In January of 2009, Frank Chandler was in between jobs when he decided he was going to turn his avocation into his vocation. A steady festivalgoer he set out to fill a niche by creating an event in New England. After landing two lead investors in a close friend and his former boss, he moved forward with plans for the Nateva Festival, the festival named after his children. Nateva is set to take place from July 2-4 in Oxford Maine with a line-up that includes: Furthur, moe., The Flaming Lips, Drive-By Truckers, She & Him, Passion Pit, Grizzly Bear, Ghostland Observatory, Jackie Greene, Jakob Dylan & Three, Mark Karan’s Jemimah Puddleduck, Rustic Overtones, Lettuce, EOTO, Big Gigantic, The Brew and many others. While VIP and on-site camping tickets are sold out, both weekend passes and day tickets are still on sale, with satellite camping & shuttles from the nearby Oxford Speedway.
Jambands.com caught up with the first0-time promoter, early on Tuesday evening with a few questions about the experience.
People would be interested to know what you’re doing right now, just days before the festival.
Right now I’m watching a total transformation of this old fashioned country fairgrounds in Maine. It’s wild. The volunteers are here, the workers are here, the stages are going up, the art installations are taking shape. We have this huge Nateva sign like the Hollywood hills sign, with 14 foot letters and right now we’re at N-A-T-E-V. It’s funny, my kids are Nate and Eva, that’s where the name came from and for a couple of days it was Nate up there.
And this is the first event you’ve ever put on?
I know a lot of people out there will look at it like fantasy baseball in terms of putting together a dream line-up. To many folks it seems like you’re living the dream. How does that feel from your vantage point a few days out?
The idea you can earn a livelihood around something you have a passion for shouldn’t freak you out. It’s all about trying to enjoy the journey and not worry so much about the destination. Am I living the dream? It’s funny, I’m working 16, 17, 18 hour days and it seems like I have been for 18 months.
There are all these people running around getting ready. The vendors are here, the town is starting to see an influx of people, the gawkers are starting to come around the fairgrounds, the stages are halfway up, everybody’s starting to move around in golf carts. I can’t believe it’s come this far. I can’t believe we did book these bands, I can’t believe we did get this venue. It’s upon us, it’s here.
It’s like high school basketball free throw with one second left. Am I excited? Yeah. Am I nervous? Yeah. But we’re going to see it through and hit that shot.
Am I living the dream? Let’s see how this all goes. Let’s see if everybody gets there safely, gets home safely and wants to come back next year. I know where we are, let’s see where it goes.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
The biggest lesson I learned coming into this event is you are who you surround yourself with. So as a novice first time promoter I went out and surrounded myself with the best and brightest and most experienced people in the industry. And now that we’ve arrived, my job today is to let my managers manage, to empower them to go out and do their jobs and work with their people to get their job done. It all has its own motion at this point.
You mentioned that you’re a novice. Despite your financial backing did you have trouble convincing people to take you seriously?
I tried to book about 30 or 40 hotel rooms in Maine about 10 month ago and I showed up in Maine after 3 or 4 phone calls because I didn’t get the sense they were taking me seriously. I didn’t seem to be able to reserve the rooms. I couldn’t even get them to take me seriously with that. So yes, it’s been a challenge in a million different ways. Everything’s been a hurdle, so it’s almost in disbelief that I look at all this.
Last question. There are so many great acts on the bill. Is there a moment when you look at the schedule and say, “This is when I’m going to kick back and enjoy.”
I’m a Deadhead at heart so Furthur on Sunday the 4th of July. I think by that point we’ll know where we stand on all fronts by Sunday night so at that point I might be able to kick back with my wife, my kids, my partners and see all the folks out having a nice time. I’m looking forward to that point. It seems a long way away right now.