Going into its seventh year, the BelTek Music and Arts Festival has had to make a few changes. Not big changes, but changes nonetheless. Changes that are completely necessary, too. The biggest change? After all these years, and after organizers Erik Klausmeyer and Rick Kidson going nearly broke after welcoming, at last count, 1,500 people onto Kidson’s farm in Belmont, they needed to find some way to offset the costs. They also wanted to do some good in the process.
“We wanted to take the branding power of the event and use it to raise money for some charity,” said Klausmeyer. “Plus, we end up putting thousands and thousands of dollars into the event. We needed to find a way to do it where we didn’t end up going broke personally.”
To that end, BelTek 2009 costs $25 if you buy before July 30, and $30 at the gate, for the entire weekend. For the amount of entertainment you get, plus the fact that camping and parking are included, it ends up being the cheapest festival of its kind in the state. Seriously. Music starts at 6 p.m. Friday and doesn’t stop until the last exhausted party person finally stops dancing — probably somewhere in the early hours of Sunday morning. Thirty DJs, 2.5 days and all on a gorgeous farm in the rolling hills of rural Waldo County.
Any money past operating costs that are raised by the new fee will go to two very deserving charities — the Good Shepherd Food-Bank and WERU-FM.
“Good Shepherd actually prefers to get cash donations, because through their connections they can get a lot more food than through food drives,” said Klausmeyer. “And WERU is because that’s where we all met. That’s where the entire idea for BelTek was hatched.”
As with other years, BelTek will be a mix of old and new, with classic BelTek DJs sharing the turntables with new ones. Old favorites such as Psydways, KTF Terison, PopGirl and Dreamosaic will be there, as will Legal Limit, a Maine native now enjoying success out in Los Angeles. Boston-based Psylab, an electronic jam band popular throughout the country, will be taking the stage for the first time this year. Jon B, a superproducer of trance, house and drum and bass will be there, as will Reid Speed, a Los Angeles-based club DJ.
Rounding out the list of unofficial headliners is Grand Wizzard Theodore — the man who invented scratch DJing, and one of the grandfathers of all hip-hop and electronic music.
“He did it for the first time back in 1975, when he was 12 years old. In NYC they would have these big soundsystems set up in the parks, and people would gather to hear music,” said Klausmeyer. “He discovered scratching by accident. People went crazy for it and started copying it. He’s been with hip hop since the beginning.”
The blurring of lines between scenes is nothing new. At BelTek, expect a serious techno fan to be hanging out with a jam band hippie, along with hip hop heads and regular old music fans.
Beltek isn’t just for music, either. In fact, one aspect of the show threatens to rival the music as an attraction. Fire dancing troupes from all over the Northeast will descend on BelTek to perform incredible feats of gracefulness and pyrotechnic ability for the crowd. As in years past, Dr. Wilson, a Bar Harbor-based magician, will bring his Fiji mermaid and other magical accoutrements to the festival. And this year, expect a much-expanded marketplace area, with more food and vendors.
“We’ve got pizza and stir-fry and lots of organic foods and drinks,” said Klausmeyer. “Not to mention all the art and jewelry available. Between the music, dancing, art and food, it’s literally like a marketplace of alternative culture. Everything that is outside the mainstream, all in one spot.”
For more information on the BelTek Music & Arts Festival, visit www.subsurfaced.net/beltek.