Labor Day weekend snuck up on a lot of us much faster than we would have liked it to, but especially so for the folks in Juniper Douglas, a local band/creative project, who have for the past year been diligently planning a three-day music festival to take place this coming weekend. As part of a wave of locally sourced music festivals in the Twin Cities area, The Grocery Store is coming to the Southern Theater this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with experimentation and collaboration at the heart of all the performances.
Juniper Douglas jumped into this project with the idea that it would serve as a platform for artists in the area to break free from their regular set lists and performance habits, or to even start a new band or project. “We don’t want to limit them to what they usually play,” said the group, who like to communicate collectively. “This is a festival where you can come and play whatever you want with no strings attached to your outside groups and all of that. Do whatever you want, it’s fine!”
Highlights of the lineup include punky math-rockers Why Not doing an orchestral set with a visual installment that is rumored to include a giant rat on wheels; and the debut of Baby Boys, a project with a powerhouse team of Jake Luppen (Hippo Campus), Nathan Stocker (Hippo Campus), and Caleb Hinz (Happy Children). Jeremy Ylvisaker will be performing new work with his son, Max; and there’s a LeGrandFest showcase featuring Marmalade after another local music festival, LeGrandeFest, had to be cancelled due to a big sponsor pulling out.
The rest of the lineup includes Juniper Douglas; Iceblink; American Cream Band; an Urban Ventures artist showcase; Improvestra, an electronic synthesis jam and sound collage curated by Carl Fisk; Peter Campanelli; jazz performances curated by Steve Kenny; Scary Mama of Normal Parents’ live debut; Spelt Melk youth jazz collective; and Midnite Express Singers.
They’ve transformed the Southern Theater into a music venue with two smaller stages on a larger stage — a “stageception,” as they describe it. Live streams of the 14 different projects and bands performing are anticipated, and through a partnership with Urban Ventures, a third of the festivals proceeds are going to be donated to Green Central Park Elementary to help develop the school’s music education program.
“It’s a grocery store! You can pick and choose whatever, apples or bananas, text or no text, music or no music,” said Juniper Douglas of the catch-all local festival that is as much an experimental and collaborative opportunity for the artists as it is for the audience’s experience.
As much as this festival has been shrouded in mystery — not only because the group putting it together are secretive in their normal operations already — the results of months of hard work has the pieces falling into place. Juniper Douglas are keeping an open mind for whatever ends up happening at The Grocery Store to…happen.