By Leslie Zak
June’s last weekend brought Children’s Music Network members to the Columbus, OH, Community Festival (COMFEST) for three performances on the Solar Stage. There were solo shows by Joanie Calem and me, and a group CMN concert that featured the two of us and Deborah Van Kleef from Cleveland.
Comfest 2012 was celebrating its 40th year. What began as a pleasant block party launched by progressive activists near the OSU campus has since grown to an enormous (100,000 attendees) three-day multi-stage music, politics, and beer fest.
Uniquely, Comfest is accomplished by a year-round all-volunteer crew – there have never been any corporate sponsors! With 7 stages filled with local musicians going full-time, 100 vendors, information booths, sustainable clean energy models, dancing, hands-on arts for kids, Comfest is annually voted “Columbus’ Best Festival.” Oh, yes … and because public nudity (waist-up) is legal in Columbus, the pierced and painted topless contingent comes out to party. A good time is had by all.
A highlight of the weekend for Joanie, Deborah, and Leslie was welcoming, transporting, and hanging out with the great (and totally down-to-earth ) Holly Near, who invited the three of us to join her on stage as “back-up” singers on a new song. Holly marveled at our willingness to jump in on a song we didn’t know at all. We explained, a wee bit baffled – “Well, yeah – we’re CMN,” always happy to provide some good improvised three-part harmony.
While Lisa Heintz is very busy with preparations for CMN’s October conference in Zion, IL, CMN folks from the region are hosting a song swap at the Columbus Main Library on September 29th. Come one, come all!
Leslie Zak is a CMN regional rep for the Great Lakes Region.