Photos & Feature by Madi Denton
Backwoods Music Festival is a three-day camping, music, and arts festival that is held on Labor Day Weekend. Tatanka Ranch in Stroud, Oklahoma served as host the 2015 event, as they featured a range of different artists and included many local Oklahoma artists with an indie, folk and Americana sound. The festival also expanded to EDM (Electronic Dance Music) along with many other genres. Each stage was crafted in a creative way, the main stage was centered in the middle of a gigantic castle, as the fantasy-themed festival spread out on 400-acres. Although the weekend brought higher temperatures, the night life was where everyone became alive. The ferris wheel lit up, the stage lights became more intriguing to watch, and the outfits and lights were a sight to see.
Our own Oklahoma City-based band, Bowlsey, offered a mellow, lounge yet beat-filled sound and were a pleasure to experience--their music continued to draw me in with their beautiful tones and folk infused hip-hop. As I walked up, vocalist Clarissa Castillo (a.k.a. Cid), caught my attention with a sightly sunflower placed on her head. Her bold vocals and soulful stage performance showed off her rich style and sound.
Bowlsey includes one other vocalist along with Castillo, Taylor Mercier (a.k.a. Shraz), who topped off Cid's vocals with smooth rhymes. These multi-talented artists bring something we’re all looking for with their eclectic approach that includes synthesizers, vintage organs and those soulful vocals in their album Decorous. They use a unique combination of sounds that work perfectly together.
Later that evening I made my way to the main stage as the lights immediately caught my attention and I could feel the crowd radiating with energy. The performers were Earphunk, a prog-funk band out of New Orleans and the name should explain their music pretty well. Earphunk has been rapidly building a fan base across the United States and to have them perform in Oklahoma at Backwoods was a treat. They gave off high energy and it was quite noticeable that the crowd was enjoying their set.
The second part of my evening, I made my way to the Globe Theater, which was my personal favorite stage once the sun set. As you walk in, it’s open to the outdoors and you can see the stars and the ferris wheel placed perfectly behind the artists. Cozy couches and chairs offered festival goers a place to relax--those were especially nice after being in the heat all day. I drew closer to catch Space4Lease, a space-based psychedelic rock group that formed in 2014 at Oklahoma City’s Academy of Contemporary Music. This group caught my attention, along with many others, and people started piling in to hear their eclectic set. They call themselves "genre bending" and I’d have to agree. Their set had me hanging--just waiting to see what they would play next. I loved every bit of it.
All in all, my time at Backwoods was a thrill. All of the performers were full of talent and stage enthusiasm, each stage design and community area were designed with thought and detail. I came to understand why production staff had been working for four-months prior to the festival date--stages and recreational areas were elaborate, and there was plenty of open ground to spread out the entertainment and multiple event areas. The variety of genres and artists, set amongst the beautiful Oklahoma red earth and rolling green grass, made for a memorable experience. Until next year Backwoods!