Imagine learning about finding your muse from David Crosby (of Crosby Stills & Nash) on the lawn outside the North Beach Bandshell, as the sun sets and the evening breeze blows by.
Or learning how to up your music game from the likes of local favorites like Electric Kif and Roosevelt Collier on the beach.
This weekend, the first GroundUP Music Festival will bring that, along with performances from GRAMMY winners Esperanza Spalding and Snarky Puppy and students from local institutions like the Frost School of Music and New World School of the Arts.
The festival will take over the bandshell, the adjacent building, the lawn, and even parts of the beach for performances, food from local chefs and restaurants, workshops, and master classes. Then they’ll head to the nearby Deauville for late-night performances. It’s limited to 1,500 people a day to keep it intimate.
“The idea is just to knock down the wall between the artist and the audience. When we leave, we don’t want to be one of those festivals that… just leaves behind a bunch of litter. We want to leave a positive footprint in Miami,” says Michael League, the CEO of GroundUP record label and artistic director of the festival.
GroundUP considered several different places for the festival, but ultimately landed on Miami — partially at the urging of Paul Lehr, a native Miamian who used to be the CEO of the YoungArts Foundation and is now the executive director of GroundUP.
“I am a Miami devotee and I think that we have a music culture that while rich and diverse and very international, doesn’t get as much attention as it should,” Lehr says. “We’ve become known for EDM, but there isn’t really a lot of live music here. … I think there’s something really special and unifying about having live music.”
It wasn’t that hard of a sell, though, League says.
“In addition to the beautiful weather and the incredible venue, Miami has a lot of diversity. It has a really rich community culturally and almost all of those cultures have beautiful musical traditions. There is a kind of ingrained, I think, love and tradition of music in the people here.”
The goal is to make this an annual festival right here in Miami and, down the line, launch a second festival that will rotate between different cities.