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Morristown Music Fest: cure for the small town blues

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Morristown, Indiana is your average SmallTown, USA, so the age-old kid's complaint of “There’s never anything to do here” is likely more common amongst the town’s youth, and without even so much as a bowling alley, they’re likely right. Former Morristown citizen Jason Chisham decided he wanted to help out his old stomping grounds by starting the Morristown Summer Music Festival.

“I grew up in Morristown and I knew there wasn’t much to do down there for the kids,” said Chisham, 27, head organizer of the festival. MSM Fest is a day-long music festival featuring dozens of local and Midwestern touring bands. The first installment took place in 2010 with only 11 bands playing the amphitheater of the Morristown Community Park. In 2011, the event was expanded to two days and 18 acts. This year’s festival is back to one day packed with nearly 40 bands playing five different stages, made from shelters in the park, throughout the day.
While the previous festivals’ lineups tended to lean towards pop punk and metalcore acts like It’s All Happening, Don’t Call It A Comeback, The Day After, We Came From Nowhere, and more, this year features a broader variety of bands, including hip hop, chip tune, and indie rock.

“Reactions, from what I can tell, have been really positive,” said Chisham. Kids know who I am, know I am doing and are excited. The town council told me to keep it growing.”

Bands have also given a positive response to MSM Fest. Mitch Vice, front man for Indianapolis band It’s All Happening, will not only be playing the festival for the third year in a row, but will also be running sound for one of the five stages.

“I’m looking forward to giving back to MSM Fest,” said Vice. “We’ve had the pleasure of playing MSM Fest both years previous. It’s a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to get our music out in front of a lot of kids who don’t have the luxury of attending a lot of concerts in their own hometown.”

Bands have seen enthusiastic reactions from the local attendees of the show. Cody Almond of local pop punk band Don’t Call It A Comeback found that nothing beats the reactions of an enthusiastic home town crowd.

“Last year we played on Warped Tour and hadn’t even put out a studio record, so it was pretty bad ass how everyone sand along and jumped on stage,” said Almond. “It was incredible to be considered enough of a part of our music scene to get to be part of something completely based around the scene.”

In the end, Chisham hopes Morristown Summer Music Festival will leave a positive influence on the small town’s youth. Like Piradical Productions, who is helping with the event and where Chisham got his start with local music, he has worked towards booking more shows in his home town in an effort to get kids interested in music and away from drugs and alcohol.

“If kids in small rural areas don’t have something to do, it could lead to drugs, alcohol, or just plain mischief,” said Chisham. “Shows also give these kids opportunities to have fun and express themselves.”

The Morristown Summer Music Festival is this Saturday in Morristown Community Park. More information is available as MSMFest.com.

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