Brannon Kleinlein thought he would host a little music festival at Apache Lake 10 years ago, just to see how it would fly.
“I thought, ‘Hey, let’s get some friends together and have a little camping trip. This would be a great place for a show,” he says. “We didn’t have any major expectations beyond that.”
For $20, music fans saw the likes of What Laura Says, Black Carl, Sugar Thieves, Strange Young Things, Tramps and Thieves, Los Guys, Dry River Yacht Club and Mojo Farmers at what was known as Jerome-a-therapy.
Since then, it has adopted the name Apache Lake Music Festival.
“We got a great response after the first year,” says Kleinlein, who also owns Last Exit Live. “From there, we just kept building and gaining momentum through word of mouth and grassroots. It’s pretty impressive how it’s lasted this long. People look forward to it every October.”
This year—Friday, October 18, and Saturday, October 19—Jared and the Mill and Kongos are serving as headliners.
“Kongos has had tremendous success with a platinum record, hit songs and they’ve played for us before,” Kleinlein says. “It feels good to have all local bands. It’s something that started with local bands. They really embrace it as their own festival and we stuck to that formula.”
Besides sticking with local bands, Kleinlein says he looks for acts who can pull a crowd and if they can appeal to diverse crowds.
“We have a vibe with what our crowd likes,” he says. “We want to pull from every scene, if we can. There’s something for everybody out there.”
Also slated to perform is Shawn Johnson, who is making a return to the stage after suffering a stroke in early 2018. The illness led to emergency brain surgery. When he awoke from the medically induced coma, he couldn’t play guitar, Johnson says.
“I was scared,” he says slowly. “I said, ‘This can’t happen.’ Fortunately, it came back.”
Johnson’s stroke came just as he was preparing to promote his latest album, “Sunshine for Someone.” Now that the newlywed has returned to the stage, he’s making sure fans are aware of it. He performs with his band, The Foundation, at 2 p.m. Saturday, October 19.
“Shawn has such a lengthy history,” says Kleinlein, who graduated from ASU’s College of Business in 1997. “He’s been around here playing the bars and clubs. He’s been consistent throughout the years. He’s talented and a great person. In the mid-1990s, he was on Mill Avenue when Mill Avenue had a lot of live music to play. We’re super excited that Shawn is on the festival bill, still rockin’ it and putting out good stuff.”
Apache Lake Music Festival
Apache Lake Marina and Resort, 22.5 mile marker, Roosevelt, apachelakemusicfestival.com, eventbrite.com, check website for door times, Friday, October 18, and Saturday, October 19, $35-$60.