The 4th annual Harvey Milk Festival (HMF) is slated to return to downtown Sarasota for three days of music, film and art in celebration of LGBTQ equality. According to HMF President Shannon Fortner, the event is "going to be a hot time on a hot town.'"
Actually, she never said that. But being the PR guy for the event, I thought she should. In fact, I wanted her to whisper it like Marilyn Monroe on a Youtube video while performing a Ashlee Simpson jig. You know, to hype the festival. But when I made the suggestion, she just looked blankly back at me. I don't blame her. If you have the pleasure of knowing Fortner, then you understand she's all business when it comes to equal rights, particularly in the final days leading to the big event.
I remember the first time I met Fortner was while doing press for the Sarasota Film Festival. After hearing her vocals on the MeteorEYES song "Splish Splash" I ran up to her and said, "I love you." Honestly, that was our first verbal exchange. And she just looked at me. Dumbfounded. Like most people would.
The she said, "Have you heard about the United American Families Act (UAFA)? What about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)?"
I remember thinking this poor little woman obviously doesn't know me. At that time I loathed politics. Sure, I dated a few poli-sci majors in college, but I knew better than to actually speak to them. Then Fortner and I became friends and she kept talking about "equality this" and "gay marriage that," and I finally realized that what she had to say was important. People are being denied equal rights based on their sexual orientation, and that needs to be changed.
Hence, Fortner took her message to the streets, founding HMF along with her best friend Jen O'Connor. Last year, the festival garnered some time in the national spotlight thanks to performances by indie heavyweights such as Breton, CLAPS, and The Pauses, drawing over 5,000 festival-goers. This year, it promises to be even bigger with film, art and nine emerging local and national music acts.
This year's music headliner is French Horn Rebellion. Receiving critical praise at the 2013 SXSW, French Horn Rebellion has toured with Cut Copy and MGMT. The indie duo, consisting of a pair of brothers greatly influenced by the playful aspects of the French horn and driving synths, is a staple on the Brooklyn indie scene, where the band recently performed a series of sold-out shows at the legendary live-music venue Brooklyn Bowl. The sound is dance-driven with a dash of disco. Think Pet Shop Boys without the British accent. Recently, the band released a hot track with electro-artist Viceroy. Check it out.
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The 2013 co-headliners include NYC indie favorite Clementine and The Galaxy. The band just released its first EP and single, "Robot," which has received heavy airplay on MTV Iggy, a music video channel promoting the best in emerging artists. Frontwoman Julie Hardy recently performed on Saturday Night Live with Ellie Goulding, matching ethereal vocals to create a space-age vibe. Check out the video for "Robot" below.
Sarasota favorite MeteorEYES will also co-headline. Here is a video of the band's performance at 2012 HMF.
Other bands schedule to appear include Tennessee alt-rockers Jen Rock and The Cry Babies, Good Graeff, Waking Giants, Bard and Mustache, Zulu Wave and Brazos the Rat.
For the full lineup of musical acts, film and art events, visit the official HMF wesbite.
2013 Harvey Milk Festival
May 16-18, 2013
Burns Court Cinema
506 Burns Ct.
Sarasota, FL 34236
9:30 p.m. - I Am Divine screening
Tickets $10. Advance tickets available here.
May 17/ART: MillerBrady Fine Art Gallery
614 Florida Ave.
Sarasota, FL, 34236
7 p.m. - 10 p.m. - "Beyond Bullying' exhibit
Five Points Park/Intersection of 1st and North Pineapple Ave.
4 p.m. - midnight. Free.
$50 VIP tickets available here.