Festivals centered around faith-based or spiritual concerns tend to be rather dry affairs, with the an ever-revolving lineup of the same CCM acts taking to the stage to preach the good word atop overheated power rock anthems (or, God forbid, hip-hop beats). The Wild Goose Festival was started last year as a reaction to big to-dos like Creation Fest or Cornerstone.
Modeled after the Greenbelt Festival, a longrunning pop event in the UK, Wild Goose bills itself as a "community creating a festival at the intersection of justice, spirituality, and art." A lofty goal but one that organizers have actually achieved by bringing in musicians, speakers, and artists from inside and outside the church world.
Wild Goose originally started in North Carolina last year, but in 2012 are gearing up for their first event in Corvallis at Benton County Fairgrounds. Happening over Labor Day weekend, the western U.S. version of the fest sticks to the same model bringing in feminist theologians, rabbis, and members of the Native American community to speak and generate debate.
But there will also be music, which is where Todd Fadel comes in. You may recognize his name from his days running the still-lamented all ages venue Meow Meow or via his work as a co-founder of the church known as The Bridge. Or maybe you just like his neo-soul band The Beauty. Fadel was tapped by the organizers of Wild Goose to curate all the musicians that will be heading down to Corvallis to perform. It's a wildly eclectic lineup too, that includes Menomena, No Kind of Rider, Ryan Sollee, and Kelli Schaefer, as well as sets by Linda Hornbuckle, Obo Addy, and Shelley Short.
We grabbed Todd for a few minutes on the phone today to talk about his involvement in the festival.
How did you end up working with the Wild Goose folks?
My family and I went to the UK for the Greenbelt Festival. And we went to hear this talk done by Joy Wallace, a female vicar who was the inspiration behind the TV show The Vicar of Dibley. And she was saying, "Word is that there will be a festival like this in the States." I got in touch with the people doing it. It was this diverse, interesting collection of spiritually diverse folks that weren't necessarily coming from similar traditions. The goal is to pave the way for anyone of any faith or no faith at all to be there and to be part of the conversation, to know that they will be listened to. I got to help put the music lineup together for the first one in North Carolina, and so when the decided to do one out here, it was natural for me to be the main music curator for it.
Why put on this festival out here?
I think to further the movement. We could have kept doing it in that one area, but it's expensive to get out there and the weather can be brutal during that time of year. And there's a good deal of progressive conversations happening out here. A lot of people are very divided on where they stand with their faith and could use a real galvanizing event that could help bring everyone together.
And there will be speakers and lectures and that kind of thing?
It's definitely not a conference feel. More sort of a fireside chat with different voices. Storytelling, dramatic works, dance performances, expressive art, food vendors, and a beer tent. We will have lots of different voices from the queer community, Native Americans from the area telling stories of the land and helping to address the harder issues of their land being stolen from them. Justice issues that come from immigration policy. All these things are key themes to the festival. There will be heated discussion coming from every angle. My booking philosophy was to reflect that. I wanted to honor voices that generally get relegate to playing festivals that just center on their style of music. Rarely do I see these worlds come together.