Norman Music Festival (April 27-29, 2023)

Post by Tony Z – AliceFM 10-3P Monday – Friday | tonyzed4 on IG

NORMAN-The Norman Music Festival, presented by Fowler Automotive, returns with new and familiar faces, much to the delight of some of downtown’s business owners. Thursday through Friday, April 27-29, downtown Norman.

   Free. Original. Oklahoma.

   All words that best describe this year’s festival featuring the Illuminati Hotties, Jabee & Friends, Cola, Hosty, Rat Fink, Billy Woods, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Billy Woods and many others.

  The three-day event includes food and music and features a sold-out screening of The Original Oklahoma Breakdown-The Story of Mike Hosty, Thursday at Sooner Theater.

  “I played 2010 the first time,” Hosty said. “This last time I played, 2019. I got up on stage and the guy goes ‘Hey, you’ve got 15 minutes’ I go,’ I’ve got 15 minutes till I start, ok, so I’m setting stuff up, putting stuff on stage and I go I’m ready.” And then they go 13 minutes, I realized he was saying I had 13 minutes to play, so 13 minutes goes by and they cut me off, cut me off in the middle of the set and everybody goes, ‘Boo’, you know hometown crowd.”

  “Terrible feeling and nobody got up to say what had happened they just turned it off.” Hosty said. Hosty claims the shortest set time in Norman Music Festival history, 13 minutes.

  “I kind of say it as like it happened, not like complaining about it,” Hosty said. “ I told them its good it happened to me instead of somebody else. Somebody else wouldn’t have been so accommodating. Do it to a national act they’re never coming back. They’re going to tell their booking agent.”

  Considered by some as an Oklahoma treasure, Hosty performs Saturday, April 29 at 11:10 p.m. on the Gray Street Stage.

  Shari Jackson, Executive Director of the Norman Music Alliance, the nonprofit that produces the Norman Music Festival said the mission is threefold.

  “Supports music fans, supports musicians and audiences,” Jackson said. “And supports our downtown district and all the local businesses that support us.”

  Since its first installment in 2008, the festival has remained free to the public. However, unlike many three-day festivals nationwide, Norman Music Festival raises its funds exclusively through private donations.

  “We’ve got amazing sponsors like Fowler Automotive, Johnathan Fowler, who was on the first board of directors before he took over Fowler Automotive and has been a staunch supporter every year and a driving force to make this thing happen,” Jackson said, “Then folks like Brandon Kessler with the Garage and Winston, they are always stage sponsors, top tier sponsors but the rest of it comes from vendors, people who donate a $1,000, $500, $1,500, buy a T-shirt, buy a VIP pass, and it all goes into one little pot of money and we raise a quarter of a million dollars every year.”

  Many multiday festivals book talent according to record sales, current popularity level and radio airplay. The Norman Music Festival selects talent in an opposite manner. 

  “We are literally independent, we decide what happens,” Jackson said. “We work with our community, our partners, musicians that we know and love and want to support.

  “We’ve kind of leaned into NMF being a place where you discover your new favorite bands.”

Norman Music Festival spans the main stages and local hangouts and bars encompassing most of the downtown area. The financial implications are huge for local business owners over that weekend.

  “Our estimation is that quarter of a million-dollar investment generates close to $4 million in economic activity over that weekend,” Jackson said, “benefiting almost entirely musicians and local business owners.”

   Business owners like Tanner Miller, co-owner of Norman’s oldest bar, The Blue Bonnet Bar, rely on the Norman Music Festival. He and Michelle Miller took over the Blue Bonnet in 2016.

“We don’t have game day down here you know; we don’t have that campus corner atmosphere,” Miller said. “We support Main Street, it’s a whole different environment, “The festival is what represents Norman and I hope that it will stay true to the fact of supporting local musicians, supporting what we have because Norman is such a great town for music and we’ve got a huge population that’s here 10 months out of the year and they don’t get to recognize that.”

  Students looking to explore the City of Norman and experience what the city has to offer on a budget. Miller said he hopes more students find their way over to Main Street more often.

  “Hopefully we can draw more students over and they can kind of see you can save money, watch some music and there’s parking on Main Street,” Miller said.   

  More information about donating, VIP packages, lineup, venues, set times and the new NMF app is available at

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