Hagfest started as a tribute to Merle Haggard in 2017, a year after the day he passed, which was also his birthday, April 6th. Merle had a profound impact on Joe Macheret as a musician, songwriter, performer, person, etc. so he wanted to do something in Merle's name to bring together a bunch of his talented friends, and raise some money for a causes Merle would be fond of.
Hagfest 2020 will streamed "live" at 6pm (EST) Saturday, May 16th, from the Hagfest Facebook and YouTube pages! Hagfest will be raising money this go-around for the musicians performing, the Appalachian Prison Book Project, as well as the legendary music venue, and Hagfest's home, the Southgate House Revival in Newport, KY.
We had the opportunity to talk to Joe Macheret about Hagfest 2020!Tell us about the incarnation of Hagfest…
Hagfest started as a tribute to Merle Haggard a year after the day he passed, which was also his birthday, April 6th. Merle had a profound impact on me as a musician, songwriter, performer, person, etc. so I wanted to do something in his name, bring together a bunch of my talented friends, and raise some money for a cause Merle would be fond of. We're going into our fourth year and have raised money each year for the Appalachian Prison Book Project based out of Morgantown, West Virginia.
What does Hagfest mean to you?
Hagfest has grown to being something bigger than just a festival for Merle. It's been a way for music scenes to connect and a way for Merle Haggard and classic Country fans to find current, working bands they'd never heard before. It's also been a way for us to appreciate legends, up-and-comers, and our regional talent, as we've booked everyone from Cincinnati's local Bluegrass heroes, The Comet Bluegrass All-Stars, to legendary Titan of the Telecaster, Bill Kirchen, famous for his rendition of Hot Rod Lincoln with Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen.
Obviously this year will be a different setup that most are used to. What can people expect when they watch Hagfest?
This year's definitely...completely...different, but it's gonna be fun! We'll be doing a live stream of compiled footage by nearly every act who's ever performed at Hagfest. They've been invited to contribute a video of a Hag song or a song by one of his heroes (Bob Wills, Wynn Stewart, etc.), as well as an original if they wanted to. We've partnered up with Lightning Heart productions to make this run as smooth as possible, and it couldn't have been done without their help!
Tell us a little bit about the organizations the event will be raising money for...
We're raising money for the Appalachian Prison Book Project, The Southgate House Revival in Newport, KY, and for all the musicians performing. The APBP are a nonprofit, who provide educational and literary resources to inmates in Appalachian states. They havemailed over 45,000 free books to people in prison, led book clubs in men’s and women’s prisons, and are currently working to bring for-credit college courses into prisons as well. The Southgate House Revival has been home to Hagfest the past three years, and as an independent music venue, it is being hit extremely hard by the pandemic. I can't help but feel the need to do everything possible to help keep independent, local-artist-supporting venues in existence.