From the sidewalk of East Hudson Street, the faint sounds of electric guitar ballads and the occasional hammering drum solo can be heard over the noisy hum of I-71. Here lies local music safe haven, the Dude Locker — a practice space and intimate concert venue primarily aimed toward musicians who are actively a part of the Columbus music scene. This “garage band style” venue is set to open its gates Friday at 6 p.m., for the masses to experience local independent artists and musicians uniting into what is known as Worst Kept Secret Fest.
Worst Kept Secret Fest V, the fifth of a twice a year event, is set to host more than 20 bands, 10 artists and three food trucks over a two-day period.
“It’s always inclusive. We don’t restrict any genres or ages,” said technical director for Worst Kept Secret Fest, Joshua Herald.
The best way to describe the weekend’s atmosphere, Herald said, is to think of Worst Kept Secret Fest as a “house show, meets art gallery, meets barbecue.”
Co-founders Tim Sistrunk’s and Geoff Spall’s motivation for starting Worst Kept Secret Fest in summer 2012 began with a drive to showcase local artists, and it is an ideal that has stuck with their team as they prepare for this year’s fifth festival. Sistrunk and Spall, both active participants in the local music scene, said they want to use Worst Kept Secret Fest as a way to provide a community for Columbus artists, in hopes the work shown throughout the weekend will cease existing as just a “secret.”
“I think there is an issue in the Columbus scene about how you get certain opportunities as an artist or musician,” Spall said. “Accessibility would be why we call it Worst Kept Secret Fest.”
Sistrunk said the Worst Kept Secret Fest is largely about nurturing artists.
“The scene is taking advantage of the musician and profiting from them,” Sistrunk said. “We are not interested in that, we want to give the artist, the performer, and anybody else a platform to succeed and then put that platform under a microscope.”
Pat Chase, the street team coordinator for the event, explained that community is a major part of the festival.
“We are not interested in the scene, we are interested in a community,” Chase said. “A scene is something where people can look in from the outside, a community is something where you can step in and sign up.”
Sistrunk described this concept as a way of “kicking the scene in the teeth” and it has been the biggest motivator for Sistrunk and Spall since the beginning.
Worst Kept Secret Fest is expecting to accept donations for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank throughout the weekend. Columbus artist Wil Wong Yee is set to paint a portrait of the festival live as it’s going on and plans to raffle off his live painting inside the art gallery. Worst Kept Secret Fest will also host a tarot card reader.
Sistrunk said he expects to see between 500-1,000 people attend Worst Kept Secret Fest V, topping the previous April’s most attended fest to date.
“It’s a great party,” Sistrunk said.