Local Current Blog

Recovery rocks: Jayhawks to headline 2014 HazelFest

Jayhawks publicity photo

The second annual HazelFest, a clean-and-sober music festival put on by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, will take place this Saturday, August 2, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The show is sponsored by Healthy States and the Current.

This year’s lineup features Davina and the Vagabonds, Communist Daughter, and Trapper Schoepp and the Shades, plus a reunion gig by Minnesota music legends the Jayhawks in the headlining slot. (Listen to David Campbell’s interview with the Jayhawks’ Gary Louris about this reunion and the band’s three recently reissued albums.)

The Hazelden Foundation provides treatment programs for recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. All of the artists performing at HazelFest have some connection to either Hazelden’s programs or to other avenues of addiction recovery, according to Nathan Wardwell, director of alumni relations for Hazelden and event planner for HazelFest.

Hazelden maintains confidentiality with its patients, though its alumni are free to disclose their participation in the foundation’s programs. Notably, blues guitar great Eric Clapton has spoken and written publicly about his stints at Hazelden, and his Crossroads guitar festival benefits his own Crossroads recovery center in Antigua. In the lead-up to this year’s HazelFest, Hazelden has produced video interviews with Davina Sowers, the Jayhawks’ Gary Louris, and Johnny and Molly Solomon of Communist Daughter discussing their experiences with addiction and recovery.

HazelFest serves a dual purpose for the foundation and those who benefit from its services: first, it provides those in recovery with a drug- and alcohol-free event that demonstrates what it’s like to have a good time without drugs or alcohol.

“It’s important for lots of people in recovery.” Wardwell said. “They get to see each other in ways they maybe haven’t seen each other.”

Secondly, HazelFest provides the public with an event that is safe, family-friendly, and educational regarding the true nature of substance abuse.

“It’s important to show that addiction doesn’t discriminate,” Wardwell said. The festival is meant to combat common perceptions of addicts or alcoholics as “people living under a bridge somewhere,” according to Wardwell. “Really, they’re your neighbor, they’re your doctor, they’re your lawyer.”

Wardwell explained that the festival has expanded for its second year, with more exhibitors, a broader range of speakers, and bigger acts. “The Jayhawks haven’t played Minnesota in a long time,” Wardwell said. “So we’re really excited about that.”

Non-musical features at the fest include recovery speakers, twelve step meetings, exhibitors of various recovery-oriented artworks and services, and food trucks.

Tickets to HazelFest are $20 in advance or $30 at the door (free for kids 12 and under). For more on HazelFest, listen to Nathan Wardwell’s interview with the Current’s Steve Seel:

  1. Listen Interview with Nathan Wardwell

Austin Gerth is a member of the class of 2016 at Concordia College. He also writes for Concordia’s student blog, The COBBlog; and Concordia’s student newspaper, The Concordian.