Michelle Johnson

A former Ball State student spent the past four months preparing for this weekend. As first-time director of Broad Ripple Music Fest, Jack Shepler will watch countless hours of work come to fruition as Indianapolis' north-side hang out transforms into a multi-genre live music hub Saturday. The festival will feature 96 bands and DJs playing 15 stages at 11 venues along the Broad Ripple Avenue strip.

Now in its sixth year, BRMF was created to fill the gap left by the bygone Midwest Music Summit. In MMS's final year, Shepler played a showcase featuring Muncie-based bands as DJ Jackola. Shepler moved from Muncie to Indianapolis in 2006 after accepting a position at SmallBox, a web design and marketing company co-founded by Jeb Banner, who also founded BRMF the same year. Shepler rooted himself in the BRMF team working as a promoter and graphic designer for the festival's debut year.

As a frequent festival-goer - Shepler's been to music festivals all over the country including Coachella, Pitchfork, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza - he said his experiences at larger festivals serve as inspiration. BRMF has many distinct qualities that set it apart from other festivals, though, including fall weather and the number of stages and venues in a confined area.

"There are other festivals that have three or four stages. It's really cool to see 15 stages of bands and DJs and all the people from Indianapolis and the surrounding music scene come together in one day," Shepler said. "That's what makes Broad Ripple Music Fest really unique, is that it has so much going on and brings so many crowds and scenes and bands and musicians together."

With a current focus on local music, Shepler said he hopes BRMF will grow into a national showcase, much like the larger festivals he's attended.

2011's BRMF set a turnout record of 3,500 - a 40 percent increase from 2010. Shepler said he hopes some significant changes in the festival's set up will attract an even larger crowd. For the first time, all acts are located within walking distance of each other, allowing guests to eat, drink and visit as many venues as possible. The event's 15 stages are mainly grouped by genre, including rock, hip-hop, acoustic, DJ, dubstep and house music. By purchasing a $15 wristband, attendees can peruse all the venues at their leisure, or pay $5 at the door of each venue.

Many bands that have made appearances at Muncie venues over the years will be playing BRMF, including Bonesetters, Rodeo Ruby Love, Hotfox, Sleeping Bag and She Does is Magic.

Zach Melton of Rodeo Ruby Love said the band tries to play Indianapolis as often as it can and is returning to BRMF for the third time this year. Beginning as an acoustic side project with roots in the Midwest punk and hardcore scene, Rodeo Ruby Love has grown into a seven-member pop band.

Senior history major Derek Tulowitzky is going to BRMF to see Rodeo Ruby Love's 11 p.m. set at the-instore.com's showcase at Peppers. For the past four years, he attended BRMF to watch his friend's bands play. Although Tulowitzky said he prefers smaller shows to festivals, BRMF serves as a middle ground between the two.

"It's called a festival but it's really just a collection of shows in an area, and you have the freedom to go from place to place if you want," Tulowitzky said.

Indianapolis-based indie-rock band Hotfox also will play BRMF for the third time at one of the three tent stages featured this year.

"BRMF is a fantastic event," drummer Michael Preuschl said. "There's great music, lots of beer, it's a ton of fun - and it's great for the music scene. So being a part of BRMF is kind of a no-brainer for us."

Preuschl said he's looking forward to seeing Pravada, Sleeping Bag, DMA, Oreo Jones, Bonesetters and Crys.

"[That is] just to name a few. It really is daunting how many great bands are playing on Saturday. I wish I could see them all," Preuschl said.

For ticket and schedule information, check out broadripplemusicfest.com

JACK SHEPLER'S TOP PICKS:
WHO: DJ Colette (DJ and singer from Chicago)
WHERE: Kilroy's, Upland Tent
WHEN: 8 p.m.

WHO: Ben Sollee (Cello player from Lexington, Ky.)
WHERE: Connor's Pub/Good Earth showcase at the PBR Tent Stage
WHEN: 9:15 p.m.

WHO: Born Again Floozies (Folk and roots band from Indianapolis)
WHERE: Connor's Pub/Good Earth showcase at the PBR Tent Stage
WHEN: 10:50 p.m.
-รก