Once More With Feeling 

Tom Fest

As music festivals go, Tom Fest lands somewhere between Sasquatch and Lollapalooza--offering a slew of bands, an idyllic outdoor setting, and all the miscellaneous booths (rock climbing wall or "The Verizon Wireless broadband laptop tent") one can fathom. The only difference is that Tom Fest (short for "The Other Music" Festival) is a "faith-based" festival--meaning the whole shebang is done in the name of the Lord. Similar in style, yet smaller than, the annual Cornerstone Festival (which draws over 25,000 people a year), Tom Fest--which runs from August 4-6 in Camus, Washington--nets a huge national draw from emerging Christian bands of all genres. Co-founder Mikee Bridges answered our questions.

For more details on the performers, camping, and rules (no alcohol, drugs, weapons, or pets), see www.tomfest.com.

Can you give a brief history of Tom Fest?

Tom Fest was started back in 1995 by Todd Fadel (Meow Meow) and myself, Mikee Bridges, after having done hundreds of shows together in places like Satyricon, X-Ray Caf, and basements of churches. After talking with a few mutual friends, the decision was made to start an overnight festival. We found a location and went to work, knowing next to nothing about what we were doing. Ten years later, Tom Fest lives on.

What notable bands have performed there over the years? On any given year, how many people does TOM FEST draw?

Notable bands range from MXPX to P.O.D and everything in between. The festival has drawn between 3,000 and 5,000 on any given year.

Would you classify Tom Fest as exclusively for Christian musicians? Can secular artists/bands perform at Tom Fest? Do you think you limit the quality of music by only allowing artists of a certain religious belief to perform?

Currently, the festival is limited to bands of faith. We don't believe that limiting the bands to those with faith affects the quality of music. The idea behind Tom Fest is to provide a showcase for this talent, because the music industry rarely embraces bands of faith.

How much of the Tom Fest idea is based on the success of other religious music festivals, such as Cornerstone, etc.?

Tom Fest is not based on any other event--it's its own entity. The idea for the festival came from touring and seeing the things I didn't like: judgmental Christian "bubble" events, secular events that closed the door to anyone who spoke their mind about their personal beliefs, and people who proclaimed all Christian music as garbage. Tom Fest was created because right-wing Christians hated us and the non-Christians hated us. It has been an event for those of faith living in the real world.

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