THE HOMEGROWN MUSIC FESTIVAL FOUNDED BY DOVE LIDDLE, NOW IN ITS 13TH YEAR, PROVIDES THREE DAYS OF MUSIC FROM 30 ACTS IN AN OUTDOOR SETTING
Dove Liddle is passionate about music. The California native has come a long way from his days of traveling across the Mainland in a Volkswagen bus following the Grateful Dead, among other bands. Today, Liddle is the founder of one of the island’s largest annual musical events, Homegrown Music Festival, which is celebrating its 13th anniversary this weekend.
His company, Dove Presents, is bringing together another eclectic mix of artists for the three-day music fest starting Nov. 8 at the Church of the Pacific’s outdoor amphitheater in Princeville.
“Live music and nature are a beautiful combination,” he says during a recent interview at Anahola Taro Patch, where he held the first event in 2001. “I wanted to create a festival that was out in nature that you could experience with your family and with your kids.”
Each year, the event draws a collection of musical acts from around the Islands. Folk, reggae and rock ‘n’ roll are just a few of the genres showcased. This year, there will be 30 different acts, including John Cruz, Paula Fuga and Mike Love.
At the inaugural event, some 300 people attended to watch six bands perform. Last year, the two-day festival drew approximately 1,000 music lovers. Even with 30 acts due to perform this year, the festival has become so popular that Liddle had to turn down 20 acts because there was no space.
“There’s a huge need.
We have such an amazing amount of talent and original music on the island and not a lot of outlets for everyone to play,” he says.
That was one of the reasons he created Homegrown Music Festival.
“I found that there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for original musicians and bands and artists to play,” he explains.
When Liddle moved to the island from Oregon in 1999, to his dismay he discovered there weren’t many places he could play his guitar and sing. A couple of years later, he developed the festival so that musicians could play for larger audiences and at a venue other than bars. As the years progressed, he started booking more headliners, which drew more crowds which, in turn, gave more opportunities to smaller, local artists.
“Over the years, it’s been surprising how many bands have grown with the festival that started out real small and have gone on to be touring all around the world,” says Liddle.
He also is proud of the many different groups he has brought to the island that weren’t a part of the festival, including Michael Franti in 2004 “before he was popular,” says Liddle, who lost money on the show. “And now he’s huge.”
He also has brought in musicians such as Jason Mraz and Vanessa Carlton. But the Ozomatli concert in 2005 on Halloween night was by far one of his favorite performances he’s booked to date.
“That was a pretty epic show,” he says.
Liddle not only is dedicated to bringing feel-good music to audiences, he also is all about giving back to the community. Throughout the years, he has presented many shows to help raise funds for nonprofits and schools. This year’s Homegrown Music Festival is a partial benefit for Church of the Pacific’s North Shore Food Pantry, which provides food to approximately 250 people every Wednesday.
“Their goal is to make sure nobody on the North Shore of Kauai is hungry,” says Liddle.
Liddle even serves as a voluntary DJ for Kauai Community Radio Station, KKCR. His show, Fresh Jams, which plays live jam band music, airs Saturdays at 10 p.m.
“I love playing live music,” he says, “and I get great feedback from listeners of the station who just love to be able to tune in to the local radio station and hear diverse music.”
Liddle himself has loved listening to diverse music since an early age. His father Greg, a surfboard shaper from Malibu who moved to Kauai in the 1980s, was the inspiration behind his picking up the guitar as a child (as well as moving to the island). The first concert Liddle attended as a teenager was by Prince at The Forum in L.A.
“That changed my life – seeing a live performance at that magnitude,” he says.
Prior to his transition to Kauai, Liddle was setting up sound systems in Oregon and still does for weddings and other special events. Though his music business keeps him quite engaged, Liddle, father of Ryemin (16) and Reason (3), still finds time to surf, operate his 8-acre farm in Moloaa and work on his upcoming solo album.
Though he is excited for the weekend, Liddle is mostly looking forward to Sunday’s performance of Hawaii Island’s Medicine for the People because they embody what he calls his niche – progressive, conscious and original.