Local music fans can expect to see some unfamiliar faces at Independent’s Day this year.
In its ninth year, the East Franklinton music and arts festival has added national acts to the traditionally local musical lineup.
On Saturday and Sunday, the festival will feature nationally known artists such as Cloud Nothings, All Them Witches and Speedy Ortiz alongside Columbus-based acts.
“Every year, we’ve added a stage or we’ve added a whole new area to the festival,” said Derek DuPont, music lieutenant. “This year we kept about the same footprint size but just decided to do what we did last year but do it better.”
DuPont, who heads up booking the musical acts, said the introduction of national acts was in an effort to bring more attention to the festival and the Columbus music scene.
“It’s super important to remember what we’re doing for the people that live here in Columbus,” DuPont said. “In bringing in bigger acts, we’re also building up the music community that we do have here in Columbus.”
Local artists still make up the majority of the festival’s lineup. Out of more than 100 musical performers, only a handful comes from outside the Columbus music scene.
DuPont said he began with the goal of getting Cleveland natives Cloud Nothings to perform. The Independent’s Day committee, a group of approximately 30 members involved in the music scene in and around Columbus, then focused on acts from other states with either Ohio connections or similar artistic values to the festival.
“It was a hard sell for some bands,” DuPont said. “It’s not your massive Lollapalooza or anything like that, but we very much told them what our mission was — supporting our local arts, building that up and being a festival unlike any other — and the ones that responded well to that and got excited about that were the ones that we really went after.”
Brave Weather lead singer Dani Harness, who will be performing on Saturday, said she hopes the festival remains locally focused but appreciates the opportunity to perform alongside larger acts.
“It’s always inspiring to see people on a level that you are trying to be at,” she said. “It’s nice to play a festival with people like that.”
This year, Independent’s Day also elected not to repeat performers from the previous year.
DuPont said the decision aims to highlight the depth of Columbus’ music scene.
“I’m very aware of how much talent we have here in Columbus,” DuPont said. “I didn’t want to keep having the same bands come up to the top every year, when we have just as good of bands that maybe haven’t had as much stage time”
One exception is Brave Weather, who has played the previous two years. The band will perform an Amy Winehouse tribute set on the newly added Cover My Stage. DuPont said exceptions were made for tribute performers to return this year because of the nature of the performances.
DuPont said Travis Hoewischer, of 614 Magazine, proposed the idea of Cover My Stage and provided a list of potential performers and tribute artists. Harness said Hoewischer asked her to perform as Winehouse after noticing a similar performance tendency of the two singers.
“I have a bad habit of always having a drink in my hand when I’m singing and he was like ‘Hey, would you want to do Amy Winehouse this year?’” she said.
Cover My Stage will feature seven tribute performances throughout the weekend, including Human Cannonball as The Beach Boys, Copywrite & Catalyst as Tribe Called Columbus and Liner Notes as Radiohead.
In recent years, Independent’s Day has worked to diversify the genres represented at the festival. Last year’s lineup had an increase in electronic music and the addition of a stage dedicated to hip-hop performers. DuPont said he worked to continue that trend in this year’s festival.
This weekend’s performances will feature more jazz artists in addition to hip-hop performers spreading across all of the stages.
Artists are set to take the stage from noon to midnight Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday in East Franklinton. Admission to the festival is free.