The Music Frees All Festival was originally conceived by NYC native Miles Arntzen when he was a freshman at New York University. Sitting in a classroom, he began imagining a festival dedicated to bringing people together through dance music – afrobeat, funk, hip hop, reggae, whatever. He personally picked artists whose songs “at their core are about relaxing and being free.” As he told CMJ in May 2011, “live shows have so much impact on people, especially when dancing and getting down is involved.” As planning moved forward for the first festival, the festival immediately became connected to legendary Brooklyn producer Scotty Hard (a close family friend of Miles’), who was paralyzed in a car crash in 2008. As Miles told Columbia Spectrum, Scotty “is the center of an important and warm community of musicians that we are happy to know and work with. This concert is our chance to say thank you!”
The 2011 Music Frees All Festival took place over 3 nights in June 2011, at Southpaw, Public Assembly and Drom. The festival featured performances from John Medeski/Billy Martin, EMEFE, Ben Perowsky/TK Wonder, Nyle Vs Naysayers, Mokaad, DJ Afro-Marc, Turkuaz, Melanie Charles, Top Shotta, Super Osei, DJ Cool Hand Luke, Ikebe Shakedown, Gato Loco, Underground System Afrobeat, BK Soul Survivors, and DJ Petra.
The 2012 Music Frees All Festival took place one BIG night at the wonderful Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg. Teaming up with OkayAfrica, the Music Frees All Festival presented performances by Antibalas, Bajah & the Dry Eye Crew, Prince Paul, DJ Monk-One, EMEFE, Bright Moments, Superhuman Happiness with special guests, and Billy Martin’s Fang Percussion, plus many special guests.
The festival has grown each year, and the third year promises to be the biggest yet. “Word has spread about this yearly gathering in New York City. I now have a team of engaged and smart co-presenters with whom I will present the biggest edition of the festival yet.” The 2013 festival will take place July 19-21 over 4 locations with a portion of the proceeds going to the Scotty Hard Trust.