By Jose Gonzalez
Downtown Get Down, Charleston’s newest music festival, takes over the town square this weekend.
The festival starts with a free pre-party today throughout Charleston’s town square.
Most of the musical performances will be throughout the day Saturday.
Mac’s Uptowner features bands like Hot Sauce Jones, Afternoon Moon, and Thinner Teed.
Indio Cigar Factory features bands like Muddy Grove and The Stationary.
Friends & Co. features bands like Moon Dogs, Deliver The Fallen, and Maylae.
Roc’s Blackfront features bands like J Boozer, The Staff Blues Band, and Mustache.
Pre-sale wristbands start at $10 and will be sold at Friends & Co., Mac’s Uptowner, Roc’s Blackfront, Indio Cigar Factory, and Positively 4th Street Records, today. They will be $15 at the door.
Lucas Thomas, promoter for the festival, said his goal is to make Downtown Get Down its own identity as opposed to other Charleston music festivals such as Square Fest.
“It’s no different than past music festivals,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to make it its own thing. It’s a good way to get Eastern students familiar with the bands and the downtown area bars.”
Thomas said the proceeds from the wristband and merchandise sales will go directly to the bands after initial costs are taken care of.
Kevin McGugan, owner of Mac’s Uptowner, said he has been providing Charleston a place to go listen to music for 15 years.
“We feel we started the music scene with Acoustic Sundays,” McGugan said.
McGugan said Downtown Get Down will not be his first festival, as he has hosted music festivals since starting the bar. He will feature all types of music.
“It sells the fact that they’re willing to put on shows that students want to see,” McGugan said. “It brings students in to listen to music in Charleston.”
Kylie Knoop, assistant manager of Roc’s Blackfront, said they started having music on a regular basis in 2009. The majority of musicians came from Coles County.
“We didn’t want to be genre specific,” Knoop said. “The more local they are though, the more of a leg up they got, but we also wanted to take care of the local economy.”
Kyle Daniell, the drummer for Hot Sauce Jones, said Downtown Get Down will be his first time playing in Charleston.
Daniell said they have played at the Canopy Club in Champaign and twice at the Iron Post in Urbana, as well as performing an outdoor festival in Terre Haute, Ind.
Daniell said the band’s name came from their keyboard player’s nickname.
“We needed a name and it stuck to us,” Daniell said.
Leslie Francis, vocalist for Muddy Grove, said she and her brother started Muddy Grove because their entire family was involved in music.
Francis said her and her brother started Muddy Grove in 2008 with her husband, Caleb, and drummer Jeremy McConnaha.
Unlike Daniell and Hot Sauce Jones, Francis said Muddy Grove has a following around Mattoon and Charleston. They have played at 7th Street Underground, Indio Cigar Factory, and Christmas on the Square.
Daniell said he hopes Downtown Get Down will help students and residents become more familiar with their music, and rise to a level like Thinner Teed is at.
“We’re trying to get our name out there and get a following,” Daniell said. “We’re the only jam band in Charleston since The Fuzz.”
McGugan said he is participating in Downtown Get Down for the interests of the community and the students.
“If we don’t do this for the community and students, then we lose the people,” McGugan said. “We have to provide the entertainment needed to relax and go home safely. The purpose of this is the awareness of good entertainment and that they keep the population here and safe. I don’t want to see anyone hurt, I want to see people around good entertainment.”
Knoop said they are all involved as a collaborative effort in order to work together and promote Charleston.
“It’s really our chance to work together and show what we have to offer,” Knoop said.
Knoop added Charleston’s music scene is considered safer than the surrounding cities.
“It’s safer, less travel, and you can support your local musicians,” Knoop said. “Each venue has a different genre. The music chosen fits our style and venue. It’s more universally appreciated and it will feel more like a musical crawl.”
Jose Gonzalez can be reached at 581-2812 or