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David Paul Seymour created the poster for this year’s Heck Yeah Fest, taking place Saturday at The Loud.

HUNTINGTON — Huntington and the surrounding Tri-State have evolved in recent years when it comes to the music and arts scene.

From outdoor live music shows under the bright lights of downtown to pop-up art showcases appearing elsewhere in the city to festivals in Ritter Park that combine both genres, the region works together and spreads the word to the rest of the country about what is happening here.

An example is the return of Heck Yeah Fest to The Loud Music Venue and Beer Garden this Saturday. Featuring the more edgy, counterintuitive and diverse side of the local music and arts scene, the event will showcase eight musical acts ranging from fuzz metal and punk to rap and more, combining live music with local artists who will be on hand with their unique work.

Sponsored this year by Truckin’ Cheesy and Oscar’s Breakfast, Burgers and Brews, Heck Yeah Fest 2021 begins at The Loud, 741 6th Ave., at 5 p.m. Tickets are $16 and the event is for those 18 and older.

Local artist Zac White continues to run the annual Heck Yeah Fest. White recently left his job in the medical field to pursue his skills full time as the art curator, top manager and tattoo apprentice at the New Hope Tattoo and Art Gallery in Barboursville.

While it takes a lot of work to bring to life, White enjoys putting together the Heck Yeah Fest every year, making sure all the nooks and corners of the local arts and music scene get noticed.

“The goal for the last couple of years is to make Huntington the next Asheville (North Carolina) or somewhere along those lines,” said White. “Our mayor has had an Arts Council for a few years now, but, of course, everything kind of hit the brakes with the pandemic. Eventually, however, they will start breaking ground on the projects they had in mind, and that will really push us ahead as a city.”

Last month, for instance, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams and the Council of the Arts revealed the city’s new logo and brand, which was drawn by West Virginia graphic artist Don Pendleton. The commissioned logo is arts-oriented and meant to reflect the positive aspects of the community as a whole.

As for the upcoming Heck Yeah Fest 2021, White enjoys picking bands that are of different genres and, in some cases, new to the music scene.

“For the first time, I added a host to this year’s fest,” said White. “For the last couple of years, Cody Walaka Cannon has been pretty heavy into getting his comedy act off of the ground. Currently, he has a podcast called ‘Comics and Chronic.’ It will be really fun to have Cody as a host. He will be doing a little bit of comedy in between sets and introducing the bands, and then Cody offered to do a full comedy set at the end of the night, so he will be the closer as well as the host. He is going to have his hands full, but I am super excited to add comedy to Heck Yeah Fest this year. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh.”

When it comes to choosing the musical acts, White takes his cues from some of the better music fests he experienced in his younger years.

“I grew up with a punk and hardcore festival called Krazy Fest in Louisville, which is long-since dead, had its revival but now won’t come back,” said White. “I loved Krazy Fest as a kid because it had a little bit of everything. So, for this year’s Heck Yeah Fest, I have a similarly eclectic mix of music, which is what I like to have onstage. We will feature everything from punk rock to hip hop to heavy metal. I also definitely wanted to do a shout-out to the local Exclaim Records label with this lineup.”

While White gets a lot of inquiries and suggestions when it comes to booking the entertainment for Heck Yeah Fest, he prefers to hire bands that are willing to put it all out there while under the lights. Saturday’s bill will include With Haste, Launchpad, the Star Trek-based punk band called Boldly Go, Good Peoples, Natural Rat, Blind Scyer and 4OHM MONO.

“I really look for bands that are pushing themselves 110%,” said White. “I usually try to save the first three opening slots on the lineup for groups that are new and just getting started and are trying to push themselves forward. The closers, of course, are always established bands that have been doing this for a while and might have some regional acclaim, which will bring in people from out of town.”

As for the art that will be featured this weekend, White highlights two of the folks who will be at Heck Yeah Fest.

“One artist I am bringing in goes by the name Loved By Erika, aka Erika Lawson, who is known for making her ‘Appalachian street wear,’” said White. “She also has a pop rap act called Buni Big Muni. As for her Appalachian street wear, she is either actively sewing one together or adding unique additions to found articles of clothing, all the while creating an amalgamation of her own brand. Another artist we are featuring is Matt Pauley. Also known as ‘Hoss,’ his horror movie poster-inspired art collection is titled ‘Don’t Go Into The Basement.’ We are also thankful for the artist who did our festival logo, David Paul Seymour. Those posters will be available, and so much more. Overall, it is going to be a great time.”

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