by Blair Stiles
Music and environmentally geared celebrations seem like a good fit. They bring people together, and both have been described at one point or another as hippie activities. The brains behind St. Louis's Earth Day Festival know this. The festival -- the third largest of its kind in the country -- begins Sunday, April 22 at 10 a.m. in Forest Park. And the celebration will incorporate a diverse line-up of St. Louis musicians.
Speaking with RFT Music via telephone, Jeanette Reynolds of St. Louis Earth Day detailed how music has become an integral part of the eco-friendly jubilee. Planning an event of this scale is an undertaking that lasts five months. Starting in November, the Earth Day posse, a hodge-podge of volunteers, part-time and full-time employees, begin making decisions about the theme of the festival and what they hope to expand upon from last year. Between then and February, vendor and exhibitor applications come in, and during February, St. Louis Earth Day starts filtering the applicants and deciding which musical acts will be a part of the festival.
"We have a volunteer committee, people who are interested in music, people who work with music, people who make music, and these people talk about what bands they think will be a good fit," explains Reynolds. "We have an application online that's available in December and we invite bands to apply. We also talk to bands that we think would be a good fit."
In order to be a "good fit", the committee looks for two elements, "Some of the criteria is being family-friendly, and we also like for the music to be in different genres." With 30,000 plus attendees coming to Forest Park each year, diversity among the line-up is important. "We look for music that can be enjoyed by a wide range of people with varying interests. We want to make sure there is some diversity so people can go from a stage that might have a capella to a stage that's hip-hop, to a stage that's folk music."
Now in its twenty-second year, the celebration is in tune with environmental and music communities along with St. Louis's citizens. "There's quite a vibrant sustainability group here," says Reynolds, "It's not just what we do at the festival, it's just being a part of what the entire community of St. Louis does."
St. Louis Earth Day hopes music will help build a larger audience for the fest among both environmentalists and potential environmentalists. Rogan guess that "probably 50 percent of people want to have a good time because they're at a festival, and 50 percent is people wanting to network with those different organizations and business that are sharing [information] about their sustainability." By incorporating acts like Scarlet Tanager and iLLphonics, the Earth Day Festival is blending the sustainability and music communities, two of the most active in St. Louis.