30 Indiana acts will perform at Sirius Blvck's New Hands festival, all for a good cause
After making a name in the Indianapolis music community, rapper Sirius Blvck wants to use his reputation to help other artists.
Known for solo recordings as well as work with the disbanded Ghost Gun Summer collective, Blvck founded the New Hands Music Festival that debuts this weekend at all-ages venue Healer.
“I’ve always wanted to use the social capital that I’ve built to then build a platform,” he said. “And utilize that platform how I see fit, which is to make sure we provide space for marginalized voices and people who get pushed out of the community.”
Blvck is talking about fellow musicians, but New Hands also includes a focus on philanthropy. The Oct. 11-12 event will raise money for nonprofit organizations such as Ascent 121, an agency that provides long-term trauma care services to teen survivors of sex trafficking.
Founded in 2013, Ascent 121 has served more than 350 survivors. Kellie Leeper, the organization's director of communications and development, said trafficking referrals quadrupled this summer when compared to summer 2018.
"The average age of a kid who gets coerced and manipulated into this is 12 to 14," she said.
Blvck said he's interested in supporting modest-sized organizations with staff members who would appreciate the help.
"I recognize it’s a tough issue," he said of Ascent's work with trafficking survivors. "But I felt it was something that needed to be advocated for."
Leeper said headlines generated by Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who died in his jail cell in August after being arrested on federal trafficking charges, raise public awareness.
"This has brought it to the forefront, in a lot of ways," Leeper said. "Keep in mind the buyers are middle-aged, professional, married men. I think it’s beginning to be more known."
30 acts to perform at festival
When considering the music lineup for New Hands, Blvck said he made a list of his favorite Indiana acts. He came up with 75.
"I had to cut it down," he said. "The plan is for everybody else to make it next year. We want to switch up 80 percent of the list every year, if we can."
Thirty acts will perform at Healer. Oreo Jones will headline Oct. 11, delivering a rap performance after devoting the past year to Michael Raintree — his experimental R&B project.
Clint Breeze & the Groove will be the Oct. 12 headliner, bringing to a close two days of hip-hop, punk, indie and experimental performances.
"I just reached out to all my friends and everybody said, 'Yes,' " Blvck said. "That’s the social capital I’m talking about: Artists using their network to build something."
Blvck, who will perform Oct. 11 at Healer with fellow Ghost Gun Summer alum John Stamps, released a video this week to accompany his song "Woah!"
Building for the future
Healer, a venue that opened last year at 3631 E. Raymond St., was Blvck's top choice as the site for New Hands.
“We love what they’ve done and what they’ve built,” he said. “It’s extremely DIY. I feel like the heart and soul of it coincides with New Hands.”
A sense of collaboration influenced the event's name.
“It takes new hands and new voices to build community and a new foundation," Blvck said. "I just imagined everybody lending a hand."
Blvck's team of advisers and partners in organizing New Hands includes Woo Grl festival co-founder Ariana Beedie, Harrison Center for the Arts board of directors president Connie Kauffman and Heartland International Film Festival founder Jeff Sparks.
New Hands already attained 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, with a mission statement focused on "providing genuine equity and opportunities to Indianapolis creatives."
Blvck said he's looking forward to the chance to encourage civic and business leaders to recognize the value of artists.
"I feel those are conversations worth having, and we just haven’t had them yet," he said.
New Hands Music Festival
>> FEATURING: Oreo Jones, Clint Breeze & the Groove, Diop, Maxie, Skypp, Sirius Blvck & John Stamps, Ko, VV Torso, AmeriKKKen, Double A, Pat App, Mickey Young, Peteyboy and more.
>> WHEN: 1 p.m. to midnight Oct. 11-12.
>> WHERE: Healer, 3631 E. Raymond St.
>> TICKETS: $15 to $40.
>> INFO: Visit eventbrite.com.
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Call IndyStar reporter David Lindquist at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @317Lindquist.