All photos by Jessie Goodson
An idea from Broken String Band’s Sean Stephansen quickly turned into a reality with the help of Terrapin Beer Co. Presented by Terrapin After Hours, the Fest of Ale Music & Arts Festival made its 2018 debut Saturday, Aug. 11. “I am so impressed with how many people came out, and the bands have been great,” Stephansen said.
After lining up 15 bands, three vendors and a live artist, Stephansen set out to make the event happen. Ten percent of proceeds went to Nuçi’s Space, a local nonprofit health and music resource center providing emotional, physical and professional help for musicians struggling with mental health disorders. Nuçi’s Space also provided sound for the outdoor stage.
Two stages featured a wide range of music and art styles and genres. New to Athens, Mannequin Party’s Spencer Paul took the indoor stage with deep and smooth vocals, moody acoustic vibes and intriguing classical guitar stylings. Athens' Sarah Zúñiga served up a thoughtful set of indie-folk-rock tunes. Her three-piece group played songs full of personal and sentimental lyricism, along with well-performed instrumentation.
Performing for her first time in Athens, Macy Todd was joined by Jamie Portee and brought a unique style and presence to the outdoor stage. Their combination of electronic sounds, acoustic rhythm and folk melodies set them apart. Todd performed originals and covers, including a well-done spin on a Drake song.
Broken Sting Band played the outdoor stage with upbeat, energetic rhythm and a mixture of songs with emotional highs and lows in all the right places. The group played originals as well as a memorable, folky cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.” Americana locals Packway Handle Band closed the outdoor stage with their upbeat, bluegrassy tunes. The group played Queen’s "Fat Bottomed Girls" with a folky twist and some originals, exhibiting a sound similar to that of the Punch Brothers and The Infamous Stringdusters.
Stephansen said he was pleased with how the event turned out, and that he hopes to expand Fest of Ale for its next edition, adding hip hop and more. “I know enough people to make it happen, and they were willing to offer their time and I’m incredible grateful for that,” he said.