When Rick Berlin, Shamus Moynihan, and Randace Rauscher Moore were putting together last year’s inaugural Jamaica Plain Music Festival, they noted on their permit application that they expected 300-500 people to show up. They ended up getting, depending on who you ask, between 1,200 and 2,000 audience members grooving on a wide variety of musical genres performed by 22 acts.
Three months after that free August event, they were back in planning mode for this year’s, set for Sept. 8, again at Pinebank Field, near the banks of Jamaica Pond. The 2012 edition will feature a few changes: two large stages instead of one large and one small; both stages will now face ; there are 26 acts; and it’ll
Berlin, whose new album with the Nickel & Dime Band will be released on Oct. 23 (with a party for it at the Magic Room Gallery in Allston on Oct. 25), recently sat down to talk about the upcoming festival.
Were you surprised at how well the first event went?
There’s only one first time, and there was something so unexpected and magical. I mean, there could have been 30 people there last year, with a polite clap at the end of each band. But the fact that it was so successful was just dazzling and euphoric.
It took you five months just to get a permit from the city last year. Was it easier this time around?
The permit came really quickly this time. We’ve proven ourselves as being responsible and reliable and successful. So the city is considerably more behind us now. That makes things a lot smoother.
But has putting it all together been any easier?
We had to get over it last year, then our group got together and started it all over again. We meet every week, sometimes twice a week. In many ways it’s a lot easier, because we popped the cherry last year, and now more people know about it, and more bands applied to play. We had about 100 applicants last year, and 150 this year.
So you had to turn down a lot of people.
Yes, and it’s uncomfortable. Saying no is so painful. We want the unfolding of the event to remain interesting in terms of genre, numbers of musicians, ethnicity, persuasion. But we can’t fill all of those slots perfectly. It’s an imperfect process. It’s not easy.
What worked out so well that you’ll do it the same way again?
We planned at least the performance end of it really carefully, so that bands knew where they needed to be, how long they needed to play, which stage they were on, what time they needed to show up. This year we’ve added a merchandise table through where they’ll sell CDs for each band that performs.
Is there anything that happened last time that won’t this time?
We’re not having politicians introducing bands this year. But if the mayor shows up, there’s no way we’ll say no to that.
You originally envisioned the event as, in your words, a “mom and pop corner store music festival.” What are your thoughts now?
A lot of people missed it last year because it was in August, but they’ll be in town in September. So my hope is that the number of people could double. But it’s the heart of the matter that’s so important to us, and it’s in support of all these tremendous artists that live and work here, and for the businesses that support us, and to the people that give themselves to it happily. It’s quite beautiful.