer.

After I got over the shock of it all, I decided I was going to power through and not let it slow me down and change my life. I didn’t want that to happen. I didn’t want to become the person who became her illness. I struggled through going to work and was actually going through chemo and that was really hard. I was really, really tired and it changed everything, obviously. It changes your appearance and my hair fell out and, being a performer, that was interesting, so I struggled a lot with things like not having eyelashes and having to go onstage to perform and trying to glue fake eyelashes on to my eyelids and stuff like that. So it was terrible but, for my mental health, I think that’s what I needed to do.

Catherine Britt On Moving To The US & Her Battle With Cancer

EPR: I am so glad that you are doing well today. You have a new album out. Would you like to tell us a little about that?

Catherine Britt: So this record is “Catherine Britt and the Cold, Cold Hearts.” It’s my band, back in Australia. It’s just a bunch of songs I wrote, basically, since the last record, and all that happened in the last 3 years. It influenced a helluva lot of very, from the heart, songwriting, I guess you could say. So, it’s a lot of life changing stuff, getting married, having my little boy, beating the cancer, as well. It kind of came out in all the songs. It’s a positive album I’m really proud to put it out into the world and I’m really stoked to have new songs out there.

See Catherine Britt TONIGHT at Muddy Creek Cafe and Music Hall in Winston-Salem and check out the rest of her tour schedule here.

Get Social With Catherine Britt

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Rockie Lynne Talks The Art Of Songwriting & Bartending For Charity

Rockie Lynne Talks The Art Of Songwriting & Bartending For Charity

One thing I really love about Rockie Lynne is that he didn’t let a little bit of fame go to his head. His main focus is on helping people in need. From all of his work with and for the troops that we discussed in our last interview, with Operation Build and Tribute To The Troops, to his stint bartending at D’Laney’s Sports Bar for charity this week, he is one of the first to pitch in when an opportunity to help presents itself. Tonight, you can catch Rockie live in Statesville at a really cool venue, The Twisted Oak. [Read more…]

See The Harlem Globetrotters In Winston Salem & Greensboro!

Win 1 of 2 Harlem Globetrotters Family 4 Packs!Eat Play Rock

I am on my way very soon to see the Harlem Globetrotters again and you can join me! Get your tickets and round up the family and head out to see the Harlem Globetrotters LIVE at either Winston Salem or Greensboro in March. And be sure to try your hand at WINNING some tickets below! TWO lucky Eat Play Rock readers will win a family 4 pack of Harlem Globetrotters tickets, one 4 pack each will be given away to the shows on 3/23 at LJVM Coliseum in Winston Salem and the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro on 3/24. Be sure to enter on either 1 or BOTH of the rafflecopters below. Then be sure to hop over to Cheap Is The New Classy for ANOTHER chance to win! Good luck! [Read more…]

Catch Hank, Pattie And The Current With The Winston Salem Symphony 3/9-3/10

Catch Hank, Pattie & The Current With The Winston Salem Symphony 3/9-3/10

This weekend I got to check out a Ricky Skaggs show, who I had seen a few times previously. This time would be different, however, as he and Kentucky Thunder would be accompanied by the Winston Salem Symphony. I knew that the show would be great and was excited to see how Skaggs’ music would sound accompanied by a symphony. I have to say, it was a pretty magical experience. There is just so much richness and depth that comes from so many talents musicians with their instruments together on one song. I knew I would love it because, several years ago, I saw Ronnie Milsap accompanied by a symphony and that experience was equally moving. If you have not seen one of your favorite artists in this matter, I highly recommend it. Read below for your chance. 😉 [Read more…]

Classic Country Throwdown: Tracy Lawrence, Phil Vassar, Little Texas And Cledus T. Judd 10/4 Cary, NC

Classic Country Throwdown: Tracy Lawrence, Phil Vassar, Little Texas And Cledus T. Judd 10/4 Cary, NC

For one night only, catch the Classic Country Throwdown featuring Tracy Lawrence, Phil Vassar, Little Texas and Cledus T. Judd. This will be a North Carolina exclusive taking place in Cary on 10/4 at Booth Ampitheatre. Tickets are on sale now! [Read more…]

Merlefest Day 3 Brings A Tom Petty Tribute & Legendary Collaborations

Merlefest Day 3: Tom Petty Tribute & Legendary Collaborations

Doolin’ [Photo Credit: Ryan Case]

This was my first year attending Merlefest to cover for the blog. Aside from that, I have only been once, like 13ish years ago. Man, let me tell you, I have been missing out. I can not begin to tell you how much fun I had on the day I did go and I wish that I had been there the entire weekend. I hope to camp out and cover the whole shebang next year! As you can imagine, Merlefest Day 3 brought all kinds of coolness, just like the rest of the weekend. Read on to get all the details. [Read more…]

MerleFest 2018 Announces Chris Austin Songwriting Contest Winners

MerleFest 2018 Announces Chris Austin Songwriting Contest Winners

Earlier this year I told you about the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest coming to Merlefest. This was a fabulous opportunity for songwriters to get their pieces heard by true legends in the industry like Rodney Crowell. The Merlefest 2018 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest winners were announced yesterday and I have them below for those of you who want to check them out! [Read more…]

Merlefest Day 1: Robert Earl Keen and Kris Kristofferson Setlist

Merlefest Day 1: Robert Earl Keen and Kris Kristofferson Setlist

Kris Kristofferson [Photo Credit: Jim Gavenus]

Have you been to Merlefest yet this year? If so, who drew you in? Who was your favorite musical act this year? I know that many people were really excited to see Kris Kristofferson and Robert Earl Keen. If you missed the shows or if you just want a refresher, check out the Robert Earl Keen and Kris Kristofferson setlist below! [Read more…]