Posted by drew On October - 20 - 20106,297 views

This coming weekend, Austin Texas will neck deep in freaks, clowns, and ROCK AND ROLL!!  The first annual FREAKSHOW Festival is coming with some of the top names in psychobilly!  We thought it would be a killer idea to sit down and have a chat with one of the minds behind this event!

First off, tell us who you are, your background with festivals, and how you came to do this for a living?

My name is Rachel Simmons and the people putting this festival together are my husband, Clint and my two brothers-in-law, Ken and Rob.  The brothers own several of business, all automotive and work together daily (I don’t know how).  I’ve been doing event planning quite literally all my life.  It was passed down from my grandmother to my mother to me.  Eventually, I attended school for Event Planning.  While in school, I started volunteering at random events, such as expo’s and festivals.  It became evident that I had a natural understanding and passion for festivals specifically.  So about two and a half years ago, I quit my job at the Driskill Hotel to start my own event security and production company with Clint.  I’ve never looked back.  I love what I do.

How did the Freakshow Festival come into being?

Well, the Freak Show Festival has definitely been evolving for over the course of about four years or so.  A while back, I was planning my birthday festivities and had the idea that it would be a lot of fun to have midget wrestling or something along those lines.  The idea grew and grew until I thought, wow, how fun would it be to have an entire festival that had all these different kinds of unique performers roaming around?  Kind of like in the movies when you see old-school carnivals in small towns and it’s just over crowded with sideshows, clowns and jugglers.  So there you have it, my concept was born.  We’re saving the midget thing for next year.

There is a lot of rock shows in Austin.  Do you think this city can handle another?

Yes, there are tons to do in Austin, but there’s nothing like this on this big of a scale.  The demographic of the Freak Show Festival here in Austin is starving.  There are some great festivals but none that really feed into the “Keep Austin Weird” theme like we will.  I am 100% confident in what we’re offering as a sort of “product” to the public.  In the festival summary we state that it will be a “visually inspiring and acoustically stimulating experience,” and that’s totally true.  Austin has never seen anything put together like this before.  I mean, the whole ‘Vaudeville’ circus era is enchanting and mysterious.  Whose curiosity doesn’t get the better of them when they see a bearded woman, or someone swallow a huge sword or eat fire or nail something into their own head?  It’s living art.  And then you add the infamous veterans like Jim Rose and the whole rockabilly scene with talent like the good Reverend?  I mean, it’s a festival built to entertain in the truest form, not just provide good music.  This is not your run-of-the-mill, “oh, I don’t have anything to do today, let’s go see some music” festival.  This is an event to look forward to, to travel for, to talk about, to keep you up all night in anticipation.  You know, we have people flying and driving in from all over the country for this and even a gal from Australia!  People have been waiting for something like this.  They just didn’t know until now.

Tell us who are some of that bands performing?

I am very proud of our line-up.  Headlining we have the Reverend Horton Heat supported by Horrorpops, The Creepshow, Koffin Kats and Devil’s Rose.  I personally think it’s such a good line-up I don’t know what we’re going to do next year to beat it!

Now, you have some of the biggest names in Psychobilly.  How familiar were you with the genre prior to planning this event?

Honestly, before planning this event I knew very little about Rockabilly.  I knew that I liked it and when I would end up out at a bar with a good rockabilly band playing in the corner, I enjoyed it.  It’s “having a good ‘ole time music”.  I knew about the Reverend but had to do quite a bit of research coupled with some good advice from friends to piece together the rest of our line-up.  We started out going in more of a gothic/electronic direction, but the whole rockabilly/psychobilly style is what fell into place.  I’m telling you, this festival was fated.

The circus aspect of it is pretty cool.  What’s going on with that part of the show?

The circus aspect of our show is being provided by Pure Cirkus out of Seattle, Washington who showcases a fusion of traveling FREAK SHOW, burlesque, pyrotechnic theatre and combative cabaret.  I had the vision in my mind, but communicating what’s in my mind to other people on paper and bringing it to fruition is not always easy.  I started researching different performance groups around the nation and came across them.  They were exactly what I was looking for.  I remember my first phone call to the founder of Pure Cirkus, Xavier Frost.  I was nervous and remember him asking “What can I do for you?”, and saying, “Umm, I have this vision for a festival that I would like to hire you to do.”  They’re going to perform in between each band and each performance will be a little different.  They’ll have fire-eating, block heads, adult-comedy, ribbon acrobatics, contortionists and the list just goes on.  I’m pretty intrigued myself.

Where is this all going to go down?

The festival is taking place in downtown Austin in a huge parking lot between 7th Street, 8th Street, Trinity and Neches; right across from the Salvation Army.

How’s it feel to see your vision finally come to fruition?

Being an event producer is like being an artist.  This festival is my creation, my vision and holds a piece of my soul now.  I’m just excited to share it so that it can bring joy, excitement, shock and awe, and overall good memories to whomever comes.  When I read comments on our Facebook, or emails or hear them when we’re out promoting, I take them personally.  It’s something to be proud of when your creation makes people smile with excitement.  People tell me, “Oh, I love your line-up!”  I look at them and say “Thank you” with a big smile, and I mean every bit of it.

For more info on this killer show check out the website!

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