This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A recipe for GumptionFest

GumptionFest is back.

1) Do art.
2) Do it for free.
3) Do it for your community.
4) Do it for your artists, your comrades-in-arms.
5) Pick a date.
6) Tell your friends.
7) Tell your friends to tell their friends.
8) Tell your friends to tell their friends any help and donations-in-kind to promote it would be appreciated.
9) Invite artists to participate. Tell them that they're not getting paid.
10) Invite the community. Tell them there's no admission.
11) Promote the mother-fucking hell out of it with every resource you have from start until the day of the festival.
12) Stir for one day.
13) Sit back when all said and done and marvel at how it all happened.
14) Do it again next year.

GumptionFest returns, bigger and bolder

Photo courtesy of Shane DeLong, photo illustration by Christopher Fox Graham

GumptionFest returns, bigger and bolder

By Christopher Fox Graham
SEDONA, ARIZ.: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, the saying goes. However, if at first you succeed beyond your wildest expectations, do it again, bigger and better. GumptionFest is back.
The second annual arts festival is gearing up for the main event on Saturday, June 2, with a series of smaller events around Sedona in March, April and May. The festival organizers have begun the search for artists, sponsors, vendors and volunteers.
Last year's GumptionFest was a grassroots, street festival effort bankrolled on a shoestring budget. The goal was to provide a one-day experience showcasing the best of the amateur, young, underground and under-the-radar artists that call the Verde Valley home.
It was a risky experiment in community involvement. No artists were paid to appear, they were asked simply to show up and share.
What the festival promoters proposed seemed a monumental task ripe for utter chaos: simultaneously operate five venues along a busy West Sedona streets, have more than 100 artists, 40 bands and 40 solo musicians perform from noon to 2 a.m. — and do it for free.
Would the artists and bands have the gumption to put themselves on the line?
More importantly, would there be a crowd?
Artists donated their time, local business owners donated their goods and venues and more than 1,200 Sedona residents and visitors packed the event.
"Oak Creek Brewery has supported all sort of artistic endeavors in the 12 years we've been here," said Fred Kraus, owner of the brewery. "So when GumptionFest came along, we jumped at providing a space.
"It married together people from the community and local artists," Kraus said. "A lot of entry-level musicians who were doing their thing at home to more well-known folks."
The goal of the second annual GumptionFest, according to Executive Director Dylan Jung, is to capitalize on the buzz produced from last year's event to bring in more artists, participants, spectators, and area businesses to celebrate Sedona's art community.
"We're trying to establish GumptionFest as an entity for years to come, to put on events around town in partnership with local venues, other arts organizations and the Sedona Cultural Park, which should be up and running again in the next few years," Jung said.
To prepare both the artists and the community, there will be a series of smaller events with organizations such as the Sedona Arts Center and local venues, such as The Well Red Coyote bookstore.
The goal is to help build the "artistic support system" that underlined the purpose of the inaugural event.
Education events will also be added to the festival, such as dance classes at Light Vibe Dance Studio, yoga classes at Devi Yoga, lectures on art topics from students at Northern Arizona University.
Films this year will include students from the Zaki Gordon Institute for Independent Filmmaking, who screened more than a dozen short films last year. The festival organizers also hope to work with the Sedona International Film Festival & Workshop and No Festival Required, from Phoenix, which draws student and short films from around the country.
The film-screening portion of the festival will also include a wine tasting from local wineries paired with cheeses from New Frontiers Natural Marketplace.
The Well Red Coyote will also invite local authors for booksignings, according to owner Joe Neri.
Bands already booked range from solo guitarists like Richard Salem and Keith Martini, to Sedona bands such as Yin Yang & Zen Some, the Tarantulas and the Doodles and regional bands like Carnuba, from Prescott, and Showbot, a comedic band from Flagstaff.
One of last year's unforeseen complications was coordinating 80 musical groups between the stages at Oak Creek Brewery, Creative Flooring and Devi Yoga.
The remedy, according to Jung, is that other venues around Sedona that couldn't participate on the day of the festival due to their locations will have supporting performances leading up to GumptionFest culminating in slew of performances on the night of Friday, June 1.
Painters, sculptors, visual artists and photographers will have art on display, some of which will be for sale through a silent auction.
The festival promoters will also be encouraging schools to participate, from a class painting a mural for display at the festival, to teachers encouraging individual students to exhibit their work, according to Jung.
"We want to get more of the youth involved," he said.
There will be a number of other performance events, ranging from modern dance, stand-up comedy, improv, belly dancing, theatre, fire dancing and a performance poetry reading open to the public.
However, all the art forms will cross over.
"You never know where else a poet might show up, such as when Aaron Johnson did a slam poem between bands at the brewery," Jung said.
To participate, volunteer, or contribute as a sponsor for the preliminary events or the festival itself, contact Jung at 202-8144 or e-mail to For more information, visit

Sedona Underground is published every Friday in The Scene. To comment or suggest an artist, contact Christopher Fox Graham at 282-7795, Ext. 126, or e-mail to