A Love That’s Sound spoke with festival founder Ash Reiter about Hickeyfest, a three day festival celebrating pop, psychedelic music and all around friendly vibes. Taking place at a beautiful riverside at Standish Hickey Park in northern California, the three-day concert and camping party will satisfy your musical fix as well as offer a nice slice of nature. This year’s festival features Sugar Candy Mountain, Holy Wave, Papercuts, the Rotten Mangos, the Electric Magpie, Mild High Club, Frankie & the Witch Fingers and the tripped-out visual magic of Lance Gordon’s Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show!
Ash Reiter, Brant Denison and Peter Maffei of Sugar Candy Mountain chat about Hickeyfest.
DL: Why is it named Hickey Fest?
Ash Reiter: It’s at Standish Hickey State Park. And you can’t forget Hickeys, that’s easy!
DL: What aspects have surprised you the most while organizing this festival?
Ash Reiter: Getting some of these bands that I love and admire that are interested and willing to play. We had the Allah-Lahs the second year, we had the Mile High Club last year which was a band that I was fan-ing out on. Julie Holland, who is one of my favourites, this year Mirah… Little Wings. It’s so fun to get these kind of bigger bands to play with local ponies who are just as talented but have the name or whatever to get those nice crowds out there.
DL: What’s unique about the set-up of Hickey Fest?
Ash Reiter: The festival is set up so that once you get there and you park, you’re just there! There’s the river, the campsite and the music venue that has food and other stuff as well, so people bounce in between. We have a radio-station too, so even if you’re not at the stage, it’s being broadcast down to you at the river if you bring a radio. It’s nice because it builds this community feeling for a weekend. For one weekend, you get to hang with musician friends without yelling at them over the noise of a bar. It’s nice to be outside just hanging with your friends.
DL: Were there any festivals that were particularly influential in your decision to start Hickey Fest?
Ash: Actually, kind of just a party at Pearl Charles’ house out in Joshua Tree. She has this house called the Boulder House, it’s this really cool house among the boulders on Pike’s Canyon and I really liked having all of these musicians hanging out together in the non-club scenario. I got to know some of my musician friends better. I began to think, “what if we had a festival where outsiders who want to be a part of this scene can come?” I want everyone who wants to be part of this to come be part of this, with artists and everyone camping together. I wanted to create that vibe at a festival.
DL: Who are some artists that you’d really like to host at Hickey Fest?
Ash: Dungen would be so good! Connan Mockasin… King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard would be awesome but I also have so many talented friends and it’s great to see them in the best scenario possible.
DL: Can you share any advice for festival campers?
Ash Reiter: Bring comfy stuff to sleep in and take it easy on night one so you can enjoy the whole weekend.
Peter Maffei: Dig the dirt! Cause it’s a whole weekend and you don’t shower.
Ash Reiter: But there’s showers!
Peter: Oh, I guess I didn’t know about the showers until now. Well, I didn’t shower all weekend and it was great. So, dig the dirt!
Ash: Bring your swimsuit and sunblock.
DL: Do you have any favourite aspects to the festival?
Brant Denison: The swimming hole. And the people, the park rangers and the family that runs the general store are on board and are having as much fun as everyone at the festival.
Ash Reiter: Some of the Park Rangers have danced onstage!
DL: What would be the best way for someone visiting from out of state to attend Hickeyfest?
Ash Reiter: Do a whole California road trip. I mean, that part of California is beautiful. Just bounce around Northern California for a week and drive up there. You can go to Mendocino, you can go to Boonville, and trip around Anderson Valley, you can go to the Russian River along the way.
Peter Maffei: It’s a three hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area so it’s pretty far away from any big city. That’s kind of the joy of it. It’s totally worth it. Highway 101 basically cuts through to it.
DL: Any closing thoughts?
Ash Reiter: Check out hickeyfest.com for more information and the whole lineup. You will be disappointed if you don’t go for all three days. And bring a radio!