2016 has been an exciting year for Recover from a musical standpoint. We have continued working with touring bands and music festivals, and we launched our RAD program – Recover Artist Development. What’s even better - we have also seen a major increase in sustainability efforts from festivals and individual bands/musicians. Despite 2016 being a year where the world lost some of the greatest musicians of all time, and both the world and our country seemingly divided in conflict, it is now more clear than ever, that music brings people together and fills us with feelings of hope and community.
Working with musicians and festivals is a big part of Recover’s DNA. We simply love music. It offers us a place to showcase our products to the masses and spread the word about sustainability. This year, we launched a partnership with AC Entertainment, based out of Knoxville, TN. AC offers a wide variety of services – booking, production, venue management – but they are most known for owning several large festivals – most notably Bonnaroo and Forecastle. We also expanded our mix of supplying apparel for touring bands. Working a deal to supply shirts for Wilco’s summer and fall tours was a euphoric moment for this avid Wilco fan. Even more encouraging is the increasing emphasis on sustainability throughout the music world. One of our partners, Clean Vibes, a waste management service, diverted 91% of the waste at Outside Lands in San Francisco. That’s up from 84% last year.
Festival season and the partnership with AC kicked off at Big Ears festival in March, and it was one of the most unique festivals we’ve ever been a part of. For starters, the lineup was stacked with an eclectic mix of some the world’s best musicians. The jams skew towards experimental and you get the feeling that the artists want to be there as much as anyone. They are there to showcase their skills and give their fans a mind-bending experience. Personally, I was as excited to see Yo La Tengo and Lambchop as anyone at Big Ears Festival this year, and sure enough, they played a set together on Saturday night at the renowned Bijiou Theater. It was epic! While there were countless noteworthy shows, the most inspiring performance I saw at Big Ears was a Saturday, late night set from Kamasi Washington. The California based jazz superstar is as funky as he is uplifting. A perfect show to close out a killer festival. Already excited for Big Ears 2017.
The spring and summer tend to be a busy time for Recover from a festival standpoint. It often feels like it’s week after week of music festival, tradeshow, or outdoor sporting event. Often times it is. In July, we hit back to back music festivals with Forecastle in Louisville, KY (another AC festival) and Floyd Fest in Floyd, Virginia.
Forecastle was a big deal for us this year. It’s set in the heart of downtown Louisville, and in its fifteenth year, the festival brings in over 30,000 patrons per day. Beyond a fully stacked lineup, Forecastle puts a tremendous emphasis on sustainability. From eliminating single-use plastics at the festival to using 100% recycled, sustainable merchandise (Recover), Forecastle gets it, and they practice what they preach. They also book incredible music! Some of my favorite bands were at Forecastle this year, and I was fortunate enough to see sets from Phosphorescent, Dr. Dog, Steve Gunn, Alabama Shakes, Ryan Adams, and Local Natives, to name a few.
To follow up Forecastle, we headed to the scenic Floyd Fest, located right off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, Virginia. This was our fourth year working with Floyd Fest as the official merchandise provider and our second year setting up in the Outdoor Experience tent. Floyd Fest is a perfect size for Recover to engage with festival goers. They bring in 12,000 patrons per day and by the end of the festival you feel as if you’ve met everyone there. It was really exciting for us to see fans seeking out “this year’s Floyd Fest Recover shirt”! Like Forecastle, Floyd Fest is a leader in sustainability. The fans and festival producers get it. It’s a real outdoor festival where everyone camps and most everyone embraces the philosophies of Leave No Trace. They also bring in a wide mix of musicians so everyone can have their own Floyd Fest experience. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats played one of the most energy charged sets that I saw all year. But the most inspiring show I saw at Floyd Fest 2016 was from Femi Kuti. Femi is from Nigeria and the son of the afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti. The very origins of the music are uplifting. The high-energy funk / jazz ensemble speaks to its fans about real world problems. In the case of Femi, it is about political corruption and oppression in his native country. The music and message, however, can be felt by anyone who listens. These are earth moving, awe-inspiring, get-up-and-do-something about your issues kind of jams.
Here's a video from Femi Kuti at Floyd Fest 2016.We enter 2017 with the same optimism that we felt in 2016. With new artist and festival partnerships lining up in the new year, we are thrilled to keep doing what we love – checking out live music, supporting artists that we love, creating great shirts, and promoting sustainability.