Reed City's 131 Music Fest still on despite co-founder's death

‘Jason would want you to rock on’

REED CITY — A post on Facebook says it all: “The 131 Music Fest will still rock-on come June 19.”

Following the death of Jason Hardy, the lead organizer of the festival, from COVID-19 on April 16, organizers say they will continue to follow Hardy’s plan for the venue.

“We are currently going through his notes and gathering any and all information we can,” brother-in-law Eric Schmidt told The Pioneer. “As we narrow our plans, we will be in contact with the public. The best place for updates will be the 131 Music Fest Facebook page.

“The 131 Music Fest was Jason’s dream,” Schmidt said. “He always talked about having his own venue or show. He knew that the COVID-19 pandemic had put a hurt on local musicians and wanted to help. Jason was always looking out for fellow musicians.”

The outdoor music festival will take place on a 10-acre plot of land 6 miles north of Reed City, and will showcase local bands from Reed City, Evart, Big Rapids and Mt. Pleasant.

Damned By Dawn will headline the festival. Other bands include Whiskey Bound, Rock n’ Roll Ave., We, The Infamous and Jack Pine Savage.

“The fact that over 600 tickets were sold for people to watch local musicians is amazing in itself,” Schmidt said. “That shows that musicians were itching to play, and the crowd was ready to attend.

“Jason didn’t want this one to get out of hand, but at this point, we are looking at it as a tribute to Jason,” he continued. “Organizers are now looking at how to make the venue larger and produce more tickets. Proceeds from the event will go toward his two sons, Ethan and Gavin, for higher education.”

Hardy has been involved in the music scene throughout Michigan for over 20 years, Schmidt said. He is well known with area musicians for his bass playing talent and could play any genre of music.

“All he needed to know was the key it was played in,” Schmidt said. “He could improvise and read off of other musicians very well on stage.”

He encouraged young musicians, as well, always having them in his studio and recording so they could have that experience, he added.

“He was also the ‘Fred Sanford’ of local music equipment,” Schmidt said, “always dealing, repairing, selling and buying.”

Schmidt said, as Jason’s brother-in-law and his vocalist for many years, he finds it only fitting to carry on Jason’s dream.

“Years ago, Jason and I were in a band called Edge,” Schmidt said. “He and I wrote a song called “Heaven Awaits” for a friend that was lost on the operating table and then revived. Listening to that song today, it 100% fits the passing of Jason “Hobie” Hardy.”

Brian VanderArk, of The Verve Pipe, who played songs at Jason’s celebration of life, has been challenged to re-record the song, “Heaven Awaits,” Schmidt said. Proceeds from the recording will go toward Juvenile Diabetes.

“As a family member of Jason, and suffering through his passing, please seek medical help early if you suffer form the COVID-19 virus,” Schmidt said. “Why? Because Jason would want you to Rock On!”