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December 09, 2016
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arts & leisure

Mazfest: Peace, love and music in Roscoe

Katie and Miguel from the Secular Sextets

ROSCOE, NY — What began as a small, one-day music festival has grown into a mini Woodstock-esque event hosted by the Livingston Manor-based rock group Mazmyth. In explaining the name of his band, guitarist Matt Smith said, “Matt Smith sounds like Mazmyth when you’re slurring your words. It had us laughing and it just stuck around.” And from there sprang the name for the entire music festival, Mazfest.

The third annual festival was held at the Fireman’s Field on August 3, 4 and 5. Live bands and solo performers of many musical styles began performing at 12:30 p.m. on Friday and continued until 4 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Despite the heavy downpour of rain on Sunday, the event persevered until 10 p.m., with performers smoothly alternating between the smaller IDA stage and the more extravagant Abott stage. Many local solo musicians and bands performed including Kaahele, The Secular Sextets, and Jazzmosis, alongside the more widely known bands from New York City: O’Death, Consider The Source and Dopapod.

Tents of all sizes and colors were pitched within view of the Abott stage. Some campers, it seemed, never slept. A fire pit drew people to the center of the site each night and sunrises were accompanied by the mellow sound of drum circles. At around 6 a.m. on Saturday, a team of campers worked together to build a dam in the stream, which was used throughout the weekend to cool off from the sweltering heat. Later that day, an orb-shaped decoration that hung by the food stands was taken down and ripped open by staff members. Inside was a giant beach ball, which campers kicked around in the open field. It was also bounced throughout the crowd during performances that evening.

“I am Papa Maz,” boasted Douglas Smith, father of Matt, Danny (Mazmyth’s drummer) and Bryan (who, though musically talented, is not in a band). Douglas also performed with his brother Kevin, nephew Jeff and niece Allison in “Dadzmyth.” He went on to say that the members of Dadzmyth have done a great deal to inspire the musical talent in Mazmyth. The boys were raised around music and grew up learning and improving together. “Every Memorial and Labor Day weekend we go to my grandfather’s property and we do this [have our own music festival], but its just family,” said Matt.

The staff of Mazfest is made up almost entirely of friends and family volunteers. “It’s one big unit that doesn’t work without the individual pieces. It’s not just blood family, which there is a lot of, but it’s friends that are so close they are family. Without that fully functional unit, this couldn’t happen,” Matt said. Mazfest also gives back to the community in donations to the fire department and volunteer Aambulance corps. (Luckily, no one in the peaceful environment of Mazfest needed any medical attention this time around.)

However, on the first night, when a father came to pick up his 14-year-old daughter, Jesse, at 11 p.m., and nobody knew where she was, it caused a serious panic. Announcements were made over the sound system for Jesse to report to the parking lot, but she was nowhere to be found. As it turned out, Jesse was waiting up the road where she had originally arranged to meet with her dad—who drove past her in the darkness. When the announcement was made that she was finally found, the whole campsite cheered.

Ultimately, Mazfest was a hit. Everyone had a great time jamming for three days and camping out for two epic nights. Douglas said that there were about 300 people at the festival this year, and that they hope to have close to 1,000 next year. “We’re making some efforts to put more money into promotion and advertisement, but for the most part it’s my family and friends sitting in the attic or garage just talking about what we can do to make it better,” said Bryan Smith. Mazfest shows no signs of slowing down and next year’s festival promises to be bigger and better than ever before.