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Door Arts and Music Festival--Short, Sweet, and not to be Missed
An interview with Kurt Weaver, director
By Tony LaFianza
The Purple Door will swing open again this year for the fifth time to entertain and encourage the alternative Christian music and arts crowd in Pennsylvania and beyond. Listen through the keyhole to my e-mail conversation with Kurt Weaver, PD's executive director. For 2000, there are changes in the wind for Purple Door and so we keyed in on the new location, the added features, and the future of the fest as well as some of its history.
The Purple Door Arts and Music Festival began in late August of 1996. That first year we saw Vigilantes of Love, Jars of Clay, Hoi Polloi, MxPx, the Supertones, Danielson, and Ghoti Hook. Jimmy A was there, Morella's Forest, Seven Day Jesus, and The Waiting too. It was a full day of hot music, cool art and poetry, and inspiring speakers in the lush setting of central Pennsylvania's Lancaster Mennonite High School campus amid running streams, lovely bridges and huge mature shade trees. Those of us fortunate enough to be there knew that this was something special. Purple Door was a really, really cool one-day festival! Since then, Purple Door has continued to impress us every year with its edginess, its organization, and its vision. Through our correspondence, I discovered that Kurt Weaver is very good-natured, humble and sharp; and that Purple Door's "coolness" starts at the top.
Phantom Tollbooth: Why Purple Door? Is there any significance to the name?
Kurt Weaver: Well, back in 1994 Tim Eddings and I were talking about doing a different kind of Festival. Our heart was to put together a really cool one day fest here in PA that would minister to the Fringe People, Artsy People, Alternative People (for lack of better terms) and others. When we were trying to come up with a name nothing was sticking. One day Tim Eddings called me and he had been at a Bible Study the night before and the house had a purple door in it. For some dumb reason the name stuck and here we are today going into our 5th year! Tim and I are the co-founders of the festival, with a lot of help from Karen Sprengel and Scott Hatch. I hope to be a part of this ministry for a very long time.
Tollbooth: Please share some Purple Door history with us. How has the festival grown since its inception and first year?
Weaver: Our first year we were lucky (blessed>) to have Jars Of Clay play. We booked them before they got really big in the mainstream. It was totally God who set this thing up. We have always had bands early on before they got "big" like Sixpence None the Richer, Supertones, POD and MxPx. It's really neat to see this thing take off. God has truly been watching over [Purple Door].
Tollbooth: What's the secret to putting on a successful mini-fest?
Weaver: Being organized! Tim and I are not very organized people but Karen Sprengel (festival administrator) is very organized and we thank God for her every day. It's always key to keep in touch with the music industry and what people want. We wanted to create an ARTS festival that included music, speaking, visual art, poetry etc. We didn't want people just to be focused on music.
Tollbooth: And what advice would you give to anyone thinking of doing something similar?
Weaver: It's not as easy as it seems and it takes lots of money to pull it off. Don't just jump into it
Tollbooth: What is your favorite memory from Purple Door (triumphs)? Worst memory (disasters)?
Weaver: This is a memory of both! Back in 1997, it was a very humid day. The "weather people" were calling for scattered thunderstorms. Everything was going great all day long. When Main Stage started the clouds started rolling in. By the time Bart Campolo was finishing up his message it started pouring rain. At that point we had to shut things down till the storm passed. This was the fist time I had ever had to make decisions like this. As the rain poured down my face, I was on the ground praying to God to help us! As I was praying Jason Carson (Supertones) got up on the stage and started to lead everyone in worship! It was an incredible sight to see thousands of people singing praises to our God in the middle of a T'Storm. It's amazing how God works. When the storm passed the Supertones and Third Day finished up with shortened sets. GOD is good!
Tollbooth: Please talk about the art gallery. Has the vision changed, and what is your vision now for the art gallery?
Weaver: The Art Gallery is always growing and changing. Tim Eddings, Scott Hatch, Mary-Anne Frischkorn and Mike Garson take care of it. The vision is much larger than what it is at now. It's something that will continue to grow like everything else. It's always our goal to have quality over quantity.
Tollbooth: Purple Door has such a cool line up of bands every year. How has Christian music changed in the years since you've been putting on the Fest? Do you have any favorite bands that the Purple Door has enjoyed bringing to the fest? Any "not so favorite" bands that you'd rather not bring back?
Weaver: Tim Eddings and I put the line-up together. It's always a challenge to put together a diverse musical lineup. We just try to book band that the "Purple Door" crowd would enjoy and want to see. Christian music has gotten a lot better in its quality. It's great to see bands cross over into the mainstream industry and solidify that Christian music has good bands too.
The Supertones are great. I love those guys sooo much. I also respect POD and love their stuff as well. Havalina [Rail Co.] has always been a fav. of PD. I have no regrets from any past bands. I've had some things to work out with some bands, but I would never not have a band back because I didn't like them.
Tollbooth: Now you're relocating. Please compare the two locations for us.
Weaver: The new location (at the Lebanon Fairgrounds) has a larger outdoor area, bigger buildings and more parking. It's not as pretty as LMHS with the trees, stream and such but will allow for more growth. I think that in the long run it will be better for PD. This is a place where we can stay for a long time.
Tollbooth: Tell us about the new features this year at Purple Door. When is the Rave and where?
Weaver: We are still trying to work out the details on the Rave. The Rave will be in this big barn/hanger type building from 11pm till midnight and might go later.
Tollbooth: Do you allow attendees to stay on the grounds overnight?
Weaver: No, we do not allow attendees to stay on the grounds overnight. It's just a policy we have. Once you start doing camping it adds sooo much to what you have to plan for.
Tollbooth: Talk a bit about the new skate park.
Weaver: SAP Skateboards is putting on the Skate Park. I'm not sure what all is coming yet but I'm sure it will be cool. SAP has some of there own skaters coming but it will be open to the attendees as well. I think the park will add a lot to the fest.
Tollbooth: I guess you're still expecting POD to be there. Are you worried about bringing them in this year, especially since POD is far better known, from being played on MTV and touring with other well known secular rock acts, than they were last year?
Weaver: Since POD is going to be on the OzzFest this summer we have had to make some changes. This year PD is adding a Friday night to its line-up. POD will be playing the Friday night before PD with 2 opening acts 8 to 11p.m. We had to do this due to a scheduling conflict with POD. Both POD and us wanted to make it work somehow and this was the only way to make it happen. The same ticket will get you in to both days (Friday and Saturday) of PD and the costs are all the same as well. We are really looking forward to this new exciting new change!
Tollbooth: What are your worries or concerns this year? How can we help you pray?
Weaver: Pray that God will touch lives and bring people to himself.
Visit the Purple Door Arts and Music Festival web site at http//purpledoor.com/.