This story was originally featured in the April edition of the Murfreesboro Pulse
Beginning April 24, the third annual Boro Fondo Biking, Music and Arts Festival will bring Murfreesboro three days of local and national music acts, visual performances and a lot of cycling from venue to venue.
The bikes-and-bands festival made huge strides in terms of support and attendance over the last few years, making it a cornerstone event for the Murfreesboro house show scene. There’s something about a group of music lovers pedaling from house to house, soaking in a wealth of art and camaraderie along the way, that can be attributed to its success.
Building on the idea developed in 2010 by Tyler Walker’s Tour de Fun, three local music and art enthusiasts decided to retain the concept and change the name to Boro Fondo in 2013. When Walker moved to Nashville, Phillip Maloney, Asher Johnson and Eric DeTorres found it imperative to keep the localized concept of a community bike ride with stops at venues and houses around town.
MTSU alumnus Quinten Thornton, drummer for The Acorn People and active member of Murfreesboro’s House Show Alliance, is in his first year helping organize the festival, and he’s already put in a lot of hours to ensure this year’s event is an even better experience than last year.
“A lot of people are beginning to realize Murfreesboro is a huge music scene,” Thornton said. “Everyone’s in it to help each other, everyone’s down for the cause and more and more people come out to support the festival each year, which in turn allows us to come back and do it again.”
Boro Fondo is expanding to a three-day, all-ages event that kicks off Friday night at the Lord of the Rings-themed Green Dragon Public House and ends Sunday night with a massive house show. In between, festival attendees will travel on bicycle in groups to different venues and houses around town for 15–20 music sets representing a wide variety of genres. In addition to music, most venues will feature 2-D and 3-D visual art, both on display and in the making.
“It’s great because people who may only be coming for the music will be exposed to the art element, while others who come for the artwork will be introduced to the local music scene,” Thornton said. “And those who just like to party and have a good time will be able to experience and appreciate all of it.”
Last year, close to 70 bands played Boro Fondo. This year, around 150 music acts applied to play the festival, with close to half not making the cut. In addition to Murfreesboro and Nashville-based bands, there will be acts traveling to the ’Boro by way of New York, Chicago and Denver.
The first round of band selections took seven hours to weed through, Thornton said, a process he described as stressful, but certainly a “labor of love.” He stressed the importance of arranging the bands so there’s a wide variety of genres represented at every stop. Rock, indie pop, funk, jazz, hip-hop and bluegrass bands are scheduled to perform this year, with more to be added after Road to Fondo, a four-part competition held at Tempt to decide the last music slots for the festival.
But Thornton says that he wants the community to see the festival as more than just a music festival. Each week, different committees—music, art selection, website, food and more—meet to discuss ways to add more features to the event. This year, cyclists will catch a show en route to the next destination while passing a mobile stage, and food trucks will make an appearance at certain venues.
“There’s a lot involved, and no one gets paid for this,” he continued. “A lot have expressed interest in helping us out because they really dig what Boro Fondo stands for, which is amazing because it’s not something that could easily fall into place on its own.”
Ben Scheffler, drummer for local sludge-metal band Sovereign, will perform for the fourth time at this year’s festival. He claims the community aspect of Boro Fondo is one of the main reasons why it continues to be a success.
“Boro Fondo isn’t like any other festival,” Scheffler said. “It’s a great atmosphere to be surrounded by close friends who share the same idea of fun as you do.”
This year Thornton said he expects over 1,000 in attendance. The festival’s DIY approach will help maintain the local vibe, he said, and will keep the festival from becoming “over-commercialized.”
“We hope the festival continues to grow, and who knows, maybe it will become something really serious,” Thornton said with a grin. “But not too serious, of course, because it’s the local aesthetic that makes Boro Fondo so successful.”